Posted by: Lister | April 21, 2007

Yuval Diskin’s warning

There are rumours that the Israeli security agency is going to accuse Azmi Bishara of treason and espionage. He has not returned to Israel and intends to resign from the Knesset.

In the past few months, Palestinian intellectuals and activists, all of whom are Israeli citizens, have drafted four documents about the state’s future. The underlying assumption is that, as long as Israel is defined as a Jewish state, its laws will always fall short of basic democratic principles and the right of all its citizens to full equality.

One document, the “democratic constitution”, says Arab citizens should be considered a “homeland minority” with national rights. The idea is to transform Israel into a bilingual and multicultural democracy for all its citizens. Citizenship would no longer be granted automatically to any Jew, but to anyone born within Israel’s territory or whose parent or spouse was a citizen, and to anyone persecuted for their political beliefs.

Not long after the document’s publication, Israel’s second-largest newspaper, Ma’ariv, reported a meeting at which the head of the security agency, Yuval Diskin, warned the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, that the radicalisation of Israel’s Arab citizens constituted a “strategic threat to the state’s existence”. Diskin said: “The proliferation of the visionary documents … is particularly worrisome, [since] the documents are united by their conception of Israel as a state for all its citizens and not a Jewish state.” He concluded: “The separatist and subversive patterns represented by the elites might engender a new direction and mobilise the masses.”

Balad protested, arguing that legitimate political activity whose aim is to change the state’s character should not be considered subversive or dangerous. According to the newspaper Ha’aretz, the security agency replied that it “would foil the activity of anyone seeking to harm Israel’s Jewish or democratic character, even if that activity was carried out by legal means”.

The article’s author, Neve Gordon, teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. The article was originally in The Nation.

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Responses

  1. Uri Avnery also addressed this in his article Shalom, Shin Bet


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