Naji El Khatib: The Secular State for Palestine and its two challenges
The Secular State for Palestine and its two challenges:
- The colonial-orientalist model of the Nation-state in the Zionist discourse
- The Bi-national State in the conservator discourse
The Zionist project of the “expropriation” of the land of Palestine has been accompanied by another project: the possession of the Jewish religion by turning it into a national myth to give the Zionist-Colonialist project a national pretext of establishing a Jewish “Nation-state” on the “heavenly promised land”. By assigning to symbols of the Jewish religious discourse an imagined “national” geography, the Zionists imitated and cloned the European national model with its colonial and racial essence.
The transformation of a spiritual faith to a “national religion” is a sort of perversion of the religion. It is a nationalization of a religion and its spiritual dimensions.
In the opposite of this political “instrumentalization” of religious beliefs, the Secular State of non-nationalist citizenship will restore to the Jewish religion its basic inclinations and vocations by “depoliticizing” it.
This One Secular State of non-nationalistic citizenship will be a Palestinian State but not a Palestinian Nation-state. It is a way of re-invention of politics adopting a new type of paradigms to make obsolete all the colonial, nationalist and racist concepts that characterized Europe at the end of the 19th century.
However, the political programs which propose the concept of a Bi-national State is only a new variant of the previous recipe of the Nation-state, but this time with a double Nationalism aggravating and reinforcing nationalism instead of fighting it.
The Bi-national State, the State-of-Two-Nations, is the opposite of the Post-national and non-nationalist One Secular democratic State.
This One Secular State has only One Secular Legal System, not two or even more than two: Jewish, Muslim Sunnite, Druze, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic (Eastern and Western rites), etc.
The followers of all these religions and rites are just Citizens under One Law and One Legal System. Religious affiliation and practicing is essentially a private matter and not a public and collective issue.
So, giving the religious identity a nationalist expression (according to Zionism: Jewishness as Nationality) leads to a Religious State. We have witnessed several examples of establishing religious state: the deceased State of ISIS and the Islamic State in Teheran as well as the Jewish nation-State with a Jewish legal system for Jews in Israel. On the opposite, for the Secular State, the religious identities are a private matter. The neutrality of the State with regard to beliefs, religious or philosophical, regulates the public sphere of the Secular State. In this sense, the public space is not religious, thereby, the relationship between the individual and the politics is determined by the principle of “Law for all” which consists in considering the individual as an abstract, neutral citizen, without attributes (race, religion, color, sex) that can intervene (or influence) to determine his role, his status, his rights. From the legal point of view, the individual is naked of all belongings, identities, class positions, etc.
From the anthropological point of view, the individual, regardless of political power, is attached by “organic” links to a given Community. This attachment is Cultural, not Legal. It cannot give legal personality to ancestral cultural practices: as an example, the law of the State will not encourage the endogamous marriage. The State has the duty not to prevent by the force of Law all the communities’ expressions but to decrease the importance and the monopoly of the confessional institutions in the field of marriage. These inherited institutions will not have the exclusive right to celebrate the marriage and to register the marriage contracts. On the other side, the civil (state) institution has not the sole right to formalize and legalize these unions but all the measures will be taken to give the priority to the Civil Registry institution in these issues.
These communal institutions will have the right to organize the marriage feast according to the tradition and limited possibilities to register the religious unions in the registers of the Civil Registry.
Therefore, the principle issue will be that heritage is mostly a Cultural issue and not a Legal one.
There is no contradiction in considering that the “neutral”, “naked” individual is also the individual belonging to a community. He has the right to full Equality. Nevertheless, he has the right to the Difference without that difference being legally, judicially materialized exclusively in the field of exerting the legal acts.
Otherwise, the Islamic and Jewish Shari’a will have the rights of the social regulation that represents a catastrophic situation for the individual freedom (right to inter-religious marriage, right to change religion, etc).
The one secular state have no religion and its laws are in upper position besides all the particular community laws.
Bi-national State means the recognition of the “religious” as a nationalist political identity: it is the Bi-legal system (or three and more), Sectarian courts, customary laws, several confessional judicial systems, personal status laws according to the different rites, Shari’a law, Jewish law, non-positivist law.
In One word, the Bi-national State: it is a Liberticidal State and not a Democratic State.
The Secular State is the genuine Democratic State that guarantees the fundamental freedom for the individual. It is the place where there is a balance between her or his rights to freedom by being a citizen without particular attributes and her or his rights to the realization of convictions by being a member of a particular community.
An abstract for the article in Arabic, Romman Mag, 23-03-2018
الدولة العلمانية والصهيونية كخطاب استشراقي وكولونيالي