The part of Israel so often blocked from American eyesight..... Deep unease as Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary By Jean Shaoul 8 May 2008  Today, sinemet Israel marks the 60th anniversary, sinemet according to the Hebrew calendar, sinemet of its founding. Sinemet World leaders will endorse the event with a major international conference in Jerusalem on May 14-16, sinemet the actual date of its founding. Sinemet It will be attended by United States President George W. Sinemet Bush, sinemet former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, sinemet Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, sinemet 12 heads of state, sinemet media and business tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin. The official celebrations—aeronautical displays, sinemet a naval review along the Mediterranean coast, sinemet and mass parachute drops—illustrate the character of Israel as a garrison state that polices the region on behalf of US imperialism. Despite the celebrations, sinemet not one of the commentators outside or within Israel has been able to disguise the deep sense of unease and disillusionment that pervades Israel. Sinemet Many Israelis had opposed a flamboyant celebration: an online petition calling for a scaling back of expenditure achieved 90, sinemet000 signatures by the end of March against the original target of 10, sinemet000. Sinemet As a result, sinemet the government was forced to announce that 35 percent of the $28 million budget—far less than the $70 million spent on the 50th anniversary in 1998—would be spent on educational, sinemet infrastructure and remembrance projects. Neither could commentators fail to contrast this with how the Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, sinemet the squalid refugee camps of Lebanon, sinemet Syria and Jordan, sinemet and in the Diaspora, sinemet regard the event. For them, sinemet the creation of Israel, sinemet which they call the Naqba, sinemet or catastrophe, sinemet is synonymous with the forcible expulsion and flight of more than 700, sinemet000 Palestinians from their homes, sinemet and the start of a life of exile and poverty. Sinemet Their property was expropriated and they were not allowed to return. Sinemet Today, sinemet the original refugees and their descendants as well as those who became refugees after the 1967 war now number around 4.5 million. On the occasion of Israel’s anniversary, sinemet Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza face a three-day lockdown. Sinemet Public sector workers and students will stop work at 11 a.m. Sinemet to join rallies in the West Bank and Gaza. Sinemet Sirens will start a two-minute silence at noon. (snip) Behind the smokescreen of the US-sponsored “peace process, sinemet” and with the complicity of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, sinemet Israel has further consolidated its land-grab in the West Bank. Sinemet The government has encircled Jerusalem with settlements that will make it impossible for Palestinians to live in and travel to and from Jerusalem, sinemet much less make any part of its capital in any putative state. Sinemet At the same time, sinemet Israel has waged war against the Gaza Strip, sinemet assassinated its opponents, sinemet killed hundreds of Palestinians and inflicted illegal and cruel collective punishment on the entire population. Sinemet It has laid siege to Gaza in order to starve the Palestinians into submission. Sinemet Once again, sinemet however, sinemet Israel’s inhuman and illegal actions against the Palestinians have served to increase support for Hamas and political Islam and have sickened the majority of Israelis who want a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians.   Social schisms The last, sinemet and in may ways most important, sinemet factor in generating the public unease surrounding the anniversary is the phenomenal growth of social differences in Israel as a result of the free-market policies pursued by successive governments. Sinemet Privatisation, sinemet pension, sinemet and welfare reform, sinemet budget and tax cuts, sinemet and deregulation have turned the dream of the egalitarianism and collectivism, sinemet once proclaimed as the raison d’etre of a national home for the Jews, sinemet into a nightmare. Israel’s economy is entirely dependent upon financial support from the US and preferential trade agreements. Sinemet Its high-tech industries, sinemet biotech, sinemet nanotech, sinemet smart materials, sinemet alternative energy and arms are geared towards the US and Europe. Sinemet But while economic growth has been more than 3 percent a year for the last four years, sinemet Israel’s new wealth is highly concentrated. Sinemet The Gini coefficient, sinemet measuring income inequality, sinemet has risen continually, sinemet ranking Israel as one of the most unequal states in the developed world. Because Israel is so heavily dependent on Washington’s subventions, sinemet this situation is set to worsen dramatically as the economic crisis takes its toll on the US budget. In addition to the growing social polarisation, sinemet Israel is split along ethnic, sinemet religious, sinemet and ideological lines. Sinemet Fully 20 percent of the Israeli population are Arabs, sinemet who are treated as second-class citizens. Sinemet Their refugee relatives cannot return to Israel, sinemet whereas Jews abroad automatically qualify for citizenship. Sinemet (snip) Those Jews whose families came from the Middle East and North Africa are also treated as second-class citizens, sinemet when compared to those from Europe. Sinemet (snip) These social and political developments have undermined the central pillar of Zionism, sinemet its demand for national political unity against those deemed to be the external “enemies” of the Jewish people. Sinemet As such, sinemet they threaten the country’s political and social stability. (snip) All this is a far cry from the secure economic future that the Zionist dream seemed to offer the Jewish people 60 years ago. Sinemet It is this that underpins the increasing disillusionment with Israel today.