Just a normal democracy

Here is a news item from Israel, which is, we are assured in the West by many politicians, commentators, and lobbyists, a regular democracy, if not a multicultural paradise.

Nazareth Illit, which has recently come under threat of an Arab demographic takeover, now is headed to be the religious-Zionist capital of the lower Galilee…

The article goes on to describe various initiatives intended to boost the city’s Jewish population, as a response to an increase in the number of Palestinian citizens who have moved in, keen for a better standard of living. The projects, overseen by the town’s mayor Shimon Gapso, include the renovation of “an old school building to house 15 young families from the former Gush Katif yeshiva of Torat HaChaim” – in other words, former residents of a Gaza Strip colony.

Apparently, one of the other figures involved in these efforts is MK Uri Ariel, who in 2008 “called on the government to encourage Israeli Arabs to “willingly emigrate” from Israel and from large cities within it”. Another personality is Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, who spent years living in the Hebron area settlements.

The piece concludes by reprinting a message from Mayor Gapso that appears on Nazareth Illit’s website:

“It is time to call a spade a spade. Just as Ben-Gurion and Peres said in the 1950’s that the Galilee must be Jewish, we say the same about Nazareth Illit: It must retain its Jewish character. Our goal is to bring 3,000 families within five years… We have been in contact with various ideological groups, and we are definitely considering building a hareidi-religious neighborhood as well. The primary goal is to put the brakes on the demographic deterioration…”

This is the discourse and politics of the Middle East’s ‘only democracy’. Where a city can be openly described as “part of the national mission to strengthen the Jewish character of the Galil [Galilee] as a whole”. Where municipal authorites can organise meetings to discuss ways of attracting “new, quality populace” in order to “maintain the Jewish character of the city”. Where land confiscated from Palestinian citizens is aimed at settlers.

In other words, it exemplifies the impossibility of the ‘Jewish and democratic’ propaganda trope. As Mayor Gapso put it (without irony): “I am all for a democratic Upper Nazareth, but first of all a Jewish one.”

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Author: benwhite

I could say a lot about myself at this point, but to be honest, you wouldn't be that interested.

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