dinsdag 20 november 2007

Het recht op zelfbeschikking (Ruth Gavison)

Verdere discussie in Haaretz over de vraag of de Palestijnen Israël als Joodse staat moeten erkennen. Het verschil tussen burgerschap, nationaliteit, etniciteit en religie, en hoe zij zich tot elkaar verhouden is ook in het Nederlandse debat hierover relevant. De schrijver maakt een in mijn ogen vreemd onderscheid tussen burgerschap en nationaliteit:

"The usual analysis of the conflict between Arabs and Jews is based on three foundations: 1. Citizenship, which is the legal relationship between a person and the state in which he lives, and is not based on nationhood or religion. 2. Nationality, which is the unique ethnic and cultural affiliation to groups with a historic dimension. 3. Religion, which is a central cultural characteristic of groups in human history."


In mijn definitie vallen nationaliteit en burgerschap samen, maar de praktijk is wellicht ook hier een andere: burgerschap is beperkter en juridisch van aard, nationaliteit heeft tevens met identificatie te maken, en vaak ook met etniciteit. Tussen Joden en Arabieren speelt dit nog sterker: de Arabieren in Israël hebben bijna allemaal de Israëlische nationaliteit, maar voelen zich Arabier en Palestijn. Toch willen ze deze nationaliteit graag behouden, en zijn in grote meerderheid tegen plannen van bijvoorbeeld Ysrael Beiteinu (Liebermans partij) om sommige gebieden in Israël waar overwegend Arabieren wonen te ruilen voor de nederzettingenblokken.
 
Ik heb dat hier vaker inconsequent genoemd: als je voor Palestijnse onafhankelijkheid staat dan wil je toch niet bij Israël blijven? Maar in hun ogen is de Israëlische nationaliteit wellicht slechts een juridische kwestie, en sluit dit het behoren tot de Palestijnse natie in het geheel niet uit. De kwestie is extra ingewikkeld omdat het Jodendom zowel een volk en etniciteit als een religie is, maar ook wij hebben eigenlijk geen geschikte woorden om bijvoorbeeld volk en burgerschap te scheiden: je zit al gauw fout als je iemand die er buitenlands uitziet maar hier al lang woont en is ingeburgerd, een 'allochtoon' blijft noemen. 'Van andere etnische komaf', 'medelander', 'roots elders', hoe mag/kan je zo iemand aanduiden?

Ieder land voert dergelijke discussies van tijd tot tijd, en zelden wordt een eenduidig antwoord en concensus bereikt. Dat neemt niet weg dat Israël het volste recht heeft als Joodse staat erkend te willen worden, als plaats waar iedere Jood altijd terecht kan, uit nood of om andere redenen, als centrum van Joods leven en cultuur en als de behoeder van het religieuze en culturele erfgoed van het Jodendom. In de woorden van Ruth Gavison:

"The negation of Jewish nationality also leads Aloni to confuse the essence of the ongoing aspiration of Jews - not necessarily religious ones - to immigrate to Israel. In sharp contrast to her position, they do not exchange their Jewish identity for an Israeli identity, but come to Israel to give the Jewish component of their identity the possibility of more complete realization, also in public life.

This aspiration has driven the Zionist movement from the start. This aspiration stands at the basis of the struggle for preserving the Jewish character of the state. This aspiration is recognized in international law as the right of nations to self-determination. It is this right the Palestinians are being asked to recognize."
 
Ratna  
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Haaretz / Nov. 18, 2007
The right to self-determination
In her article "Still a democracy?" (Haaretz, Nov. 15), Shulamit Aloni reaches the conclusion that the Palestinians should not be required to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. The main and principled reason for this, she argues, is that it is a mistake to think that the conflict being waged in this land since the beginning of the Zionist enterprise is over the national self-determination of two peoples - the Jewish people and the Palestinian people - both of whom regard the Land of Israel as their homeland. This is because the Jews are indeed both a religion and people, but not a nation. The definition of a nation, according to Aloni, is only determined by a person's nationality and does not take into consideration his religion or origin or tribal affiliation. The State of Israel as a democracy is a state of all of its citizens, and the government of Israel represents all Israelis and only the Israelis.

Aloni thus brings to the heart of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict the argument usually sounded in the internal-Jewish context of the dispute, by Jews wishing to distance themselves from what they see as the unjustified wickedness of the Jewish religion and its institutions. But in her attempt to separate the religious and national elements in Judaism in the Jewish-Arab context, Aloni actually underlines the weakness of this view in the context of the argument over the connections between these elements in modern Judaism, the Zionist enterprise and the state. This is because Aloni "establishes" here an "Israeli" civic collective that lacks roots and culture. It is not at all clear whether the Arabs belong or wish to belong to this collective and, in particular, why it is here, and how it is to survive in this region, whose deepest principles of identity - perhaps regretfully for Aloni - are a complex, powerful and dynamic combination of religious and national elements.

The usual analysis of the conflict between Arabs and Jews is based on three foundations: 1. Citizenship, which is the legal relationship between a person and the state in which he lives, and is not based on nationhood or religion. 2. Nationality, which is the unique ethnic and cultural affiliation to groups with a historic dimension. 3. Religion, which is a central cultural characteristic of groups in human history.

Among many peoples, the connections between nationality and religion are complex. The basic principle of the conflict is that of self-determination of nations - the basic unit of nationality. A nation-state is not a state of all its citizens, but rather a state of the majority nation or of the national collective living within it.
Aloni is correct in arguing that a state, and certainly a democratic one, is in an important sense a state of all its citizens and that this connection is not based on religious or national identity. However, this does not mean that a democratic state must privatize all the non-civic identities of its inhabitants and assimilate them within citizenship.
The Arab minority in Israel, via its leaders and its "Vision" documents, for example, is actually demanding recognition of its separate national identity, in addition to recognition of the equal civic rights its members are entitled to receive.

The attempt to uproot Jewish nationalism as a central component of the State of Israel is therefore contrary to Zionism, contrary to the history of establishing the state, contrary to the international decisions that recognized the rights of the Jews to self-determination, contrary to the views held by most of the Jewish inhabitants of Israel - who want Israel to continue to be their nation-state - and contrary to the position of the Arab citizens of Israel, who regard themselves as Palestinian Arabs in nationality and as Israelis only in citizenship.

The negation of Jewish nationality also leads Aloni to confuse the essence of the ongoing aspiration of Jews - not necessarily religious ones - to immigrate to Israel. In sharp contrast to her position, they do not exchange their Jewish identity for an Israeli identity, but come to Israel to give the Jewish component of their identity the possibility of more complete realization, also in public life.

This aspiration has driven the Zionist movement from the start. This aspiration stands at the basis of the struggle for preserving the Jewish character of the state. This aspiration is recognized in international law as the right of nations to self-determination. It is this right the Palestinians are being asked to recognize.
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The writer is the founding president of Metzilah: Center for Humanistic, Liberal, Jewish and Zionist Thought.

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