I left Israel in November 1991 not because I was politically enlightened. (I started to leave properly, politically & psychologically, only 10 years later).
I left because I found life in Israel oppressive. With the exception of my abusive parents, no one in particular was bad to me. I was Jewish, white, upwardly mobile and mainstream, so was accepted more or less everywhere. I was doing well in my studies, was doing well in job interviews, had a social life and a life in general. It just felt suffocating in ways that were hard to define. As a woman I couldn’t stand the far reaching hold and impact of religion on society and the status of women. Just before I left I felt a paralysing fear that Ariel Sharon would be Prime Minister. To me, an unaware liberal-Zionist at the time, it seemed like the triumph of everything that was oppressive. It felt like the noose was tightening around my increasingly Westernised and questioning neck.
Not grasping yet that I was living in an apartheid, segregated, settler-colonial state, all I could think about was *my* freedoms. I focused on *my* desire as a woman and a person to live in a ‘normal’ western-style democracy with all the rights and civil liberties that go with that.
The so-called liberal-Zionist Left in Israel still hasn’t moved beyond this point. What horrified them will not be what this new reactionary law means to Israel’s non-Jewish citizens or to Palestinians elsewhere, but what it means to them. I wonder if they’re going to do anything about this law. Will there be a Jewish exodus from Israel?
This law after all opens the way not only to formalised apartheid and further marginalisation of the Palestinians, but also to deepening religious Jewish extremist oppression against women and anyone else who isn’t approved of by Israel-style Judaism.
Back in my time, even in more enlightened circles, at University where I found sanctuary in learning and education, you only had to scratch the surface, question just a little bit, for the pretence of liberalism and Western sensibilities to drop.
There have been many points in the past 26 years where I felt so good about leaving. I’ve always known it was the best thing I have ever done. This new belligerent law, which only formalises the status quo, makes me absolutely certain that I have always been correct about Israel. It’s a ghetto-minded, sad little facist cult, apartheid state, now also by its own formal legal definition. Al least the grim truth is out, and the only way from here is down. A state like this has no place in the ‘community’ of modern nation states.
Then again, the world of international politics is hardly a place where you see much justice or enlightenment. So not holding my breath that anyone will do anything about Israel.
“Today, Israeli lawmakers gave their final approval to the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People” bill that unambiguously defines Israel as a state that belongs exclusively to the “Jewish people.” This is despite the fact that one in five citizens of Israel is an indigenous, non-Jewish Palestinian“