The Israeli parliament no longer shies away from proclaiming all occupied territories are now exclusively for Jews, as well as the right to self determination in Israel. Will the world react to Israeli apartheid?

The recent Israeli “Nation-State Bill” brings nothing new to Palestinians. It reinforces Israel’s colonialism and apartheid. However, for those who so far condoned Israel’s practices, the law may provide an opportunity to abandon and isolate Israel altogether. 

The “Nation-State Bill” declares that only Jews have the right for self-determination in the “Land of Israel” and that the Jewish settlement is “a national value” and the state “will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” 

The law also downgrades Arabic from an official language to one with a “special status.”

This is a basic law, which joins a set of basic laws that, in the absence of a constitution, define the constitutional identity of Israel.

"We're enshrining this important bill into a law today to prevent even the slightest thought, let alone attempt, to transform Israel to a country of all its citizens" stated Knesset member, Avi Dichter, who was among the sponsors of the bill.

One does not need Dichter’s statement to understand the purpose of this law. The text is crystal clear. Its essence is the exclusivity of rights for Jews. Rights to settle, access to land, national and cultural expression and more.

The passing of this law is not “a sad day for democracy” as some critics like to describe it. For Palestinians, Israel was never a democracy. 

For Palestinian citizens of Israel—about 20 percent of Israel's citizens and 11 percent of the Palestinian people—aside from the fact that they can vote and have representatives in the Knesset, there is nothing democratic about their status and denial of rights. 

Since its occupation of historic Palestine and its establishment, Israel has worked to Judaize everything including land, housing, language, culture and more. 

As of today, there are over 65 laws that, according to Adalah Center, “discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinians on the basis of their national belonging”.

These laws, in Adalah’s words: “limit the rights of Palestinians in all areas of life, from citizenship rights to the right to political participation, land and housing rights, education rights, cultural and language rights, religious rights, and due process rights during detention.”

The list includes; the Law of Return (1950) which grants that right only to Jews who may have never stepped a foot in Palestine and denied to Palestinians who were born in Palestine and expelled in 1948; the “Admission Committees” Law—which gives Admission Committees, bodies that select applicants for housing units and plots of land—almost full discretion to accept or reject individuals from living in these towns; the “Nakba Law” which authorises the Finance Minister to reduce state funding or support to an institution that commemorates “Israel’s Independence Day or the day on which the state was established as a day of mourning.”

Israel’s undemocratic nature however is not only about Palestinian citizens, as much as this law, too, is not only about them. It is about all Palestinians whether they live in lands occupied in 1948 or 1967 or in exile. A colonial power which occupies people, oppresses, kills and displaces, who is obsessed with maintaining an ethnocentric country, can never be a democracy.

This law, like all of Israel’s practices over the last several decades, denies Palestinians the right for self-determination, encourages Jewish settlements and colonialism, claims Jerusalem as its capital, denies the right of return for Palestinians. There is nothing new here for Palestinians.

However, the significance lies in the overall message of this law. This law officially pulls the rug under the feet of the dogged “two state solution” club. They are left with no choice but to abandon the already-dead solution and spare the Palestinians their preaching. 

Secondly, Israeli apologists will now have a tougher job. From now on, anyone who uses the rhetoric of defending “Israel’s right to exist”, a claim usually used to dismiss any legitimate critique, will be heard as “I support Israel’s right to exist as exclusively for Jews”. 

Additionally, we have often heard the rhetoric of supporting Israel’s right to exist as a “democratic and Jewish state”. The law is just another contradiction of such rhetoric. Democracy and ethnocracy cannot work together.

Since it is in now an official basic law, and not only a set of practices, when rhetoric is employed to defend Israel it will instrinsically be linked to the support of the exclusion of Palestinians.

Those who preach about anti-Semitism, will have now to deal with its broader concept.

It is the time to challenge Israel’s existence as an apartheid and colonialist state that is obsessed with the superiority of the Jews. If you support Israel’s right to “exclude”, you are supporting Israel’s right to eliminate everything Palestinian.

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