For just six months of its 73 years was Israel a democracy. Six months, and not one day more. This shocking fact, which most Israelis and the wider world repress and truth-seekers have no way of denying, must resound in every civics lesson and every debate in Israel.
All the nonsense about “Bibi is destroying democracy” ignores this eternal fact: Only for six months did the state treat all the people under its rule in a democratic way, at least for the sake of appearances. Throughout all its decades of existence, Israel has treated part of its subjects tyrannically. That’s why it has no connection at all with democracy.
On October 21, 1948, Israel put its Arab citizens under a military government. On December 1, 1966, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol lifted this disgrace. Six months later, in June 1967, military tyranny returned to define Israel when its newly occupied territories were placed under military rule.
This situation has continued to this day and its end is nowhere in sight. All that remains is the costume. Now, that too is beginning to be torn away; a long process. The roots of the lie of democracy are deep.
The rights group B’Tselem published a revolutionary position paper last week, crossing the Rubicon by saying that the Jewish supremacy regime exists not just in the occupied territories, where B’Tselem has been documenting crimes since the group’s founding, but in all the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.
A few days earlier, the American writer Nathan Thrall, who lives in Jerusalem, published an eye-opening and mind-expanding piece in The London Review of Books entitled “The Separate Regimes Delusion.” Thrall doesn’t hesitate to criticize the supposedly liberal-Zionist and leftist organizations, from Meretz and Peace Now to Yesh Din and Haaretz. All of them believe that Israel is a democracy and oppose annexation because it could undermine their false belief that the occupation is happening somewhere else, outside of Israel, and is only temporary. The separation between the occupation and Israel is still valid in their eyes, so they’re leading people astray.
The conclusion from the two documents is one and the same: It’s impossible to speak any longer about “apartheid in the territories.” It’s impossible to separate the territories and Israel, and it’s impossible to consider the occupation temporary. The conclusion: Israel is an apartheid state. Just as in South Africa it was ludicrous to talk about democracy, even though elections were held, it’s ridiculous to view Israel as a democracy.
If part of it is tyranny, all of it is tyranny. It’s impossible to argue with the fact that in the occupied territories two systems of rights and laws exist based on the separating of nationalities. No fact is more certain.
The temporariness of the occupation is also an outdated argument. That’s why we have to stop trying to terrify people and claim that the right wing is leading us to apartheid. Apartheid has been here since 1948. Only then will we be able to recognize that the occupation defines the Israeli regime – not the High Court of Justice, not the elections and not the freedoms for Jews, and also a bit for non-Jewish citizens. Jewish supremacy is in everything, as B’Tselem puts it. It’s impossible to separate the “good” Israel and the “bad” occupation, as Thrall states.
Get to know it: apartheid. An apartheid state. We live in one, we are part of it, we are partners to it. It’s our country.