Netanyahu claims Israeli state is for the Jewish people alone
In his most recent attack against Palestinian human rights, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that Israel is “the nation-state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish peoples”.
His comments come as a response to those made by Israeli actress and TV host Rotem Sela, who stated: “When the hell will someone in this government (the Israeli government) tell the public that Israel is a country of all its citizens?”. In response to her, Netanyahu claimed:
Dear Rotem, an important correction: Isreael is not a state of all its citizens.”
Netanyahu’s comments come amid a string of allegations and fear-mongering by his Likud Party before Israel’s legislative elections next month, in which he has claimed numerous times that if his party does not win, then the new government would worryingly include more Arab political parties.
This attempt to deepen the divide between Israel’s Jewish and “Arab” populations remains troubling for a number of reasons. Dehumanizing the ethnically Palestinian population of the country and claiming that they are not of equal status as “the Jewish peoples” opens the floodgates for even more human rights abuses to be committed against the Arabs of the country, whether it be state-sponsored or by the rest of society itself.
The construction of “Jew” versus “Arab” is also problematic because it ignores the complexity and diversity of Arabs themselves. There are Jewish Arabs, Christian Arabs, and Muslim Arabs, and the attempt to contrast the “Arab” against the “Jew” is a blatant example of state-sponsored racism. The far-reaching consequences of this, of course, are human rights abuses.
Palestinian Arabs make up more than a fifth of Israel’s population and with the Prime Minister himself stating that Israel is “only of the Jewish people”, the question of Israel’s legitimacy must be raised if it indeed is not representing and protecting all of its citizens and peoples.