[News] Escalating the Demographic War: The Strategic Goal of Israeli Racism in Palestine

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 5 12:15:44 EST 2020

the Demographic War: The Strategic Goal of Israeli Racism in Palestine

*By Ramzy Baroud - November 4, 2020 *

The discussion on institutional Israeli racism against its own Palestinian
Arab population has all but ceased following the final approval
the discriminatory Nation-State Law in July 2018. Indeed, the latest
addition to Israel’s Basic Law is a mere start of a new government-espoused
agenda that is designed to further marginalize over a fifth of Israel’s

On Wednesday, October 28, eighteen members of the Israeli Parliament
(Knesset) conjured up yet another ploy to target Israeli Arab citizens.
They proposed
a bill that would revoke Israeli citizenship for any Palestinian Arab
prisoner in Israel who, directly or indirectly, receives any financial aid
from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Worthy of mention is that these MKs not only represent right-wing,
ultra-right and religious parties, but also the Blue and White (Kahol
Lavan) ‘centrist’ party. Namely, the proposed bill already has the support
of Israel’s parliamentary majority.

But is this really about financial aid for prisoners? Particularly since
the PA is nearly bankrupt, and its financial contributions to the families
of Palestinian prisoners, even within the Occupied Territories – West Bank,
East Jerusalem and Gaza – is symbolic?

Here is an alternative context. On Thursday, October 29, the Israeli
newspaper, Haaretz, revealed
the Israeli government of right-wing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu,
plans to expand the jurisdiction of the Jewish town of Harish in northern
Israel by 50 percent. The aim is to prevent Palestinians from becoming the
majority in that area.

The contingency plan was formulated by Israel’s Housing Ministry as a swift
response to an internal document, which projects that, by the year 2050,
Palestinian Arabs will constitute 51 percent of that region’s population of
700,000 residents.

These are just two examples of recent actions taken within two days,
damning evidence that, indeed, the Nation-State law was the mere preface of
a long period of institutional racism, which ultimately aims at winning a
one-sided demographic war
that was launched by Israel against the Palestinian people many years ago.

Since outright ethnic cleansing – which Israel practiced during and after
the wars of 1948 and 1967 – is not an option, at least not for now, Israel
is finding other ways to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel itself, in
Jerusalem, in Area C within the occupied West Bank and, by extension,
everywhere else in Palestine.

Israeli dissident historian, Professor Ilan Pappe, refers
<https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/30968> to this as ‘incremental
genocide’. This slow-paced ethnic cleansing includes the expansion of the
illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank,
and the proposed annexation
of nearly a third of the Occupied Territories.

The besieged Gaza Strip is a different story. Winning a demographic war in
a densely populated but small region of two million inhabitants living
within 365 sq. km, was never feasible. The so-called ‘redeployment
out of Gaza by late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, in 2005 was a
strategic decision, which aimed at cutting Israel’s losses in Gaza in favor
of expediting the colonization process in the West Bank and the Naqab
Desert. Indeed, most of Gaza’s illegal Jewish settlers were eventually
relocated to these demographically-contested regions.

But how is Israel to deal with its own Palestinian Arab population, which
now constitutes a sizeable demographic minority and an influential, often
united, political bloc?

In the Israeli general elections of March 2020, united Arab Palestinian
political parties contesting under the umbrella group, The Joint List,
their greatest electoral success yet, as they emerged as Israel’s
third-largest political party. This success rang alarm bells among Israel’s
Jewish ruling elites, leading to the formation
<https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-52699156> of Israel’s current
‘unity government’. Israel’s two major political parties, Likud and Kahol
Lavan, made it clear that no Arab parties would be included in any
government coalition.

A strong Arab political constituency represents a nightmare scenario for
Israel’s government planners, who are obsessed with demographics and the
marginalization of Palestinian Arabs in every possible arena. Hence, the
very representatives of the Palestinian Arab community in Israel become a
target for political repression.

In a report published in September 2019, the rights group, Amnesty
International, revealed
that “Palestinian members of the Knesset in Israel are increasingly facing
discriminatory attacks.”

“Despite being democratically elected like their Jewish Israeli
counterparts, Palestinian MKs are the target of deep-rooted discrimination
and undue restrictions that hamstring their ability to speak out in defense
of the rights of the Palestinian people,” Amnesty stated.

These revelations were communicated by Amnesty just prior to the September
27 elections. The targeting of Palestinian citizens of Israel is
reminiscent of similar harassment and targeting of Palestinian officials
and parties in the Occupied Territories, especially prior to local or
general elections. Namely, Israel views its own Palestinian Arab population
through the same prism that it views its militarily occupied Palestinians.

Since its establishment on the ruins of historic Palestine, and until 1979,
Israel governed its Palestinian population through the Defense (Emergency)
The arbitrary legal system imposed numerous restrictions on those
Palestinians who were allowed to remain in Israel following the 1948 Nakba,
or ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

In practice, however, the emergency rule was lifted in name only. It was
merely redefined, and replaced – according to the Israel-based Adalah
rights group – by over 65 laws that directly target
the Palestinian Arab minority of Israel. The Nation-State Law, which denies
Israel’s Arab minority their legal status, therefore, protection under
international law, further accentuates Israel’s relentless war on its Arab

Moreover, “the definition of Israel as ‘the Jewish State’ or ‘the State of
the Jewish People’ makes inequality a practical, political and ideological
reality for Palestinian citizens of Israel,” according to Adalah.

Israeli racism is not random and cannot be simply classified as yet another
human rights violation. It is the core of a sophisticated plan that aims at
the political marginalization and economic strangulation of Israel’s
Palestinian Arab minority within a constitutional, thus ‘legal’, framework.

Without fully appreciating the end goal of this Israeli strategy,
Palestinians and their allies will not have the chance to properly combat
it, as they certainly should.

*– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle.
He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken:
Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity
Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center
for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center
(AMEC). His website is **www.ramzybaroud.net* <http://www.ramzybaroud.net/>
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