One has to say that the Israeli knesset’s passing of the new ‘Nationality Law’ defining Israel as a ‘Jewish state’, thus, turning the Arab minority into ‘second class citizens’, has been expected.
All signs, whether local, regional or global, have without exception been pointing in that direction. Even the well-chosen diplomatic jargon that appeared in the ‘Balfour Declaration’, albeit proved eventually meaningless, today appears nothing but quite a bad joke. 122 years after Theodore Herzl’s ‘dream’, the fulfilled dream looks something totally different!
The long suffering people dispersed throughout the world is suffering no more. Its former ‘diaspora’ is now more applicable to another people, whom Mr Balfour remembered its ‘interests’ in polite but yet worthless words when he said: “His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”.
The period of the British Mandate, which witnessed several developments from the promulgation of ‘Land Laws’ of 1921 to the acceleration of Jewish immigration and crushing the ‘1936 Palestinian Uprising’, prepared the ground for the powerful and arrogant Israel we know today.
The ‘grand plan’ was clear then, becoming clearer in the following decade; however, the Arabs – including the Palestinians – were neither willing to comprehend its nature nor the capabilities of those behind it. Thus, due to a combination of misunderstandings, absurd gambles, suicidal divisions, and relying on the unworthy, vast lands were lost as a result of accumulating defeats, and the number of settlers increased and so did the element of extremism in their ranks.
The early settlers, who included many farmers, trades unionists and romantics, had left homelands where they were persecuted and maltreated, settling in agricultural communes and collective farms many of which were bought by The Jewish Agency and other Zionist organizations and personalities that benefitted from the Mandate’s Land Laws.
It is true that there was local Palestinian bitterness behind the ‘1936 Uprising’, partly fuelled by accelerated immigration and land purchases many of which were made possible by legislations that restricted the ability of absentee landlords to exploit their lands. However, these restrictions which were driving these absentee landlords (many of whom lived in Damascus and Beirut) to sell were quite modest compared to what happened later; particularly, after the ‘birth’ of the State of Israel, and its eventual development into a strong nuclear power.
Many notables from Damascus, Beirut and other Levantine cities who had owned many valuable lands across Palestine during Ottoman rule, felt obliged to sell their properties and estates; and naturally, the Jewish Agency, the Rothschild family and other Zionist entities were ready to buy. This was not actually far from what took place following the collapse of the USSR; when upon privatizing the Soviet state’s assets, those ready to pounce with enough cash, and a lot of zeal to liquidate or divest, were Western financial trusts which began to buy those privatized assets, either directly or through local ‘middlemen/frontmen’ who suddenly became among the world’s richest people.
But, as time passed, the ‘generation’ of the Israeli – Arab wars became gradually hateful towards a ‘sea’ of frustrated Arabs that threatened it nationalistically and demographically. This hatred further increased after the emergence of Palestinian armed resistance groups following the June 1967 Arab defeat. The Israeli wars’ ‘generation’ became less trustful of coexistence and ‘Leftist idealism’, and this has been exactly the case across the barbed wire divide, as the Palestinian and Arab Left was steadily losing support.
With the retreat of Leftist discourse on both Israeli and Arab camps the exclusionist ‘religious alternative’ established itself. Israeli voters ran in droves to their generals, and settlers’ groups became ever more extremist, greedy and militant. On the Palestinian side, after the demise of the idea of ‘people's'’ wars of liberation’, the collapse of Palestinian Leftist organization with enough clout and credibility to talk to their Israeli peers, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the disintegration of Soviet Communism, a new ‘resistance movement’ appeared raising Islamist banners and benefitting from regional Islamist powers beginning with Iran and ending up with Turkey.
The ‘rules of the game’ were no longer ‘Arab’. Even the Syrian regime, falsely espousing ‘Arabist’ mottos it never believed, embarked on widening the Palestinian rifts, once under the slogans of ‘steadfastness and confrontation’ (against Israel), another as an incubator for Islamist groups it has exploited in order to weaken the Palestinian leadership, outbid it, and deprive it of the ever decreasing chance of an acceptable peace deal.
In the meantime, the international climate too was moving closer to the position of Israel ‘hawks’. As the Likud - backed by its extreme right wing allies - became the natural party of government at the expense the old Labour parties and organizations which pioneered the build of the State, America’s victory in the Cold War relieved it of its fake neutralism in sponsoring the Israeli – Palestinian peace process. After claiming for a long time in the past that it was committed to “a balance of power in the Middle East” it now openly talks of “insuring the continuation of Israeli superiority”.
Thus, officially declaring the ‘Jewishness’ of the State, comes as a natural result of the victories scored by right wing, racist and neo-fascist forces everywhere. In fact, how could a state that was founded under religious pretexts and aspiration not became a fully ‘religious state’ if greater and older major state in Europe, as well as the USA, are no longer ashamed of espousing religious of racist policies?!
Why should we find it strange if a small country, whose psyche and social culture have been shaped by historical fear, fight for survival, and exclusive identification seeks to adopt discriminatory measures against others … when major powers are doing the same?!
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