Tuesday, March 26, 2019 | ePaper

A battle over identity

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Mohammad Amjad Hossain  :
Being emboldened by US President Donald Trump Israel has enacted a new Basic Law declaring Israel is a Jewish state. The Knesset (Parliament) voted 62-55 to approve a new Basic Law on 19 July championed by hawkish Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. The law states that" realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people. It adds that a united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, that Hebrew is the country's official language, and that the state should encourage and promote Jewish settlement." Enactment of Basic Law has created hue and cry in Israel itself by Israeli Arabs and Palestinians as well. Israeli Arabs constitute 20 percent of population in occupied Israel whose rights to equality are totally ignored. Israeli Arabs lawmaker in Knesset are seen destroying paper relating to Basic Law. In the present Knesset there are 17 lawmakers from Israeli Arabs community. Israeli Arab lawmaker: Ayman Odeh is seen talking that "Israel had passed a law of Jewish supremacy and told us that we will always be second-class citizens." As a matter of fact, this Basic Law downgraded the Arabic language from an official language to one with a special status. The hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds the opinion that "this is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of state of Israel. We will keep ensuring civil rights in Israel's democracy."
A commentator Mordechai Kemnitzer in Haaretz newspaper holds the opinion that" the entire point of the law is racist. The state does not need a constitutional provision to discriminate against non-Jews and segregate them." American Jewish committee asserted that two parts of the law put at risk while Anti-Defamation League questioned about government's long-term commitment to its pluralistic identity and democratic nature. Editor of Hona newspaper Kamel Adwan is reportedly said this was a stab in the back of Druze community in Israel.
There has been rift between Turkey and Israel on introduction of Nation State bill in Knesset. Since there has been hot exchange of comments between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. President Erdogan of Turkey said, there was no difference between Hitler's obsession with the Aryan race and Israel's understanding that these ancient lands are meant only for Jews. Israeli Prime Minister retorted back by saying Erdogan was massacring Syrians and Kurds and has jailed tens of thousands of his citizesn. Turkey is becoming a dark dictatorship. Historically, Turkey is the first Muslim country in the world to recognize state of Israel following declaration of state of Israel in 1948. Both Turkey and Israel expelled each other's diplomats in May this year following Israel troops killed more than 100 Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza strip border fence.
Both European Union and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned introduction of Basic Law by Israel. EU holds the opinion that law would complicate or prevent the two-state solution while OIC called the law" racist, void and illegitimate." Leader of Palestine Organization also condemned the law. Secretary-General of Palestine Liberation Organization Mr. Saeb Erekat, who played as negotiator with Israel in recent past to establish two state in Palestine occupied territories, holds the opinion the law is "racist par excellence and that it denies the Arab citizen their right to self-determination, instead be determined by the Jewish population" while PLO executive committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi is of the opinion the Jewish nation state law gives license to apartheid, discriminate, ethnic cleaning and sectarianism at the expense of the Palestine population.
I blame international community and in particular OIC failing resolving intractable two nation state in the Middle East during last 70 years following occupation of Palestine lands. It is no use shedding crocodile tears. Leaders of PLO should also be hold responsibility which has failed unify both faction of Fatah and Hamas to develop unified command. Concrete action is needed to resolve the problem in the Middle East.
(Mohammad Amjad Hossain, retired diplomat from Bangladesh and former President of Toastmaster International club of America, writes from Virginia)

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