Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Israel: “Jewish only” or democratic?

by Sonja Karkar
Women for Palestine

"The time will have to come for Israel to declare its hand: is it “a state of the Jewish people throughout the world” as it defines itself, or a state of all its citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish? So far Israel has managed to convince the Western world that it is the only democracy in the region, but neglects to add that this democracy works only for its Jewish citizens. This is the conundrum: Israel has been unable to reconcile what it says it is, with want it wants to be – democratic and exclusively Jewish......

The discourse has been taken up in the Palestinian public arena and now Israel is beginning to feel the same stirrings that finally exposed Apartheid South Africa for the racist state it was. It knows that sooner or later it will be forced to commit to being a “Jewish state only” or recognise the Palestinians as equal citizens and a national minority in their own land. Already Palestinian intellectuals have drafted a document called The Democratic Constitution which envisages Israel as a multicultural democracy for the people living and born there. Whatever Azmi Bishara does now in exile, the seed has burst: he has inspired a subjugated people to seek again their liberation. What is surprising is that Israel has taken so long to understand the lessons of history - that no one person or state no matter how powerful can oppress a people forever. However, Israel still has the option to switch course and institute democracy for all, and if genuinely undertaken, this may well be the solution worth working towards for both peoples. "

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