Sunday, June 19, 2005

Israel, A Brechtian Democracy

In 1953, the Soviet sponsored government of East Germany suppressed an uprising of Berlin's workers. After seeing the government’s response to what was regarded as the people’s lack of understanding, the Communist playwright, Bertolt Brecht, wryly quipped:

Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

The irony in Brecht’s statement was quite apparent. As any reasonable person would recognize, the people do not exist to serve the state or government, but the reverse.

However, journalists in the United States, who regularly refer to Israel as “the only democracy in the middle-east” do not seem to appreciate the irony of that description.

The "Jewish state" was, of course, founded in a process which involved the "transference" of approximately 80% of the non-Jewish indigenous population. And furthermore, the Israeli authorities have steadfastly refused to allow them to return, on the grounds that such a large population of non-Jews would be inconsistent with the Jewish-ness of the "Jewish state".

On November 17,1958, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Abba Eban, tried to explain why the Arabs who had been forced out by the Israeli onslaught should not be allowed to return. In order to make his case, he took issue with the use of the word "repatriation", and in order to do this, he also used some rather unusual (to say the least) definitions for the words "transplanting" and "resettlement".

In reference to the word "repatriation":

First the word itself is not accurately used in this context. Transplanting an Arab refugee from an Arab land to a non-Arab land is not really “repatriation.” “Patria” is not a mere geographical concept. Resettlement of a refugee in Israel would not be repatriation, but alienation from an Arab society; a true repatriation of an Arab refugee would be a process which brought him into union with people who share his language and heritage, and impulses of national loyalty and cultural identity.

When Mr. Eban objected to “transplanting” or “resettlement” of the Arabs, he was actually referring to allowing them to return. Of course, when normal people say “resettlement” or “transplanting”, they mean people moving to a new and different place, not coming back to their homes. And, of course, when normal people refer to “repatriation”, they refer to people returning to their country of origin, not being sent to a different, though perhaps similar one, because their own country had been transformed into an alien one by the very fact that they (and most of the people like them) had been ethnically cleansed.

This statement from Abba Eban, was not just the off-handed, meandering, twisted, babbling of a person who got confused as to what he was saying. He was speaking from a prepared text, and this was the official statement of Israeli policy concerning the matter. The twisted and bizarre re-definition of words was the only way that the policy could be made to sound in any way palatable.

In other words, according to the Zionist policy, the Arabs who were born in the territory, which was declared a “Jewish state”, may not return, because they would be alien to the new state which had been established. Jews, on the other hand, have every right to “return” there, regardless of where they were born, and regardless of the fact that they can not trace lineal descent from anyone who had ever lived in the territory which became the Jewish State.

It is here that the Brechtian approach to democracy in Israel becomes readily apparent. Since the non-Jewish people could not be expected to vote for a “Jewish state”, they were removed. (Or at any rate, 80% of them were). The government of the Jewish state, then opened up the borders to allow the “return” of any Jew, no matter of what nationality or place of birth, while steadfastly refusing to allow the return of those non-Jews who were born there, but had been removed.

The newly formed Jewish majority then freely chose to perpetuate the system by “democratically” choosing a Knesset (parliament) which would safeguard the interests of the Jews in a “Jewish state”. The dispossessed Palestinians (80% of the total) were, of course, not permitted to vote in such elections.

In other words, (to borrow the phrase from Brecht), the government did indeed, “dissolve the people, and elect another”.

Under such circumstances, the reference to the state of Israel as a “democracy” is something of a joke. And in fact it would be quite funny, if not for the fact that many people in the United States, not cognizant of the reality, take the description at face value.

"Brechtian" Democracy


That's a great pic, Greg.
You got it, Greg. My personal view is that Zionism is holding Judaism hostage, and when Zionism has gotten everything it wants from it, will kill it.

Do American Jews understand that if Christian theocrats succeed in having America declared a "Christian Nation" they could expel or make second class citizens of the Jews based on the definition of "repatriation" used in Israel?
peace be upon all of you.
i wish to 'borrow' the pic for my blog. is very informative. The article is very professionally written. I enjoy reading every day.
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