Carlo's Corner: Israel's democracy for some

January 26, 2013
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his vote.

The Only Democracy In the Middle East (TM) held elections on January 22, which is what all good democracies do — even if not all those actually governed by the Israeli Knesset got to vote.

Those in Gaza, which depends on the Israeli government elected in the poll to decide such things as which basic goods are let in to the besieged territory and whether or not they will be bombed on any given day, didn't get to cast a ballot. But in the West Bank, you'll be pleased to hear it is more mixed.

There, some people do have the franchise — and in a victory for the extension of democratic rights, their numbers are growing all the time! These people, the Jewish settlers illegally living on land taken from Palestinians, got their chance to take part in the glorious carnival of democracy that is an Israeli election.

The Palestinians living next to them, often divided by Jewish-only roads, did not get to vote for the government that determines such reasonably important things as whether or not their home is bulldozed and their farm land stolen, but no system is ever going to be perfect.

Still, those concerned with the frightening growth of far right extremism in Israel in recent years will be pleased to hear that the election saw a big growth in support for more moderate “centrist” forces. For instance, the newly formed centrist party, Yesh Atid, won 19 seats.

Its leader, former media personality Yair Lapid, explained his far more balanced view on complex question of Israeli-Palestinian relations, stating: “I do not think the Arabs want peace. What I want is not a new Middle East, but to be rid of them and put a tall fence between us and them."

In Israel, that is truly the voice of moderation. Because, unlike the far right, Lapid didn't call for Palestinians to be exterminated, merely expelled en masse.

And some people wonder why the international movement for justice for Palestinians advocates treating Israel in the same way as apartheid South Africa — and imposing a boycott.

* * *

Speaking of nations with deep-seated, systemic racism that live on stolen land, I write this on the morning of January 26. This is the day our nation, in its infinite wisdom, sees fit to celebrate the anniversary of the start of an invasion and dispossession of an entire people. As such, it does tend to encourage the racists.

Out they come, covered in their gang colours of red, white and blue. And no doubt we will hear plenty of horror stories of atrocious behaviour out-of-control drunken racists. Therefore I wish, in advance, to state my utter and categorical rejection and condemnation of all this outrageous blaming of alcohol!

It pains me that I have to speak out for something I love so much, but the beer is innocent. Drinking it does not actually make you any more racist. There is nothing in the hops that makes you want to celebrate the glory of the white race or shout “fuck off we're full!”

Believe me, it is perfectly possible to get drunk and not racially abuse foreigners. I do it all the time.

I am not claiming alcohol is not responsible for some pretty anti-social behaviour, as anyone who heard my rendition of “Living on a Prayer” at the Socialist Alliance national conference karaoke session last weekend can attest, but I've never been so drunk I started a race riot.

The problem is racism — feed by a system that dispossesses an entire people and scapegoats the most desperate for the problems it creates.

In other news, whoever invented the smart phone, with its capacity for instant video recording any place and anytime, either never considered drunken karaoke or just really hates humanity. For the good of the socialist movement, that footage should be removed from YouTube.

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