April 15, 2006

Ilan Pappe on the choice of racists in the Israeli election

Back to the LRB for Ilan Pappe's take on the recent Israeli elections. Campaigning for racial or religious equality is actually forbidden in democratic Israel's elections but Ilan Pappe points out that the difference between the zionist left and the zionist right rests on claims regarding who would be the most effective racist rulers.
From left to right, the manifestos of all the Zionist parties during the recent Israeli election campaign contained policies which they claimed would counter the ‘demographic problem’ posed by the Palestinian presence in Israel. Ariel Sharon proposed the pull-out from Gaza as the best solution to it; the leaders of the Labour Party endorsed the wall because they believed it was the best way of limiting the number of Palestinians inside Israel. Extra-parliamentary groups, too, such as the Geneva Accord movement, Peace Now, the Council for Peace and Security, Ami Ayalon’s Census group and the Mizrachi Democratic Rainbow all claim to know how to tackle it.

Apart from the ten members of the Palestinian parties and two eccentric Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews, all the members of the new Knesset (there are 120 in all) arrived promising that their magic formulae would solve the ‘demographic problem’. The means varied from reducing Israeli control over the Occupied Territories – in fact, the plans put forward by Labour, Kadima, Shas (the Sephardic Orthodox party) and Gil (the pensioners’ party) would involve Israeli withdrawal from only 50 per cent of these territories – to more drastic action. Right-wing parties such as Yisrael Beytenu, the Russian ethnic party of Avigdor Liberman, and the religious parties argued for a voluntary transfer of Palestinians to the West Bank. In short, the Zionist answer is to reduce the problem either by giving up territory or by shrinking the ‘problematic’ population group.
Now read on...

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