Ha’aretz reports that FM Tzipi Livni, addressing a group of students, announced:
“Once a Palestinian state is established, I can come to the Palestinian citizens, whom we call Israeli Arabs, and say to them ‘you are citizens with equal rights, but the national solution for you is elsewhere,’”
Uhm, come again? If I understand her right, Israeli Arabs are not actually Israeli, but rather just temporarily so. Some Israeli Arabs I have gotten to know would be surprised to find out that they are, in fact, Palestinians, despite living their entire life carrying an Israeli ID card and passport, paying taxes to the Israeli government and living their whole life in Israeli cities. I have been taught since the earliest days of my Zionist education that Israeli Arabs identify with Israel, that they are fully equal citizens with equal rights. And yet, their nationality is in flux? Is she then saying that ‘once a Palestinian state is established’ Israeli Arabs will cease to be Israeli? Will those Arabs that desire to continue to reside in Israel be welcome to, or will they rather be forced to emigrate from Israel to Palestine?
I was under the impression that a democracy was a nation made up of its citizens, that the national aspirations of a country is determined by its citizens. Rather, Livni is making the statement that the national aspiration of a country is determined by its ethnicity. This is a perfectly acceptable philosophy if one does not adhere to the philosophies of democracy. The most basic definition of said philosophy is “a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges.” Livni, rather, seems to be calling for Israeli Arabs to have their citizenship revoked and perhaps even transferred to Palestine.
I have an extreme right-wing family member who actively financially supports settlements and the settler movement, and he likes to say, “Israel cannot be both a Jewish state and a democracy, and if they pick democracy they are wrong.” This seems to be exactly what Livni is saying, but without being as honest as my cousin. To Livni, apparently, Israeli-style democracy means an enforced majority and the pushing off of Israeli problems to Palestine. The complaints of Israeli Arabs as an underprivileged class in Israel stems from inequality in the system of Israeli governance, not by virtue of their being Arabs.
I fear the day that Israel revoke Arab citizenship, woe to the democracy that dismisses its values. This is the first time in my life that a one-state solution might even sound better than two.