Israël: Together against racist laws

Communist Party of Israel

Together against racist laws

Following the “transfer exercise”: Jews and Arabs will demonstrate together in Tel Aviv on Saturday night against the descent into fascism

This Saturday night (Oct. 16) at 7 pm, a mass Jewish-Arab demonstration will be held in Tel Aviv under the banners “Together against racist laws” and “Against transfer and despair – marching for common hope!”

The demonstration has been called by the Communist Party of Israel and its partners in the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (DFPE – Hadash/Jabhah). The initiative has been joined by other democratic organizations and parties, who have joined the call for public protest against the army and police’s practical preparations for revoking the citizenship of Arab citizens and deporting them (“transfer”), against recent racist legislation and for the defense of democratic space in Israel. Among our partners in the rally are Meretz and co-existence organizations such as Shutfut, the Abraham Foundation, Sikkui and others.

The organizers of the event declare that “against the government authorizes the Allegiance–Citizenship law, the fascist Lieberman’s declarations at the UN and the security forces’ exercise of deportation of the Arab population and against the dangerous erosion of democratic space – we will stand together, Arabs and Jews, and call: ‘transfer’ shall not pass! Together we will fight to end the occupation, for a just peace, equality, democracy and a future of hope”.

MK Dov Khenin (DFPE) has placed an urgent motion on the Knesset’s table regarding the police-army exercise of “transfer”, which took place last week. Khenin emphasized that the exercise of deportation and citizenship revocation shows that the ideas of transfer presented by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman at the UN are becoming operative. Khenin called upon the democratic public in Israel to act “before the right-wing government brings a terrible disaster upon us all”.

As reported by Kol Israel correspondent Carmela Menashe, on October 7 army, police and other security forces completed an extensive exercise, in which they simulated Hamas terror attacks and protests by Arab citizens in the wake of transfer actions. According to the report, “among other things, the forces simulated extreme scenarios, such as violent protests in the Arab sector following agreements on population exchange with the [Palestinian] Authority”. In addition, said Menashe, in this scenario, “in order to contain the detainees, a detention camp for Israeli Arabs will be set up at Golani Junction” in the Galilee. The extensive exercise directed by the Prison Service included the Home Front Command of the IDF, the Israel Police, the Military Police, firefighting forces and more.

Eroding the bases of democracy

The horrifying “transfer scenario” cannot be detached from the government-sponsored bill which proposes to oblige non-Jews attaining Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. This fascist legislation was forged by Lieberman’s emissary, Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman, and it has received widespread support in the Netanyahu-Barak government.

MK Muhammad Barakeh, Chairman of the DFPE, said in response that Netanyahu has decided to open the Knesset’s session with racist government-sponsored legislation. The amendment to the Citizenship Law, added Barakeh, is soaked in racism and transferism along the lines of Lieberman and Kahane’s views, with the support of Security Minister Barak. This bill proves once again that Israel’s book of laws can become a manual for the most racist and oppressive of the world’s regimes.

The racist bill, supported by most Likud ministers as well as all Israel Beitenu, Shas and HaBayit HaYehudi ministers, and opposed by Labor ministers as well as Likud members Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan and Benny Begin, has drawn sharp criticism amongst civil rights organizations and in the Arab public. “[Demanding] an oath of allegiance from non-Jewish naturalizing citizens is opposed to democratic principles”, said the Association for Civil Rights in its response. “The formula of the oath presented by the government in itself undermines the bases of democracy in Israel”, said ACRI in its letter to Netanyahu. ACRI called upon the government to oppose the bill, to stop its de-legitimization of the Arab minority in Israel and to act immediately upon its obligation to ensure equality for all citizens of the state.

Smells like the Nuremberg laws

Commentator Nahum Barnea published a sharp denunciation of the bill in Yediot Aharonot on Oct. 8:

The bill does not only look racist: it truly is. It obliges non-Jews to swear their allegiance to the Jewish state, but exempts Jews from the obligation. They are exempt because Haredi rabbis will not swear allegiance, not to the state, not to [its] Jewish [character], and certainly not to [its] democratic [character].

The outcome is severe. This is not yet one of the Nuremberg race laws, but the smell is there …

The new law exposes Lieberman as protagonist, as the real leader of the government, and Netanyahu, who opposed it and now supports it, as spineless. Lieberman will weaken Netanyahu more and more, until he brings him down.”

Both occurrences in the last week – the “transfer exercise” and the amendment to the citizenship law – do indeed indicate the growing strength of Lieberman and his ideology in Israeli politics and in the Israeli establishment. These occurrences also demonstrate how Lieberman plans to take over the political arena: his insistence during coalition talks that Netanyahu hand over the Justice and Internal Security portfolios to ministers of Lieberman’s choosing (Neeman and Aharonovich respectively) has come, in this same week, to magnificently fascistic fruition.

Resistance to the Liebermanization of Israeli politics, to racist incitement and to the exclusion of the Arab citizens and the left from democratic space – this is today the primary task of all lovers of peace and democracy in Israel.

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