from AlterNet Website
This bill is targeted at increasing pressure on
the 20 percent of Israelis who are Palestinian citizens, while forcing the
ultra-Orthodox Jewish minority who reject the legitimacy of any state not
based on Jewish biblical law to accept Zionism. If passed in its proposed
form, citizens unwilling to take the loyalty oath would be at risk of losing
Without a Jewish majority exhibiting clear legal and political dominance over the non-Jewish or non-Zionist minority, the Zionist movement becomes meaningless.
So as the
Palestinian-Israeli minority actively resists its dispossession and the
ultra-Orthodox stubbornly reject the concept of a Jewish state, the Israeli
establishment feels increasingly compelled to seek draconian measures to
salvage its vision of Zionism.
Feeling the Loyalty to the Jewish State of Israel
The loyalty oath was one of the main platform issues for Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's far-right Yisrael Beitenu party when it campaigned in 2009.
It helped guide his party to an astonishing third place, with 15 of the 120 seats in Israeli Parliament.
The draft bill currently debated in the Parliament would allow the Interior Ministry to strip even native Israelis of their nationality if they refused to swear allegiance to the Jewish state and "its symbols and values," and failed to profess their willingness to perform military service.
Abraham Foxman, the national
director of the
Anti-Defamation League, has expressed support for
Beiteinu's loyalty crusade.
In July, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet has
approved a similar bill requiring all new citizens to take an oath of
loyalty to the Jewish state. The measure would make attaining citizenship
nearly impossible for Palestinians residing inside Israel.
A self-described "very Zionistic" politician with a hulking frame and a pronounced limp resulting from a bout of polio, Rotem described in a gravely voice his vision of Israeli democracy.
Besides the loyalty oath bill, political factions ranging from far-right settler parties to opposition leader Tzipi Livni's centrist Kadima Party have proposed no less than 14 pieces of legislation this year that the Association for Civil Rights in Israel defines as anti-democratic. (Rotem is the author of six of the bills.)
They include laws that would send citizens
to jail for encouraging the rejection of Israel as a Jewish state, strip
filmmakers of state funding if their work was deemed anti-Israel, and
prosecute any Israeli who publishes material calling for a boycott of
Israel. Other lesser-publicized bills have been introduced to block
Palestinian residents of Israel from returning to confiscated land or
reuniting with family members from the West Bank or Gaza.
Citing the swath of anti-democratic bills being debated in the Knesset, the support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet have offered for most of them, and the near total lack of opposition from the Israeli mainstream, Sarid remarked,
Of all the anti-democratic bills recently introduced in the Knesset, Rotem's loyalty law carries the most disturbing undertones, recalling some of the darkest periods in recent history.
Well before the Nazi government initiated its campaign of genocide against Germany's Jewish minority, its political leadership introduced the "stab-in-the-back" legend, accusing Jews of disloyalty to the German army and of a general lack of patriotism.
the anticommunist furor of America's McCarthy era, teachers and lawmakers in
several states were forced to sign loyalty oaths to prove they were not
"subversive," prompting a crackdown on public servants, including a
disproportionate number of Jews, who believed their constitutional rights
were being violated.
It features the lyrics:
With a fascist mood permeating Israeli government and society, we set out into the streets of central Jerusalem to engage young revelers on the issue of loyalty.
Because Israel is debating legislation claiming it is the Jewish sovereign state and has the authority to speak in the name of the "Jewish people," we thought the opinions of supporters of Israel from the Jewish diaspora were an essential element in any discussion about the proposed loyalty bill.
Given the already simmering controversy over "dual loyalty" in the United States, the topic needed to be explored thoroughly and unflinchingly.
Ultimately, we sought to determine the extent to which the Jewish public in Israel and abroad was ready to accept fascism in any form.
To get a better
sense of public opinion - an incomplete snapshot, admittedly - we asked
interview subjects if they would swear before our camera an oath of loyalty
to the Jewish state. Our oath was deliberately crafted with the most
provocative language possible, based almost word-for-word on the Führereid,
or the oath that Wehrmacht soldiers had to swear to Adolph Hitler from 1934
And here is the oath of loyalty to the Jewish state that our interview subjects read on camera:
Were we suggesting that the Jewish state of Israel represented a new incarnation of Hitler's Third Reich? Of course not.
We repudiate sweeping
comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany as shallow and ahistorical. Instead,
we imagined our video project as a version of the "Third Wave" experiment
undertaken by history teacher Ron Jones at Cubberly High School in Southern
California in 1967.
By the fourth day of the experiment, the students' enthusiasm for the project had spread to other classes throughout the school.
Finally, Jones ordered his students to attend a rally where a
presidential candidate from their Third Wave movement would announce his
candidacy. When the students arrived, Jones revealed to them that they had
been subjects in an experiment about the appeal of fascism, and that they
had eagerly replicated the structure of Nazi German society.
These subjects were generally new immigrants who had left their families behind in order to join the army and start a brand new life in Israel.
internationals (most were studying at Jerusalem-area yeshivas for the year)
who took the oath defended it on the basis that Israel was a state for the
Jews, and therefore did not have to comply with the regulations of normal
Jews are no exception...