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Minister Naftali Bennett, You Are Killing Zionism

An answer to the minister who has come this close to accusing me of treason.

Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett accuses me of undermining “the foundations of the Zionist enterprise,” and of “blatant subversion of the foundations of our existence here and the future of the Jewish people” (Haaretz July 12). From here it is a very short road to marking me as an enemy of the people. The phrase “blatant subversion of the foundations of our existence here and the future of the Jewish people” smacks of treason. Bennett is one of the government’s senior ministers and also a member of the security cabinet. If he saw fit to publish an article under his name accusing a journalist of treason, one might be permitted to fear that it would follow naturally for Bennett to try to shut that journalist up by restricting his freedom of expression. That would obviously follow, even necessarily follow, in order to protect “the foundations of our existence here” and “the future of the Jewish people.”
Naftali, you are killing Zionism. You killed the Jewish state. You and your settlements. You and your occupation. You and your apartheid. I am choking on the broth you cooked. You established a violent binational state in Israel, awash in terror, radical nationalism and fundamentalist religion. You are blatantly subverting the foundations of all of our existence here, Jews and Palestinians. You have left me no choice but to declare that I feel a sense of shared fate with the Palestinians in Israel and the territories. Because I am a democrat. And I believe in universal morality. I am not a fascist like you.
You claim that “The State of Israel is the state of the Jewish people…the nation is the starting point and securing its future is the goal and the means.” The continued control over millions of Palestinians without basic human rights in Judea and Samaria is not Zionism, Naftali. You are dispossessing them and excluding them, but they exist. They live there. That is their state too. And they are not Jews. And they are not Zionists. And your insistence on continuing to rule them has turned Israel into a state that is not Jewish and not democratic.
Naftali, because of you we are living in a binational state. That is the reality. Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s declaration that “a Jewish state has been established in the Land of Israel, which is the State of Israel,” is no longer relevant, I’m sorry to say. And therefore it is unacceptable to claim that Israel is the home of a Jewish baby born as an American citizen in Minneapolis as these lines are being written any more than it is the home of a Palestinian baby born at that same moment as a citizen of Israel in the town of Sakhnin. That is racism.
Does that mean that Zionism is racism? Under the complex circumstances of the establishment of Israel as a refuge for Jews after the Holocaust (which was cited rightly in the Declaration of Independence as clearly proving the need for a Jewish state), and in light of the willingness of the Zionist movement at the time for compromise and readiness to share the land with the Palestinians born here – no. But today – yes.
From the perspective of 2016, Israel is the birthplace of the Israeli people. The Israeli people is made up of Jews, Muslims and Christians, Druze and Circassians, Sudanese and Eritreans. It is made up of the people living in this country under Israeli rule, without reference to religion, race or gender. That is the only formula to preserve Israeli democracy.
The buses with Birthright groups should be sent back to where they came from. The young people, touring the ancestral land promised them by God like effendis, have lost their rights here. And yes, the Law of Return, the apple of Ben-Gurion’s eye, should be abolished. It was good in 1948, but in 2016 it is one of the foundations of creeping fascism that is taking over the country. This folly should end.

Rogel Alpher

Haaretz ColumnistSchermata 2016 07 17 alle 09.52.57

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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