The nation-state law and the road to serfdom

The recently-legislated nation-state law is portrayed as an instrument to discriminate the Arab citizens of Israel and perpetuate the Jewish hegemony within the country. Its critics argue that it contradicts Israel’s Zionist ideology forged by Herzl, Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky as it lays the foundations for a state ruled by a national majority which offers no genuine civil and political rights to the minorities. In fact, they add, the law itself brings about nothing but damage to the Zionist cause. A serious scrutiny of the nation-state law vindicates these accusations against its proponents, but must bring to attention the fact that its aim is not just do prevent the Arabs from getting their rights; its first and foremost task is to abolish the possibility of creating s Palestinian nation-state alongside Israel.

The nation-state law is a post- or even anti-Zionist legislation in the sense that it provides Israel’s enemies the means to argue that it is nothing but an Apartheid state. If Israel is indeed a country where people are separated and discriminated along national lines, the core problem of the conflict with the Palestinians is not just the occupation of the West Bank; the problem is, therefore, the situation of the Arab dwellers of Israel/Palestine beyond the historic conflict on the land of Judea and Samaria. If it is true that Israel is a state which was born in sin and only deepens this sin by discriminatory laws, the problem is worse than it was supposed to be. In other words, the nation-state law erases the lines along which the conflict was held, namely the question of Israel’s need to withdraw to its pre-June 1967 borders. It opens a new, bitter conflict between those who cherish the values of democracy and liberalism and those who endorse nationalistic conservativism. In this situation, there is no need to build a viable Palestinian state near Israel but to fight for one democratic and secular state of Palestine where all citizens, most of them Arabs, will be equal.

The law delivers a blow to all those who believe in liberal Zionism; but it also severely strikes those who want to see a Jewish state along a Palestinian one. With no independent Palestine near Israel, the Zionist dream is doomed. If the conflict is not just about borders and territories, but also on the content of Israel’s political regime itself, the only way forward in either an Apartheid regime which will be eventually torn into pieces like its South African equivalent, or a democratic and secular Palestine where all citizens are supposedly equal. These two scenarios will bring nothing but national serfdom. An Apartheid state would be a national disaster to the Jews; it will shortly be ended in a bloodbath or collapse through civil war.   A “bi-national state,” or a “democratic and secular Palestine,” will make the Jews national minority which leans on the grace of the Arab majority. In this context, it is quite superfluous to note how Arab regimes are managed in the Middle East and elsewhere. A bi-national state will either be a tragedy or a national hell.

The nation-state law expresses in the deepest sense the fact that Israel’s nationalistic right plays to the hands of the country’s bitter enemies. It pushes forward the conflict into a dead-end where the vision of two states will be eliminated and a new struggle will be waged over the nature of Israel itself. Those who endorse the law are the true collaborators with Israel’s rivals and enemies. They sold their soul to the devil and will be remembered as such.

About the Author
DAVID MERHAV is a journalist writing for The Jerusalem Post, The Jerusalem Report and The Forward. Since 2008, he is working as journalist & Op-Ed columnist in Makor Rishon daily, Hebrew conservative newspaper published in Jerusalem; He also served as the Public Relations director for the Jabotinky Institute in Israel.
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