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With the Israeli Election, the Plight of Palestinians Has Gotten Even Worse

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Now that the results of Israel’s national election is in, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won his fifth term in office (his fourth consecutive term) and will lead the next government, after running a campaign that was once again based on exploiting racism and xenophobia against Palestinian citizens of Israel and other non-Jews. It’s also increasingly clear that Israeli society’s descent into right-wing extremism and fascism continues, with President Donald Trump cheering from the sidelines.

During the campaign, Netanyahu once again made unmistakably clear that he believes Palestinian citizens of the state, like myself, who make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population, are second- or third-class citizens, unwelcome outsiders in our own land. In response to a recent social media post by an Israeli actress about Palestinian citizens of Israel, Netanyahu wrote that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” but rather it “is the nation-state of the Jewish People—and them alone”; this was a reference to the “nation-state” law passed last summer. A few days later, echoing the calls of right-wing extremists who want to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Israel and the occupied territories, he declared that Palestinian citizens of Israel “have 22 other Arab countries” where they can go live. 

Even more alarming, Netanyahu engineered a deal that will end up bringing the overtly racist and fascist Jewish Power party—whose members advocate the expulsion of Palestinians—into the next government if he forms it. Jewish Power leaders are disciples of the notorious right-wing extremist Meir Kahane, whose Kach party is considered a terrorist organization by the US government. After surviving mass ethnic cleansing during Israel’s establishment in 1948, Palestinian citizens of Israel must now face the likelihood that advocates of what Israelis euphemistically call “transfer” will hold senior positions in the next government.

For years, as Israel has tried to avoid being labelled an “apartheid” state internationally, Israel’s government under Netanyahu has implemented measures to cement a regime that systematically discriminates against non-Jews, in both the occupied territories and inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Last summer, Israel’s parliament (of which I am a member) passed the “Jewish Nation-State law,” which might be more accurately called the Jewish Supremacy law. It enshrines in Israel’s quasi-constitutional laws the supremacy of Jewish citizens and openly declares that the right to self-determination in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people.” This is akin to Congress officially declaring that the United States belongs to white Christians only, with inferior status afforded to non-white, non-Christian citizens—including indigenous native Americans.

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