Monday, August 4, 2014

The Illusion of Israel's Democracy Part 1

            Illusions are excellent tricks magicians use to captivate an audience, heck a good magician might even make a few kids actually believe magic is real. Sadly magic isn't real or I would be zooming around on a broom right now, and illusions no matter how good they are fade away and all that is left is a cold hard reality.  Israeli supporters in the United States and various other Western Democracies have the people captivated by an illusion they have been casting for decades now. The illusion is that Israel is a vibrant liberal democracy that shares important values and morals with the United States and it's cohort of other Western Democracies. Israel is a democracy there is no argument there, but is it a liberal democracy that shares the views of America?  Short answer no. Long answer no, Israel does not represent a liberal democracy it actually practices what Oren Yiftachel calls an "ethnocracy" or an ethnic Democracy. Israel consistently demonstrates why it does not belong in the same league as the other western democracies, but instead belongs in the Minor-league of the other developing democracies of the Middle East; Tunisia and Turkey.  Israel's consistent discrimination towards ethnic minorities (not just the Arabs), it's growing censorship of free speech, and its ongoing State of Emergency law make Israel less like America and more like Iran.

                In a perfect liberal democracy ethnic minorities and the majority all share in the fruits that the nation bares. Ethnic minorities are allowed to participate in the social, economic and political world with no restrictions and the country hums along perfectly. Well we all know that there is no such thing as perfect, just ask the United States we literally pushed whole tribal civilizations off their lands and established our own nation, enslaved millions of Africans and discriminated against Eastern and southern Europeans just because they looked different then western (Anglo) Europeans. No one who considers themselves intelligent goes around claiming America was a perfect democracy during that era, so why do we do it about Israel? American mainstream media (the big three CNN, MSNBC, and FOX) all claim numerous times that Israel and America share the same values and morals. Unless America still holds on to its values from the 18th and 19th century I do not think the values of Israel and America of the 21st century really jive. For example, let us look at how Israel treats its ethnic minorities, and no not just the Arabs.

                Since the beginning of the 21st century, Israel has seen an influx of African migrants who have fled conflict in Sudan and Eritrea to come to what they believed was a liberal democracy promising work and freedom. They were wrong. Since the arrival of these migrants who Israelis call "infiltrators"they have faced nothing but discrimination from both the Israeli government and the citizens of Israel themselves. The migrants can be jailed for a full year no questions asked, have faced several attacks on their businesses and their person by Israeli riots reminiscent of a Kristallnacht, and are continuously being shipped back to their home countries where conflict still rages. These types of race riots and government policies are not in line with America's 21st century core values; instead, they align more with the Jim Crow era of the American democracy, not a period I wish upon anyone.

             African migrants are not alone when it comes to discrimination, other Jews as face a hard time in the democracy that is Israel. I am speaking of the Ashkenazi (majority) and Sephardic Jews that live in Israel together. In 2009, not 1959 but 2009 Israel finally ended its decade's long education segregation of these two Jewish groups. Finally, the Israeli government said that both groups have equal access to the same educational facilities. This went untouched in American mainstream media and all throughout the years Americans were told Israel is a liberal democracy just like us, when in fact specific Jews were not allowed to associate with the Jewish majority due to fear of tainting the pure children as several Ashkenazi Jews put it in an article published by Haaretz.
Those comments are not the type of comments the American people associate with in the 21st century nor is it the type of comments that should be found in liberal democracies.

            Finally, we all know its coming; the Israeli Arab minority in Israel has of course suffered the longest under the supposedly democratic Israel. Israelis have held Israeli Arabs in a state of distrust, and honestly, who can blame Israel, Israeli Arabs tend to identify more with their Palestinian kin then they do with Israel on most cases. With that being said the fact is Israel can't be called a liberal democracy while it discriminates willingly against a large Arab minority, yet somehow the American mainstream trio flaunt Israel as a the golden child of Democracy. This deliberate sidestepping of the discrimination faced by the Israeli Arab minority is all meant to help cast the illusion of Israel's Liberal Democracy.  Israeli citizens and government offices continuously participate in the discrimination against Israeli Arabs from land seizures to economic exclusion. Israel does give the Arab minority the right to vote and hold office, but that is overshadowed by the practice of isolation conducted by Israeli society and government. These terrible human rights violations alone should convince you that Israel is not a liberal democracy, but if you are still on the fence, I have more coming next week!

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