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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Civil War and State Sponsored Fundamentalism

On the 25th of January this year a beguiling article was published in Ynet News (an Israeli website).  It was titled "Lapid, prevent civil war”.

It placed the onus for Israel’s future on a secular public that has grown tired of betrayal, is fed up with being abused.  There is a well loved, perhaps too well loved word in Hebrew, “Friar”.  Its meaning is not the portly gentleman with balding pate but a sucker, an easy target, a fool. I will return to this word later. The Israeli public has become used to being told that its history is myth, its religion is nonsense and its rights mortgaged to groups that despise us and whose leaders disrespect us at every turn.  So it is hardly surprising that Israel’s secular population are substantially alienated from their natural faith and grown cynical with the inflated costs they are expected to pay for the contempt they in turn receive as payment from their ultra-orthodox (referred to as ‘Haredi’ from here on in) and Arab brothers and sisters.

But this article is not about our Arab fellow citizens.  It is about the Haredi population of Israel.  According to the dictionary the Haredi are:  “any of several sects of Orthodox Judaism that reject modern secular culture and many of whom do not recognize the spiritual authority of the modern state of Israel.”

The author of this article is a Haredi history teacher so it is instructive that he fails to recognise the condescension in his tone of writing.  ‘Instructive’ because history is the study of the past and is discouraged by the Torah as a distraction.

The particularistic approach to any ideological position is the signature style of any culturally hegemonic world-view. We can and should all live within societies that do not demand absolute cultural conformity. But in authoritarian societies such as those that exist throughout the Muslim world the state exists to demand obedience to a singular approach, to a vortex of ever increasing density of regulation that inexorably draws us in whether we desire it, or not; and if not, then into ever greater conflict with the institutions of the State.

Modern Israel has been battling against this state sponsored fundamentalism since its beginning.

Haredi Judaism came into being within the pressurised environment of the ghetto. The ghetto usually protected the community from antisemitic assault but created a barrier between those forced to live separately and the rest of society. The Enlightenment created strains within this ghettoised existence as contact with the outside world increased and many people left its prison-like confines. Amos Elon viewed the Enlightenment as liberation from “the inability to think for oneself”.  But while it removed the ritual from society, in its place the Enlightenment elevated the intellect above God.  It is hardly surprising then that the reaction to the Enlightenment was one of fear and towards the ‘substantiation’ of a narrow, racially based nationalism that defined the group by its exclusion of others.  The Haredi community, created in rejection and powerlessness,   grew out of the fear that integration could only be achieved by assimilation; that ‘liberation’ from the ghetto would result in the dissolution of the authentic and faithful remnant.  The Haredi (plural Haredim) are neither a cohesive nor a homogeneous group.  In Israel they are split between Agudat Israel which, co-operates with the state, and Eda Haredit which, is fiercely opposed to having any contact with the state.

Prior to the Shoah, a life of religious study was confined to a minute number of exceptional individuals who were privately sponsored by wealthy members of society or private charity. The post Shoah, militantly secular, State of Israel viewed nourishing the remnant of European Jewry as a sacred duty.  It exempted a group of religious scholars from compulsory military service, on condition that they pursue their studies (in 1948 this exemption was for 400 men). Torato Emunato (Torah study is his occupation) rapidly became an inalienable right, but in response to this abuse of process, the non-Haredi community also became corrupted.  There has never been a requirement for objective testing in order to measure suitability for a life of intense study.  Today, many women use a spurious religious identity to avoid the draft and many of the remaining men decide that to enlist in the army, to have ones freedom ‘stolen,’ is an unnecessary imposition on their freedom to choose. They regard national service as the ultimate act of self-abuse; the behaviour of a ‘friar’.

Military conscription was once viewed as the great leveller that equalised the worker and the industrialist.  Only in deciding budget allocations and the timing for armed conflict was civilian input to military strategy necessary.  The politicisation of the Army has created unacceptable pressures that have had a huge and negative impact on the ability of the armed forces to confront an aggressor.

And so I return to what the author of the article wrote.

Mr Ohad Shaked wrote that the issue of drafting yeshiva boys “may exacerbate the religious-secular divide in Israel and lead to civil war”. Mr Shaked places the responsibility for creating the conditions under which civil war will either erupt or, with ‘wisdom’ (coercion), be prevented, on the secular politician a total of four times.

I am going to propose something else. The Status Quo was an agreement under which David Ben-Gurion agreed to provide assurances that the state would not apply coercive pressure on any sector of the diverse public. That was in 1947.  Basing exemption on equal grounds for all permanent residents of the State does not imply universal exemption for any segment of the population. In fact, secular residents do not have an automatic right to refuse national service. Postponement is allowed for exceptional students whose contribution to the state would be better served if they were permitted to complete their area of study. And then they serve their full national service plus additional time in their countries defence.

In 1948, the number of yeshiva students who received a draft deferral was 400, in 2011 it was 71,000.  A deferral almost always becomes an exemption.  The number of yeshiva students performing civilian service in 2011 was 1,080.

In order to return us to the status quo ante all discriminatory tax exemptions and subsidies (for those that refuse to serve) must be cancelled.  The reins of control over who are exempted and who receives deferment from national service must be returned to military control. The criteria for deferral or exemption must be agreed by government and applied universally.  All those people not engaged in military service must complete an equal period of national service (and reserve duty) regardless of identity.

That they do not risk their life for their nation does not make them less worthy. If they have to clean waterways, dig ditches, learn bricklaying and build hospitals; all people should contribute and if they are unwilling to do so then the states citizens should not pay for their contemptuously expressed unwillingness to contribute to the national endeavour.

There are many clich├ęs that are being thrown around in this ongoing debate, amongst them ‘the desire to create an equal sharing of the burden’ and ‘a need to reduce inequality’. But a life of study without human engagement is a wasted life and no deity would expect it. It is experiencing a life of toil that brings us towards god. Beryl Wajsman (President at the Institute for Public Affairs in Montreal, Canada) has a phrase: “suffocating self-absorption” and that is the best description I can provide for the “ungracious modernity” that has justified this post-modern individuality and contempt for national endeavour.  Fear of assimilation or dissociation, of contamination or of suffocation, none of these excuses a refusal to be part of the nation that feeds us, clothes us and protects us.  Neither prayer nor apathy provides justification for not contributing towards national service.

It is time the government set guidelines for all Israeli’s and left the army to enforcing the law.  After that, those that refuse do not need to be paid by the state for their principled stand.

The threat of civil war is not just a violation of allegiance to the state; it is an offence against God.  Look at the obscenity that is Civil War Syria. Warnings (threats) are the desperate but very blunt instrument of the demagogue.  Their contribution to the public debate is only of value in highlighting why we must implement the universal draft without political interference and in haste.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The United Nations

The United States accepted as holy writ an already discredited idea that nations talking to each other do not fight wars against each other (instead they use proxies).  We failed to learn from the failure of the League of Nations and thus, as a logical consequence of this thinking we created an ever larger, self-promoting contagion and we named it ‘the United Nations’.  Except perhaps for its World Food Program it is utterly without merit, an organisation that consumes more resources with less effect than any established bureaucracy in history.  The UN has 193 member states permanently talking at each other and it consumes over $40,000,000,000 every year.   It is a temple dedicated to waste, futility, greed and indifference.

The UN was founded in 1945 with the noble aim of maintaining international peace and security.   It has failed to prevent a single war.  100,000,000 human beings have been killed in wars that the UN failed, for the most part, to even discuss.  We need only draw upon a short sample of the more egregious failures to highlight its ethical bankruptcy:  Bangladesh – 1971 (up to 3 million people murdered by Pakistan), Rwanda – 1994 Up to 1,200,000 (mostly Tutsi men, women and children) were slaughtered while the UN literally stood by and did nothing.

Much worse, in a news story in the year 2000 it was reported in The Observer newspaper (“UN chief helped Rwanda killers arm themselves”) that “The former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, played a leading role in supplying weapons to the Hutu regime.” It continued: “Boutros-Ghali, was in charge at the UN when it turned its back on the killings in 1994.”  

But if it is incapable of nothing else, the UN is good at damning the Jews or rather, the Zionists, and at perpetuating Palestinian Arab victimhood in the pursuit of prejudice. Palestinian Arabs are the only people in the world who are guaranteed UN funding not just for life, but beyond the grave. Palestinian Arabs are the only people ever to be assigned refugee status in perpetuity. Half a billion human beings have been displaced since the close of the Second World War (including a significant number of Jews). Only those temporary migrant workers defined as residing in Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 were ever awarded rights of nationality, again, in perpetuity.  This helps to fund a refugee population whose status may only be resolved through the conscious annihilation of another nationally identifying and legitimately conceived grouping of human beings.  It is a uniquely pernicious conceptualization and for this we have the UN to give our thanks.

At its peak, over 90% of all Security Council resolutions and 90% of all General Assembly resolutions condemned the Jewish State in any one year while at its worst the conflict between Jew and Muslim (Arab and Israeli) counts for no more than one in every thousand conflict fatalities since the UN came into being, in October 1945.

In 2012:

  • The UN elected Arab Sudan – whose president is an indicted war criminal; the nation that murdered 400,000 black Sudanese and raped hundreds of thousands of girls and women in Darfur, to oversight of a leading human rights body.
  • The 47 nation UN Human Rights Council unanimously and unreservedly praised Muammar Qaddafi and his regime over its horrific Human Rights record. It was unfortunate timing that he was overthrown and murdered soon after this enlightened resolution was adopted.
  • The UN Adopted 22 resolutions attacking Israel and a combined total of 4 for the remaining 192 nations.

2012 was the year that saw at least 5,000 men, women and children killed in Syria in an Islamic conflict that has claimed some 60,000 lives since it erupted in March 2011. Curiously, the world prefers to ignore it. The 2012 Freedom House annual survey ranked the following nations as “worst of the worst”: China, Belarus, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Uzbekistan.  To this we could add Venezuela which throws its dissenting judges in jail and Turkey, that in spite of its NATO membership finds it easier to jail its dissident journalists  and gas its Kurds than it does to give them their freedom. But wait, a single resolution was raised against North Korea. Not a single resolution was raised against any of the other eight regimes.

However the Islamic bloc has made repeated attempts to globally shut down free speech through its promotion of ‘defamation of religion’ resolutions at the UN that seek to criminalize anyone whose communication output  interprets Islam in a way that is not consistent with an Islamic agenda. Fortunately for now, this conspiracy to burn books, suppress non-conformist opinions and to jail dissidents, has failed.

There are no special investigators demanding the oppressed people of the earth be freed from bondage.  Kurds of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey; Coptic & Assyrian Christians of Egypt and Iraq; Tibetan Buddhists, they are all ethnic national groups and all are deprived of representation at the UN.  Reputedly, human slavery remains endemic to the Islamic world – there are estimated to be some 30,000,000 slaves in the world today generating some $100 billion in revenues for their ‘owners’.  Slavery still exists across Niger, Sudan, Mauritania, Mali and Chad amongst others – it is often justified with reference to the Koran which accepts slavery as being part of the natural order.

So what purpose does the UN serve? It stifles debate, it protects human rights abusers and it provides mind-boggling amounts of cash to some of the most immoral nations that exist today. But it also guarantees them immunity from criticism, oversight or sanction for their crimes against humanity.

The annual administrative cost of managing the UN is between one-thousand five hundred million ($1,500,000,000) and two thousand million dollars.  The rest represents the cost of running programs such as the African peace-keeping force in Sudan. These are the soldiers to whom we owe a debt of gratitude because it meant we knew what was going on but could look the other way in free conscience.  We provided an annualized 1.5 billion dollars to the African peace keeping forces meant to protect the (Darfurian) South Sudanese (Black) Christians and animists but who instead raped and murdered them, declined the mandate to protect them but took the cash anyway.

This is the UN. It is an organization that is over 80% funded by a small group of 15 nations. Excepting Russia, Canada and the USA there is not a single wealthy oil producing nation amongst those 15.

The UN stands for representation without taxation and exploitation without responsibility. It is a political entity with 193 separate parties and 193 national egos.  It empowers the abusers and paralyses the honorable, rewarding inaction in times of crisis.   It is the most expensive board-game in history and it is played out over a global arena.

There is not a single function the UN fulfils that could not be inestimably better managed via bilateral or multilateral international agreement, thus rendering the UN superfluous.

There is not a single ethical reason for this extraordinarily ineffectual and vainglorious organisation to continue to afflict the international landscape.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Elections for the 19th Knesset

Israel has a multiparty electoral system based on proportional representation.  Each party chooses a number of candidates for elected office and the percentage of votes cast for the party will in theory be equal to the number of its candidates that receive seats in parliament. The closer to the start a person is on the list the greater is their chance for election.  It is not necessarily because the person has any tolerance that they are selected.  It is usually personal ties to influential members of the central committee that determines ones position relative to others on the list.

Israel’s electoral system allows anybody to open a party, splinter a party, steal candidates from a party, destroy a party… although I think that the smaller parties are often formed out of sheer exasperation and frustration with the more seasoned parties (and after all, that’s what democracy is all about).

The meaning and effect of all the factions, especially the extreme ones, both on the left and the right; their policies, agendas, and their modus operandi are not far behind Balad and Ta’al (the two rejectionist and separatist Arab parties). They don’t preach the destruction of the State, but they may as well do so, because their divisive tribalism has the same impact and if we follow them then that is what will happen.  Their party’s sanitized extremism enunciates an uncompromising vision. If their rhetoric is less violent it is only because they do not need it to attract their followers. 

The problem arises when we view the function of the smaller parties as pressure cookers that absorb disquiet and bleed dissatisfaction away from the main parties. In a standard democracy the marginalized citizen may become radicalized but usually they will simply disassociate themselves from society.  In Israel, at least one new social protest party is founded in time for each election.  It is effective because the election provides the disillusioned with a voice. Their more media savvy members are soon co-opted into the halls of power. Few of these prostituted political parties last more than two elections. Their members either quit politics or are subsumed within the major establishment system.  The ‘Protest Parties’ are the reason for political paralysis.  Their existence is the proof of the failure of the main parties to create a narrative that engages all of its citizens.

But increasing political isolation and the threat of an imposed solution to the conflict could force a more imaginative template to be cast.   There is a new regional dynamic and it does not bode well for regional stability.   Israel - Palestine may be viewed by some as little more than a festering sore that unjustly targets only Israel, but it is a canker that prevents the world from dealing with the greater threat of the emerging global Islamist order.

Israel can live with a conventional military threat on its Southern border because the Sinai desert separates Israel from Islamist Egypt. US dependence on strong Turkish ties in order to defend Europe’s south-eastern flank from theoretical Iranian aggression requires that it also ignores Turkish war crimes against the Kurds. Turkeys failed policy of “Zero problems with its neighbors” has alienated every one of its neighbors and made its attention starved, personality based Islamist government hungry for a successful demonstration of its power; and that makes it fundamentally unstable.  Israel has no natural border along its north and only a demilitarized Palestine will ensure peace between uncompromising enemies to the east.  An inherent militancy in Islam makes this final barrier to co-existence achievable only if the rest of the world is willing to force it upon the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza.

In spite of the global threat to peace and security, President Obama is on record as declaring that he sees Islam and America as essentially compatible with “overlapping principles of justice and progress; tolerance and dignity, for everyone.”

It is because of this emergent regional dynamic that it is all the more important for the multiplicity of political entities within Israeli society to cohere but it isn’t happening.

As extracted from Wikipedia: 43 parties registered for the February 2009 election, 34 parties submitted a list of candidates, and 33 parties ran on Election Day. On 12 January 2009, Balad and the United Arab List–Ta'al alliance were disqualified by the Central Elections Committee on the grounds that they failed to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and called for armed conflict against it. Balad and Ta'al were also disqualified from the 2003 election, but the Supreme Court rejected this disqualification. On 21 January 2009, the Supreme Court again revoked the ban. They received 3 seats and 4 respectively in the 2009 election.

Then as now I do not believe that democracy can thrive in chaos.  It is why we have laws to protect us against violent disorder. The ‘right’ to commit violence we assign to the State with the understanding that by transferring this aggressive impulse to institutional control, it will be commissioned sparingly and in a manner that is measured, but only when all other avenues for our protection have been exhausted. Chaos includes political chaos and Israel’s political system, having descended into farce, is chaotic.

And so what are the choices?

There are 120 seats on offer for election to the 19th Knesset to be held on the 22nd January 2013.   There are 34 parties contesting those seats.

The Likud joined with Yisrael Beiteinu to form Likud Beiteinu. The former is supported by a traditionalist, right leaning and largely poor constituency while the latter is essentially a secular, culturally Soviet political party.  It is therefore wary of any enemy, particularly one as duplicitous as Israel’s Arab neighbors.  The Likud has become more extreme in publicly articulating an annexationist ideology that would be diplomatically catastrophic if applied but may also attract voters that have become disillusioned with Netanyahu’s inept style of government.  The combined parties received 42 seats in 2009. They are currently predicted to receive 27 votes or 33 if they receive a proportion of the 21 seats (18%) that are currently undecided.

The Labour Party lost out to Kadima in the 2009 vote.  It has 8 mandates in the current Knesset.  It could gain up to 10 more seats but that includes an allocation for undecided voters (3 seats).  It is a marginalised party that is receiving votes from an electorate that does not trust it but trusts the right even less and from principle, will not vote for any parties on the margins. Its leader (Shelly Yachimovich) has foolishly already lost votes by stating that she would ‘never’ join a coalition headed by Netanyahu.

Jewish Home (Beit Yehudi/National Union) is led by modern religious, charismatic, Naftali Bennett.  He is a successful high tech businessman and he took the near-defunct national religious party, merged it with another small party, re branded it and once more, provided it with a voice. But he has also hemorrhaged support from the Likud and other parties.  From a combined 7 seats in the current Knesset he could have 12-14 without a share of the unallocated votes this time round. But his problem is that he is also a divisive figure in spite of his protestations that he supports secular – religious rapprochement.  In a recent interview he replied to his questioner that if given the order to vacate settlements he would ask to be relieved of his command and this was immediately distorted by the press to show that he advocated soldiers disobeying orders.   This is unconscionable for a mainstream political leader to declare, if that is, he is serious about unifying the nation. If he is trying to reach out beyond the religious settler community, this ruins his credibility and it could damage him on the day.  His electable list holds too many people whose extreme public statements may alienate anyone secular who otherwise might wish to vote for him.

Yesh Atid is a new party that will take votes away from the left and the centre. It is led by a former television personality, Yair Lapid. It is secular. It could receive between 9 and 11 seats at a current reading of the polls.

Hatnuah is also new and was formed by a breakaway faction of the previous protest party “Kadima” (which had 28 seats at the last elections).  It is led by two failed, secular-left politicians, Tzipi Livni and Amir Peretz.  Projected seats 7-8.

Shas (ultra-orthodox) has already stated that it will only join a Netanyahu government if Bibi Netanyahu agrees to its pre conditions which, would maintain the status quo on ultra-orthodox hegemony over all matters of personal choice within Israeli society.  But the status quo is already fractured so any attempt to ‘fix’ it will create more severe social tensions than those that already divide secular and religious Israelis.  Shas currently has 11 seats it could lose 3 or remain the same if unallocated votes are in their favour.

Meretz is the far-left Zionist party (as opposed to far-left Arab or Communist parties). It is perhaps a measure of the polarisation of the Israeli political landscape that a party that is seen to be on the fringes of Israeli society could double its seats (3 to 5 or 6).

UTJ (United Torah Judaism) is an Ashkenazi (Western European), ultra-orthodox coalition party. Its sole guides are its twin rabbinical leadership councils. It has maintained a steady 5 to 6 representatives in parliament throughout its 20 year history but it, along with Shas (above), provoked controversy amongst its female voters by excluding them.

Hadash is the Communist party – its 4 seats are unchanged from 2009

Raam/Ta'al (4) and Balad (3) are also unchanged.  They are both divisive, anti-Zionist Arab parties with controversial Members of the Knesset. One party leader was accused of treasonable activity during war time and based on the evidence presented, did not return to Israel.  A second MK was an active participant in the Turkish flotilla created by the anti-Jewish Turkish IHH.  A recent poll found 75% of the Arab sector expressing no confidence in any of the Arab parties.  How can we interpret this figure?  Most people simply want a quiet life, without fear or insecurity.  The Arab parties, like their Israeli non-Arab counterparts have betrayed their constituency by attempting to separate and isolate rather than integrate their public into the national fabric.  Seventy-five percent is both a mark of shame for the Arab parties and a sign of hope for Israel as a nation.

Other parties: Kadima (28 down to 2 this time; Am Shalem formed as a break away faction of Bennett’s party, it could receive up to 2 seats).

A week before the elections are to take place President Obama was today revealed to have said that “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are” and Netanyahu “is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation” and finally “I have become inured to Israel's self-defeating policies.” President Obama’s lack of faith in the Israeli electorate is an act of condescension, and insulting to all Israelis, but it can be ignored.  His dismissive opinion of Israel’s prime minister cannot however be set aside.  It should set off alarm bells throughout the political estate. The timing of the release of this earlier conversation is probably payback by the US administration for Bibi’s public support for the Republican Party during the last US elections.  It is a concrete attempt by the USA to influence the Israeli elections to Bibi Netanyahu’s disadvantage.

Sloganeering is arguably the greatest curse of Israeli electioneering.  It allows the fringes to take the centre stage.  With less rhetorical grandstanding and more statements that were carefully considered to create discussion rather than inflame emotions the electorate might begin to see hope for the future.
Surveys were carried out by two separate, respected Israeli research institutions.  The issue the Right refuses to discuss (according to the polls) is that two thirds of Israel’s public support a peace agreement that would create an independent demilitarized state of Palestine.  And they would divide Jerusalem once again (as it was for the 19 years of Jordanian misrule). In both polls, a majority on the Right supported this.  But with influential rabbis openly talking about returning women to the home, disenfranchising them in practice if not in law, and Arab leaders in Israel demanding separate development, the main issue is that the extremes of society have taken control of or are becoming more vocally extreme in their demands on the state.

If Netanyahu is viewed as being politically, a coward (according to commentary by JJ Goldberg); he will willingly acquiesce to a coalition of rejectionists. If he is serious about moving forward and tackling the issues that divide Israeli society he must abandon his traditional partners for those who are willing to compromise. It will mean shutting out the ultra-orthodox parties and convincing the centre and the left that it is in their interests also to be part of the national project.  It may mean that initially he will be forced into minority coalition government.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Supreme Court Decision - MK Hanin Zuabi.

On the 30th December 2012 Israel’s Supreme Court unanimously rejected the disqualification of MK Hanin Zuabi. A panel of nine judges ruled that she could run in the elections to be held on the 22nd January 2013 for the 19th Knesset.

The Supreme Court represents judicial review while the Central Election Committee is separately, legally mandated to review the behaviour of those who want to stand for election.  But it is essentially political in nature.  What is not unsurprising is that the will does not exist to ensure that one is structurally consonant with the other.

The judges, in announcing their decision, wrote that MK Zuabi's actions while troubling did not reach a plateau beyond which disqualification could be justified.

The Political State has to decide whether it is committed to defining the characteristics by which it expects the conduct of its business to be executed without prejudicing the essential equality of its constituents.  As always, the freedom of the individual must be weighed against the freedom of action and cohesion of the group but rampant corruption and laissez-faire individuality in government does not help to achieve this goal.

MK Zuabi’s actions are as serious a threat to the group (nation) as the physical actions of Israel’s military adversaries.

If identity is the stabilising glue in forging statehood then Israel’s biggest challenge is neither Iran nor the Muslim Brotherhood; nor is it the Arab Winter.  The ultra-orthodox and the extreme Arab parties are equally opposed to integration because their tribal identity is of greater importance to them that the survival of the State.  It is not Israel’s secular and modern orthodox community that is desperate to create and preserve South African style Bantustans.  There are tens of thousands of Arabs living in Israel’s predominantly Jewish cities but any attempt at reverse osmosis results in violent opposition.  Apartheid, if it exists, has its most enthusiastic proponents amongst Muslim and Arab.

To change,  there must be political will and not the tribalised political compartmentalization which, in place of unity has led to a destructive and ideology based fragmentation of society.

MK Hanin Zuabi stated “The Court’s ruling proves that the attempts to bring about my disqualification were political and personal persecution against me,  against my party and against the entire Arab public.” (Ma’ariv December 31, 2012).  No, in Zuabi’s statement lies her crime.  She represents a divisive, racist approach to politics.

In the infamous May 2010 armada that attempted to break the blockade of Gaza, a blockade that even the UN (not known for its pro-Jewish tendencies) decreed to be legal, MK Zuabi sailed with the Mavi Marmara, the one boat in the fleet that was populated by racists known to actively support the anti-Semitic policies of the neo-Nazi Muslim regime in Gaza.

That makes her an enemy of the people of Israel.  Zuabi has a political vision based on her separate cultural identity.   It would be naive to believe that an argument that provides for separate development for the Arab nation and places the Arab above everyone else in the state is either meant to enrich the multi-ethnic tapestry of the State or to respect its non-Arab participants. It is a minority vision that represents an illegitimate expression of Arab racial superiority, and it is hegemonic. It negates the identity of the State of Israel – not just as a Jewish state but as a democratic state.

The current system is farcical. The perception that the state is in conflict with the courts has been encouraged through the grand-standing of the political classes that cater only to sectarian interests.

The Judiciary is the final bulwark against populism. The Supreme Court is the leveller, it guards against the most aberrant expressions of the popular will. It not only reflects Society but it provides stability by binding past and present.  Israel does not have a Constitution. Instead it has Basic laws and a Declaration of Independence. Both are guides to the permissible. The responsibility of the Supreme Court is to ensure continuity between the original vision and current circumstances.  It is the political classes that are at fault and not the court.

Zuabi’s latest legal adjudication saw no minority opinion opposing her participation in the forthcoming elections. The political process is fundamentally damaged, so utterly incoherent is it in its inability to enunciate an articulate vision that no court could seriously consider barring Zuabi even though she opposes the very essence of the state that has nurtured her from her birth.

Everyone has their own vision of what constitutes Zionism. For many it is not a Utopian concept but a blasphemous reminder of their Gods’ indifference.  For others it is worse. It is the physical manifestation of the renunciation of a militant vision of a pure and pleasant landscape: of minarets and prayer mats and a single monolithic theism ruling the landscape.  If the politicians are incapable of presenting and educating towards a Zionist ideal of universal peace and brother (sister) hood then the Supreme Court cannot be expected to adopt anything other than a rigid legalistic approach.

MK Hanin Zuabi recently wrote to a Christian priest, on parliamentary stationary, and   condemned him for his support of Christian enlistment in the IDF. Zuabi wrote (according to Ma’ariv) “I was saddened to hear about the meetings that discussed enlisting Arab Christian boys to the Israeli Army, which occupies our nation and represents oppressive entities.” (My italics). This priest has received death threats and now needs round the clock protection. Let us be clear, treason is defined as the betrayal of trust or allegiance to ones state.  Zuabi’s behaviour is treasonable.

It is the responsibility of Society to be inclusive. This MK places a segment of Israeli Society outside of what she defines as a legal entity; the majority are, for her, illegal.  Worse, she demonises everyone who does not wholly accept her narrative. The problem that the court would have to have wrestled with is that she is no different to the ultra-orthodox and other minority groups within Israel that are increasingly vocal in their opposition to the vision of a Zionist State for all its people.

Only a cohesive, all inclusive vision is capable of tolerating the other. That vision is rapidly being replaced by something repulsive and undemocratic. It is being done because no-one in the political mainstream has the courage or the ethical vision to present anything better.

MK Hanin Zuabi and her ilk will continue to have a place in the political landscape as long as there is not a broad front that is willing to publicly shame her and to present something better for those that vote for her.