Reprinted from Gush Shalom
AS IS well-known, Israel is a "Jewish and democratic state."
That is its official designation.
AS FOR Jewish, it's a new kind of Jewishness, a mutation.
For 2,000 years or so, Jews were known to be wise, clever, peace-loving, humane, progressive, liberal, even socialist.
Today, when you hear these attributes, the State of Israel is not the first name that springs to mind. Far from it.
As for "democratic," that was more or less true from the foundation of the state in 1948 until the Six-day War of 1967, when Israel unfortunately conquered the West Bank, the Gaza strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan. And, of course, the Sinai peninsula which was later returned to Egypt.
(I say "more or less" democratic, because there is no completely democratic state anywhere in the world.)
Since 1967, Israel has been a hybrid creation -- half democratic, half dictatorial. Like an egg that is half fresh, half rotten.
The occupied territories, we should be reminded, consist of at least four different categories:
- East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel in 1967 and is now part of Israel's capital city. Its Palestinian inhabitants have not been accepted as nor applied to be Israeli citizens. They are mere "inhabitants," devoid of any citizenship.
- The Golan Heights, formerly a part of Syria, which was annexed by Israel. The few Arab-Druze inhabitants who remain there are reluctant citizens of Israel.
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- The Gaza Strip, which is completely cut off from the world by Israel and Egypt, acting in collusion. The Israeli navy cuts it off at sea. The minimum the inhabitants need to survive is allowed to come through Israel. The late Ariel Sharon removed the few Jewish settlements from this area, which is not claimed by Israel. Too many Arabs there.
- The West Bank (of the Jordan river), which the Israeli government and right-wing Israelis call by their Biblical names "Judea and Samaria," home of the largest part of the Palestinian people, probably some 3.5 million. It is there that the main battle is on.
FROM THE first day of the 1967 occupation, right-wing Israelis were intent on annexing the West Bank to Israel. Under the slogan "the Whole of Eretz Israel" they launched a campaign for annexing this entire territory, driving the Palestinian population out and setting up as many Jewish settlements as possible.
The extremists never hid their intent of "cleansing" this land entirely of non-Jews and establishing a Greater Israel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.