Democracy or Apartheid

This is a fight to maintain and protect the status quo for Israelis, not Palestinians who have been denied all basic democratic rights under Israel since 1948, writes Nour. 

Protesters against the Netanyahu’s judicial reforms block Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on March 26. (Oren Rozen, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Nour

Peoples Dispatch

For two consecutive nights last week, during the holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli military stormed Al-Aqsa mosque. They entered the mosque before prayer was over, firing rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian worshipers.

These events left at least 12 Palestinians injured, and over 400 worshipers were arrested on the first night.

Following the raid, Israeli violence spread across the West Bank. Dozens have been hurt by inhaling poisonous gas fired by Israeli forces, and a settler in occupied East Jerusalem shot a Palestinian child.

Following the raid on Al-Aqsa on Wednesday night, Israeli settlers were escorted to Al-Aqsa by Israeli forces on Thursday morning.

Prior to their arrival, Palestinian worshipers were forced out so that it could be secured for the settlers for the first day of the Jewish Passover holiday.

This double standard is not uncommon for Israel as it is inherent to the structure of the settler-colonial state. Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem under Israeli control (80 percent of the Palestinian population) are not citizens and cannot become citizens of the state in which they live, nor can they vote for the government which controls their lives. The other 20 percent of Palestinians, who have Israeli citizenship, have second-class status.

Recently the world has witnessed Israeli settlers come together in an ongoing protest to protect their “democracy.” Since Jan. 7, a crowd of over 100,000 have protested every Saturday in response to a judicial overhaul that was proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government. The protesters consider the reform plan, which has now been suspended, a threat to democracy.

But we must ask ourselves, what are these protesters really fighting to maintain? How can there be democracy in an apartheid state? Whose democracy is this?

Democracy Plans Destroyed in 1948

Rally in Melbourne, Australia, in support of Palestine as Israel was once again attacking Al-Aqsa Mosque in the holy month of Ramadan, April 23, 2022. (Matt Hrkac/Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

The idea that Israeli “democracy” can be protected by blocking the judicial overhaul is a myth. Any plans Israel had for democracy were destroyed when they began the Nakba in 1948. In fact, the reform plan is a product of the settler colonial state, as it would allow the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes even more efficiently than before, a fundamental goal of the Zionist movement.

This is a fight to maintain and protect the status quo for Israelis, not Palestinians who have been denied all basic democratic rights under Israel since 1948. For Palestinians, there is no democracy.

Despite these blatant acts of unjustified violence committed by Israel, there is no outrage among Israelis. The tens of thousands of people who showed up just last week to protect democracy are suddenly silent.

Moreover, Palestinian worshipers are beaten by Israel all the time, this violence is routine during Ramadan. In 2021, Israel unleashed an 11-day bombardment on Gaza during Ramadan and there has been no outcry by Israelis to prevent that from happening. [As well as during Ramadan in 2014.]

This is evidence that the movement for democracy in Israel is not about democracy at all, but about maintaining the apartheid state of Israel as it has existed for the past 75 years — at the expense of Palestinians.

It is insulting for Israelis to launch this “democracy” movement when Palestinians have been ignored for decades. Meanwhile the United States is the No. 1 foreign funder of Israel, which means Washington is responsible for holding the Israeli government accountable. Yet, year after year a majority of Americans sit silent while the U.S. government aids and abets in Israel’s extremely undemocratic apartheid of Palestinians.

If the United States truly wants to spread democracy around the world, it must stop funding such blatant violence and human rights violations. You simply cannot have it both ways.

Nour is CODEPINK’s Palestine and Iran Campaigner. 

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

5 comments for “Democracy or Apartheid

  1. Anon
    April 13, 2023 at 02:37

    As a person born the same year as Israel (with multi-religious background) normally abstain from commenting on Israeli Occupation and, yes, its similarity to Apartheid.
    Especially as the “Book” (first half) was outright Stolen from tribal writings.
    Ironic we victimized by Nazis Embraced the Same Values… rather than “practicing what we preach.”
    Must state: relate far more to the Romany tradition of my Heinz 57 blood!

  2. Georges Olivier Daudelin
    April 10, 2023 at 13:10

    Mais l’apartheid est une des multiples formes de la démocratie occidentale.

    Au Québec, le vote anglo-saxon est un vote apartheid, anti-Québécois: depuis 1867, le vote anglo-saxon a toujours été Libéral.

  3. JonnyJames
    April 10, 2023 at 12:18

    “The only democracy in the Middle East” is a common slogan (propaganda line) one hears about Israel. As the author points out, you cannot have a genocidal, Apartheid state that flagrantly flouts international law and common decency and a so-called democracy at the same time. The double-standards, hypocrisy and Orwellian rhetoric is thick as pea soup.

    A “democratic” institution: The Israeli supreme court has ruled in favor of ethnic cleansing and Apartheid etc. Like the USA, Israel is institutionally corrupt. Giving atrocities the trappings of legitimacy does not change the facts. If the law is not convenient, ignore it, or rig up some “laws” that formalize the atrocities.

    The only reason Israel can get away with bombing Syria, attacking Lebanon, attacking Iran, Apartheid, mass murder, ethnic cleansing etc. is the support of the Empire. The US and vassals protect Israel from legal and political consequences, as well as shower Israel with billions every year, mostly for weapons and surveillance.

    It remains to be seen if Israel, as it is now, will survive once the power of the US empire declines further. But there is always the so-called “Samson Option”. (The USA seems to pursue the Samson Option: if it cannot exercise Full Spectrum Dominance, it will blow up the world.) We live in some interesting times…

    • Valerie
      April 10, 2023 at 14:28

      “The US and vassals protect Israel from legal and political consequences,”

      I wonder if you include in the “vassals”, the Arab states who have “normalised” relations with Israel and if you believe they will continue to associate with Israel, if, as you question, the survival of Israel, once the US empire declines further. (Or be like rats leaving the sinking ship.)

      • JonnyJames
        April 10, 2023 at 19:20

        Good point. Yes indeed, KSA, UAE, etc. were creations of the British Empire, now vassals of the US. I would imagine the House of Saud to be overthrown in the future, given their head-chopping brutality and total lack of legitimacy to rule. They also are protected from political and legal consequences.

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