There will be one certain result from Tuesday’s election: Around 100 members of the next Knesset will be supporters of apartheid. This has no precedent in any democracy. A hundred out of 120 legislators, an absolute of absolute majorities, one that supports maintaining the current situation, which is apartheid.
Electoral campaign posters in Tel Aviv on April 3, 2019. Left: Netanyahu (Likud), right: Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya'alon, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazy (Kahol Lavan, Blue & White Party). Photo Jack Guez/AFP
With such a majority, it will be possible in the next Knesset to officially declare Israel an apartheid state. With such support for apartheid and considering the durability of the occupation, no propaganda will be able to refute the simple truth: Nearly all Israelis want the apartheid to continue. In the height of chutzpah, they call this democracy, even though more than 4 million people who live alongside them and under their control have no right to vote in the election.
Of course, no one is talking about this, but in no other regime around the world is there one community next to another where the residents of one, referred to as a West Bank settlement, have the right to vote, while the residents of the other, a Palestinian village, don’t. This is apartheid in all its splendor, whose existence nearly all the country’s Jewish citizens want to continue.
A hundred Knesset members will be elected from slates referred to as either right-wing, left-wing or centrist, but what they have in common surpasses any difference: None intend to end the occupation. The right wing proudly says so, while the center-left resorts to futile illusions to obscure the picture, listing proposals for a “regional conference” or “secure separation.” The difference between the two groupings is negligible. In unison, the right and left are singing “say yes to apartheid.”
As a result, this election is so unimportant, so far from crucial. So let’s cut the hysteria and the pathos over the outcome. Neither civil war nor even a rift is in the offing. The people are more united than ever, casting their vote for apartheid. Whatever Tuesday’s results may be, the country of the occupier will remain the country of the occupier. Nothing defines it better than all the other marginal issues, including the Zehut party’s campaign to legalize marijuana.
So there’s no reason to hold our breath over Tuesday’s results. The election is lost in advance. For the country’s Jews, it will shape the tone, the level of democracy, the rule of law, the corruption in which they live, but it won’t do a thing to change Israel’s basic essence as a colonialist country.
The far right wants the annexation of the West Bank, a step that would make permanent in law a situation that has long been permanent in practice. Such a step would present a tempting advantage. It would finally rip off Israel’s mask of democracy and might finally generate opposition both in the country and abroad.
But no person of conscience can vote for the fascist right wing, which includes people who advocate the expulsion of the Palestinians or the construction of a Third Temple on the Temple Mount, the destruction of the mosques there, or who even dream about extermination. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s allegedly more moderate Likud party wishes only to maintain the current situation, meaning undeclared apartheid.
The center-left seeks to engage in deception, with not a word about an end to the occupation from either Kahol Lavan or Labor, or even about lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Benny Gantz’s party has ambitious plans for a regional conference, making history, and “deepening the process of separation from the Palestinians along with uncompromisingly maintaining … the Israeli army’s freedom of action everywhere.”
It has been a long time since such a document whitewashing the occupation has been written in all its disgrace. And the Labor Party isn’t lagging behind. The most daring step it’s proposing is a referendum on the refugee camps around Jerusalem in which only Israel’s would vote, of course.
And that comes on top of well-worn declarations about settlement blocs, Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and a halt to settlement construction outside the blocs, meaning continuing settlement construction with full force. “Paths toward separation,” this party, the self-righteous founder of the settlement enterprise, calls it. Paths toward deception.
Peace? Withdrawal? Dismantling settlements? Don’t make the Zionist left laugh. Not much is left, two and a half tickets, the fringe: Meretz and Hadash-Ta’al, which support a two-state solution — that faltering train that has already left the station — and Balad-United Arab List, which is closest to advocating a one-state solution, the only solution left.