Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Democratic Constitution for Israel

Adalah, a legal organization dedicated to upholding the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, has proposed a draft constitution for the country (Yes, Israel has never had a constitution) to address some of the radical inequalities and exclusions upon which the state is based.

The full text of the new constitution, which would eliminate the eclusively Jewish character of the state of Israel and accomodate the return of Palestinain refugees from 1948 with relatives currently in Israel, can be found here.

According to Marwan Dwiary, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the proposed constitution is based on "the concept of a democratic, bilingual, multicultural state" and draws on universal principles and international conventions on
human rights, the experiences of nations and the constitutions of various
democratic states:

[W]e decided to propose a democratic constitution, which respects the
freedoms of the individual and the rights of all groups in equal measure, gives
the proper weight to the historical injustices committed against Arab citizens
of Israel, and deals seriously with the social and economic rights of all. If
"The Democratic Constitution" succeeds to underscore the enormous gap between
it and the other proposals, and to create an objective public debate and
dialogue on the nature of rights and freedoms in the country, then we will have
taken an important step forward in the issues of racial equality, freedoms and
social justice.

The new constitution would also invalidate the discriminatory Law of Return, which grants automatic citizenship to people with at least one Jewish grandparent, four generations back, even if they have no connection to Israel otherwise. INstead, it proposes that citizenship will be granted to those who come to Israel for humanitarian reasons, regardless of their religion.

Finally, the tide is turning. Ok maybe not turning, but at least there are small little ripples being made against this insanity Israel (and Saeb Erekat and his gang) would have the world believe is possible (namely, the two-state solution)... but that is the subject of another post, soon I hope (if you haven't already, read Ali Abunimah's book One Country.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's FIRST bring democracy to the people of Pakistan by dismantling the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and absorbing Pakistan into the State of India as it was before 1947!

That would solve the problem of Kashmir,Jihadism and the 10 MILLION Hindus and Sikhs ethnically cleansed from Pakistan.After all India IS the biggest democracy in the World.And Pakistan has no right to EXIST

Correct ?

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Islamic states like Saudi Arabia allow the building of churches and synagogues I might be inclined to take the pretensions of Islamists to "multi-culturalism" a little more seriously.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Azmi Bshara is christian, you moron. And Saudi Arabia does not have a major ethnic miniority from whom land was stolen and whose rights are now being subjugated.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its sad sooooo sad!! Rational people can be so blind to justice. Fair is fair and the formation of Israel was not fair to the millions of people living on that land. You can have a historic attachment to a land and not own it, if you want land you do not own then you try to buy it fairly. Its probably too late now for the two people to find a common ground since both peoples want everything and no one is willing to "honestly" comprimise. Zionist aims have always intended to take all the land and ethnicly cleanse it from all but jews but there are many reasonable Israelis willing to share. Radical Palestinians wants all the jews out and all the land back in Muslim hands under sharia law... unlikely.. but most palestinians are now willing to share as long as they are given honest assurances that they will be treated fairly. Can Israel's government be fair and the settlers tamed? Can the palestinian radicals be tamed and the past forgiven? Who knows!

9:13 PM  
Blogger nuh ibn zbigniew gondek said...

As salaam alaikum.

Social justice must be a concern for all people (and I would argue all religions). It was a focus for one of my reflections with week.

Granting constitutional protection to Palestinians is a wonderful first step.

Allahu akbar!

nuh ibn

12:07 AM  
Anonymous rattttu said...

'insanity' is a strong word - i believe the storngest you've ever used - to describe the 'two state solution'.
Please elaborate! would be very interested to hear your views on this .. and about the one-state idea.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Kiwi Boy said...

Umm Hasan,

'Adalah is not being realistic. Most Israelis would not accept this constitution, even though its claims are quite justified.

May we find peace some day.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the following needs to be clarified.
The author of the blog criticizes the democratic functioning of Israel. The relevant question is which Arab countries are more democratic and which Arab countries gives Jews more rights than Israel gives Arabs. If there is no convincing argument above then the author and people who adopt her rhetoric have no moral authority to demand Israeli reforms first.
You need to explain how there can be 22 Arab states but no Jewish state.
Also the tide is turning, but it is turning substantially against the Palestinians and Arabs. The peace process is frozen and dead, the Palestinains chances for a state have been largely eliminated - and if Abunimah is your visionary keep following his gospel which has little to do with reality.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous rattttu said...

anon 9:51
your first question is not rellevant for me, as a israeli. I want my country to be democratic. Next door may be (U.S. backed) non democratic regimes but why should we take example from them?

But if you insist, let's take a look at one of these "22 states", the failing new state of Iraq, where the president is Kurdish. The kurds are about 20% of the population, more or less like the Palestinian Arabs are in Israel. Yet a Palestinian president for Israel would be... impossible. But why exactly?

And if you say that the chances for a Palestinian state have been eliminated, you just reinforce the feeling that we are heading towards one state. For Israel to remain a Jewish state, the two-state solution was vital. Without a Palestinian state, there is not much chance to keep the Jewish identity of Israel as it is.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe if Adalah stop fighting with Mossawa we could take them a bit more seriously.

Keep dreaming, Laila

3:36 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

rattttu said...
Please elaborate! would be very interested to hear your views on this .. and about the one-state idea.

R: Not to worry, I promise to devote an entire post to this, I've just been buried in some work...


6:54 PM  
Blogger Abu-Issa said...


God is indeed great! I am glad to see this idea of a re-United Palestine for all of it's people gaining such popularity.

As you know I have been talking about this idea for some time...including a post at the beginning of December '06 specifically about Ali's book "One Country", when it was first published.

As I explained to one of my commentors then: [The people of Palestine are] descendants of the people of Canaan, 'Ancient Israel'...mixed with the many conquerers of the land from the Romans right up to the Turks. Palestine because of it's strategic, geographical location has always been a melting pot of language, religion and culture.

Creating a "Jewish State" in such a melting pot, which at the time had a Muslim majority, was not only ill advised but tragically short sighted.

Palestine was the homeland to many people of different religions and languages, Zionism tried (and continues to try) to change that by force and has failed.

The only solution I can see is to move forward and create a re-United Palestine for all not just one segment of it's population. At this point I see a United Palestine as: 50% Jewish, 45% Muslim and 5% Christian...and a path to peace."

The Two-State "solution" has proved to be a failure in every aspect.

For those who don't see the benefit for Jews in a re-United about, Israelites could remain and live in peace in ancient Samaria! After all it will be ONE COUNTRY!

I firmly believe this is the true road to peace, a road I intend to follow until I reach home...inshallah!


6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Show me Muslims anywhere in the Middle East who have demonstrated a willingness to live in a democracy, who have demonstrated an ability to resist murdering non-Muslims in their midst, who have demonstrated a desire to respect human rights of anyone at all, even fellow Muslims. Otherwise, this whole proposal is just nonsense. Why do you waste your time on things you are not actually serious about? It's just another cheap attempt to disparage the Jewish state. Anyone with any integrity at all (of which you have none, Laila) will admit that the Arabs in Israel enjoy FAR MORE freedom, success, and human rights under the rule of Jews than Arabs in ANY OTHER Middle Eastern country. We don't allow honor killings of women and we don't torture then murder homosexuals and we don't give sentences of 90 lashes to victims of heinous gang rape (lovely news story coming out of Saudi Arabia).

The reason a Palestinian state is insanity is because Palestinians are not capable of ruling themselves. That's why they are begging for a "one state solution," where they fantasize that they can slip into an already fabulously functioning state, knock off all the Jews who created it, and enjoy the benefits.

On some level, the ones with above average IQs know that without the Jews, they are toast.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Abu-Issa said...

...and I think most Jews in Palestine
on some level, the ones with above average IQs know that without the millions of dollars coming from the United States both officially and un-officially (from the Christian Evangelical community for example) not to mention all of the bullets and bombs coming thanks to Uncle Sam..."they are toast". (To use your words)

It's time for Zionism to take a real hard look at itself and realize that this 'Jewish state in Palestine' idea is not working out and is actually doing more damage to Judaism than good.

Palestine can once again be a place where all of it's inhabitants can live free, pray free and be free irregardless of religion or it was before Zionism.

As I mentioned earlier a re-United Palestine would be about 50% Jewish ...and 100% democratic.

It's time for a real solution, a bold solution...a peaceful solution.


5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Abu-Issa, so all that peaceful coexistence that occurred "before Zionism" would include all the massacres of Jews PRIOR TO 1948? Specifically, 1929. What about all the Jews that were persecuted throughout Arab lands and expelled, with all their property and wealth stolen by the local Arabs? Is that the sort of free and peaceful one state solution you dream of? I'll bet you do!

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And by the way, I don't think I need to take advice about what is harmful to Judaism from one whose people were in bed with the Nazis and Hitler.

I'll bet you know where the yellow star arm badges really originated. Hint: Hitler didn't get the idea himself.

Yes, yes, these are the loving Arab neighbors that we had before Zionism came on the scene and ruined everything.

My gosh, you are absurd, and you still have not addressed the issues I raised in my original post about the sad, sorry state of human rights in ALL Muslim countries in the Middle East.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benjamin Franklin once said: "Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt." I suppose for some who write here this is not at all a troubling thought.

I had considered not responding to the postings from the anonymous "supporters" of Israel/Zionism. But, I will not sit here and let these statements pass without comment as for too long the stage has been held by those who have little to say but wrap it in much vitriol.

For someone supposedly lacking in integrity, Laila could have taken the easy way out and not allowed some of this to be posted here. Yet, she has, and that simple act should be rewarded by the posting of a balancing viewpoint.

I am neither Muslim nor Jewish. I have no axe to grind here. It disturbs me greatly though, to see the postings of persons who I have to presume are Jewish, using almost exactly the same words in characterizing Palestinians as sub-human as anti-Semites have portrayed the Jews for centuries. These portrayals, perhaps taken to new heights by the Nazis, but certainly not invented by them are beyond disturbing when viewed here. Why? Because they are posted by people who have pledged to "never forget." Unfortunately, the original context of that has been lost. No longer does "never forget" mean that we are ALL to remember that injustice towards someone we hate prepares the way for injustice toward someone we love. Now, it simply means that never to be forgotten is the list of those for whom retribution must be extracted from or who must be made to feel inferior.

To sit here and read comments regarding training children to commit gross acts of terror or the smug superiority of those who feel that they are here to mete out punishment for those deemed inferior is disgusting.

The persons lacking integrity are those who write such things forgetting that they were once applied to their own ancestors.

Laila, InshaAllah we all find understanding. Thank you for being brave enough to post these comments so the world can see them for what they are: mean, vile and morally empty.


3:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

according to most, grandparents are actually TWO generations back. just thought you might want to know.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A democratic constitution would be great, but the ideal of absorbing any and all refugees who arrive is impossible for such a small country. Israel would rapidly become overpopulated by Iraqis, Darfuris, etc... and then it could no longer function as a refuge.

Regarding the one state solution - also a nice idea, but why stop there? The middle east should have an E.U. style union! Arabs and Israelis free to live in any country between Egypt and Yemen. Free trade! No borders!

9:28 PM  

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