Welcome, racists

Inaction over Syria reveals anti-Arab racism in the West:
Rather than the fly-in serving as a 'Welcome to Palestine,' as the organizers called the protest campaign, it was aimed at expressing solidarity with Israel and stressing the extent to which Israel belongs to the activists' cultural family.
Salman Masalha || Welcome, racists

Israel responded to the weekend fly-in by the so-called "pro-Palestinian" activists with hysteria bordering on stupidity, at best - because, even if it sounds strange, these activists are in no way pro-Palestinian or pro-Arab. Rather than the fly-in serving as a "Welcome to Palestine," as the organizers called the protest campaign, it was aimed at expressing solidarity with Israel and stressing the extent to which Israel belongs to the activists' cultural family.

It is possible that some of these activists are good, naive people who wish to mend the world. It is also possible that some of them came with the intention of blackening Israel's already blackened face. And even when the world is busy with more urgent matters, it is proper to remember the sad plight of the Palestinians and not to let the prolonged Israeli occupation be forgotten. This is indeed an important matter.

However, it is clear that the civilized and politically correct world of these activists is infested with racism - not against the Jews but against Arab and Muslim culture, because the protest shows that the organizers' premise completely contravenes any identification with Arab suffering.

There is a grain of truth in the cynical letter the Israeli government prepared for any of the activists who, despite all of Israel's attempts to keep them out, managed to land here anyway. In that letter, the government says the protesters could have focused on the actions of Syria, Iran or Hamas, but chose Israel instead. Indeed, were these activists to have waved the banner of human rights in general and Arab human rights in particular, they would certainly have found somewhere to express their "moral" commitment in other places in this region. There is no dearth of such objectives in recent times.

For a year or more now, Syrian President Bashar Assad has been massacring Syrian Arab citizens who are demanding freedom. The rest of the world, which for some reason is considered cultured, has been observing this atrocity with its arms folded and has done nothing to stop the killings and destruction in Syrian cities. This is the civilized world to which these activists belong, and they appear to be acting according to the moral codes of this world of theirs.

Those who divide the world, and the human beings who populate it, into two categories - some to whom universal moral rules apply and some to whom they don't - cannot be called moral. Universal morals must be applied to everyone. The morality of anyone who excludes any group of people who are not required to act according to moral codes is in itself dubious.

Is it a kind of multicultural racism that prevents these and other activists from displaying solidarity with the Syrian Arab citizens who are being slaughtered? Do Syria and other countries like it in the Arab world belong, in the eyes of these activists and others like them, to a different cultural world, one where universal moral codes do not apply?

Human rights activists of this kind, who cannot find the time to hold demonstrations of solidarity with Arab citizens who are being massacred on a daily basis in Arab countries, in effect reveal anti-Arab racism through their inaction. For them, the Arab and Muslim world belongs to a different cultural world that behaves according to different moral codes, which are not part of "our" lofty Western moral codes.

To the way of thinking of these activists, Israel is something else. Israel is part of their family. That is why they come to demonstrate here, rather than in Syria or other Arab countries. This fly-in, and similar demonstrations, shoul
d be renamed "Welcome to Israel."
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 17 April 2012

For Hebrew, press here

Patriot games

Letting Israeli expats vote is a political manipulation:

The Israeli legal system desperately needs an important new law, and this electoral law must include a very 'patriotic' clause - that any Israeli who has a foreign passport will not have the right to vote here.

Salman Masalha || Patriot games

The Knesset elections are drawing near and associated issues are in the air. It is not only primaries, opinion polls and new parties that have sprung up like mushrooms after the summer social protests. Legislation is also being promoted about who has the right to vote.

A controversial old initiative has recently been resurrected. Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser is taking steps to promote a law that would extend the right to vote to Israelis living abroad. The number of such citizens is estimated at approximately 700,000. Or, in electoral terms, two more seats for Knesset members of the ilk of Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin (both Likud MKs).

As was to be expected, the initiative has aroused opposition because it raises suspicions that the initiators wish to garner votes from abroad so as to prevent any possibility of government change.

A group of intellectuals have gotten together and called to end efforts to promote it. They point out that the proposed legislation would help parties get votes from abroad on the basis of the Law of Return, which grants immediate citizenship to Jews. "The [right to vote] from abroad will encourage taking on citizenship in order to vote," they write, adding, "Organized groups of Jews from abroad will decide about the lives of Israelis."

The political manipulation in this proposal is very obvious, and that is why it is being opposed by what is known here as "the left." As a general rule, any talk in Israel about "left" and "right" is a delusion, since there is neither a Jewish, nor an Arab, left-wing here. On the Jewish side, it is difficult to discern any difference between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud ), Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) or Shelly Yachimovich (Labor ) with regard to anything relating to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the Arab side, too, it is difficult to spot any difference between Knesset members Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash), Jamal Zahalka (Balad) and Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al).

It is possible that, among the Zionist parties, there are people who oppose granting citizenship in order to vote, but all of them continue to support citizenship in order to expropriate - especially to expropriate lands belonging to those who are known in the Zionist lexicon as "non-Jews." Any disparity between the many Zionist parties is therefore reduced to the distinction between the handful of people on the right who are somewhat liberal with regard to trifling civic matters, and the vast majority of nationalist and fundamentalist right-wingers. It must be admitted that a true leftist - from the political, social and cultural points of view - exists only in theory. No real left-wing can exist against the backdrop of the prolonged nationalist conflict in this land.

One needs an especially fertile imagination in order to fight against the delusions of the rightists. But if patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, the scoundrels should be supplied with pure patriotism and their spiritual world undermined.

The Israeli legal system desperately needs an important new law, and this electoral law must include a very 'patriotic' clause - that any Israeli who has a foreign passport will not have the right to vote here. Moreover, anyone with a foreign passport will not be allowed to vote, or be elected, in municipal elections, and will not be allowed to serve in any position in the civil service.

By promoting a law of this kind, it will be possible to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, people will be elected whose sole loyalty is to the citizens who live here. And on the other, all those dubious and contemptible "patriots" will be exposed for all to see.
Published: Opinions-Haaretz, 9 April 2012

For Hebrew, press here