B’Tselem newsletter-February 2015

B’Tselem newsletter-February 2015

by Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director

A celebration of democracy? Not on March 17.

In about two weeks, Israelis go to the polls. In theory, those of us who want to vote and have given some thought to the burning issues at hand will go to take part in the “celebration of democracy”.

Yet there are two serious problems with this description. First,the burning issues are being swept under the rug, virtually undiscussed in this election campaign. Second, not everyone who may want to vote can do so.

The occupation – unarguably the most important political and human rights issue in Israel in the past five decades – is all but invisible these elections. Holding on to the “status quo” illusion apparently trumps debate. Just six months after atraumatic, bloody summer, we hear almost nothing about Gaza. But Gaza and the occupation are very much here, part of our present and future.

It’s not only important issues being cast aside, but also the millions of people living under occupation are being literally shut out. While it makes little sense for people who have lived under a temporary military occupation for six months toparticipate in the political process of the occupying power, what happens after ten years? Thirty? Forty-seven and counting? If the occupation isn’t temporary, then what is the basis for denying the right of millions to participate in a “celebration of democracy”, where all those living under a regime take part in deciding their political future?

For more than two generations, millions have been denied theright to participate in the political process that determines our fate on this piece of land. Those who will get to vote will do so over the heads of these rightless subjects.

If the 20th Knesset we elect on 17 March lives out its days, it will be the Israeli parliament that ushers in the occupation’s fiftieth year. The occupation is not temporary, and it is not democratic. With your support, we at B’Tselem will continue to do our utmost to bring this reality to light and help change it. It is doubtful that theupcoming election will herald this change, but we will continue to fight until the injustice ends.

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