Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s ‘Justice Minister’, Explains Why Universal Human Rights Must Take Second Place to Zionism
The idea of a Jewish Democratic state is a fiction much loved by the Zionist left. According to the 2013 Democracy Index 74.8% of Jews believe that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic whereas only one-third of Israeli Arabs believe this.This definition is implanted in the nearest equivalent to Israel’s constitution, the Basic Law 1985 which stipulates that an election list cannot participate in elections to the Knesset, if their goals or actions include ‘negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.’
According to a survey commissioned by the Jewish National Fund, in reaction to the decision of the Supreme Court in Kadan that it was illegal to refuse to allocate land to someone because they are not Jewish, over 80% of Israeli Jews preferred the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as a state of all its citizens.
This is the backdrop to the speech below by Israel’s ‘Justice’ Minister Ayelet Shaked at the Congress on Judaism and Democracy. Shaked is a member of Habayit HaYehudi/Jewish Home a far-Right religious settlers party and someone who has advocated genocide of the Palestinians. Shaked sees it as her mission to move the courts and Israeli society away from western notions of universal values and human rights and towards Zionist ideals. What matters are Jewish rights in a Jewish state.
Shaked articulated the case for the Jewish Nation State Law which spells out that Israel is a state of its Jewish citizens not all its citizens. That is the foundation stone on which Israel as an Apartheid society rests. An ethno-nationalist state represents a particular ethnicity not all its citizens or those who reside within its borders. It is by definition a racist state.
Shaked raised the spectre of ‘a kind of creeping conquest from Africa.’ This fear of hordes of non-Jewish migrants, posed in apocalyptic terms of ‘conquest’ by a whole continent, represents the racist siege mentality of proponents of the racial state. The fear of losing the Jewish demographic majority is the greatest fear of Israel's rulers and the Zionist movement because it lays bare the undemocratic reality lying at the heart of the Israeli state's existence.
The 'demographic question' governs the policies and actions of Israel’s government. The desire for racial purity and with it domination is the fear and the bond that ties Israel’s Jewish working class to its ruling class.
According to Shaked, Israel as a Jewish state must accord the Arabs civil but not national rights. In most states nationality and citizenship are coterminous, even if there is more than one nationality within an over arching nationality. So for example all residents in Spain are Spanish although within Spain's borders there are Spaniards, Catalans and Basques. All have equal rights individually even though the rights of Catalans and Basques as distinct nationalities are circumscribed and subordinate to the greater Spanish nationality. But in Israel there is no overarching Israeli nationality. The dominant nationality is Jewish in a Jewish State. It is clear that one nationality, the Jewish nationality, is superior and favoured to all other nationalities. There are many other nationalities but none of them have national rights which makes these 'nationalities' an absurdity, totally meaningless!
But what in practice does it mean to say, as Shaked does, that Arabs only have civil rights? In fact it is a deliberate smokescreen. What are termed Israeli Jewish national rights are in fact the individual rights accorded to Jews in accordance with Jewish racial supremacy. The failure to recognise an Arab or Palestinian nationality on equal terms to a Jewish nationality means that the individual rights of Arabs and Palestinians, as individuals, is that much less.
Jewish racial superiority in Israel results in segregation in most areas of life. It means means that the individual rights of Israeli Arabs are inferior to those of Israeli Jews in almost every area of life. Israeli Jewish ‘national’ rights are therefore, by definition, racist.
It is expressed e.g. in the differing levels of poverty in Israel. Whilst 30.3% of Israeli children lived in poverty at the end of 2015, this masked the difference between Arab and Jewish children. Whilst one-fifth of Jewish children lived in poverty, some two-thirds of Arab children did. 30% of Israeli Children Living in Poverty; Arabs, Haredim Worst Affected, Report Claims, Ha'aretz 17.1.17. Whilst poverty decreased between 2014 and 2015 for Israeli families overall, amongst Arab families the poverty rate increased from 52.6% in 2014 to 53.3% in 2015, while the poverty rate among Arab children increased from 63.5% in 2014 to 65.6% in 2015. More than 1 in 5 Israelis live in poverty, highest in developed world, Jerusalem Post 15.12.16.
There is no end of justifications for Zionism's racism. According to Shaked it is not offensive to talk of ‘Judaising the Galilee’ or Negev or Jerusalem. What this means is seen in the demolition of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in January 2017, where a school teacher was murdered as part of the eviction and demolition of the village. It means the demolition of other ‘unrecognised’ villages in order to replace them with Jewish towns and villages. It means ensuring that the majority of Arabs in a region is thinned out by Jews. Judaisation is no different in principle from the Nazi deJewification. Here we seen Shaked’s fully fledged racism.
|Jerusalem Day, Damascus Gate which is an excuse for racist settler youth to rampage through the Arab quarter chanting 'death to the Arabs'|
And just in case the meaning has not sunk in, she makes it crystal clear:
“the state should say that there is place to maintain the Jewish majority even if it violates rights.”
If the price of a Jewish majority means racism and an infringement of the rights of its minority Arab citizens then so be it. In other words Israel is the kind of democracy in which it is impossible for Jews every to be in anything other than a majority.
Shaked concedes that ‘there is an advantage to democracy’ but ‘it must be balanced’. In other words whilst ‘democracy’ is good for PR reasons it has its limits. How can you balance democracy? It’s like pregnancy. You either are or you aren't. You either have it or you don’t. In other words Shaked is saying that if Zionism and a Jewish state can be preserved democratically with a Jewish majority, then fine. But if it maintaining a Jewish majority can’t be done democratically then it must be done undemocratically.
|This is a nice graphic but not altogether true in all of Israel - some cities are mixed and restaurants and buses (except to the West Bank) are not segregated - most housing though is|
Again Shaked makes clear her worries that although universal human rights are enshrined in Israel’s court judgements (in fact they are not) what she terms ‘Jewish values’ are not. One wonders what it is that she calls ‘Jewish values’. For Shaked ‘Jewish values’ are the values of racial domination. In essence they are a euphemism for Jewish supremacy. What worries her is that the emphasis has been on universal rather than on racial and ethnic Jewish rights. I disagree that this is the case in Israel but for a fascist any concession to the minority is one too many.
“In our laws there are universal values, rights, already enshrined in a very serious way. But the national and the Jewish values are not enshrined. Over the past 20 years, there has been more of a focus on rulings over universal values and less over the Jewish character of the state.’Notice how Shaked contrasts universal values against what she calls the ‘Jewish character’ of the state. Universal values apply regardless of colour, ethnicity etc. whereas ‘Jewish values’ by definition only apply to Jews. So universal values for example would suggest that anyone, regardless of ethnicity, can rent a piece of land or property.
|Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948 contained a pledge of equality for all citizens (Arabs had to wait 3 years for citizenship) however the Declaration was never integrated into the law and therefore has no legal effect|
What Shaked is arguing for is precisely what anti-Zionists have argued for years. Zionism is inherently racist, it is a form of Jewish supremacy and it is the ideology of racial exclusivity. Shaked, unlike her Israeli Labour Party opponents is at least being honest. These arguments echo a speech Shaked made a year ago when she said that:
“Zionism should not – and I’m saying here that it will not – continue to bow its head to a system of individual rights interpreted in a universal manner”. Translated this means that universal rights such as equality before the law, equality between people of different racial or ethnic origin, non-discrimination must be sacrificed on the altar of the Jewish supremacy inherent in Zionism.
And in case there were any doubt Shaked refers specifically to the Kadan case in 2000 in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Jewish National Fund could not discriminate in selling or leasing land to non-Jews. This ruling was opposed not only by Likud but also by much of the Israeli Labour Party. The reason as Shaked freely admits is ‘whether it’s all right for a Jewish community to, by definition, be only Jewish, I want the answer to be ‘yes, it’s all right.’”
In other words racially pure Jewish settlements inside Israel proper are perfectly acceptable to this racist. If there were any doubt she refers to the Family Unification Law (which like any Orwellian law stands for the exact opposite – it is really the Division of the Family Law). Non-Jews i.e. Arabs don’t have, unlike Israeli Jews, the right to bring in a partner to marriage if they live in the West Bank or the Arab countries. A Jew can bring in whomeosever s/he wants. Shaked worries that the Supreme Court only upheld the law by 6-5 votes and quotes approvingly from ex-Judge Chessin that Israel is not a utopian state. Well racial equality in Israel might be utopian but in most of the world it is taken for granted, at least on paper.
Thus we have a Jewish Nation State law which is fundamentally racist, which demotes Arabic from an official language and lays the basis for an open acknowledgement that Israel is a Jewish Supremacist State. Yet despite this Israel describes itself as the only democracy in the Middle East.
We should at least welcome Shaked’s honesty. Unlike her hypocritical Labour Zionist opponents she is at least honest that Zionism and equality are opposites and that a Jewish democratic state is an oxymoron.
By Ahmed Moor
Israel continues to lurch and stagger in the darkened bog of tribal chauvinism. The Jewish state’s further descent into the bellicose murk is being felt by the country’s minorities. Home destructions and deportations are portentous of a bleaker future for non-Jews in Israel.
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have lived under an Israeli apartheid regime for decades now. Over the years, Israel has demolished homes, kidnapped thousands of political prisoners, transferred 500,000 settler-colonists onto the West Bank, conducted massive military operations in civilian areas, hoarded the vast majority of Palestinian water, and committed a host of other crimes under the apartheid banner.Today, the Zionism which has destroyed so many occupied lives is turning inwards. Israel is being corroded by the ideology underpinning its existence. The Zionist state’s latest victims are Palestinian-Israelis and migrant workers.
The Guardian‘s “Ethnic cleansing in the Israeli Negev,” depicts a hulking mass of baklava-clad riot guards descending on Al-Araqib in the pre-dawn morning. The village’s Bedouin residents were forcibly extracted from their homes while a bulldozer bulldozed their lives. Incredibly, the village was destroyed to make room for a national forest. It seems that against all morality, the desert will continue to bloom.
That the destruction of a Palestinian-Israeli village requires an audience is only slightly shocking. Groups of Jewish Israeli citizens were bussed in to cheer the spectacle of the state-sanctioned “ethnic cleansing.” What’s very shocking is that the Jewish state enlisted the services of young Jews in wreaking destruction. Teenage volunteers with the police civilian guard emptied the Palestinian-Israeli houses and “smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings.”
Elsewhere in Israel, non-Jewish youths learned that they were unfit to remain in country of their birth. Four-hundred migrant children — most of them born in Israel — will be deported soon. Ironically, their expulsion has been spearheaded by parliamentarians from the rightwing Yisrael Beiteinu party, many of whom are Russian immigrants to Israel.
Weighing in on the topic, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, “this is a tangible threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel.”
Many of Israel’s staunchest supporters are baffled by what’s happening in the small Mediterranean state. Regrettably, they fail to understand that Israel is following the natural evolution of a country founded on a race-exclusive basis.
Israeli pundits frequently insist that their state is both Jewish and democratic. They say that minorities in Israel have equal rights and representation in state apparatuses. That’s not true, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that roughly 20% of Israelis are not Jewish. And those non-Jews are meeting one another, falling in love, and having children. To borrow Netanyahu’s words, it is these children that are a “threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel.”
Zionism — the idea that Jewish people ought to have a Jewish state in mandate Palestine — is anachronistic in the 21st century. The idea that non-Jews who have lived on the land for generations before the creation of the state of Israel should be relegated to second-class citizenship because they’re not Jewish is illiberal. It’s also racist.
These people, Palestinian-Israelis and other native non-Jews, have no way of entering the mainstream of political and cultural life in Israel. The only reason they can’t is because they’re not Jewish.
Is it possible for a non-Jewish person to become the Prime Minister of Israel today? And what about Minister of Defense? What does it mean for the Jewish state if the 20% minority grows to 50%, then 70%? Is it still the Jewish state?
For too long Western liberals have engaged in willful denial about the true nature of Israel. Israel is the Jewish state — of that I have no doubt. But can the Jewish state be squared with liberal and democratic values when one out of every five citizens isn’t Jewish? I don’t think so.
Israel is already an apartheid state. The separation of the people — their enforced apartness — arises not out of security considerations, but racial ones. In short, Israel cannot be both the Jewish and democratic state. That’s because Zionism is fundamentally anti-democratic in a mixed-race society. The important questions now are how will Israel prevent the growth of its non-Jewish minorities? And how long will Western liberals continue to pretend that Zionism is compatible with liberalism?
Minister Ayelet Shaked addressed the proposed nation-state law, contending that Israel as a Jewish state must administer equal civil but not national rightsRevital Hovel. Ha’aretz Feb 13, 2018 2:57 AM
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Monday that if not for the fence erected some years ago on the Egyptian border, “We would be seeing here a kind of creeping conquest from Africa.” The fence effectively stopped asylum-seekers from Sudan and Eritrea from entering the country.
In a speech to the Congress on Judaism and Democracy, Shaked also said, “I think that ‘Judaizing the Galilee’ is not an offensive term. We used to talk like that. In recent years we’ve stopped talking like that. I think it’s legitimate without violating the full rights of the Arab residents of Israel.”
The justice minister made the remarks in a wide-ranging speech on the controversy over the Jewish nation-state bill.
She further said, “There is place to maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights.” She added, however, that maintaining a Jewish majority in Israel and acting democratically “must be parallel and one must not outweigh the other.”
Regarding the nation-state bill, Shaked said, “I was disturbed at both the position of the state and the reasoning of the justices. The state did not defend the law for national demographic reasons, it claimed only security reasons.” Shaked told the conference that “the state should say that there is place to maintain the Jewish majority even if it violates rights.”
Shaked said she believed Judaism and democracy are values that can coexist. “From a constitutional point of view there is an advantage to democracy and it must be balanced and the Supreme Court should be given another constitutional tool that will also give power to Judaism.”
The purpose of the nation-state bill, she said, was to prevent rulings interpreting the Entry to Israel Law, or a ruling like the one in the Ka’adan case in 2000 that banned discrimination against an Arab family who wanted to move to a small Jewish community that sought to bar them.
“In our laws there are universal values, rights, already enshrined in a very serious way. But the national and the Jewish values are not enshrined. Over the past 20 years, there has been more of a focus on rulings over universal values and less over the Jewish character of the state. This tool [the nation state bill] is a tool that we want to give the court for the future,” said the justice minister.
In response to a question from the interviewer, TV journalist Dana Weiss, on whether the court could not consider the Jewish character of the state without a nation-state law, she said: “It can, but it’s as if you’d say that without the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty the court won’t care about dignity and human rights. It’s different when you have a constitutional tool.”
Shaked: Court could take 'equality' very far
On the coalition’s intent to keep the word “equality” out of the nation-state bill, Shaked said: “Israel is a Jewish state. It isn’t a state of all its nations. That is, equal rights to all citizens but not equal national rights.” Shaked said the word “equality” was very general and the court could take it “very far,” adding, “There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality.”
Shaked said the nation-state bill did not deal with the issue of who is a Jew. “Everyone has his own Judaism. In the nation-state bill, when it talks about a Jew, it means the nationality.” Shaked then referred to the Ka’adan ruling and said that if such a case were to come up again or “the argument over whether it’s all right for a Jewish community to, by definition, be only Jewish, I want the answer to be ‘yes, it’s all right.’”
The question of the legality of the Family Unification Law, which prevents the unification of families where one of the couple is Palestinian and one is Arab Israeli, was twice decided at the time by the Supreme Court by one vote, with six justices supporting it and five dissenting. The justices gave precedence to security considerations over the importance of the right to maintain a family, in a case that split the Supreme Court.
In Shaked’s speeches, she often quotes the words of the late Justice Mishael Chesin, who was in the majority opinion that approved the law, in which he said Israel needed to awaken from the dream that it was a utopian state.
Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli justice minister has done it again: She has spelled out Israeli Apartheid in unequivocal terms, and tied it directly to Zionism:
“There is place to maintain a Jewish majority even at the price of violation of rights.”
she said yesterday (Monday) at the Congress on Judaism and Democracy, as reported by Haaretz.
Shaked was speaking about Israel’s “Nation State of the Jewish People” bill, and made it clear that equality was essentially anathema to the “Jewish State”:
On the coalition’s intent to keep the word “equality” out of the nation-state bill, Shaked said that
“Israel is a Jewish state. It isn’t a state of all its nations. That is, equal rights to all citizens but not equal national rights.”
Shaked said the word “equality” was very general and the court could take it “very far,” adding that
“There are places where the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state must be maintained and this sometimes comes at the expense of equality.”
She is thus echoing what she said half a year ago – that
“Zionism should not – and I’m saying here that it will not – continue to bow its head to a system of individual rights interpreted in a universal manner”.
Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy had then thanked Shaked for telling the truth:
“Thus Shaked believes, as do so many around the world, that Israel is built on foundations of injustice and therefore must be defended from the hostile talk of justice. How else can the repulsion to discussing rights be explained? Individual rights are important, she said, but not when they are disconnected from ‘the Zionist challenges.’ Right again: The Zionist challenges indeed stand in contradiction to human rights…”
And he concluded:
“Zionism is Israel’s fundamentalist religion, and as in any religion, its denial is prohibited. In Israel, ‘non-Zionist’ or ‘anti-Zionist’ aren’t insults, they are social expulsion orders. There’s nothing like it in any free society. But now that Shaked has exposed Zionism, put her hand to the flame and admitted the truth, we can finally think about Zionism more freely. We can admit that the Jews’ right to a state contradicted the Palestinians’ right to their land, and that righteous Zionism gave birth to a terrible national wrong that has never been righted; that there are ways to resolve and atone for this contradiction, but the Zionist Israelis won’t agree to them.”
Shaked is once again making points which are a direct confirmation of the essential conclusions of last year’s shelved UN report on Israeli Apartheid, which elucidated the racist practices of the Israeli state and its inherent Apartheid nature. The report noted that
“Palestinian political parties can campaign for minor reforms and better budgets, but are legally prohibited by the Basic Law from challenging legislation maintaining the racial regime. The policy is reinforced by the implications of the distinction made in Israel between “citizenship” (ezrahut) and “nationality” (le’um): all Israeli citizens enjoy the former, but only Jews enjoy the latter. “National” rights in Israeli law signify Jewish-national rights.” (My emphasis).
That report caused great furor amongst Israeli leadership, and the UN Secretary General bowed to Israeli (as well as American) pressure to have it taken down for its supposed ‘anti-Semitic’ nature – but here is Israel’s Justice Minister confirming what it is essentially saying.
Shaked, who has a penchant for genocidal and fascist rhetoric, is very clear about why she wants the Nation State bill to be consolidated into a quasi-constitutional ‘base-law’: The purpose of the nation-state bill, she said, was to prevent a ruling like the one in the Ka’adan case in 2000 that banned discrimination against an Arab family who wanted to move to a small Jewish community that sought to bar them. Shaked wants it to be completely possible for a Jewish community to bar entry for Palestinian citizens on a racial basis. Indeed, Shaked referred to the Ka’adan ruling, saying that
“the argument over whether it’s all right for a Jewish community to, by definition, be only Jewish, I want the answer to be ‘yes, it’s all right.’”
Shaked again bemoaned that “universal values” were supposedly taking over:
“Over the past 20 years, there has been more of a focus on rulings over universal values and less over the Jewish character of the state. This tool [the nation state bill] is a tool that we want to give the court for the future.”
So Shaked wants to close the door on those small aberrations, where there appears to be a tiny crack in the wall of Israeli Apartheid. She wants it completely shut and bolted. And most important: the world needs to accept it as a legitimate ideology and policy.
Let it be noted, this is all about Israeli policy vis-à-vis its own non-Jewish citizens. This is not even about Israel’s 1967 occupation (although it of course indirectly affects Israeli policy in all territories).
On the one hand, one could be tempted to believe that Shaked is just fighting a battle against the courts, and that there is a supposedly liberal Supreme Court that can act as counterweight to this. But remember – the Supreme Court is essentially Zionist, and therefore it is always biased towards the “Jewish State”. Since that concept cannot be challenged in any meaningful way, and since Shaked is actually voicing Zionist ideology honestly and vociferously, one is left with very little meaningful agency to protest or counter this.
One agency is, of course, the civil, democratic grassroots means of protest: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).
But look what Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said at a recent anti-BDS conference. BDS is a “a civil wrong”, she said, and went on:
“Calling for a boycott is a means of coercion and not persuasion. It does not serve the basic principles of democracy, but instead undermines them by preventing a free exchange of ideas. As such, it is not worthy of the constitutional protection enjoyed by other forms of political expression.”
So, too bad – BDS is not protected speech, according to Israel’s highest court authority. And hence it is alright for the state itself to impose sanctions upon individuals for pursuing it:
“The imposition of legal sanctions is proportionate when the state is interested in defending itself against a boycott of civilians”, Hayut said.
It must become clear that this positioning is fascism in its very essence. The state may be ‘criticised’, by means that allow “exchange of ideas”, but not by means which the state itself deems may actually bring about change to its racial structure and hierarchy. This is not an unexpected external growth from a supposedly ‘democratic Zionism’. All this simply amounts to a further dropping of masks concerning the very essence of Zionism. It is Apartheid in its very nature.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said a couple of years ago that “Israel has been infected by the seeds of fascism.” But he is the same ‘leftist hero’ who bragged about how the Israeli left had “liberated” the occupied territories, and bemoaned that the US didn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital already 65 years ago. So Barak is saying that these “seeds of fascism” are just something that has “infected” Israel in the recent period. But they were there all the time, they are the seeds of the fruits of Zionism, which Barak is a subscriber to. It is doubtful that a ‘liberal’ such as Barak or his ilk, can ever ‘rescue’ Zionism from its more overt fascists such as Shaked.
The US has been through the Apartheid fairy-tale phase that Israel is in, with its ‘separate but equal’ legal doctrine, which maintained that even if there was racial segregation (literally Apartheid), African-Americans could still be considered “equal”, just “separate”. It took various Supreme Court rulings from 1950’s as well as the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to overturn this false notion of “equality”.
But Israel is working precisely the other way, and Shaked is confirming that the state ideology explicitly overrides equality. Truth be told, it has been so since day 1.
H/t P.S. Arihant