Gideon Levy is an antisemitic misozionist* who is paid for his poison by an Israeli newspaper. He is a truly despicable human, but sometimes he’s useful as an exemplar of the extremist Israeli please-cut-my-throat Left.
Recently he wrote,
If Israel is a democracy, it’s a state of all its citizens. There is no democracy that isn’t a state of all its citizens. From America to Germany, all are states of all their citizens. If they weren’t, to whom would they belong? Only to their privileged citizens. There’s no such thing as a democracy that belongs only to the privileged of one nationality. The state belongs to everyone. A regime that segregates and discriminates is called apartheid. There is no other name. … A state of all its citizens isn’t “the slogan of the enemy,” as the new foreign minister [Yisrael Katz] put it. It’s the heart and soul of democracy.
It’s a cold day in Hell when our dear Gideon doesn’t refer to Israel as an apartheid state, but usually he is referring to the fact that Palestinian Arabs living in Judea and Samaria cannot vote. This time he seems to be inspired by an even more fundamental fact, that Israel is defined – by its Declaration of Independence and now by its Nation-State Law – as a Jewish state. Since there are Arabs living here – even though these Arabs have the right to vote and hold office, as well as all the other usual civil rights – Israel cannot be a democracy.
The question wouldn’t even have come up if Israel had followed the example of every one of the Arab states, who expelled all of their Jews after 1948. But Ben-Gurion and the other founders thought a Jewish state could have Arab citizens. Perhaps that was a mistake, but unlike the Arabs, they weren’t racists.
What exactly is Levy’s “apartheid?” There aren’t Jewish and Arab beaches or drinking fountains (although there are Muslim-only water faucets on the Temple Mount), or laws against “race mixing” as there were in racist South Africa. There are separate school systems, but this is because the Arabs insist on it (there are also separate secular, national-religious, and Haredi school systems). As a result of affirmative action and other programs, the number of Arab students in Israeli universities has grown 78% in the last 7 years (under the “hardline” Likud government led by the “racist” Binyamin Netanyahu). In the fields of medicine and education, the number of Arab students is proportional to their representation in the overall population. Go to an Israeli hospital and you will probably be treated by Arab doctors or nurses. Go to the pharmacy and you will almost certainly deal with an Arab pharmacist.
So if they have civil rights and educational opportunities, what don’t they have?
In a word, ownership.
Zionism is Jewish nationalism, but it is more than that. It is based on the historical imperative that a Jewish state is essential to the self-defense of the Jewish people, and to their survival as a minority in a hostile world. This requires that certain rights be granted exclusively to the Jewish People, such as a right of return, and the right to determine the cultural character of the state, including national symbols, language, holidays, and so forth. This is precisely what is affirmed in Israel’s Nation-State law, which – I’m absolutely certain – Israel’s Supreme Court will challenge in the near future.
Does this make Jews “privileged citizens” in Levy’s words? Perhaps, but it is a necessary response to the “privileged” condition of the Jewish people for the last several millennia, which included demonization, persecution, expulsion, degradation, and industrial-scale murder. It is a necessary response, even in countries where Jews are well-treated, to the forces of assimilation. The elimination of this “privilege,” which in practice is essential to survival, is indeed the objective of our enemies, and “a state of its citizens” their slogan.
* A person infected by an extreme, irrational hatred of the Jewish state (pronounced mis-OZ-yuh-nist). See also misoziony (mis-OZ-yuh-nee), the disease itself.