Proposed Apartheid

Shameful. Hateful. Disgusting. Sickening. Immoral. These and many more adjectives describe the recent attempts to prevent 20 percent of our population from being included in elections to the 22nd Knesset.

The attempts by Otzma Yehudit to ban the Arab Joint List from running for re-election are disgraceful elements of hate inherited from a hateful racist American criminal rabbi Meir Kahane who fled from America to plant his tree of hate on Israeli soil.

This disgraceful Jewish political party is attempting to resurrect the tyranny of South Africa’s malevolent history of enforced apartheid and America’s shameful history of racial segregation and give them re-birth in our Jewish and supposedly democratic state.

The Arab Joint List is the voice of our Arab citizens and as Israeli citizens they are entitled by law to be represented in the parliament of the Jewish state. A distinguished member of the Joint List, Dr. Ahmed Tibi, speaks a more classical and beautiful Hebrew than most members of our Knesset who were not Israeli-born and for whom Hebrew was not their first language.

Arabs, like Jews, are 100 percent citizens in our country and are guaranteed all civil rights which include representation in our legislature. They have not denounced the country based upon religious or racial intent but have denounced political matters which they consider to be anti-Arab. It is their right to protest. Their vote is their only weapon.

Do the Kahanist racists intend to require all Arabs to sit at the back of the bus? Will there be separate drinking fountains and bathrooms in public places for Jews and Arabs? God forbid that we should fall to such a low level. We dare not be a South Africa. We must not emulate segregationist America. We were founded upon the basis of the laws which God gave to Moses, he to Joshua and he to the elders of the people of Israel.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself”. “Be kind to the stranger within thy midst”. “Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt”.

Otzma erases these phrases from their textbook of hate.

Israel needs a Jewish Martin Luther King Jr. to stir up the Israeli public and to urge them to march by their tens of thousands against the evil-doers of the settlements who seek to destroy our democratic foundations.

We should stand by our hundreds or thousands in front of the doors of our Knesset barring entrance to Otzma and its shameful cohorts. There should be a march on Jerusalem similar to King’s famous March on Washington. There he had a dream of freedom which became the end of hundreds of years of oppression, persecution, lynching and murders of citizens whose skin was black.

Arab citizens should arise and march with decent Jewish citizens to demonstrate to all the world our disdain for the discrimination against citizens who happen to be Arabs. To remain silent in the midst of this hatred and discrimination marks each one of us as guilty approvers of this travesty of justice.

We are not. We cannot be. We must never be. Have we forgotten the rights from which we were denied in countries of Europe and North Africa? Where is the Jewish conscience? Where is the Jewish sympathy for the oppressed and down-trodden amongst us?

Arab citizens may hate us because of the Nakba of 1948 which they believe cost them loss of homes, land, property and lives. We may disagree with their hatred but truth to tell, our hands were not always clean.

Our independence in 1948 produced a declaration, a tribute to mankind in its wording, which guaranteed full rights and privileges to all citizens of our minority population.

Otzma and its hateful followers would seek to revise the equality phrase and replace it with words seeking emigration and removal of all our native-born Arab population to unknown corners of the world.

We should not sit idly by hanging our heads in shame. We must stand up and defeat those hateful elements among us because God commanded us “tzedek tzedek tirdof”… righteousness and justice shall you pursue.

Hopefully the Justices in our Supreme Court will recognize the racism and anti-Arab proposals of our far right parties and will dismiss them at once.

Those who propose to dispose of our Arab citizens should remember the fate of their leader, Meir Kahane and should take caution that his fate is not replicated upon them.

Israel is a Jewish homeland in which ALL of its citizens are entitled to beliefs and opinions which may differ from our own. That is what happens in a democracy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. rise up from your grave. The Jewish people need you. We need your dream.

Apartheid died in South Africa. Segregation died in the United States of America.

We must never allow it to be born in the State of Israel.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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