Lieberman, you are not loyal to the state

Your citizenship law will also result in the revocation of citizenship of thousands of haredim.

By ELLIE FRIEDMAN
February 8, 2009 21:13
3 minute read.
Lieberman, you are not loyal to the state

Lieberman makes point 224 88 aj. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])

 
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Dear Avigdor, During the current election campaign, in which none of the large parties have presented clear ideological messages, you have captured the public's imagination with the blunt, populist message, "No citizenship without loyalty." The timing of this message has been perfect - with "middle Israel" grown tired of grand ideological plans both from the Left and the Right, with the notion of unilateral disengagement proven a failure, you have given public legitimacy to the deep-seated emotion that the country's Jewish population only previously expressed behind closed doors - hatred of its Arab population. Avigdor, you have helped us concentrate all of our pent up frustration resulting from just about any difficulty in our lives - be it the security situation, the worsening economic situation, or any other personal failure - and sublimate this anger toward a convenient and seemingly defenseless target. You propose legislating this hatred toward Arabs with a citizenship law, whose working premise is that the Arab population is not loyal to the state. You write on your party's Web site, "In the next Knesset, Israel Beiteinu will work toward the legislation of a citizenship law, which will restore our country's national honor. It is time for the term loyalty to become meaningful. Israel Beiteinu's law will obligate everyone to sign a declaration of loyalty to the state, its laws and principles." AVIGDOR, MY ASSUMPTION is that if your party is a senior coalition partner in the next government, which appears to be a distinct possibility, you will not succeed in implementing this type of law. My hopes are that this platform is a mere populist message intended for election purposes, and that once you are in the government, you will neglect taking part in legislative activities, just as when you were part of the Olmert government, and instead concentrate on creating headlines by attempting to ignite brawls in the Knesset with its Arab members. Alternatively, if you do attempt to pass this type of law, I would hope that a majority of Knesset members would resist the lure of xenophobia, preventing the necessary majority, or that at the very least, the High Court would strike down the law. However, for argument's sake, let's assume that you do succeed in passing your citizenship law. What will this mean, in practice? Will you send an Orwellian "thought police" from door to door, requesting that citizens "sign a declaration of loyalty to the state, its laws and principles," threatening to revoke their citizenship if they refuse to sign? You write on your Web site that your citizenship law will "obligate everyone to sign." I assume that you include "everyone" to shield yourself against accusations of racism, were you only to obligate Arab citizens to take this citizenship test. Therefore, I assume that your citizenship law will result in the revocation of citizenship of thousands of haredim who do not believe in the concept of the state of Israel. It will also likely result in the revocation of citizenship of thousands of Israelis who are part of the non-Zionist left, who reject the concept of defining Israel as a Jewish democratic state, preferring to define it as a state of all of its citizens. Perhaps elements of your voter-base, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom are not Jewish, would have difficulty pledging allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. Their citizenship would also have to be revoked. Thus, in addition to approximately 1 million Arabs who cannot be expected overnight to turn into champions of Zionism, we can expect several thousand other Israelis to have their citizenship revoked due to your citizenship law. But, Avigdor, I must ask you - what will happen when the thought police comes knocking on your door? When you are asked to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, will you sign on the dotted line? According to your platform, it appears that you are not loyal to democratic character of the state. Democracy entails freedom of thought and freedom of expression - two concepts you appear to be against. After all, if you want to revoke citizenship from Israelis due to opinions they hold regarding Zionism, it appears that you have forsaken one of the two pillars of Zionism - democracy. Thus, Avigdor, I am sorry to say that you will be joining those who will be handing over their blue identity cards and passports. I hope, for your sake, that you did not revoke you Moldovan citizenship - you may be needing it. The writer is assistant to the director of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya Academic College.

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