The overarching project of the current Israeli government is to entrench Jewish supremacy throughout the “Greater Land of Israel.” In order to secure this goal, alongside the judicial coup, the government is advancing another plan that is no less dramatic, but has received less attention: changing the status of Arab citizens. Recent months have seen a powerful racist attack using salami tactics. Slice by slice, the government is worsening the condition of Arab society. The goal, slow but sure, is to foster ignorance, poverty, crime, hatred, and violence. When the situation becomes intolerable, and Jews are also pulled into the endless chain of murders, the ground will be ready for extreme measures.

The project is being advanced through diverse and vague means to make it harder to discern. The first line of action, of course, are racist legislative proposals. These include stricter penalties for sex offenses with nationalistic motivation (which has already been adopted), stricter enforcement tools against illegal construction (passed at its first reading), and proposed laws outlawing the displaying of the Palestinian flag, imposing supervision on Arab schools and teachers, and placing obstacles in the way of Arabs who seek to compete in elections.

The second line of action is suspending and preventing budget transfers. Dozens of budget lines have been completely frozen or are being delayed on various pretexts across numerous government ministries: finance, transport, Negev and Galilee, construction and housing, welfare, education, environmental protection – and these are just the changes that have been made public.

The third course of action are administrative and governmental decisions. Among other examples: Zionism as a guiding value in governmental decisions (with the goal of transforming the Nation-State Law from a largely declarative tool to one shaping actual governmental practice); establishing the National Guard (which, it is safe to assume, will be directed mainly against Arabs); and easing criteria for carrying firearms (for Jews only, needless to say).

The fourth course of action concerns the Knesset committees. For example, the National Security Committee held a discussion about ways to make the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee illegal. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee is the umbrella organization of Arab society in Israel; it advances issues of importance to the Arab population and includes all the Arab Members of Knesset and local authority heads, alongside other organizations.

The fifth course of action incudes racist statements that exacerbate the existing alienation between the Arab public and the state. It’s hard to stay calm when Justice Minister Yariv Levin says in his own voice “Jews don’t want to live with Arabs. We need to make sure that there will be justices on the Supreme Court who understand this.”

It’s important to take a moment to consider Levin’s comment, which offers a de facto confession. The government’s two flagship projects – the judicial coup and the reform in the status of the Arab public – are the two legs on which the government of Jewish might is pushing Israel to become an overtly and openly undemocratic country – a state from the Jordan to the sea in which there will be no equality.

The tremendous protests against the judicial coup do not include most of the Arab citizens and pay little attention to the issues that concern them. However, the lively discourse about democracy in Israel seems to have led many Jewish citizens to wake up and realize that without coexistence and equality, there can’t be democracy here. The leaders of the protests and many participants recently participated in the March of the Dead, a protest staged by the Arab public in Tel Aviv against the failure of the authorities to address the problem of violence and crime in Arab society. From the standpoint of Arab citizens, the government attacks described above offer a terrifying precursor to what is liable to happen if the judicial coup is completed.

The change in the status of Arab citizens – i.e., the elimination of the principle of equality – is no less important than the plan to crush the independence of the judicial system. There cannot be democracy without an independent court to protect the rights of humans, citizens, and minorities. Equally, there cannot be democracy without the principle of equality. The struggle for a democratic Israel is a struggle against the government’s two flagship projects. Unless we struggle against both these projects, there will not be democracy in Israel.


Moran Maimoni is co-Director of Public Affairs in the Abraham Initiative, an NGO that works to encourage integration and equality between Jews and Palestinian-Arabs in Israel

Published in Hebrew on ynet


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