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Israel Cannot be Both Jewish and Democratic

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Israel continues to lurch and stagger in the darkened bog of tribal chauvinism. The Jewish state's further descent into the bellicose murk is being felt by the country's minorities. Home destructions and deportations are portentous of a bleaker future for non-Jews in Israel.

Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have lived under an Israeli apartheid regime for decades now. Over the years, Israel has demolished homes, kidnapped thousands of political prisoners, transferred 500,000 settler-colonists onto the West Bank, conducted massive military operations in civilian areas, hoarded the vast majority of Palestinian water, and committed a host of other crimes under the apartheid banner.

Today, the Zionism which has destroyed so many occupied lives is turning inwards. Israel is being corroded by the ideology underpinning its existence. The Zionist state's latest victims are Palestinian-Israelis and migrant workers.

The Guardian's "Ethnic cleansing in the Israeli Negev," depicts a hulking mass of baklava-clad riot guards descending on Al-Araqib in the pre-dawn morning. The village's Bedouin residents were forcibly extracted from their homes while a bulldozer bulldozed their lives. Incredibly, the village was destroyed to make room for a national forest. It seems that against all morality, the desert will continue to bloom.

That the destruction of a Palestinian-Israeli village requires an audience is only slightly shocking. Groups of Jewish Israeli citizens were bused in to cheer the spectacle of the state-sanctioned "ethnic cleansing." What's very shocking is that the Jewish state enlisted the services of young Jews in wreaking destruction. Teenage volunteers with the police civilian guard emptied the Palestinian-Israeli houses and "smashed windows and mirrors in their homes and defaced family photographs with crude drawings."

Elsewhere in Israel, non-Jewish youths learned that they were unfit to remain in country of their birth. Four-hundred migrant children -- most of them born in Israel -- will be deported soon. Ironically, their expulsion has been spearheaded by parliamentarians from the rightwing Yisrael Beiteinu party, many of whom are Russian immigrants to Israel.

Weighing in on the topic, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, "this is a tangible threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel."

Many of Israel's staunchest supporters are baffled by what's happening in the small Mediterranean state. Regrettably, they fail to understand that Israel is following the natural evolution of a country founded on a race-exclusive basis.

Israeli pundits frequently insist that their state is both Jewish and democratic. They say that minorities in Israel have equal rights and representation in state apparatuses. That's not true, but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that roughly 20% of Israelis are not Jewish. And those non-Jews are meeting one another, falling in love, and having children. To borrow Netanyahu's words, it is these children that are a "threat to the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel."

Zionism -- the idea that Jewish people ought to have a Jewish state in mandate Palestine -- is anachronistic in the 21st century. The idea that non-Jews who have lived on the land for generations before the creation of the state of Israel should be relegated to second-class citizenship because they're not Jewish is illiberal. It's also racist.

These people, Palestinian-Israelis and other native non-Jews, have no way of entering the mainstream of political and cultural life in Israel. The only reason they can't is because they're not Jewish.

Is it possible for a non-Jewish person to become the Prime Minister of Israel today? And what about Minister of Defense? What does it mean for the Jewish state if the 20% minority grows to 50%, then 70%? Is it still the Jewish state?

For too long Western liberals have engaged in willful denial about the true nature of Israel. Israel is the Jewish state -- of that I have no doubt. But can the Jewish state be squared with liberal and democratic values when one out of every five citizens isn't Jewish? I don't think so.

Israel is already an apartheid state. The separation of the people -- their enforced apartness -- arises not out of security considerations, but racial ones. In short, Israel cannot be both the Jewish and democratic state. That's because Zionism is fundamentally anti-democratic in a mixed-race society. The important questions now are how will Israel prevent the growth of its non-Jewish minorities? And how long will Western liberals continue to pretend that Zionism is compatible with liberalism?