Israeli Dies For National Identity.

By Hasan Yahya, Ph.D

Israel as a state is dying for continuous loss of national identity. In this article I will not explain how much Israel void international laws or UN resolutions, or War crimes against it leaders or Israels deviation from humanity since its initiation as a Jewish state on Arab-Muslim land. I will leave these issues for those more experienced than the writer. So the article will follow sociological approach in the study of the loss of Israeli national identity through the years, which I believe that much of what is going on has roots in lack of internal identity for the Jewish state aggression reflected on external identities such as Palestinian occupied territories and Arab neighbors.

The weak nature of Israeli society goes beyond the disagreement and debate inherent to a healthy democracy, instead prompting the question of whether Israel's six million citizens actually want to be "Israeli." (including the Arab Israeli citizens from 1948 equals 1.5 millions).

In America, Canada and Europe, democracy means universal suffrage, an independent judiciary, and a culture that values expression. Israel does not have this understanding. Israel's democracy is ethnic. To be a part of the collective, a citizen must be part of the Jewish nation, something civil law can't afford to those of the Arab nation, even though they are, ostensibly, equal citizens. Israel, as Yoav Peled, a leading thinker on Jewish-Arab relations, has written, is ruled by Jewish ethnos, not Israeli demos. The result: There is no such thing as an Israeli nation. Democracy also means that citizenship and nationality are one in the same. But not in Israel.

Israel lacks an identity that transcends subnational units of ethnicity and religion, which can unify all citizens as equal members of a shared state with a shared destiny reached through common goals.

The need for a viable Palestinian state in the near future, as single or binational state is may help in keeping Israel surviving for a while. Such a state will emerge. No matter how long it takes. Now in Israel, I will give two examples or decisions made concerning Arabs who constitute a little more than one-fifth of Israel's Palestinian-Arabs population and growing who are citizens of Israel since 19448. For discrimination and racist policies, taken by the military courts like the Central Elections Committee in Israel and its decision which was in favor of disqualifying the United Arab List from participating in next month's general elections on grounds that it does not recognize the Jewish state and advocated armed struggle against it. Atty. Gen. Menachem Mazuz has since said the decision was based on flimsy legal evidence. A similar ruling a few years ago was overturned by the Supreme Court. The current ruling is being challenged by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. At the initial court meeting today, Lieberman exchanged harsh words with a Palestinian Arab citizen in Israel by saying, "You're a. "You are a terrorist.... We will treat you like we treated Hamas."

With this type of racist behavior, The question after this dispute over the rights of citizenship, Could future Jewish plans for homeland democracy fully include Arabs or vise versa by practicing apartheid against Arabs ? The last war, for now, is over, many observers show that, Israel loses by focusing, once more, on external threats rather than internal failures. While eager to strike back against tens of frightening, but largely ineffective, rockets, and apparently sensitive to the blunders made against Hamas in 2008, may have very well "won." But failed Ultimately. This failure was obvious on the attack on Lebanon against Hizbullah in 2006.

Israelis have to notice that Such failures have gone largely unaddressed since Israel establishment will send Israel to a tipping point more dangerous to its existence than any external threat from Hamas, Hezbollah.

Normally, a country's internal instabilities are its own business. In Israel's case, however, huge decisions demanding national consensus are looming that will affect the future composition of Israel, peace in the region, and security around the world. In question is not only the relationship between Israel's Jews and Arabs, but also between religious and secular on the one hand and native-born and immigrant on the other.

Israel needs to ratify a constitution more than a set of laws that enshrines equal rights and protections for all citizens; recognizes Israeli Arabs as the collective, indigenous minority that they are; separates religion from state but still preserves the Jewish character of the country and respecting other minority groups as well. Israel unlike England which is officially Christian, but the Jewish minority has no trouble living there. Why Arabs in Israel, have harsh and racist practices from Israel. A constitution is the ultimate symbol of national unity: one document from which all citizens will be judged equally and fairly. Everyone under the law should not be forgotten by the law.

Dealing with Israeli identity, Israel has none. Or may be there is one but ambiguous. It could in itself tear the country apart, and it's why no Israeli leader has seriously missed that path. For example attacking external extremists has always been preferable to confronting its own citizens.

For Israel to be at peace with its neighbors, it must first be at peace with itself. Many scholars see that there are FOUR factors long delayed practices Israeli leaders and voters should work toward in building Israeli identity which is deteriorating and may strongly contribute to the decline of state identity . These are:: The state constitution, Zionism ideology, the state educational system, and the national service.

1. The lack of a constitution is the most missing deficiency of Israel's democracy. Instead, it gets by on a collection of basic laws that enjoy ambiguous imperfect constitutional status. Such constitution is a must to keep Israel going, otherwise it will contribute in Israel decline as a state.

2. I believe that education system as essential identity factor of identity for all citizens. In reality, of everyday life , the education system is colored by ethnic groups, for example, the majority secular Jews enroll in public schools, similar to any other Western country. Religious Jews can study in publicly funded religious schools. Largely underserved Arabs attend schools taught in Arabic and framed by Arab history. These three groups of citizens attend three types of schools that deliver three kinds of curriculum. Each promote different values which may contribute in destroying the state identity.

3. The Zionist ideology is a factor of decline in the Israeli state which implies inflexibility of negotiation with Palestinians to stop the conflict by increasing settlements, wall building and confiscating Palestinian lands. Israel needs to change its practices to perceive Palestinians as human beings have the same inspiration to be independent secure state. Palestinians Israel have to understand that Goliath in history was their leader. And they will make new Goliath victory someday over David. The two Intifadas made by Palestinian new generations may create a new one until Israel to come to its senses and get rid of Zionism forever. If these perceptions continues may contribute of the loss of Israeli identity forever where in history they were rejected and forced to flee the land . And the new defeat for Jews in modern times will sign the end of Zionism. The idea like the Vatican for Christians all over the world will be much acceptable than a temporary Jewish state in the Muslim Ocean.

4. By the factor of national service I mean contribution of all citizens in the civil services. An Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last year that Arab enlistment in the army reached an all-time high (still only in the hundreds), and the Knesset, Israel's parliament, is considering making civil service compulsory for Arabs as it has been for Jews. But such debate lost support. Arabs are denied from the military service, and no doubt that substantial number of Israeli Arabs if they join the army will not obey orders to fight their families in the occupied territories. But serving one's own community in Israel through civil service makes sense. Which gives Arabs certain satisfaction demand for equal treatment. But Israeli society is forging an identity consisted from children who grow up with different understandings of their country? How do citizens learn to live together when they are raised in a segregated environment? In conclusion Israel will be in serious trouble in the near future, unless a Palestinian state agreed upon can be established, otherwise Israel will remain in its own acute internal troubles much more self-killing than external wars.

Dr. Yahya can be reached on askdryahya@yahoo.com

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