Reprinted from Palestine Chronicle
Most Israeli Jews have long supported two Israels: one for them and another for the Palestinian minority.
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A small scene from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unfolded last week on a Greek airport runway.
Moments before an Aegean Airlines flight was due to take off, three Israeli passengers took security into their own hands and demanded that two fellow passengers, from Israel's Palestinian minority, be removed from the plane. By the end of a 90-minute stand-off, dozens more Israeli Jews had joined the protest, refusing to take their seats.
Like a parable illustrating Europe's bottomless indulgence of Israel, Aegean staff caved in to the pressure and persuaded the two Palestinian men to disembark.
The lack of outcry from Israeli officials should be no surprise. Shortly before the Athens incident, Israel banned a Hebrew novel, Borderlife, from the schools' curriculum because it features a romance between an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian.
The education ministry said it feared the book would undermine Jewish pupils' "national-ethnic identity" and encourage "miscegenation."
As an Israeli columnist observed: "Discouraging 'assimilation' is an inseparable part of the Jewish state." Strict separation operates in the key areas of life, from residence to schooling. As a result, marriages between Israeli Jews and Palestinian citizens, a fifth of the population, are rare indeed.
It was therefore difficult not to see the paradox in Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments following a shooting by Nashat Melhem that killed three Israelis in Tel Aviv on New Year's Day.
Attacks of this kind by a Palestinian citizen on Israeli Jews are uncommon and it elicited instant condemnation from the Palestinian leadership. Nonetheless, Netanyahu seized the chance to label as "criminals" the country's 1.6 million Palestinians.
In a sequel to his notorious election eve statement last year, when he warned that Palestinian voters threatened the result by "coming to the polls in droves." Netanyahu pledged extra police funds to crack down on the "lawless" minority.
"I will not accept two states within Israel. Whoever wants to be Israeli must be Israeli all the way," he said.
But in reality there have always been two classes of Israeli, by design.
The search for Melhem ended on Friday with police shooting him dead. In the meantime, his immediate family had been either arrested as accomplices or interrogated at length.
Presumably in an effort to pressure Melhem, the police told his mother they would demolish the family home unless he turned himself in -- only Palestinians, not Jews, face house demolitions.
Earlier, when police suspected Melhem was hiding in Tel Aviv, the lodgings of dozens of Palestinian students were raided by officers with weapons drawn, though no search warrants.
At the weekend, Netanyahu conditioned a promised rise in the paltry budgets received by the Palestinian minority on an end to the "lawlessness" in their communities, as though the lack of effective policing of those communities was the responsibility of Palestinian citizens, not the government.