Nothing should better qualify me to write about world affairs at the moment - and Western meddling in Ukraine - than the fact that I have intimately followed the twists and turns of Israeli politics for two decades.
We will turn to the wider picture in a moment. But before that, let us consider developments in Israel, as its "historic," year-old government - which included for the very first time a party representing a section of Israel's minority of Palestinian citizens - teeters on the brink of collapse.
Crisis struck, as everyone knew it would sooner or later, because the Israeli parliament had to vote on a major issue relating to the occupation: renewing a temporary law that for decades has regularly extended Israel's legal system outside its territory, applying it to Jewish settlers living on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank.
That law lies at the heart of an Israeli political system that the world's leading human rights groups, both in Israel and abroad, now belatedly admit has always constituted apartheid. The law ensures that Jewish settlers living in the West Bank in violation of international law receive rights different from, and far superior to, those of the Palestinians that are ruled over by Israel's occupying military authorities - TWEET.
The law enshrines the principle of Jim Crow-style inequality, creating two different systems of law in the West Bank: one for Jewish settlers and another for Palestinians. But it does more. Those superior rights, and their enforcement by Israel's army, have for decades allowed Jewish settlers to rampage against Palestinian rural communities with absolute impunity and steal their land - to the point that Palestinians are now confined to tiny, choked slivers of their own homeland.
In international law, that process is called "forcible transfer," or what we would think of as ethnic cleansing. It's a major reason that the settlements are a war crime - a fact that the International Criminal Court in the Hague is finding it very hard to ignore. Israel's leading politicians and generals would all be tried for war crimes if we lived in a fair, and sane, world.
So what happened when this law came before the parliament for a vote on its renewal? The "historic" government, supposedly a rainbow coalition of leftwing and rightwing Jewish parties joined by a religiously conservative Palestinian party, split on entirely predictable ethnic lines.
Members of the Palestinian party either voted against the law or absented themselves from the vote. All the Jewish parties in the government voted for it. The law failed - and the government is now in trouble - because the rightwing Likud Party of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the Palestinian parties in voting against the law, in the hope of bringing the government down, even though his legislators are completely committed to the apartheid system it upholds.UPHOLDING APARTHEID
What is most significant about the vote is that it has revealed something far uglier about Israel's Jewish tribalism than most Westerners appreciate. It shows that all of Israel's Jewish parties - even the "nice ones" that are termed leftwing or liberal - are in essence racist.
Most Westerners understand Zionism to be split into two broad camps: the right, including the far-right, and the liberal-left camp.
Today this so-called liberal-left camp is tiny and represented by the Israeli Labour and Meretz parties. Israel's Labour Party is considered so respectable that Britain's Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, publicly celebrated the recent restoration of ties after the Israeli party severed connections during the term of Starmer's predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn.
But note this. Not only have the Labour and Meretz parties been sitting for a year in a government led by Naftali Bennett, whose party represents the illegal settlements, they have just voted for the very apartheid law that ensures the settlers get superior rights over Palestinians, including the right to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their land.
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