No one expected Benjamin Netanyahu to win the gushing approval of the editorial board of Israel's liberal newspaper Haaretz but they were decidedly unimpressed by their prime minister's speech to part of the US Congress yesterday. Their view is that Netanyahu deliberately avoided any mention of the real existential threat to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state - the ever expanding occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Israel’s insistence on ruling over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank who lack civil rights, expanding the settlements and keeping residents of the Gaza Strip under siege is the danger that threatens its future.
Israel is mortgaging its national resources to maintain a dual regime of democracy for Jews and apartheid for Palestinians. But the illusion that the occupation is comfortable and quiet, and that most Israelis are isolated from it, is fated to explode.
In recent years, during which relative security quiet prevailed in the West Bank, Israel embarked on three wars in Gaza that killed thousands of Palestinian civilians – solely in order to maintain the status quo. These periodic “operations,” along with the cessation of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, have left a moral stain on the Israel Defense Forces, and on the statesmen who sent them into Gaza and on policing missions in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron.
Calls for boycotting Israel and recognizing Palestine even without an agreement have moved from the political fringes to center stage in the West. Instead of the Palestinians giving up their national aspirations, Israel is being forced to contend with claims that Zionism and democracy are mutually exclusive.
...Internal tensions between Jews and Arabs have risen, and right-wing parties have vied among themselves in pushing anti-democratic laws designed to institutionalize discrimination against the minority and deprive it of the right of political expression. While Netanyahu was planning his speech in Washington, right-wing thugs attacked MK Haneen Zoabi at a political conference in Ramat Gan. This was the natural continuation of the nation-state bill and the attempts to oust Zoabi and her colleagues from the Knesset, and more proof that democracy has trouble flourishing or even functioning alongside apartheid and military occupation.