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Israel: Again and always! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An extremely courageous article by British columnist Daniel Knowles was published in the editorial section of the British Daily Telegraph newspaper (which is known for its absolute support of Israel). In this article, the writer criticized Israel’s unprecedentedly harsh practices and discrimination towards African refugees. In summary, Knowles writes that Israel seems to have completely forgotten its own history, as Jewish refugees came across the world to Palestine to establish a state there. The writer adds that Israel claims to be adopting Western political and social values, however by acting in such a manner, namely exhibiting clear hostility towards a specific category of immigrants, namely African refugees, Israel seems to be adopting a hostile and racist trend which is viewed as abhorrent in a new world which respects the rights of minorities regardless of where they come from

The writer cited western states that have a long and successful history of receiving foreign immigrants, including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Canada and the US. In fact, the Statue of Liberty, which overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and symbolically greets the ships – and the immigrants – arriving in the country is inscribed with iconic lines welcoming immigrants to the country. These lines read “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddle masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Knowles therefore views the Israeli conduct towards its immigrants as a breach of Western democratic values, which Israel has long claimed to uphold. He explains that during a recent visit to Israel, he met with a large number of liberal and left-wing Israelis who were depressed about the state of their country, namely the right-wing politics and the Jewish religious domination of the political and social scene. These Jewish liberals are shocked by the public acceptance of the term “Arab dirt” for Israel’s Arab community, and this is something that is not met with any public condemnation or punishment. They are equally worried about the increasing hegemony of the extremist Orthodox Jewish community and their repression of women’s rights, which is also something that is not met with any public condemnation or denunciation in Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself described his government’s stance towards the 60,000 African refugees in Israel as one that focuses on protecting the Jewish identity of Israel, and this is an ideology that is similar to what Adolf Hitler adopted against the Jews themselves in Nazi Germany, not to mention the Apartheid in South Africa. This is also the same principle that successive Israeli governments applied in dealing with Israel’s Arab community, viewing them as being a chronic problem for the state of Israel. Gradually, Israel denied them their rights, and Israel’s Arab citizens have ultimately become second-class citizens. In fact, Israel announced this frankly and in a manner that requires no further explanation or interpretation, namely that Israel is essentially a purely Jewish state. Therefore, Israel has officially implemented degrees of citizenship, and by using the words race and religion, it is putting down roots of discrimination between its own citizens, something that contradicts all international customs, laws and principles. This is an issue which the international community must deal with as a “crime”, in the same manner that the world dealt with Nazi Germany and Apartheid in South Africa. This is something that must happen if we truly live in a fair world where all countries are dealt with based on a single standard or criterion, however this is clearly something that is not true. Even the most extremist figures that are unwavering in their defence of Israel can no longer conceal the country’s blemishes. I am not giving Knowles’s article more due than it deserves, however all I want to say here is that the state of Israel is the country that most violates international laws, agreements and conventions, whilst it is also the country to face the least punishment for such behaviour, and this is something that cannot continue forever!