January 2007

We, the Jewish state

18 January 2007

The state of Israel seems poised to impose its Zionist character using the force of the law. With this legislating of loyalty, it reveals its racism, writes Jonathan Cook in Nazareth When I published my book Blood and Religion last year, I sought not only to explain what lay behind Israeli policies since the failed Camp David negotiations nearly seven years ago, including the disengagement from Gaza and the building of a wall across the West Bank, but I also offered a few suggestions about where Israel might head next.

A new report alleges that Israeli security officials are being given a free hand by airports around the world to use racial profiling against Arab passengers, in violation of international law and the host countries’ domestic legislation. Israeli media have for several years reported on suspicions that non-Jews, including Israel’s more than one million Arab citizens, are being routinely subjected to lengthy interrogations, bag checks and invasive body searches at Israeli airports and land crossings. The report, Suspected Citizens, collects for the first time personal testimony from Arab citizens to support claims of discriminatory and humiliating treatment by Israeli staff at Israeli airports.

There is an absurd scene in Palestinian writer Suad Amiry’s recent book “Sharon and My Mother-in-Law” that is revealing about Israeli Jews’ attitude to the two other monotheistic religions. In 1992, long before Israel turned Amiry’s home city of Ramallah into a permanent ghetto behind checkpoints and walls, it was still possible for West Bank Palestinians to drive to Jerusalem and even into Israel — at least if they had the right permit. On one occasion Amiry ventures out in her car to East Jerusalem, the half of the city that was Palestinian before the 1967 war and has since been engulfed by relentless illegal and state-organised Jewish settlement.