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ACRI Report - Democracy on Paper Only? - June 4th, 2007

ACRI Report - Democracy on Paper Only? - June 4th, 2007

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Published by Ronnie Barkan
ACRI, Association for Human Rights in Israel, vehemently refuses to deal with Israel's ethnic-supremacist character, even when obligated to do so in its report on whether the Jewish-Democratic State of Israel is indeed a democracy.
June 4th, 2007

In this English version, ACRI removed any mention of the inherent discriminatory practices and the ethnic-supremacist character of the State of Israel. The matching Hebrew version of the report, however, makes the following statement - acknowledging Israel's ethnocratic regime within Israel proper/Palestine'48 and expressly refusing to deal with it:
English (translation):
"It should be noted in parenthesis, that Israel carries some unique characteristics which distinguish it from other western countries, primarily that of systematic discrimination which is based on national and ethnic background, dealing with the allocation of state resources and the creation of public space.
This inequality gives control to the Jewish majority over the Arab-Palestinian minority living in Israel. However, the impact of such discrimination against Arab citizens on the Israeli democracy is a matter of its own which exceeds the scope of discussion in this paper."
Hebrew (here: http://bit.ly/ACRIdemocracy)
"ראוי לציין במאמר מוסגר, כי בישראל קיימים גם מאפיינים ייחודיים למדי, המבחינים בינה לבין מרבית מדינות המערב, ובראשם אי-שוויון ממוסד, על רקע לאומי ואתני, בחלוקת המשאבים המדינתיים ובעיצוב המרחב הציבורי. אי שוויון זה מקנה שליטה לקבוצת הרוב היהודית על-פני המיעוט הערבי-פלסטיני המתגורר בישראל. עם זאת, השפעתה של אפליית האזרחים הערבים על הדמוקרטיה הישראלית היא נושא לדיון בפני עצמו, החורג ממסגרת הדיון של מסמך זה"
ACRI, Association for Human Rights in Israel, vehemently refuses to deal with Israel's ethnic-supremacist character, even when obligated to do so in its report on whether the Jewish-Democratic State of Israel is indeed a democracy.
June 4th, 2007

In this English version, ACRI removed any mention of the inherent discriminatory practices and the ethnic-supremacist character of the State of Israel. The matching Hebrew version of the report, however, makes the following statement - acknowledging Israel's ethnocratic regime within Israel proper/Palestine'48 and expressly refusing to deal with it:
English (translation):
"It should be noted in parenthesis, that Israel carries some unique characteristics which distinguish it from other western countries, primarily that of systematic discrimination which is based on national and ethnic background, dealing with the allocation of state resources and the creation of public space.
This inequality gives control to the Jewish majority over the Arab-Palestinian minority living in Israel. However, the impact of such discrimination against Arab citizens on the Israeli democracy is a matter of its own which exceeds the scope of discussion in this paper."
Hebrew (here: http://bit.ly/ACRIdemocracy)
"ראוי לציין במאמר מוסגר, כי בישראל קיימים גם מאפיינים ייחודיים למדי, המבחינים בינה לבין מרבית מדינות המערב, ובראשם אי-שוויון ממוסד, על רקע לאומי ואתני, בחלוקת המשאבים המדינתיים ובעיצוב המרחב הציבורי. אי שוויון זה מקנה שליטה לקבוצת הרוב היהודית על-פני המיעוט הערבי-פלסטיני המתגורר בישראל. עם זאת, השפעתה של אפליית האזרחים הערבים על הדמוקרטיה הישראלית היא נושא לדיון בפני עצמו, החורג ממסגרת הדיון של מסמך זה"

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Published by: Ronnie Barkan on Mar 01, 2012
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1
 A Democracy on Paper Only?
 All Israeli schoolchildren learn that they live in a democratic state. Western nations, aswell, see us as part of the democratic world. But for the past forty years, our actionshave been steadily undermining that general consensus. A democratic nation is one inwhich each and every citizen has a voice; each has a chance, through representatives,to take part in the decision-making process; and each is entitled to the same rights,regardless of religion, race, nationality, and gender.Since 1967, Israel has controlled all of the territory between "the sea and the river" andall those people within it—a population that includes some four million Palestinians in theWest Bank and Gaza Strip, living under occupation. During this entire period, Israel hasdenied these Palestinians the basic rights guaranteed by democracies and hasprevented them from taking part in decisions affecting their fate. The establishment of the Palestinian Authority and the elections it has conducted have not altered thesituation in any meaningful way. In the West Bank, the PA has control over very fewmatters and relatively minute territorial enclaves. In the Gaza Strip, Israel continues tocontrol vital aspects of the residents' lives, even after the disengagement.Democracy can survive a situation of exercising control over people and denying themtheir rights
only in highly exceptional, temporary situations
. Forty years is neither exceptional nor temporary, but a fixed reality. Today, after forty years of domination over Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, we cannot examine the definition of Israel as ademocratic state without relating to the situation of 
all people
living under its control.In an occupying regime, all authority lies with the chief military commander. In the caseof a continuing military occupation, like the one in the Occupied Territories, the situationresembles a military dictatorship far more than a democracy. The occupation permeatesevery aspect of daily life: the military regime determines whether people can get to their 
 
2
workplaces, whether children can go to school, whether people can travel to visit their relatives or receive medical treatment. The military regime controls private property,expropriates agricultural lands, and damages the livelihoods of families. Under militaryrule, the civilian population is subject to abusive and arbitrary treatment byrepresentatives of the authorities—soldiers, police officers, General Security Servicepersonnel, and border control personnel. Civilians also live in constant fear of losing their individual freedoms, through sudden intrusions into their homes, sometimes in themiddle of the night; arrests; checkpoints; and security checks. Although the authoritiescite security considerations as justification for all of their actions, it is not at all clear if they are promoting the security of Israeli citizens or sowing the seeds of hatred andinciting violence. However, even when security is the prime concern, not everything isallowed.Moreover, the massive presence of settlements in the heart of the Occupied Territorieshas created a situation in which there are two populations, living side by side in thesame territorial region and under the same governmental and military authorities: onehas full rights as citizens and the other is denied these same rights. The region is alsosubject to two different systems of laws and regulations. These differentiations arebased solely on the
origin
 
of the population. Examples include: the quantity of water allocated to the settlements allows them to grow lawns and build swimming pools, whilethere are Palestinians who are forced to buy containers of drinking water; Jews whohave broken the law are granted all rights available to defendants under Israeli law,while Palestinians arrested for the same crimes (even in the same incidents) face amuch stricter military legal system; Jews travel on well-paved main roads, whilePalestinians must make do with rough dirt roads.Almost without our noticing, for most of its existence—
40 out of 59 years
—Israel hasbeen undemocratically controlling a large population and denying them their basic rightsin every aspect of life. As a result of the continuing occupation, Israeli democracy is, atbest, partial; its benefits extend to only one portion of the people living under the state'sauthority.
Democracy—one of the basic tenets of which is equality—is, bydefinition, not selective
, just as a state in which only men are granted the right to votecannot be considered a democracy.

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