Imagine if South Africa’s last white president FW de Klerk had, rather than recognise change as manifested by Nelson Mandela, insisted non-whites would be second-class citizens forever?
Imagine if one of the North’s more sectarian Stormont leaders — history offers a selection — openly declared that Protestants would forever enjoy a constitutional advantage over their Catholic neighbours?
That was the reality in policy and practice but not even the most strident unionist leader dared formalise that discrimination through a public declaration of intent. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has no such scruples. Last Sunday he declared that Israel is not a state of all its citizens turning lingering doubt about Israel’s democracy on its head.
Shocking as that was it should not be surprising, It is the logical extension of last year’s nation-state law, rendering Palestinians second-class citizens. Netanyahu’s administration has exacerbated division to try to survive April 9 elections.
The reliability of that vote is in question as he contrived to have the racist anti-Arab Jewish Power and the pro-settler Jewish Home parties join forces so they might be allowed stand and, eventually, support a coalition he hopes to lead. Jewish Power is home to disciples of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach party was outlawed in Israel and denounced by the US and EU as a terror organisation.
In an irony almost beyond parody, the process that blessed that marriage blocked the Arab Raam-Balad from the election, supporting a motion from Netanyahu’s Likud, who say Balad wants to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state and backs militants.
“Those who support terrorism will not be in the Israeli Knesset!” tweeted the prime minister.
In any discussion about Israel it is important to recognise several truths:
Just a month after the election Tel Aviv will host the Eurovision; light entertainment and heavy responsibility collide. Should Netanyahu be returned we should not be involved, especially as our state broadcaster is the conduit.
By, in those circumstances, taking part we would endorse policies we rejected a century ago, a rejection we will celebrate with gusto in coming years. Integrity, again, exacts a price.