Some are complaining, naturally, about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for new Israeli citizens to swear an oath to “a Jewish and democratic state.”
Critics say it compromises Israeli Arabs’ equality in the country.
And that might mean something, if world history wasn’t was it is – if Jews in Arab countries, for instance, had ever had even a glimmer of hope of enjoying any sort of equality.
But they don’t and never have. And while it’s true that two wrongs, so to speak, don’t make a right, the Jews simply are not required to politically correct themselves to death.
Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab legislator – a fact that speaks volumes in itself – complains in an op-ed piece that there are too few Arabs in Israeli government jobs, suggesting this “expresses social exclusion, marginalization, neglect, and mostly discrimination.”
He further complains that “there is almost no area of life here where equality between Arabs and Jews prevails.”
I find it interesting that he’s able, from his position as an Arab serving in the Israeli government, to voice these complaints without fear of death or some other unpleasantness as would no-doubt be the case were some Jewish legislator in an Arab or Muslim country to try something similar. If there were any Jewish legislators in such countries. Which there are not.
I find it obnoxious that Tibi complains that in the proposed oath and a 1984 law which also identifies Israel as Jewish and Democratic, “Jewish comes before Democratic, and this is no coincidence.”
OK. So, what’s wrong with that? Why is no one complaining about “The Islamic Republic of Iran”? or any of the other Muslim countries where not only is Islam the preferred religion, it’s the only one tolerated?
There are several of those in the world, but only one Jewish country. Just one. And with a history which has clearly taught us that Jews are often not safe for long in anyone else’s country, it is only natural that the survivors of some of the world’s worst genocides would insist on a state of their own – identified and recognized as such. The point is not only to state the obvious, but to reinforce the nation’s intention to remain that way in perpetuity. Just like France intends to remain French and Germany, German and Holland, Dutch – all of which are in some doubt these days, and at the hands, essentially, of the same enemy.
Tibi argues that the values of Jewish and democratic “cannot coexist within the same definition,” and while this is certainly true of Islam and democracy, I seriously question his conclusion.
“A state that defines itself as ‘democratic’ is obligated to offer full equality to all citizens,” he says. “Yet if to begin with it defines itself using ethnic, religious or national characteristics – Jewish in this case – this creates preference for Jewish citizens over anyone else.”
This argument would have some merit, I suppose, in a perfect world that didn’t bear the weight of its actual history. But even a democracy must act in its own best interest if it hopes to survive.
The logical conclusion if we follow Tibi’s argument suggests Israel must choose between its democracy and its Jewish identity, clearly hoping to “guilt” its citizens into opting for the former. But by definition, this leaves open the possiblity of thier opting for the latter, which would seriously imperil the Arab population by forcing Israel into behaving like her neighbors do.
Tibi says Netanyahu’s demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state before any “two-state solution” agreement is signed is unfair. He says it would “reinforce the inferior status of Arab Palestinians within Israel, while granting a political, civil, and mostly constitutional advantage to Jews over Arabs” and “prevent any Palestinian from bringing up the refugee (right of return) issue in the negotiations even before they started,” which, of course, is the real agenda.
So, to simplify the Arab argument, it is not OK for the Jews to demand a Jewish state during negotiations for a Palestinian state – which, everyone knows, will have to be completely Jew-free – because it may hamper the influx of millions of Palestinian Arabs into Israel proper.
And people are buying this. Even some misguided and Jews.
Tibi also admits in his piece that one reason “no Palestinian leader would ever” agree to the Israeli request is that doing so would amount to “admitting that the Palestinian narrative was a false sham, and that the Zionist narrative is true.”
The “Palestinian narrative” being the fantasy that the Jews came from Europe and stole Palestine from the Palestinians. The so-called “Zionist narrative” is the one drawn from actually history, which includes the 3,000-year-old Jewish ties to the area.
He says that “this demand asks the victim of Zionism – that is, us the Arabs – to admit that the Nakba did not happen in fact and that our Nakba narrative is baseless.”
Isn’t that remarkable? That an Israeli lawmaker can make such a statement – to call the Arabs who stayed after statehood was declared and benefitted from a vastly improved lifestyle, “victims” of a “Zionist disaster.” Incredible. Let’s have a Jewish lawmaker in Saudi Arabia try something like that and see what happens.
Oh, yeah. There are none.
Tibi suggests that Arab states and the international community should demand, “in addition to the refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish state,” that in any political agreement, “the Arabs in the State of Israel would be granted full political and civil equality and be recognized as a national minority within the State of Israel.”
How about the latter in exchange for the former? I think that might work. But that’s not Tibi’s suggestion. His suggestion is to demand extra “equality” for Arabs living inside Israel in exchange for absolutely nothing.
In his diatribe, Tibi also plays the “ethnic cleansing” card, which always fries my latkes, since, as previously noted, any Palestinian state is expected to be Jew free and no one anywhere seems to have any trouble with that.
Can you say “hypocrisy”?
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