At one time I supported the unpleasant Meir Kahane thesis that, to protect its Jewish identity, Israel should expel its non-Jewish (mostly Arab) residents. But the state of Israel decided otherwise by granting citizenship to the Arabs who remained there after the 1948 war.
Those Arabs now account for 15-20% of the population, enjoy full citizenship rights but are burdened with limited obligations. For example, I understand that Israeli Arabs are exempt from military service.
Now, however, it appears that the Government of Israel is considering legislation to prevent Israeli Arabs from buying homes in the Jews-only Settlements on the West Bank and Gaza.
I understand the security imperatives behind this odious legislation. But I also know that discriminating against some citizens on the basis of ethnicity is very bad and dangerous policy.
Think of the Nuremberg Laws. Is Israel’s security worth the abrogation of democratic rights? Perhaps, but I need to be convinced. Are Israelis prepared to put up with the international censure that such odious legislation would bring? I wonder.
Israelis will have to decide if Israel is a democracy or not. Is it a democracy reserved for Jews? If it is, how do they rid the country of non-Jews. Are they willing to do this?
On the other hand, if they choose NOT to expel non-Jews, they will have to accept the consequences of having in their midst, fellow citizens possibly sympathetic toward those who would destroy Israel. Moreover, if they then decide that their security requires restrictions on their non-Jewish fellow citizens, they will have to contend with the resulting international criticism.
The challenge for Israelis then is to neutralize the potential danger from a potential fifth column in their midst without abrogating their citizenship rights. If that is not possible, they will have to hold their noses, accept this odious legislation and put up with the flack. Catch 22.