Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jericho and Nazereth

After a night of music arranged by A and W, we pack up our bags and leave our base of the last five days, the beautiful Jacir Palace Hotel (I recommend it highly) and head east close to the Dead Sea and then north via Jericho to Nazareth.

Between the sightseeing we meet with the Arab Association for Human Rights and we consider the lives of the Palestinians who within Israeli territory as full Israeli citizens.

Inequity occurs at numerous levels, direct legal double standards are compounded by indirect, systematic discrimination, which removes rights and benefits.

The talk also helps me explore a question that has been steadily growing in my mind; is a democratic nation state defined by ethnicity/religion, inherently problematic?

Its existence relies on a constant consideration of demographics; the majority must be maintained.

From this basic need comes deeply unsettling policy. Deny right to return to refugees from the other people group who were forced from their land in the last 60 years, in favour of conferring the automatic right of immigration to anyone from your people group. Seize and settle land; choose your settlement locations such that they change the demographic balance in an area. Keep an eye on the reproductive rates. Withhold citizenship, deny people the right to start a family in their homeland and so on and so on.

Buzzwords like ‘demographics’ and ‘population transfer’ appear to be moving from the margins of the political extreme to the mainstream and they take on a very foreboding air.

And yet I want to say that I understand the need for a Jewish homeland. How is that possible without the outworkings like the above? How can this circle be squared?

I don’t know what the answer is, but from everything I’m seeing, I’m pretty sure it’s not this.

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