Bruno Mars: Don’t play apartheid Israel

Top-selling artist Bruno Mars just announced a concert in apartheid Tel Aviv. JVP and numerous movement partners are calling on him to stand with the Palestinian people and cancel his show. 

Countless artists have joined the cultural boycott of Israel, recognizing that the Israeli government uses these concerts to cover up its crimes against Palestinians. 

Together, let’s push Bruno Mars to follow the lead of these artists and stand up for justice. 

Tell Bruno Mars: Don’t play apartheid Israel.

Mars is set to play at Yarkon Park, which was built on the lands of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Al-Shaykh Muwannis. This ethnic cleansing continues today, as the Israeli government escalates its brutality and openly supports the dispossession and killing of Palestinians.

The South African apartheid government also invited big-name musical acts to distract from its abuses. Conscientious artists, then and now, knew that playing a concert in an apartheid state would be used by the government to whitewash its violence. 

Inspired by this history, over 1,500 musicians have joined #MusiciansforPalestine in recent years, refusing to perform in Israel while the state carries out a system of segregation, oppression, and war crimes against Palestinians. 

Let’s push Bruno Mars to add his name to that list.

In solidarity,

Jason Farbman
Digital Director

Tell Bruno Mars to stand for justice and cancel his show in apartheid Israel

Israel is committing apartheid in West Bank, former Mossad chief claims

“In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state.”

Tell Google: #NoTechForApartheid

Backed by hundreds of community members, Google workers protested yesterday outside Google’s biggest cloud conference of the year to demand that their bosses stop doing business with Israel’s apartheid regime.

Activists from JVP-Bay Area, the Palestinian Youth Movement, and the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) chained themselves to the street and pedestrian walkway, calling on Google to drop its contract with the Israeli military and government. Will you sign this petition to stand in solidarity with Google workers and local organizers?

Tell Google: #NoTechForApartheid

This year, Google Cloud is celebrating its first year of profitability — but Google workers and the Bay Area community made it clear yesterday that there is nothing to celebrate as long as Google is profiting off of the destruction of Palestinian lives.

Yesterday’s rally comes a month after Amazon workers and community members rallied at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in New York City, demanding an end to Project Nimbus, Google and Amazon’s billion-dollar contract to provide the Israeli military with the AI and surveillance technology it uses to oppress Palestinians. 

One thing is clear: Tech workers and community activists will only ramp up their organizing against Big Tech as long as companies like Google continue to power and profit off of Israeli apartheid.

Google and Amazon workers need to know that we have their backs — and we need to show their bosses that we won’t let up as long as U.S.-based tech companies remain complicit in anti-Palestinian violence.

Will you take 30 seconds to tell Google: #NoTechForApartheid?

Dani Noble
Senior Campaigns Organizer

New Masafer Yatta Project: Planting Olive Trees

Dear Friends,

I wanted to let you know that I will be returning to Palestine soon for the September 6th  trial of the settler who assaulted me and fractured my skull this spring.   I also wanted to let you know about an exciting new olive planting project in the village of Tuba.

I am so grateful to everyone who helped me recover – to all of you who helped me pay for medical care, for the excellent care I received in Palestine, and the friends who cared for me so well after the attack.

Now, as I return to Palestine, I am asking once again for your help, encouragement and support — not only for myself, but more importantly for the people there who I’ve grown to love and admire. All too often as I check Instagram and Facebook, I see the faces of  people dear to me — not celebrating births or weddings, but being viciously attacked by settlers living illegally on stolen land, or violently arrested by the Israeli army just for farming and  going about their daily life ON THEIR OWN LAND.

Just days after I was assaulted,  settlers from the same Illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on attacked a shepherd from Tuba village as he grazed his sheep, beating him as he lay on the ground and spraying pepper spray directly into his eyes and face. Over the summer settlers have stolen sheep, crops and land, broken, burned  and uprooted olive trees, forced their way into homes, broken up furniture, destroyed personal belongings, destroyed the village’s well, assaulted shepherds and generally waged a campaign of terror aimed at forcing residents to abandon their village.

None have faced legal consequences, making it abundantly clear that it is only my US citizenship (and your pressure on our elected officials to make that citizenship mean anything) that has resulted in any charges at all against the settler who hit me.

It is especially painful for me to see that in the many online images, in the background or even holding the camera, are the children I have watched grow up and the new generation that has followed.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO: Israeli settlers and soldiers prevent Palestinians from using their water well, located on privately owned land in the village of Tuba.

As I head back to Palestine, the new school year is about to begin in Masafer Yatta. Once again what should be a source of joy for children from Tuba and Maghyer al Abeed  will instead mean a terrifying daily walk through lands newly stolen and colonized  by the same settlers who have violently attacked their families throughout the summer, watched by the same soldiers who have repeatedly invaded their homes and arrested their fathers.

Students in Sfai and Jinbah will likely attend class without a school.  Last spring the children of Sfai watched  Israeli bulldozers destroy their school and then the tent put up to replace it. As I write this, Israeli authorities have announced that the Jinbah school could be demolished any day. Indeed, all of the villages within Masafer Yatta are facing complete demolition to make way for Israeli Firing Zone 918 and  Israeli settlers who are moving so aggressively to establish new outposts.

These children need to know they and their families are not alone.  As I get ready to go back, I’m inviting you to help me send that message by sponsoring an olive tree to be planted in Masafer Yatta in the coming growing season, as a practical act of solidarity, and a means of helping families to hold onto their land.

Along with friends from Tuba, I’ve partnered with the Dutch organization Plant An Olive Tree (Plant een Olijfboom) to plant a grove of trees on these lands. In this short video you can see the trees, and hear from my friend Ali on the importance of keeping the olive trees on the land.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO (Text is in Dutch, but audio is in English)

Israeli law allows for the seizure of land as “state land” if the landowner cannot prove the agricultural use of it for three years.  The planting of these trees, with international involvement, both replaces  trees destroyed by settlers, and creates proof of cultivation that can help private landowners keep their land in court. Plant An Olive Tree has been working with families in Palestine for decades to replace some of the one million olive trees destroyed by Israeli settlers and soldiers since 2001. I’m grateful to them for helping us to create the Madison-Masafer Yatta Grove and send a living message of support for nonviolent resistance. 

Sponsoring a tree costs 20 euros or about $24 US Dollars. You can use PayPal or a credit card.  Plant an Olive Tree will send a lovely printable certificate of sponsorship by email so you can gift your tree to honor a friend or relative who cares for both freedom and the planet. If you prefer, you can send a check made payable to Palestine Partners or Cassandra Dixon and marked “Olive Grove” to 3579 County Road G, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965. You can also donate through Palestine Partners online HERE .

Finally, I also plan to visit the talented women of Women in Hebron Cooperative, and my dear friend Laila while I am there. WIH provides women in the Hebron area with a way to earn money for their families through the sale of handmade jewelry and traditional Palestinian embroidery. I’m happy to invite you to purchase their lovely products in the US HERE, or click the link below to shop for wonderful gifts for yourself or a friend, and support these hardworking and talented Palestinian women. If you’d like to offer their handmade products at an event, please contact me and I would be thrilled to bring them.

Laila looks on from the entrance to Women in Hebron’s shop as Israeli soldiers fill the streets of Hebron’s Old City market. Photo by amer_shallodi #شاهد_صور

Thank you so much for your care, support and solidarity, and for caring about these people who have become so dear to me,


PS: If you would like to donate towards the cost of travel to Palestine, you can use this go-fund-me link, make a tax deductible donation to Palestine Partners HERE, or use the links below. If you prefer, you can mail a check, made out to either Palestine Partners or Cassandra Dixon, to Palestine Partners, PO Box 8414, Madison, WI 53708.

Will this band play on the ruins of a Palestinian village?

May be a doodle of poster and text
Art by @/majdalrafie on Instagram
On August 29, Imagine Dragons is scheduled to perform in apartheid Israel. The venue the band is set to play at stands on the ethnically cleansed Palestinian village of Jarisha. Jarisha was once a vibrant Palestinian community. After over 200 residents of Jarisha were forced from their homes by Jewish militia in 1948, the land is now a concert hall.
Thousands of artists have refused complicity in Israeli colonialism by canceling their concerts in occupied Palestine. Tell Imagine Dragons to join them in taking a stand by refusing to play on stolen Palestinian land!
Imagine Dragons has used its music to support human rights in the past, advocating for refugees and the LGBTQIA+ community. Right now, the band has the opportunity to stand on the right side of history by supporting Palestinian human rights.
Palestinian civil society has long been calling on artists to skip performing in apartheid Israel, just as conscientious artists refused to perform in apartheid South Africa. The Israeli government uses such concerts to cover up its human rights violations, making artists complicit in their apartheid regime.
Take action now! Ask Imagine Dragons to #ImagineEndingApartheid and advocate for a world where Palestinians are free.

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The violent lies of Israel’s president

When members of Congress applaud falsehoods about Israel being a vibrant democracy, they are aiding and abetting further oppression of Palestinians.


Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 6, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel’s president stood before a joint session of the U.S. Congress earlier this month and told a story — one the American lawmakers in attendance dearly wished to believe. The sound of their applause filled the room as he described Israel as a “strong and resilient” democracy that “stand[s] for liberty, equality, and freedom.” But wanting to believe a story doesn’t make it true. 

The deception and falsehoods in Isaac Herzog’s story are easily detectable these days. Everyone can see that it is absurd to speak of Israel as a thriving democracy even as hundreds of thousands of Israelis flood the streets to defend their rights and freedoms, fearful of a government that is pushing a racist, conservative, authoritarian, and violent worldview. But Herzog’s story is a lie not because Israel is suddenly in danger of no longer being a democracy, or because of the moves being carried out by extremist ministers in the current government, but because Israel has maintained a racist and discriminatory regime for as long as it has existed. 

To deflect criticism that might expose this lie, Israel raises the false flag of antisemitism to attack Senator Sanders, Congresswomen Jayapal, Tlaib, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, and anyone else who insists on describing Israeli reality as it truly is: a reality of oppression and ongoing human rights abuses. A reality of apartheid

Over the years, Israel has developed various tools to help it maintain Jewish supremacy. While, as Jewish citizens, we can exercise our rights anywhere in the area Israel controls — whether we live in Tel Aviv or in a settlement in the West Bank — Palestinians’ rights hinge on where they live in the geographical divide-and-rule system Israel imposes and maintains: within the Green Line, in East Jerusalem, in the West Bank, or in the Gaza Strip. 

While Israel allows any Jew anywhere in the world to become a citizen, millions of Palestinians in the diaspora and in their homeland are denied citizenship, even if their parents were born here. Correspondingly, every Jewish citizen gets the right to vote for the Israeli parliament, while over five million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip cannot vote in the general elections as they are not considered citizens. 

A billboard by anti-occupation group B'Tselem in Bethlehem, ahead of the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden's visit to the country, on July 14, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

A billboard by anti-occupation group B’Tselem in Bethlehem, ahead of the arrival of U.S. President Joe Biden’s visit to the country, on July 14, 2022. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The state has almost total control over land within the Green Line (over 90 percent of it is under state control), and since 1948, it has built hundreds of communities for Jews and almost none for Palestinians. In the West Bank, Israel built more than 200 settlements for Jews and allowed land use to serve the needs of Jews alone. Palestinians, on the other hand, are denied almost any sort of construction and development. 

The Israeli regime’s logic is realized in its most brutal form in the territories it has been occupying since 1967. In the West Bank, the killing of Palestinians is a daily affair, while entire communities are forced to leave their homes due to intolerable living conditions produced by the army’s restrictions and violence on the one hand, and on the other, an increasingly emboldened settler population that descends upon Palestinian villages to carry out pogroms with impunity. Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, more than two million people live in inhumane conditions, unable to leave or escape the world’s largest open-air prison

These are not stories, narratives. or opinions. These are facts.

As painful as it may be to admit, it is undeniable that Jewish supremacy is the Israeli regime’s guiding logic, and this isn’t being suppressed or hidden: five years ago, Israel enshrined it as a constitutional principle in Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. The current government’s founding guidelines are even more explicit: “The Jewish people have an exclusive, indisputable right to the entire expanse of the Land of Israel,” the term used to refer to the whole area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. 

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a protest following Friday prayers at the main entrance to the West Bank town of Dura, south of Hebron, August 4, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas at Palestinian protesters during a protest following Friday prayers at the main entrance to the West Bank town of Dura, south of Hebron, August 4, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

An apartheid regime is characterized by one group perpetuating its supremacy and control over another through government practices, laws, and organized violence. The Israeli regime is just that. We pride ourselves on being “the only democracy in the Middle East”; citizens of Apartheid South Africa, a country similarly divided into areas on the basis of race, told themselves and the world that they were “the only democracy in Africa.” They, too, had free and “democratic” elections — for whites only. But again, telling yourself a lie does not make it true. 

When members of Congress stand and cheer falsehoods about Israel being a vibrant democracy, they are not helping us move toward a different future, one based on equality, democracy, and human rights. They are aiding and abetting more oppression and more violence. They are upholding a lie that is turning us into a scared, broken, and cruel society. 

To change reality, you must first recognize it. Instead of applauding fairy tales, the world must recognize reality and help us dismantle the apartheid regime. Because everyone living between the river and the sea deserves to live in a true democracy.

Leading liberal Zionist voices call for ending U.S. aid to Israel

A New York Times Op-Ed featuring liberal Zionist leaders calls to end military aid to Israel as the country passes a law gutting its judiciary. This is the moment people working to end U.S. aid to Israel have been waiting for.

Gaza Americans Urge Washington To Include Them In Israel Visa Deal

Palestinian Americans Hani Almadhoun and his daughter Zayna sit in their home in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip August 2, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Wisconsin Muslim Journal, Aug 11, 2023

GAZA, Aug 3 (Reuters) – U.S. passport holders with Palestinian papers and families in Gaza are urging Washington to ensure they are treated equally under a reciprocal deal with Israel intended to insure visa-free travel for American and Israeli citizens.

Israel, facing a Sept. 30 deadline to qualify its citizens for visa-free admission to the United States, said it has loosened access through its main airport and at the occupied West Bank’s boundary for Palestinian Americans, allowing more than 2,000 people to cross into or through Israel.

U.S. State Department officials have said the Visa Waiver Program must apply to all American citizens, including those in Gaza, but a number of Palestinian Americans with Gaza identity papers have said they have been prevented from entering Israel.

Palestinian Americans Hani Almadhoun and his daughter Zayna sit in their home in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip August 2, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

“As a Palestinian with a Gaza ID I was disappointed it discriminates against people like me. We are specifically excluded from benefiting from this program,” Hani Almadhoun, a Palestinian American visiting family in Gaza, told Reuters.

The severe restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinians have made qualification for the visa waiver a test for prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, which must show it treats all U.S. passport holders exactly the same, regardless of any other nationality they may hold.

Sitting at his family house in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, Madhoun said authorities rejected his request to return home through the Israeli Ben Gurion airport to Northern Virginia, where he lives with his wife and two American-born daughters.

“As an American I think we should have those benefits because Israelis now, even those Israelis who live in illegal settlements are able to come to America without harassment,” he said.

On Thursday, COGAT, the Israeli Defence Ministry agency for liaising with the Palestinians, said on its official website only U.S. citizens holding Palestinian identity card registered in the “Judea and Samaria area”, a term used by the Israeli administration to refer to the West Bank, may enter through any of the international border crossings.

The website said that, by Sept. 15, additional procedures relevant to Gaza strip residents would be published.

Palestinian American Hani Almadhoun holds his U.S. passport as he sits at home in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip August 2, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

“In these very days, Israel is working on examining an outline for Americans who hold a Palestinian identity card, to enter and leave the Gaza Strip,” a source from COGAT told Reuters. “More details on the subject will be published in an orderly manner in September.”

Speaking to Reuters in Dubai, a Palestinian-American lawyer of Gaza origin said Israeli authorities denied him entry at Ben Gurion, forcing him to return to Dubai, though he had confirmed with the Israeli Embassy in Dubai that he was allowed to fly into Israel though he had a Gaza ID.

“This really shows unfortunately Israeli continuously persistent intentional discrimination and dehumanization of U.S citizens who are Palestinians,” he added.

Israel expanded an apartheid law last week. No one is talking about it.

Israel broadened a racist law that allows communities to exclude non-Jews based on “social and cultural cohesion.” Whereas judicial overhaul laws have caused an uproar, this passed with hardly any opposition.



There has been a lot of noise from the Israeli protests concerning the judicial overhaul. The recent central law that was passed last week reduced the supreme court’s ability to overturn government policy, the so-called “reasonableness law.” But another law also passed just a day later — an amendment to a core apartheid law known as the “Village Committees Law” of 2010, more officially named the Cooperative Societies Ordinance. It passed without opposition, and was hardly noticed. 

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, explained how “these committees, which to date exist in the Galilee and in the Naqab (Negev), have the power to approve or to deny applicants who wish to reside there, based on their perceived ‘social suitability’ to the ‘social and cultural fabric’ of a community. In practice, this power has led to the exclusion of Palestinian citizens of Israel from these communities, which are built on state-controlled land.”

The amendment that was passed (nr. 12) expands the existing law, which was limited to towns of up to 400 households, by introducing a new category called a “Continued Communal Town,” which allows towns with up to 700 households to have such admission committees. “Furthermore,” Adalah notes, “in five years, the Minister of Economy and Industry will be authorized to permit admissions committees in towns with more than 700. This provision, de facto, cancels the restriction on the number of households specified in the law.”

The new amendment also expands the law beyond the Galilee and Naqab. While West Bank colonial settlements are not included in the latest version that passed, “it is expected that this law will be implemented in settlements in the West Bank via military orders, rather than through Israeli domestic law,” Adalah notes. 

This is one of the central discriminatory laws that are on Adalah’s database of 65 laws that “discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens in Israel and/or Palestinian residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) on the basis of their national belonging.” This is a law in so-called “Israel proper” — not a law for West Bank settlers. And its history goes much further back than this current government.

Hagai El-Ad, former head of B’tselem, pointed to the relative silence in a tweet:

“As you read news about Israel’s ‘judicial overhaul,’ here’s some apartheid context: today the Knesset approved the Admissions Committees Law expansion. How much media coverage is this getting? Almost none. This law allows for housing segregation against Palestinian citizens.” 

Noa Shpigel in Haaretz, who covered the story, noted how the original law was enacted in 2010 “to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling that banned communities from selling land to Jews only.” So they made committees that could exclude Palestinians on the basis of a supposed lack of “social suitability.” 

As for opposition to this law, it was almost nonexistent. Apart from the Palestinian-representative party lawmakers (Joint List, United Arab List), who obviously voted against the law that so openly discriminated against them, only two opposition lawmakers from Labor — Naama Lazimi and Gilad Kariv — voted against it. The law passed with an easy 42-11. Those who voted for it included lawmakers from the opposition — the centrist National Unity led by Benny Gantz. These included Gideon Sa’ar (formerly of the anti-Netanyahu “New Hope”) and Alon Schuster. 

A long list of heads of regional councils congratulated the passing of the amendment.

The text of this poster, which celebrates the vote as a moment of unity around “one of the basic values ​​of Zionism,” is really worth noting: 

“In these times of rivalry and disagreement, we witnessed this week a unique moment of unity around one of the core values of Zionism: the settlement. Ministers and lawmakers from right and left joined together in order to pass the amendment to the Cooperative Societies Ordinance, which would allow expansion of the settlement in the periphery, absorption of youth and strengthening of the communities.” 

That message, which thanked the bill’s sponsors and those who voted for the law, were the leaders of 20 regional councils in Israel, as well as others, such as head of the kibbutz movement Nir Meir, the head of the moshav movement Amit Yifrach, the head of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel, and others. It represents a near-unanimous consensus on Jewish settlement. 

Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Law of 2018, known as the “nation-state law” openly declares in section 7 that “The State views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and shall act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.” This vote proves this truly is a core value that cuts across the Zionist political spectrum. 

Adalah points out that its petition against the original law of (2011) was rejected by the Supreme Court in 2014 in a 5-4 split decision, “emphasizing that the issue was premature for constitutional review at that time.” So the court played the liberal role of outlawing outright discrimination initially but ended up playing the agnostic on the legislation that circumvented its ruling. 

Palestinian-Israeli lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List hammered the matter in her speech to the plenum:

“Let it be clear — this is one of the most naked and clear of the apartheid laws…there’s a clause that says that the minister can decide to expand the town, appropriating lands from state lands. So let me remind you – the lands that you don’t want us to use. They were mostly confiscated from our forefathers, from the villages that were destroyed in 1948, from people who were expelled from their homeland. And not only did the state steal the lands, it bars us from using them. This is one of the clear laws, that also the Supreme Court, that for thirty weeks there is a struggle to protect it – you know that the Supreme Court rejected this petition? They saw it as reasonable!…The “reasonability principle” was apparently not enough in order to erase this law.”

Needless to say, there will be no mass protests on this one. Most Israelis will probably not even hear about it. It is just a part of the quiet and consistent expansion and takeover of the Zionist project of Jewish supremacy, from the river to the sea.

The only answer to the Israeli right’s war: A state for all its citizens

Israel’s protest leaders are strengthening an ethnocratic identity that lacks all consistency with their ‘democratic’ mission. But an alternative exists.

Anti-government protesters march against the government’s judicial overhaul, Tel Aviv, July 29, 2023. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Ameer Fakhoury, +972 Magazine, July 30, 2023

In his recent article in +972, Prof. Menachem Klein wrote about the sociological characteristics of Israel’s pro-judicial overhaul camp and the opposition. His article included innovative arguments regarding the political mobilizing capacity of each camp, but I would like to focus here on the ideational aspects in his article.

According to Klein, “The proponents of the judicial overhaul resort to identity politics. They justify the judicial overhaul with the need to preserve the Jewish identity of the state and Jewish supremacy over non-Jews, whether the latter are citizens, residents, or subjects of the regime. By contrast, the opponents of the judicial overhaul speak in a discourse of rights,” which Klein says “undergirds their democratic-liberal identity.”

The extensive literature on identity focuses on a range of elements, including self and external definitions; perceptions about the past, present, and future; feelings; how identity guides behavior; and how identity is formed in the first place. However, these theories hardly deal with the correlation between, on the one hand, the coherence of identity and a group’s political energy — expressed, for example, in the ability of group members to come together to launch an effective collective struggle — and the political project which the group strives toward on the other.

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As an identity’s internal coherence increases, so, too, does its political energy. And the higher the degree of compatibility between them and the chosen political project, the greater the ability to stabilize, preserve, and channel that energy into a social and political reality. This is probably one of the most important lessons that can be learned from the Arab Spring, where the failure to capture the impressive bursts of energy for a political project prevented its translation into a democratic political reality.

Protesters from the "anti-occupation bloc" mark 56 years since the 1967 occupation as part of the protest movement against the Netanyahu government, Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

Protesters from the “anti-occupation bloc” mark 56 years since the 1967 occupation as part of the protest movement against the Netanyahu government, Tel Aviv, June 3, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

In this regard, the ethnocratic identity of the proponents of the judicial overhaul — based, as Klein rightly noted, on Jewish supremacy between the river and the sea — is immeasurably stronger than the “liberal-democratic” identity of the opposition. The identity of the supporters enjoys a high level of internal coherence, which in turn provides its members with political energy. The ideological-colonial zeal of the settlers in the West Bank, or the members of the “Torah nuclei” who settle in so-called “mixed cities” inside Israel, are good examples of this.  

Indeed, the leaders of the coup’s supporters are currently trying to increase the correlation between the group’s identity and political energy and the political project, by promoting their unification within a regime of real Jewish supremacy — and not merely an anti-liberal interpretation of an ethnocratic-Jewish regime.

By contrast, even if the camp opposing the judicial coup succeeds in generating impressive political energy, these will be very difficult to stabilize in the long run. This is because of its low degree of internal identity coherence, and because of the lack of correlation between the camp’s “pro-democracy” identity and the political model to which it aspires — namely, a liberal interpretation of a Jewish ethnocratic regime.

After all, and ironically, in their struggle for liberal democracy — which is conducted without inviting, and even rejecting, the leaders of the Palestinian citizens of Israel — the “protest leaders” are only strengthening the state’s Jewish component, acting as a vessel for a certain community that is entitled to shape the face of the state according to its founding ethos. 

This contradiction is even more stark when accounting for the military dictatorship that Palestinians are subjected to in the occupied territories. Taken together, the Israeli opposition is composed of nothing but an ethno-liberal and ethno-democratic identity that lacks all consistency, especially compared to its rivals. 

Squaring the circle

Yet there is a way out. In order to achieve internal coherence based on liberal and democratic values, which will generate and preserve enough political energy to withstand the bursts of Jewish supremacy of the opposing camp, the protest movement must decide to move away from supporting an ethnocracy in the guise of a “Jewish and democratic” state, and toward a state for all its citizens. This decision necessitates the creation of a civic national identity.

The pro-government camp has already realized this, long before the opponents. For example, speaking about the judicial reform on the right-wing Channel 14, host Yaakov Berdugo said: “We are in another event, which is much bigger than legal reform … a struggle [between] a Jewish state and a state for all its citizens. The reform is only a trigger.” Surveying the political landscape, Berdugo presumed that an Israeli movement that adopts and emphasizes a liberal-democratic discourse will inevitably end up breaking through its ethnic-cognitive walls and adopt a truly egalitarian identity achieved only in a state of all its citizens.

President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut and other Supreme Court Justices arrive for a court hearing in Jerusalem, January 5, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut and other Supreme Court Justices arrive for a court hearing in Jerusalem, January 5, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

This is not a new idea, and it is one that faces numerous roadblocks, even beyond the inability of the protest movement to forgo its ethnocratic understanding of the state. In 2013, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected a request by a group of Israelis to declare that they were members of the “Israeli nation” and to allow them to change the nationality on their identity cards from “Jewish” to “Israeli.” The judges ruled that “it has not been proven that, legally, there is an ‘Israeli nation’ and it is not appropriate to encourage the formation of new ‘shards’ of a nation.”

As expected, the Supreme Court ruled that recognition of Israeli nationality runs contrary to the state’s Jewish character, while also harming its ties to diaspora Jewry. However, the court’s more interesting reasoning, which received far less attention, is that recognition of Israeli nationality also runs contrary to the state’s democratic character, since recognizing such a civic national identity could also harm the country’s Arab citizens.

“Official, or even unofficial, adoption of the term ‘the Israeli people’ may, instead of including the Arab minority from a national point of view, exclude it from a civic point of view,” the ruling argued. “Many in the Arab public will avoid, or even expressly refuse, to define themselves as Israelis due to the national ‘lack of neutrality’ of this name, or simply for political reasons.”

If this is the position that the Supreme Court — Israel’s “bastion of liberalism” — takes on such a question, how can one expect the opposition to try and square the circle of a unified civic national identity? Palestinian citizens themselves also find it difficult to answer this question, and tend to create an unconvincing disconnect between the structure of an egalitarian state and the unified civic nationalism it will foster.

Palestinians, many of them from the West Bank, enjoy a day at the beach in Tel Aviv, during the second day of the Eid al-Adha holiday, June 29, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

Palestinians, many of them from the West Bank, enjoy a day at the beach in Tel Aviv, during the second day of the Eid al-Adha holiday, June 29, 2023. (Oren Ziv)

In order to overcome the project of Jewish supremacy, the model of the citizen state must be adopted. But for this to happen, the Israeli question first needs to be answered — namely, how to create an egalitarian civic nationalism that connects the structure of the citizen state with its appropriate national-civic content. It is not enough to simply bash, even if justifiably, anti-judicial overhaul protest leader Shikma Bressler and her friends for their political and moral incoherence and the blindness of their liberal-democratic identity. Instead, they must be shown the alternative to Jewish supremacy.

In order to create this alternative, we need to hold a bi-national conversation on the Israeli question, which will take into account the religious, ethnic, and national characteristics of the two groups, the colonial structure from which they were born and shaped — and above all, the need to end the suffering of Palestinians and the military dictatorship in the occupied territories.

A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.