Mya Guarnieri writes:
As Egyptians demand their freedom, I ask a Muslim in Jaffa if we will see the same in Israel. “I don’t think so,” he answers. “Even with all the mess here, we have democracy.”
But, do we? And for how much longer?
As we speak, the Knesset is debating one of a slew of anti-democratic bills. Some of the legislation targets Palestinian citizens of Israel – people like this man and his wife, who is quick to offer me coffee and her opinions.
If the Admissions Committee law passes, for example, this young couple and their three children could find themselves barred from living in certain communities and villages, even those built on public land. If the Nakba Bill is approved, organisations that commemorate the 1948 expulsion of Palestinians will be ineligible for public funds. This is a “watered down” version of the bill. The original version sought to imprison anyone who publicly marked the Nakba Day. Other legislation aims to silence individuals and groups that criticise the government.
The Israeli Democracy Institute (IDI) says that such bills pose “serious threats” to the country. Explaining that the death of democracy is “a gradual process,” the IDI, a non-partisan think-tank based in Jerusalem, warns: “People who are concerned but are waiting for the ‘moment of real danger’ to abandon their routines and take steps to defend democracy are making a mistake. The moment of real danger is now.”