Palestinian resistance in Israel

As the Zionist onslaught on Gaza started, for the first time since the 1948 Nakba, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel from the Galilee in the north, to Jaffa, and the Negev in the south, took to the streets of their towns, cities and villages in solidarity with their fellow Palestinians in Gaza. In the first week after the war, more than 150,000 demonstrated in the Palestinian city of Sakhneen. In the following week, over 100,000 demonstrated in different cities.

In Jaffa, a flourishing Palestinian city until the Zionists destroyed it in 1948, the remaining Palestinian community who live in dire poverty as a result of Israel’s racist policy demonstrated carrying the banner, ‘Gaza, Jaffa, one people, one cause.’ The Israeli police responded to demonstrations by arresting over 500 Palestinians, half of them under 18.

Racism in a country which describes itself as the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ is promoted by the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset. To punish the Palestinian minority for demonstrating against the war, the Knesset Central Elections Committee voted overwhelmingly on 12 January 2009 to deny Arabs (as Palestinians are called in Israel in an effort to abolish their national identity) the right to any political representation by banning their parties from running in Israel’s February general election. Palestinian citizens of Israel constitute one sixth of Israel’s population.

Although the decision was revoked by the Israeli High Court on 20 January, racist incitement by Israeli politicians against the Palestinians continues. Avigdor Liberman, leader of Yisrael Beiteinu and a former Minister in the current coalition government said at the court hearing ‘We need to treat some Arab MKs [Members of Knesset] like we treated Hamas… The option of revoking the citizenship of the branch of terrorist organisations within the Knesset will be kept open.’ During the Gazan onslaught, he said ‘we must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II. Then, too, the occupation of the country was unnecessary.’ This was a clear reference to the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Meanwhile Kadima Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni claimed during the onslaught that ‘there’s no humanitarian crisis in Gaza’ – implying that Palestinians in Gaza are not human beings.

Liberman’s popularity among Israelis is ever-increasing. On 21 January 2009, Israel’s Channel 2 election poll revealed that Liberman’s party may win 16 Knesset seats out of 120 in the February elections. For many Israelis, what Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak have done in Gaza is not enough, as polls show that the Likud, the right-wing party led by former Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu, is set to get 34% of the vote, as opposed to 17% for Livni’s allegedly moderate Kadima party. In racist Israel, as the banner of a protester from Jaffa sums it up: ‘Elections in Israel 2009: The more you kill, the more you win’.

Manal Darwish

FRFI 207 February / March 2009