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Transcript : The enemy within?

Israel has always felt under siege, but its internal problems could be more damaging than any external threat.
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2013 08:19

Read the full transcript for The Cafe episode The enemy within? below:

Wars, assassinations and occupation. Israel's history has been dominated by violence. To the outside world, Israelis tend to present a unified front, obsessed with foreign threats. But do the country's growing internal divisions over race, religion and the economy, pose a bigger challenge to its future?

Hello, and welcome to The Café. I'm Mehdi Hasan. This week we're in Tel Aviv, the relaxed, cosmopolitan and financial heart of Israel.

Last summer, almost half a million Israelis took to the streets to protest against massive inequality. It was the biggest wave of demonstrations in the country's history. Just a few weeks ago a man named Moshe Silman came to a protest here in Tel Aviv and set himself on fire. He burned to death. Israel, some say, is on the verge of its own Arab Spring - its own social revolution.

Meanwhile the occupation of the Palestinian territories continues, and the divide between secular and ultra-orthodox Jews intensifies.

Israel has long prided itself on being a secular, democratic and Jewish state, but how long can it continue to credibly make such a claim? Let's find out inside The Café.

Joining us today: Ronen Shoval, is the founder of a conservative movement that works to strengthen Zionism in Israel. He believes that Israel should remain a Jewish majority state at all costs. Shlomo Zand is a history professor at Tel Aviv university and author of “the invention of the Jewish people”. he believes that the state of Israel should define itself as Israeli, not Jewish. Stav Shaffir is co-founder of the Israeli social justice movement. She thinks that Israel has long been a divided society. Boaz Nol is a leader of a secular group campaigning to include ultra orthodox Jews and Palestinian Israelis in the military draft. Oded Ravivi is the mayor of Efrat, an Israeli settlement in the occupied west bank. he says the settlements are a legitimate part of Israel. Hanin Zoabi was the first Palestinian woman to be elected as a member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset. She believes Israel is an apartheid state.

Thank you very much all of you for joining me here in The Café in Tel Aviv. Normally when foreign journalists come to Israel they end up discussing the peace process, Israel's role in the region, all of those foreign policy issues. I'm much more interested in the domestic scene, some of the internal debates and divisions that seem to be going on here, because to the outsider, and I speak as an outsider here in your city, Israel comes across as a strong, patriotic, unified society. And so to kick us off today I wanna ask all of you, is Israel a unified society, Ronen?

Ronen Shoval:
You might not see it around this table, but definitely yes. Definitely the people of Israel are very much patriotic, very much love their country. And you will see around these people, a lot of people who really, really care. And I think it's also something which is represented in the state of Israel and a lot of the population of Israel that all of us really, really care about the situation. Whether we agree or disagree, we all care.

Mehdi Hasan:
And do you think there are dividing lines in society that have appeared in recent years that perhaps weren't there several years ago?

Ronen Shoval:
There are parts of the Israel society who are trying to break this unity around the country. But we need to understand, this is only a small per cent age of the society and it doesn't truly represent the majority of the people in Israel.

Mehdi Hasan:
Stav, is Israel a divided society, do you think, today?

Stav Shaffir:
It's definitely a divided society. I think that for many, many years, for a few decades, it was a divided society, very much split with a lot of inner and internal conflict. A conflict between the Jews and the Arabs, a conflict between the ultra-Orthodox and the secular community, between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi, those who immigrated to Israel from the west and those who immigrated from the east, and many other conflicts.

And then the social protest movement beginning in last July. Something happened. For the first time Israelis looked at each other and said ok, it's about time that we start to get along. It's about time that we start to think what Israel is, where we want it to go, how we want to define it.

Boaz Nol:
No it was, I think that the social protest movement last year proved more than anything how the political debate in Israel, and the political leadership in Israel, is almost not relevant to what is really going on in Israel's society. So, while there is a political debate, they still call us names and divide us. Right wing, left wing, ultra-Orthodox, semi-Orthodox, secular, religious, Ashkenazi, Faradhi.
Basically on the main principle of where we're heading and what needs to happen here, there's a huge consensus. The common ground between us is much, much, much bigger. The consensus between us is much bigger than what they make it. Unfortunately the political debate…

Shlomo Zand:
I completely agree with Shoval with one correction. I think that it is that the Jewish society is less divided than the Greek society, the Italian society or the French society today. Or even the American society. But it's only between the Jewish 80 per cent of the population in Israel, and not the 20…

Hanin Zoabi:
Everyone forgot that we have 18 per cent Palestinians here.

Shlomo Zand:
You forgot to say there is a kind of division, a very, very strong and deep division, within the 80 per cent, that the Israeli society needs all these social protests. For the moment, I don't know what will happen tomorrow, it's less divided than the French society today.

Mehdi Hasan:
Well you mentioned the Palestinians, let me ask Hanin.

Hanin Zoabi:
Ok, so as you see Mehdi we are totally secluded from that discussion as we totally secluded from the Palestinian society. Actually we are talking about two states for two nations inside Israel. That is the state of Israel for the Jewish citizens, for them, and there is another less sister state for the 18 per cent of the society for the Palestinian. They can continue going on in that discussion without even mentioning the word Palestinian, without even mentioning the word Arab. As they did for 63 years, they are now talking about justice, while Israel has confiscated the Palestinian land 85 per cent before the protest, during the 50s and the 60s and the 70s.

Mehdi Hasan:
This is what I wanna ask you, has it got worse, Hanin? This is my question.

Hanin Zoabi:
Yeah, of course.

Mehdi Hasan:
Do you think the divide is bigger? You're saying it's a divide been there for 63 years.

Hanin Zoabi:
First of all there is one main division between Jewish citizens and Palestinian citizens, and I am not an internal issue, an internal Israeli issue, I am part of my people. I am part of the Palestinian people, and I am a citizen and I want full citizenship. Here around this table most of them don't even understand what the meaning of full citizenship is. The Knesset has passed more than 30 racist laws inside the Knesset. So the issue, the big issue, is to [JUDEISE], to steal my homeland, and to oppress my identity. You are speaking about the Israeli society and you are speaking about...

Mehdi Hasan:
Ok Hanin, let me bring in Oded who's sitting waiting in the corner to answer my original question. Do you see Israeli society as a divided society? What's your take?

Oded Ravivi:
I think the fact you gave me the opportunity to answer last just proved how united the people around this table are, and maybe Hanin doesn't see the great values in which she's living in. The fact that she's the member of the House of Representatives in Israel, that she has full rights to legislate legislations, and she gets full representation of the people who voted her in to the House of Representatives…

Hanin Zoabi:
Which means nothing.

Oded Ravivi:
If it doesn't mean anything Hanin to you, you can give it up and go to somewhere else where you think that you'll be more accepted.

Hanin Zoabi:
This is my homeland. You will not say to me “if you don't recognise my right in my homeland you can go. You can go out.”

Shlomo Zand:
That's not important. In urban Israel, full citizens of Israel is not living in Israel like a Jew is living in New York. You have to understand that. The state defined itself as a Jewish state, not as an Israeli state.

Mehdi Hasan:
Shlomo, that's a very good point. I wanna bring in Stav, I'll come back to you.

Stav Shaffir:
Israel has 80 per cent Jews and almost 20 per cent Arabs, Arab Palestinians, and I think we all live here. I was born here, you were born here. If we want to live together we have to fight for it together.

Mehdi Hasan:
Big issue in Israel. I want to ask you about a man named Moshe Silman, who a few weeks ago walked into a street in Tel Aviv, came from Haifa, and set himself on fire. Explain to our viewers why he did that.

Stav Shaffir:
Well I can't explain Moshe, I just came back from his funeral. And Moshe left a letter that blames the prime minister and the minister of finance, and the country, the state. To commit a suicide as a way of a struggle is not the right thing to do. That's a horrible thing.

Mehdi Hasan:
But you're one of the organisers of these social protests. Why did…

Stav Shaffir:
I think however that it symbolises the suffering in Israel, about what happens to people, the result of poverty. The activists and people all around this country who know that there are solutions, that there are things that can be done in order to increase social mobility, in order to decrease socio-economic gaps, things that can be done in order to save this country, and are not being done today.

Mehdi Hasan:
The prime minister said it was a personal tragedy, and a lot of people got upset with that response. Did you?

Mehdi Hasan:
And do you think there are dividing lines in society that have appeared in recent years that perhaps weren't there several years ago?

Ronen Shoval:
There are parts of the Israel society who are trying to break this unity around the country. But we need to understand, this is only a small percentage of the society and it doesn't truly represent the majority of the people in Israel.

Stav Shaffir:
The prime minister is responsible, and the minister of finance, and many prime ministers before, it's not only him, are responsible for Israel's socio-economic situation, are responsible for our socio-economic issues.

Boaz Nol:
If this country, someone tried to set themself on fire on a daily basis in the recent week, the prime minister needs to ask himself some questions, why it led to this situation and who's in charge.

Mehdi Hasan:
Do you think the economic and social system has a responsibility as well?

Ronen Shoval:
I think that we have a problem in the economic system, but I do think the solution is exactly 180 per cent what Stav thinks about the solution, because she believes that we need to have more socialist economy in order to make the gap…

Mehdi Hasan:
More spending, more redistribution. You don't?

Ronen Shoval:
Definitely, and I believe that in order to have social justice we need to break down the fact that the way of the capitalism system in Israel is too much struggle and too much… the economy is not really an open economy enough.

Mehdi Hasan:
And do you think there are dividing lines in society that have appeared in recent years that perhaps weren't there several years ago?

Ronen Shoval:
There are parts of the Israel society who are trying to break this unity around the country. But we need to understand, this is only a small per cent age of the society and it doesn't truly represent the majority of the people in Israel.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ok now Shlomo.

Shlomo Zand:
It hurt me a lot when I heard that he defined the suicide of this man as a personal act, because it was a political… socio-political act, he declared it. It was a part of something, and I'm afraid that it will continue to be. Now, the Israel society started a kind of voyage, if you want, to a kind of division that I hope that will become more and more deep, because in Israel I am afraid that this condition will create something that we couldn't go back. If I spoke before that it was between the 80 per cent of the Jews, a kind of consensus, I think that we are maybe, before the break of this consensus…

Mehdi Hasan:
When you listen to Shlomo saying we're on the verge of breaking this consensus, some people have referred to Mr Silman as Israel's Bouazizi, the man who's on the verge of a social revolution. Is that how you see things?

Oded Ravivi:
I think it's far from that. I think the representatives around the table were trying to give more public support to what we actually know that the protest actually had. It's not saying that some of the cause of the protest are not legitimate.

Mehdi Hasan:
400,000 people took to the streets, the biggest protest in the history of Israel.

Oded Ravivi:
Ok, 400,000 people. You have to ask yourself what was behind the 400,000 people. Why did it not succeed to carry on to anything more successful and more challenging?

Mehdi Hasan:
But you would accept on the narrow point that Shlomo made that the settlements do very well out of the state, don't they? No?

Oded Ravivi:
No, I don't agree, I think his accusation's completely false. It's been proven… it's been proven that the fact in accusation…

Shlomo Zand:
Did you see how much the difference between the money that is giving to the colonies in the occupied territories, and the money that is giving…

Ronen Shoval:
Stop lying, that's a lie.

Shlomo Zand:
I am a liar. You can compare it, you are living in a welfare state, in the occupied territory, you are not living in Israel. Why? Why you are not a part…

Oded Ravivi:
Where do you live Shlomo?

Shlomo Zand:
Sorry?

Oded Ravivi:
Where do you live?

Shlomo Zand:
I live in the state of Israel.

Oded Ravivi:
Yeah, and who decided that the border that's where you're living is…

Shlomo Zand:
All you want is recognising the 67 borders. Nobody, nobody in the world, even, sorry, even the Arab League in 2002 recognised my right to live in the 67 borders of Israel. Nobody, nobody is not recognising, I am living in the juridically I am living in the state of Israel. You are not living in Israel. We are the only state in the world where a  minister of the foreign affairs lives outside the state.

Mehdi Hasan:
Oded, I wanna ask you a question. You say the settlement's a part of Israel, you don't accept Shlomo's distinction. Would you accept one state for everyone as a price worth paying to keep your settlement in the West Bank?

Oded Ravivi:
I would not like to see myself living in a country which doesn't have a majority of Jewish people. But, ok, the suggestion that Hanin keeps on repeating of a two state solution was introduced the first time in 1927, was repeated in 1947, and rejected time after time…

Mehdi Hasan:
Are you a supporter? I'm asking you, what you support.

Oded Ravivi:
I support a compromise which will define my rights as living in a Jewish state, as opposed to what Shlomo says that it is an Israeli state. We only have one Jewish state around the world.

Mehdi Hasan:
And then a Palestinian state.

Oded Ravivi:
And a Palestinian state. If they decide that they want to have their own independence, be my guest.

Mehdi Hasan:
Which is where?

Boaz Nol:
If you hear, a settler, telling you that he's for two state solutions, that means that we have reached somewhere, and that's exactly the thing. The political debate in Israel unfortunately, instead of being held by mainstream Israel, which is 80 per cent of Israeli society, that basically agree that two state solution is the only solution and everybody knows exactly what it's gonna be like. There's not one person who…

Mehdi Hasan:
I'll come to you in one moment, Hanin's been waiting. Hanin?

Hanin Zoabi:
80 per cent of the Israeli society does not agree with two state solution. They don't agree with dismantling settlements. They don't agree to withdraw from 67 borders. They don't agree to withdraw from Jerusalem, so it is a myth that the Israeli society to have two democratic state, yes. Even you don't agree to dismantle the settlements. Do you agree to dismantle all the settlements, 67, and withdraw from east Jerusalem and the right of return to the Jews. Do you agree…?

Boaz Nol:
The solution is there. The solution

Hanin Zoabi:
Less than 10 per cent of the Israeli society who agree to its right of return, and…

Mehdi Hasan:
Well let me ask Ronen, you said do you believe in a Jewish state? She's not Jewish. Why should she believe in a Jewish state?

Ronen Shoval:
If I would live in Britain, I would accept the idea that Britain is not a Jewish state.

Mehdi Hasan:
It's not defined by race or religion. Britain is… being British is not defined by race or… I'm British and I'm brown and Muslim.

Ronen Shoval:
If you look at most of the countries around the world, you have a lot of Muslim countries, dozens of Muslim countries. You have a lot of Christian countries. You have even Lithuanian countries, there's German and you have other Catholic countries. There's Italy, and so on and so on. You have only few countries where… mixed countries as you can say, United States or French which is based on different system. We have only one Jewish state. This is…

Mehdi Hasan:
Is she a foreigner?

Ronen Shoval:
Yeah.

Mehdi Hasan:
She's a foreigner, in her own land?

Ronen Shoval:
Yeah.

Mehdi Hasan:
Is that your view?

Boaz Nol:
Israel is a Jewish state. It will always be a Jewish state, and I don't need Hanin Zoabi approval to decide whether I'm Jewish or not.

Mehdi Hasan:
Is she a foreigner? I'm just wondering if she's a foreigner. I'm interested in this Ronen. Ronen says she's a foreigner.

Boaz Nol:
You just say she's an equal citizen like me. She is a citizen of Israel.

Hanin Zoabi:
This is my homeland, and by Jewish state you are excluding me from the resources, from my home.

Mehdi Hasan:
Hold on Hanin, let Ronen put his point.

Ronen Shoval:
From my point of view Arab is minority. An Arab is a minority in Israel, have the whole… all civil right, from the first one to the last one, they have the whole civil right. The only thing they don't have is a national right, as I don't have a national right in other countries. If she wants to have a national right, to have other…

Hanin Zoabi:
Who are you to say this is my homeland or not. You immigrate to here, you immigrate. I am indigenous people. I didn't immigrate, this is my homeland. I don't want your recognition. I will struggle for democracy. If you don't like, you can go back.

Mehdi Hasan:
Shlomo. No interruptions.

Shlomo Zand:
One of the things that most people in Israel, and even outside, especially United States, cannot understand that the Israeli state, when defining Israel as a Jewish state, is exactly to define United States as an Anglo Saxon protestant state, or to define…I think that… I want that Israel will define itself as an Israeli state, not as a Jewish state, because Jewish state doesn't cover all the citizens that are living beside me.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ok, so you made that very…

Shlomo Zand:
No, no, one moment.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ok, very briefly, I wanna bring in other people.

Shlomo Zand:
When the socio-economic protest started, and I remember the first cry was the people want a social justice. And I asked myself what is the people? Woody Allen belongs to the people that are living here? Or she is belonging to my people by living here, by speaking Hebrew like me. She's a part of the protest, maybe, maybe this new division of the Israel society will create some new solidarity between Boaz and Hanin. Israeli cannot be democratic and Jewish at the same time.

Mehdi Hasan:
We will come back to that in a moment. Can there be social justice in Israel, from your perspective as someone who's campaigning, when it's only for one people and not all the people?

Stav Shaffir:
Most of the people around this table really represent the old politics of Israel, the politics of fear. And they have a good reason and I completely understand your pain on every point. They have a good reason. For many years Israel was based on fear, our politics was based on fear. Nobody talks about hope in Israel, until last year, until the social protest began there was no such thing as hope. And what happened here, and what some people here don't understand, is that we're not there anymore. Today Israel is understand, Israel is Jews and Arabs, understand that we need a solution, that Israel is stuck. It's stuck economically, it's stuck politically. It's stuck, and it needs a solution and it needs it now, as quickly as possible, and in order to do that we have to talk. Not to fight with each other, but to actually talk and create a conversation.

Mehdi Hasan:
Who wants to disagree with what Stav is saying… when you hear what Stav is saying?

Hanin Zoabi:
First of all, the social conflict and the social crisis in Israel, it didn't started in the last few years. The social resistance, or the social demonstration are the result of political conflicts. They want to ignore and to avoid the political basic basis of this social crisis. And what is the political basis? It's the policies of occupation in Israel.

Mehdi Hasan:
Boaz.

Boaz Nol:
This dialogue here is exactly what is seen, and that's exactly the reason why we have not reached an agreement with the Palestinians.

Mehdi Hasan:
Oh, I've worked that out tonight, why you haven't reached any agreement in Israel, don't worry.

Boaz Nol:
No, it's that mentality, because it's the same thing with both sides. Look at Hanin Zoabi, the first thing she starts throwing up is blaming and blaming and blaming, and let's go back to 1948 and 1967, and 19 nah nah nah, and let's go back to the history. And here you are, a new generation that tells you let's talk about the future. Let's talk about one society.

Hanin Zoabi:
Result of justice. 

Boaz Nol:
Let's talk about justice.

Hanin Zoabi:
Future without justice.

Boaz Nol:
No! But you choose to keep blaming. Everything that happens in both of our nations, right, so far, is 50 per cent my fault and 50 per cent your fault. Now, if you want, no wait, if you wanna keep digging on what happened to our fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers, or you wanna talk about our children…

Mehdi Hasan:
Hold on Hanin, let me… Boaz, Boaz, let me ask you a question. You're a supporter of the social movements. You think it's a good thing. So let me ask the question I asked Hanin. Do you believe that that social movement that started last summer, that we've seen more of recently, can incorporate the demands, the aspirations for justice of all Israelis, Palestinians and Jews, ‘cause Hanin thinks it can't?

Boaz Nol:
Hanin Zoabi, who got elected by Israeli citizen voters, that at the end of the day what they most care about is their electricity, and is their education for their kids, and is their daily lives. Same worries that I have, same worries that I have. But Hanin Zoabi chose, instead of talking about her kids' education, and water, and infrastructure, to talk about settlements, and 50 years ago, and all that. And that's the missing opportunity that we are talking here about rights.

Mehdi Hasan:
Do you accept, however, that the problem of a, and correct me if I'm wrong, but the problem of a Palestinian who is living in an unrecognised village in Israel is different to the problem of someone living in Tel Aviv trying to find a cheaper apartment?

Boaz Nol:

Absolutely, I think it's 100 per cent , there is possibility of the Israeli government to bring equal rights and equal duties.

Mehdi Hasan:
What's interesting is you guys are arguing here amongst yourselves. Ronen's sitting here saying well the villages are unrecognised, they're illegal villages. So do you have that debate? We know Hanin's view on that. Do you have the debate with Ronen to say no, I'm with Hanin, not with you?

Stav Shaffir:
This is not how it works. What happened here, the social protest, it began because of a very small and minor issue, because of the problem of housing. Affordable housing in Israel, very limited, very small, when so many people joined and hundreds of thousands of people started to march together and talk about many other issues. We understood that it's not about housing, that housing is a symbol. It's about a home, and what home means.

Ronen Shoval:
So would you accept the idea of having another 50,000 houses in Ariel in order to solve the housing problem?

Stav Shaffir:
This is not about affordable housing. Affordable housing is about where people actually live, it's not about transferring people from one place to another. It's about helping them to get a roof over their heads wherever they live.

Mehdi Hasan:
He asked a very simple question, do you support that or not?

Ronen Shoval:

Are you for it or against it?

Stav Shaffir:
You're taking it again to the old discourse.

Mehdi Hasan:
Shlomo.

Shlomo Zand:
The question is if the social protest will be an inter-group Jewish moral questions, or it will be a little bit more universal. Now, when he repeat, Boaz repeat a Jewish state, a Jewish state, a Jewish state, it means that one thing important in all the fights. The question for me, if these fights, if Stav and Boaz, will understand that to fight for justice cannot be an inter-group moral Jewish question, it has to be an Israeli question, a Middle East question. It maybe, maybe will change our situation.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ok, we're gonna take a break. We're gonna come back in part two. It's pretty heated here in Tel Aviv. Join me as we continue this discussion.

PART TWO:

Welcome back to The Café in Tel Aviv. We're having, I think you could call it a lively discussion here about some of the arguments and debates that are going on here in Israel. I wanna carry on the discussion by picking up a point that Ronen made in part one, which was that this is a Jewish state, and those people who don't like it have to accept that point. And I want to ask a question, which is can a state be Jewish and secular and democratic all at the same time? Is that possible?

Ronen Shoval:
Yeah definitely. The idea of the Jewish state was recognised by the UN. The decision of creating the state of Israel was the creating of a Jewish state. Now what does it mean, a Jewish state? Jewish state doesn't mean that other people don't have a right. It is a Jewish state with a democratic regime. The Jewish status of the country is being achieved by the majority of Jewish, that's the only thing that is being Jewish with. Ok, if we have a majority of Jews…

Mehdi Hasan:
So as long as you have a demographic majority, you're a Jewish state. What if you lose that majority?

Ronen Shoval:
Well it won't be a Jewish state.

Mehdi Hasan:
And you'll accept that happily?

Ronen Shoval:
I won't accept it. I will fight with all my life.

Mehdi Hasan:
Well you can't fight, you can only have more babies, there's nothing else you can do.

Ronen Shoval:
I'm doing my best, believe me.

Mehdi Hasan:
But Shlomo, you're listening to Ronen, what's your response?

Shlomo Zand:
It's very important to understand. I have to…

Mehdi Hasan:
This is the UN mandate.

Schlomo Zand:
Yeah, but it was in '47 when there is not Israeli state and not the Israeli society, a real Israel society. The choice that they make in '47 was a Jewish and Arab, even Palestinian didn't exist, you know, as an identity. We are in 2012, an Israeli state. I insist on the fact that you cannot define this state as a Jewish state and to continue to be a democratic state. You can be a little bit more, a little bit less liberal. But democratic states say that the states belong to all the citizens that live there. If, you know, he wants a kind of hegemony, cultural hegemony, Israeli on the state, I can understand it. But insisting of the fact that this is a Jewish state, it means one thing. This state belongs to Woody Allen in New York much more to the person that is sitting with me.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ronen.

Ronen Shoval:
He represents, or he grasps Judaism as religious, where Judaism is not religious, it's a nation. Like British people have their own state, like German people have their own state, like Italian people have their own state, like foreign people have their own state, also Jews have their own state because Judaism is not a religious, it's a peoplehood. That's the main idea.

Shlomo Zand:

His grandparents is not British, he's a British. She's not… she's Israeli, she's not a Jew.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ok Shlomo, you've said, let Hanin speak first.

Hanin Zoabi:
Ronen is right because he is just deleting me, because he just doesn't recognise that there are a Palestinian people inside Israel. So he is right, he doesn't see us. The schools in the Jewish cities and towns even doesn't study that there were Palestinians before the existence of Israel, and that the Palestinians will continue after the establishment of Israel. The UN didn't set to expel 85 per cent of the Palestinians from their homeland. The UN talked about 50 per cent of the land, and Israel has control 78 per cent of the land. So the establishment of Israel was not by the UN solution.

Mehdi Hasan:
Let me ask you a question. We're not getting into the history of 1947. Let me ask a question based on what Ronen said. He says you have full political and civil rights, you're equal to anyone else. Is that true?

Hanin Zoabi:
I am on a part of the parliament which…

Mehdi Hasan:
Let her speak, she can speak for herself.

Hanin Zoabi:
Which at the same time, the same parliament can pass 33 racist laws which prevent…

Boaz Nol:
We will change the government, but you are still a member of the parliament.

Hanin Zoabi:
No, it is not the government.

Boaz Nol:
You are still part of this society, and you get your rights.

Hanin Zoabi:
I am a minority, and the parliament says I am… as you said; I am a parliament of a Jewish state. I must Judeise the land, I must… as he said, I must keep Jewish majority. I must give privileges to the Jews.

Mehdi Hasan:
Boaz, do you believe that Jews and Palestinians in Israel have equal rights and are totally treated equally in front of the law?

Boaz Nol:
Unfortunately not, but that is our fault and we must change it. We must take responsibility for that.

Mehdi Hasan:
And to answer my question to Ronen, can you have a Jewish democratic and secular state? Do you believe you can have all three things?

Boaz Nol:
Absolutely. She is the proof that we can be a Jewish state with the Palestinian member of the Knesset. She is the proof that this is a Jewish state with… I studied Arabic at school, because I have a minority that has equal rights.

Hanin Zoabi:
You are very arrogant to say that there is a democracy here, and I am part of the Knesset. I give up my country to say to the Knesset, return back to me, it's my land. Return my land to me.

Shlomo Zand:
Not only this, 80 per cent of the land of Israel cannot be saved to non-Jewish. Do you know it?

Mehdi Hasan:
Oded, you are someone who is a settler. A lot of people say that you shouldn't be living in settlements. Do you believe in a Jewish democratic secular state?

Oded Ravivi:
Definitely yes. I think the way Hanin is talking is the proof to that fact. I think that this respect that she has to the House of Representatives which she is a member of, and the laws which are being passed in it in a democratic way, where the majority decides. I think the fact that she is talking so freely in the middle of Tel Aviv, without anybody stopping her.

Mehdi Hasan:
But what about the law she cited? Let's take a specific fact.

Oded Ravivi:
I think the state of Israel is proud to have, first of all a House of Representatives that pass laws according to majority, and second of all it has a court, a Supreme Court, which goes and examines every single law, whether it is right or not, whether it is apartheid law or not, or whether it is discriminating or not. And not many countries can be proud of such a legal system that protects its own citizens from the legislature. Now the fact that Hanin doesn't respect any of these rights that she has…

Hanin Zoabi
Of course I don't respect apartheid. I don't respect oppression. You are stealing the land of the Palestinians.

Oded Ravivi:
Shlomo, you can shout as well that I am living as apartheid. At the end of the day you are talking slogans without saying what the facts are.

Shlomo Zand:
Your neighbours near the settlement has political, civic rights. Answer me.

Oded Ravivi:
In Judea and Samaria four per cent of the land is occupied… in the West Bank is occupied by Jews. 96 per cent of the land is occupied by Palestinians who have their own government and their own civil rights.

Mehdi Hasan:
But they're under occupation under international law.

Oded Ravivi:
The only thing which keeps them apart from having full independence is the fact that they don't have a right to establish an army. Other than that, they run their lives from day one until now.

Mehdi Hasan:
When we talk about a Jewish state, and which you talk about a new generation of people protesting, what about the old divisions? You mentioned it earlier, between different types of Jews, between those who have come from abroad, those who are born here, between secular and religious.

Stav Shaffir:
This is the complexity of Israel. What we have to deal with is multiple complexities. The complexity of the Jewish Israelis who had to escape terror abroad, and came to this place to build a home, and the complexity of the Palestinian people.

Shlomo Zand:
This is the past discourse.

Stav Shaffir:
Everything is the past discourse, and that's the trouble, and for so many years we just increased all of those gaps. Of course the divisions exist, and they are maintained by the socio-economic policy.

Mehdi Hasan:
What about this debate that's going on right now in Israel which has led to the fall of a government, which is about what you do about ultra-Orthodox Jews, and we'll come onto Palestinians, in terms of conscription. Boaz, you're leading a campaign. Tell me what your campaign is.

Boaz Nol:
Well there's a law, in Israel there's a draft. We all go, and when we turn 18 we all go and serve the country, we join the military. And unfortunately there are two sectors, mainly the ultra-Orthodox, that for political reason, completely for political reason, just get released from doing anything. Not military service or civil service for the country because of political reason, that for years, because of the political system in Israel, that every prime minister, no matter from which side, always leaded the religious party to his coalition that was also…

Mehdi Hasan:
And you want that exemption to go.

Boaz Nol:
It got to a place where the Supreme Court of Israel said that we just cannot continue in this situation.

Mehdi Hasan:
So who do you want to be conscription who are not conscripted? And who are the exempt groups at the moment, tell our viewers.

Boaz Nol:
The religious ultra-Orthodox, and also the Israeli Arabs. I believe that there must be one society here with equal rights and equal duties.

Mehdi Hasan:
Ok, Shlomo, and then Hanin.

Shlomo Zand:
I agree completely with one thing, but the question is why a secular state, as the Israeli state, is so weak in fact of this Orthodox? I think it's because it's difficult to define what is a Jew - a secular Jew in the Israeli state. It started before the religious Orthodox who are very strong, in '47 Ben-Gurion promised to the Orthodox, they were a very minority.

Mehdi Hasan:
David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel.

Shlomo Zand:
Yeah. Ben-Gurion promised them this right, you know, without being a real electoral force in that time. The reason is the difficulty to define what is a secular Jew. Secondly, I agree with you that everybody has the same duties, and they have same rights, in one condition. You cannot ask a young Arab person to be listed in the army in a state that is not his state.

Boaz Nol:
Absolutely, I agree. But he can do civil service in hospital, in schools.

Mehdi Hasan:
So before I bring in Hanin, I just wanna finish the Jewish part of this before I bring in the Palestinian part, and I want to as Oded, he says it's very difficult to define a Jew. What's your take on the ultra-Orthodox exemptions? Is that acceptable? You're a settler who relies on the military to protect your settlements.

Oded Ravivi:
I don't support any exemption. I think that there needs to be a service for all the citizens, and I agree with Boaz that you have to have equal rights and equal duties. But at the end of the day the way that they're handling the protest is going to be to bring it to more division and to more arguments, instead of uniting the people.

Stav Shaffir:
What did you do, and what are you doing now for social justice?

Oded Ravivi:
I invited Boaz, with his protest camp, to do a protest in the city which I am mayor of, because I believe that yes we do need to make sure that everybody drafts himself into the army.

Stav Shaffir:
No, but I'm not talking about that, I'm talking…

Shlomo Zand:
It's not in Israel.

Oded Ravivi
It's not in Israel.

Shlomo Zand:
No.

Oded Ravivi:
Ok, so at least I invited them abroad. Hanin didn't invite them to Israel.

Shlomo Zand:
So mayor of Efrat, you are not living in Israel. It's a fact. It's not a joke, it isn't a joke.

Oded Ravivi:
Unfortunately your side of the argument is not recognised by the majority of the population in Israel.

Shlomo Zand:
But the majority of the world knows that you are not living in an Israeli state.

Mehdi Hasan:
We're not going to resolve the occupation in this part two of this show. Ok, Hanin, he wants you to do citizen service. He wants the Palestinians to not be exempt from military service, or at least civil service. The ultra-Orthodox are under pressure to join in, what is the Palestinian response to this demand.

Hanin Zoabi:
When they talk, when Boaz talk about the rights of the Palestinians, he talk with a very general slogan. When he talk about our duties, he has a concrete and specific program of duties. First of all, no, I don't owe the state anything. The state owes a lot to me. The creation and the establishment of the state was on my expense. All the cities and the towns which Boaz and Stav and others are living were built upon Palestinian land.

Mehdi Hasan:
She says that I don't get anything from this state. He says I'm a foreigner, etc, etc. The Palestinians have their positions. So why should they then join in a state where they're saying they don't feel welcome?

Boaz Nol:
Biggest tragedy is that she doesn't represent the young people my age, that come to us and tell us we are..

Boaz Nol:
The same thing that happens in the ultra-Orthodox happens in the Arab Israeli society. The politicians…

Mehdi Hasan:
Hold on, hold on. I will come back, Hanin let him finish.

Boaz Nol:
The politicians go to the extreme side, and the people themselves want to be a part of this society.

Mehdi Hasan:
So before I bring Hanin back in, let me just clarify, you're saying the majority of young Palestinians in Israel would like to perform some form of national civic service. That's your belief. And you?

Boaz Nol:
Absolutely.

Hanin Zoabi:
When you are talking about civic service, you are talking about a normal relation between a state and its citizens. We don't have normal relations. Again, again, a Jewish state. So a Palestinian citizen is not a normal relation. The state and my solution is to have a democratic, full democratic state, and the one meaning for full democracy is a state for all of its citizens. Like Britain is a state for all citizens, France is a state for all citizens, Israel must be a state for all of its citizens. So a Jewish state is a racist state.

Mehdi Hasan:
But do you agree with that?

Stav Shaffir:
Everybody deserves to have a home here. And this place needs to promise…

Hanin Zoabi:
You answer, thank you very much. If you support a Jewish state, for me you are not recognising my national rights.

Stav Shaffir:
Do you recognise my rights?

Hanin Zoabi:
Yes, yes of course.

Stav Shaffir:
What are my rights?

Hanin Zoabi:
This is the difference between me and you. This is the difference between us, between me and you. I am pro an equal rights, you want a Jewish state.

Stav Shaffir:
I'm pro equal rights. I'm recognising the situation.

Mehdi Hasan:
We're running out of time so I need to move the discussion on. Let her finish her point, Hanin, let her finish her point and then we're moving on.

Stav Shaffir:
I think, you know what, and that's the idea. My grandparents when they came here, they had a dream, and that dream wasn't to take your home.

Hanin Zoabi:
But this is what they did. But this is what they did. This is what they did.

Mehdi Hasan:
I need to move the discussion on. Ronen, why does the Prime Minister of this country say that African migrants are a national security threat?

Ronen Shoval:
Because of the same thing that we started for the discussion again and again.

Mehdi Hasan:
Because you're worried about the Jewish majority.

Ronen Shoval:
Because since Jewish majority, and this is the only thing that distinguish or identified Israel as a Jewish state, is the Jewish majority. When you bring here…

Mehdi Hasan:
I don't think anyone brings them. They're refugees, you don't normally bring yourself.

Ronen Shoval:
But let's talk facts. They are not refugees. By the international law they are not refugees. They have maybe dozens of them that are refugees out of about 100,000 people.

Mehdi Hasan:
Everywhere else in Europe, Eritreans, who I believe are a big bulk of the people who come here, get a right to stay, a right to asylum. In Israel they don't. Why is that?

Ronen Shoval:
Well first of all you're wrong.

Mehdi Hasan:
And they're called rapists and criminals.

Ronen Shoval:
First of all you're wrong, you're wrong.

Mehdi Hasan:
They're not called rapists and criminals? The Interior Minister didn't call them rapists and criminals?

Ronen Shoval:
The Eritrean are allowed to stay here by law. But the question is, since it's a question of a demographic issue, and when we won't have a Jewish majority we won't be any more a Jewish state. And this is the idea of the state of Israel, to be a Jewish and democratic state, then we have created here a situation which is dangerous to our demographic issue.

Mehdi Hasan:
Let me ask, it goes beyond demography. Your Interior Minister said, and correct me if I'm wrong, that African migrants don't realise that Israel “belongs to us, the white man”.

Ronen Shoval:
I don't know this quote, and if he said this quote he's stupid, ok, because we, for example Israel, we had two major operations bringing black people from Africa to Israel.

Mehdi Hasan:
But only because they're Jewish.

Ronen Shoval:
Definitely because they're Jewish.

Mehdi Hasan:
But if you're a black Christian or a black Muslim you're not welcome in Israel?

Ronen Shoval:
You are welcome as someone who want to visit here, but you are not welcome…

Mehdi Hasan:
To live, or to take refuge. A country that was built on refugees is not welcoming refugees. It doesn't look good to the rest of the world.

Ronen Shoval:
No, but listen to me. It's a question of per cent age, ok? Israel, by its size, it's number second in the world getting refugees, ok? We are only seven million people and we have 100,000 refugees.

Hanin Zoabi
You didn't say Palestinians.

Mehdi Hasan:
Hold on, let him finish. Let him finish. Hanin, wait a second.

Ronen Shoval:
I'm talking about Sudan, not about Palestinians. So in matter of when you compare per cent age, we have more refugees than most of the countries around the world including Great Britain, and we do accept them, and we do love them, but we can't get all Africa here, ok?

Mehdi Hasan:
60,000 Africans are not all of Africa.

Ronen Shoval:
Yeah, but if you won't stop it, it were 100,000, and if you won't stop it, we can't get them all.

Mehdi Hasan:
Stav, are you uncomfortable with the rhetoric that is coming out of the government, out of politicians, about these newcomers in Israeli society, whether refugees or migrants?

Shlomo Zand:
Ashamed.

Mehdi Hasan:
You're ashamed by it?

Shlomo Zand:
Yeah. But I want to say one thing, Israel has a refugee politics. 20 years ago Israel accept a million of Russians that supposed to be Jews, without a lot of…Israeli cannot accept 30,000 Africans, black Africans to this country because she's afraid that they will become much more non-Jewish in this country. To understand what is the Israeli-Jewish state, we have to understand the attitude to the non-Jews. Refugees, Palestinians, citizens and others. Very important, Israel has a refugee politics, she accept automatically every Jew that come from Paris, London, New York. Even it doesn't stop to be American citizens. If it doesn't accept to be a French citizen, she accept him as a full citizen of Israel. This is the Jewish state. It's shame for the Israeli-Jewish state to have these politics.

Mehdi Hasan:
It's shameful to have these politics. Oded, do you agree with Shlomo?

Oded Ravivi:
Shlomo is denying the fact that many nations around the world have seen what refugees do to their country and how they've stopped immigration. The United States, the biggest democracy in the world, has borders where they don't allow foreigners to come in just because they are foreigners.

Mehdi Hasan:
But when the foreigners come in they don't refer to them as rapists and criminals and threats to national security. That's not happening? The Prime Minister referred to African migrants as a threat to national security. That's fine by you?

Ronen Shoval:
No, but because you know why? Because part of them are part of Al Qaeda, so come on, when you have people who are coming who are connected to Al Qaeda, that's…

Mehdi Hasan:
60,000 Eritreans are Al Qaeda?

Ronen Shoval:
No, some of them, but you have only..

Mehdi Hasan:
He didn't say al-Qaeda, he said African migrants.

Stav Shaffir:
There is only one explanation to this rhetoric, and I think… there's only one explanation to this rhetoric. It's again this rhetoric of fear.

Mehdi Hasan:
Stav talked about fear to Israel's internal unity. As a population who live here, Jews and Palestinians, secular and ultra-Orthodox, what is the biggest threat?

Ronen Shoval:
We haven't discussed this issue at all, but our biggest problem are people like Shlomo Zand:, Jewish people who get money. Not Shlomo Zand: specifically, but Jewish people who get money from outside of Israel in order to destroy Israel, in order to make Israel look like an apartheid state.

Hanin Zoabi:
But you are apartheid state.

Mehdi Hasan:
We'll come round the table, hold on.

Ronen Shoval:
This is a disagreement, and I think our biggest threat is people who are getting money from outside government and outside…

Mehdi Hasan:
Left wing people, you think?

Ronen Shoval:
Extreme left, because it doesn't accept the idea of the UN idea of the Jewish state, and are doing anything in their power in order to destroy Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.

Mehdi Hasan:
Shlomo.

Shlomo Zand:
The most threat of the existence of the Israeli state that I worried, is the continuing of the occupation of the occupied territory. Firstly in the fact that our policy become more and more Jewish racist policy in the Israeli state. These two factor will not easily let Israel to continue to live in long time in the Middle East.

Mehdi Hasan:
Boaz.

Boaz Nol:
I think that the political system in Israel, I think that the key to why all this happening is because of the political system in Israel, that leads to a situation where extremists lead the agenda, instead of the mainstream, the majority of Israelis, Jews, Arabs, religious, secular, that want a better country, the solution's out there. On the social issues, and the two state solutions issue, on everything. It all starts from the political system that let the extremists the power instead of the mainstream.

Mehdi Hasan:
Stav.

Stav Shaffir:
The biggest risk. People are afraid of change. There are solutions, it's possible. There are many ways of getting there, economically, politically, socially, many, many ways. And the only problem is that some people don't want them. Some people want the system to maintain itself exactly the way it is, and that's our biggest problem, because we can be different and we can create a better future here. It's possible; you just have to want it, and to do it together.

Mehdi Hasan:
Oded.

Oded Ravivi:
I was going to say that there is no big threat. I was going to say that after 65 years of independence Israel has managed to establish a stable state, a strong state, a stable financial state, a strong military that can protect the country. I think… but if to be more practical… one of the problem that Israel is facing as a democracy, which I think we can see happening around the world, is where people take advantage of democracy and under the name of democracy call for changes where they are not responsible enough afterwards to take the country in which they're calling for a change, to actually lead it to a change. It's very easy to create a revolution, it's very easy to become very attractive and call the crowds to come and follow you.
Afterwards you have to prove yourself. We've seen what's happening around the world in the Arab countries. We're seeing what's happening in democratic countries which are collapsing financially, and at the end of the day the democratic system has its faults. It's not ultimate; it's not absolutely clear of any problems. But at the end of the day throughout the years we've had governments which were responsible enough to take the people into a better future, and the fact today that we're sitting in a coffee shop not being blown up, and having coffee and having this discussion with people sitting around peacefully, has proven that this country's gone much forward in the last 65 years than the fact that Shlomo thinks that there's no hope here.

Mehdi Hasan:
Hanin.

Hanin Zoabi:
The risks are there is no big challenges towards the Israeli policies. Israel acts a superpower in the region. It is a superpower. Nothing challenges its policies. It doesn't pay the price of occupation. Israel doesn't face the price of the racism, The Netanyahu government and the right wing is increasing inside Israel. The social protest proves that it is just a social protest. It doesn't want to change the main political and security policies inside Israel. The social protests say yes we agree to the right wing political and security processes inside Israel, and this is what really is challenging.

Mehdi Hasan:
That's all we have time for on this edition of The Café. I hope it's been an interesting evening for you all. It has been for me. I will be in Ramallah next week for the next edition of The Café. Join me then.
The Café The Café - Follow us on twitter: @aljazeeracafe – @mehdirhasan

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