‘How lucky we are to have the extreme Right standing guard over our democracy,’ writes Israeli journalist and commentator Uri Avnery.
Recently the Knesset voted by a large majority (47 to 34) for a law that threatens imprisonment for anyone who dares to deny that Israel is a Jewish and Democratic State. The private member’s bill, proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev of the Jewish Home party, promises one year in prison to anyone who publishes ‘a call that negates the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State’, if the contents of the call might cause ‘actions of hate, contempt or disloyalty against the state or the institutions of government or the courts’.
‘One can foresee the next steps,’ writes Avnery in his column for Gush Shalom. ‘A million and a half Arab citizens cannot be expected to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State. They want it to be “a state of all its citizens” – Jews, Arabs and others. They also claim with reason that Israel discriminates against them, and therefore is not really democratic. And, in addition, there are also Jews who do not want Israel to be defined as a Jewish State in which non-Jews have the status, at best, of tolerated outsiders.’
Those prisons are going to be heaving if the bill gets through its next reading.