Sunday, June 9, 2013

What Sand and Shumsky Share in Common–And Why It’s Important

It’s open season on Prof. Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University in the pages of Haaretz, following the publication of his latest book, How and Why I Stopped Being a Jew. The thesis of the book is that there is no such thing as secular Jewish experience (although he grants that there are people who have fashioned for themselves a secular Jewish identity), that being Jewish is fundamentally and foundationally a religious category. He certainly is right about that in the case of Israel, where the secular founders insisted on preserving a religious criterion for determining who is a Jew, and hence who is a member of the nation represented by the state.  In the eyes of Israeli law, one can only become a member of the Jewish people through birth or through religious conversion, and this has practical implications, such as the pressure placed on the religious courts to facilitate the conversion of Israeli citizens from the Former Soviet Union, so that they can be members of the Jewish nation and hence the recipients of rights and privileges accorded in Israel to Jews alone. Of course, saying that Jewish people is exclusively a religious category does not imply that only religious  Jews are Jewish. Pork-eating atheists are considered Jews even by the orthodox,  but only if they became a Jew through birth or through religious conversion.

But that’s not what I wish to talk about in this post. Rather I wish to discuss the recent exchange in Haaretz by Dimitri Shumsky and Shlomo Sand, in which the former argues for a Jewish/Palestinian binational state, and the latter for a civic Israeli nationalism  Both Shumsky and Sand go at each other with the passion of Leninists and Trotskyites, but lost in the battle is how much they share in common. Neither Shumsky’s Jewish-Palestinian binationalism nor Sand’s Israeli nationalism is palatable to the old guard of Jewish nationalist/liberal Zionists in Haaretz’s' stable, like Shlomo Avineri, Alexander Yakobson, or Yehuda Bauer.

Let’s start with Shumsky’s pat on Sand’s back:

Sands’ …declared political intentions − undermining the exclusive reservation of sovereignty in Israel for one group of its citizens and endeavoring to transfer sovereignty to all the state’s citizens − are very admirable.

What Sand doesn’t get, says Shumsky, is the depth of Jewish and Palestinian national identity that most Israelis, Jews and Palestinians, feel.  Their concrete experience  is of belonging to a group that extends beyond the State of Israel.  To substitute an “Israeli nationalism” (maybe experienced by Sand and a few other progressive universalists like him) for this reality is a fantasy .  It is akin to the 20th century Canaanite movement. The only way Israel can truly be a state of all its citizens is not by divorcing an Israeli national identity from its Jewish and  Palestinian constituents but by negotiating rights for both national groups in an Israeli federation.

Shumsky ends,

Will this [binationalism] put an end to the “Jewish state?” Absolutely not, if only because the idea of “Israeliness” carries with it the baggage of clear Jewish ethnic-religiousness. It is clear that the Palestinian citizens of the state, who join together in a covenant with the Jewish citizens within the framework of the “Israeli federation,” will be required to yield a much larger emotional concession than the Jews.

Sand’s response is basically to deny Shumsky’s concept of membership in a  nation, both with respect to the Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, respectively.  Merely identifying with other members of a group, its history, language, etc., is not a sufficient basis for nationalism, and in the case of so-called Jewish nationalism, the problem is worse because of the religious element mentioned above.

Where Shumsky calls Israeli nationalism an “illusion”, Sand calls Jewish and Palestinian nationalism (in  the sense that all Jews and Palestinians are members of common nations) “fictitious”.  Shumsky accuses Sand of “Canaanism”; Sand accuses Shumsky of the benighted and outdated binationalism of Brit Shalom and the Shomer ha-Tzair, which was already detached from the everyday experience of Jews and Arabs under the British mandate.

What do they agree upon, besides the illegitimacy of the current state of affairs, in which the state is goverend within an an illiberal religious-ethnic exclusivist nationalist framework?

Both make the important point that there is an Israeliness that is more than a concomitant feature of citizenship. From the standpoint of Israeli citizenship there is no difference between M.K. Ahmed Tibi, a Russian Christian from the former Soviet Union, an Ethiopian Israeli, and an American Israeli like myself.  Yet there is no doubt in my mind that Tibi is much more Israeli than any of us, and, for that matter, much more Israeli than almost any American Israeli I know, including Dore Gold and Michael Oren.  So Israeliness is not merely a function of citizenship, since some citizens have much more of it than others. Tibi likes to say that he is an Israeli by citizenship but a Palestinian by nationality. He says this for nationalistic reason, and he is entitled to his self-definition. But in my opinion, he is not an Israeli merely through the fact of citizenship. He has a Palestinian Israeli identity that is largely the product of his Palestinian Israeli experiences.

That there is Israeliness, and that it is not coextensive with citizenship, suggests that it could be the bases for a shared national civic identity, were there a will to foster such an identity, e.g., in the educational system, in civics classes, etc.    Not every Israeli citizen may buy into that shared national identity in the way that Shlomo Sand (or I) would; maybe most would not.

The problem is that the reigning Zionist ethos sees the formation of an Israeli national identity as a threat to the very existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. (Never mind that “Israel” means “the Jewish people.”)

And this is the liberal paradox.On the one hand, many liberal Israeli Jews are proud that Israel has Palestinian writers like Emile Habibi, Anton Shammas, and Sayed Kashua. But their pride in them is not one of national pride as fellow Israelis but rather as the pride of Jews who have created a state where non-Jewish minority writers can win recognition writing in Hebrew.  To me, that’s like an enlightened Christian in eighteenth-century Prussia being proud that his culture could produce a Mendelssohn, not because he saw him as an equal Prussian, but rather in a paternalistic, pat-on-his-enlightened-back way.

For Sand’s Israeli nationalistic vision to become reality it is not enough to for Israelis to live a shared experience, although that is a necessary and inevitable condition. The vision needs to be accepted as a desirable goal, at least by the liberal members of the society, and fostered by the state and other institutions. There will always be Jewish and Palestinians nationalists opposed to the vision, but liberals should embrace it. Whereas for Shumsky’s vision to become reality, one needs a much thinner view of Jewish and Palestinian nationalism than both leaderships have been advocating; I would prefer something like trans-national communitarianism. The Law of Return would have to be scrapped altogether, or modified to give limited priority in immigration to persecuted Jews and Palestinians (I prefer the former alternative.) Shumsky’s view is thicker than mine – he wants to retain the Law of Return – but moves like that are entirely unnecessary, certainly to preserve the Jewish cultural heritage. Multinational states don’t need sweeping citizenship laws like the Law of Return for the preservation of their ethnic nationalities.

The Law of Return was a bad law from its inception; the only good thing to say about is that it is practically irrelevant today.

I am sure that Shlomo Sand wouldn’t be happy with an Israel as a Jewish state in the weak sense, any more than most American liberals would be happy with the United States as a Christian state in the weak sense in which it is seen today by millions of conservative Christian Americans.  But I am also sure he would be much happier with that kind of “Jewish” state, a state in which Jews and Palestinians felt comfortable and at home because those are the dominant cultures, than with the current religio-ethnic exclusivist state that is a throwback to the early nineteenth century states with their established religions. Sand actually would like to see two republics, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, and it is clear that in the former the Jewish element would be preponderant. And surely Shumsky could live with that because whether there is a constitutional nod to Jewish and Palestinian national identities or not, the facts on the ground would bolster group identities, and hence group identifications beyond Israel’s borders. These facts on the ground don’t need a lot of the heavy baggage that Ben Gurion and his associates  saddled the state with.

The possibility for common ground between Shumsky and Sand is greater than may appear from their vituperative attacks on each other.

And that common ground is the Promised Land.


Unknown said...

Hello, Mr Haber

I just wanted to say that I agree with most of what you wrote. In fact, this debate between Shumsky and Sand just proves how much liberal Zionists and post-Zionists (those who accept Israel's existence only) can be close to each other. The real difference, in my opinion, stems from the fact that we (Liberal Zionists) feel that post-Zionists don't like Israel, and instead of ''repairing'' it, they want to throw the baby with the bathwater.
I think the best example of this phenomenon is Sand's attempt to deny the existence of the Jewish people. His disparagement to prove that we don't fit the mold of a traditional national identity is both shallow and counterproductive. At the end of the day, no Zionist listens to him, in spite of the fact that he is merely repeating what Zeev Sternhell and Bernard Avishai have been saying for many years now. Why is it so? Because he doesn't want to crerate a civic nation encompassing all Israeli citizens in order to make Israël more inclusive, he denies and even calls racist, the secular Jewish national identity.
And his attempt to create an Israeli nation doesn't stem from the desire to add layers to the Israeli identity in such a way that it can encompass non-Jews as well, his goal is to litteraly dismantle and replace our collective identity with a new one.
However, unfortunately (for him), neither Israeli Jews, nor Israeli Arabs (Palestinian citizens of Israel) would want to be part of this Israeli nation, if it is built on the negation of their respective national identities.

Finally,I would just like to correct two of your statements. First of all, Rubinstein and Yakobson have never defended Israel the way it is. They have defended the concept of a state belonging to the world Jewry, but they also wrote that Israel should redifine the boundaries of the Jewish nation so that all Israeli citizens wanting to be part of it could join it. As for those who don't, they should be allowed to chose their own national identity without the Israeli government imposing them any other identity. Yakobson is right. The problem with civic nationalism (the merger between nationality and citizenship) is that it makes no room for the recognition of national minorities since there is only citizenship. This is why France refuses to recognize the Corsicans or the Basques as a nation and why the Spanish supreme court invalidated the recognition of the Catalans as a nation. Transposing this system to Israel would been that Israeli Arabs would no longer be recognized as a nation.
This is why Shumsky's alternative, i.e. a binational state with a Jewish majority (which is also what Jabotinsky promoted in the 1930's) is not only more functional, but also morally superior.

As for the Law of return, you are also wrong. This law is necessary for a very simple reason, the Jewish people is a diasporic people. I don't see why post-Zionists are shocked by this law and call it ''racist''. All countries representing a diasporic nation privilege the immigration of their diasporas. It's not racist. It doesn't create two categories of citizens. It merely broadens access to citizenship for a diaspora. Greece has a similar policy in spite of the fact that it has a Turkish minority, Finland does the same in spite of the fact that it has a very important Swedish minority and Spain gives a right of return to Sephardic Jews as well.
Frankly, if I have the right to immigrate freely to Spain because I'm Jewish, I don't see why I should no have the right to do the same thing in Israel!

Unknown said...

Part 2
Nonetheless, I think Chaim Gans offered an excellent compromise when it comes to Israel's immigration policy. He believes that Israel's policy of privileging Jewish immigration is fair, but only if Palestine can do the same with its own diaspora. However, since there there is a historic Palestinian community in Israël, which has been part of the state since its insception, Israel should also privilege Palestinian immigrants. Thus, members of the Palestinian diaspora would have the right to immigrate freely in their kin-state, i.e. Palestine, whereas they would also be privileged over all non-Jewish immigrants to Israel.

Anyway, once a confederation will be established between Israel and Palestine, Palestinians will have the possibility to work, live, eat and have sex in Israel as much as they want; on the other hand, it will be possible for Israeli Jews to live and pray on the hilltops of Judea without oppressing the Palestinians!
Moreover, they will elect a common confederal Parliament (like in Senegambia during the 1980's).
It's pretty close to a binational state, except that it doesn't violate the sovereignty of both peoples.

But still, Gans's formula (or Shumsky's federalism) just prove that the gap between you and us is not that big. The difference might be mostly rhetorical, but language shapes our existence!

Jerry Haber said...

Hello Mr. Bendavid

I haven't read Sand's latest book; I am unaware that he doesn't want to create a civic nation encompassing all Israeli citizens; on the contrary, I thought he did. I think he wants to shift the focus from a Jewish state to an Israeli state, from the state of Jewish people to the state of the Israeli people. I really would have to see wherein he differs from others like him.

As for Gans, his immigration proposal is a big step forward, and more justifiable morally than the status quo...but ultimately unsatisfactory, because it justifies one illiberal position by another. I don't think a Palestinian state should have an illiberal immigration policy any more than I want Israel's policy to be illiberal.

But Gans' proposal could be a good first step.

finally, your last paragraph is incorrect. All the analogies between Israel's Law of Return and other countries' preference in immigration are bogus, and I have written that repeatedly on this blog -- if you want links, I can send them to you. You can begin by reading my posts on What Israel Can Learn from the Germans. About Greece, I had a long comment thread. You have been unwittingly drinking the hasbara cool aid. Look carefully and you will see that Israel's policy is unique (well, except for Jordan, which modeled its policy after Israel's....)

Jerry Haber said...

Re: Spain,

You wrote "Frankly, if I have the right to immigrate freely to Spain because I'm Jewish, I don't see why I should no have the right to do the same thing in Israel!"

If that's the way you feel, we can negotiate this easily. I will give every Jew in the world the same right to immigrate to Israel that Spain gives Jews.

Since Spain allows any *Sephardi* Jew who can prove descent from Jews exiled from Spain 1942 a fast track through I will allow every Jew who can prove descent from Jews living in Israel at the time of the "Roman Exile" -- heck, let's just say, the third century -- can return to Israel as a citizen.

And by the way, they will have to wait till they get their citizenship....

Unknown said...

People that try to connect modern Jews to Greco-Roman period Judeans need to take a look at the following blogpost.

To tell the truth I don't believe that Mason has a good enough command of the nuances in Greek and Latin usage.

Greek and Latin authors certainly distinguished the Judean population in Judea from Judaic populations in the Diaspora, and we know that there was a fairly large Judaic proselyte population within the Judean Kingdom and the succeeding tetrarchy.

John Welch said...

Not strictly related to the Sand / Shumsky debate -- which I can't read without subscibing to Haaretz -- but for your information: several more Methodist "annual conferences" have voted to remove investments from companies that profit by the Occupation.

Details are at the page of the United Methodist Kairos Response, at

Unknown said...

Part 1
Sorry, it's my fault, I wasn't clear enough. My command of English is not as good as it should be! I didn't say that Sand doesn't want to create an Israeli nation encompassing all its citizens. I actually said that his goal is the creation of a territorial (civic) Israeli nation, which would include all Israelis. However, his aim is not to create an Israeli civic nation in order to make Israel more inclusive (like Sternhell, Avishai, Joseph Agassi and others). His goal is to create an Israeli national identity merely because he refuses to recognize the existence of the Jewish people. This is ridiculous. As long as Sand will contend that the creation of an Israeli nation requires the end of the ''fictitious'' Jewish people, Israelis and Jews won't listen to him. As far as I can tell, the English people and the Scots were not required to abandon their respective affiliations to create an inclusive British identity. And my understanding is that what Shumsky envisions for Israel is something more or less similar to the United Kingdom.

As for the Law of Return, it seems to me that you are looking for meaningless details to single out Israel. Whether the right of return is a constitutional right or merely an administrative policy, at the end of the day, it doesn't change anything. Greece for example, allows its diaspora members to immigrate freely to Greece, but only if they accept to serve in the army. Frankly, as long Israel will occupy the Palestinian territories, asking new Olim to serve in the army is not something I would like to see!
Furthermore, just like Israel, Greece does not use ''objective criterias'' to define its diaspora. Pontic Greeks for example, are neither ethnically Greeks, nor do they share a ''secular culture'' with other Greeks. In fact, they don't even speak Greek. They speak a Greek Anatolian dialect which differs from Greek just as much as French differs from Italian.

Unknown said...

Part 2
But still, the UN International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Venice Convention of the UE are very clear; privileging the immigration of an ethnic group to its keen-state is totally legitimate since it does not reduce the rights of any citizen. It merely broadens access to citizenship for a diaspora.
What is illegitimate however, is to bar an entire group from a country's immigration policy. Of course, I do agree with the fact that so far, Israel's immigration policy has been inadequate. But once again, what Gans suggested is totally compatible with international law and furthermore, it would make Israel superior to other countries like Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Russia and even Finland which give no preferential treatment to their national minorities when it comes to their immigration policy.

Last comment:
You have used the term ''ethnocracy'' to depict Israel. Calling Israel a Herrenvolk state is in my opinion both abusive and insulting. Calling Israel an ethnocracy when Arabs have been aoopinted cabinet ministers, when Arabs seat on the Supreme Court,when Arab MK's are elected at Parliament and when minorities benefit from affirmative action policies (30% of new jobs in the civil service are reserved for the Arab community) is just something you won't find in an ethnocracy like South Africa before 1994 or Southern USA during the segregation era. This is why Sammy Smooha coined the term ''ethnic democracy'' to depict the reality of non-Western democracies like Israel, most Eastern European countries and most Asian countries as well (Israel is quite similar to Eastern European countries for the mere fact that its fouding fathers came from this part of the world).

Unknown said...

Part 3
Most of those countries are not based upon a ''social contract'' uniting its citizenry, like in France or in the US. They were created in order to fulfill the self-determination of an ''ethnic'' (cultural) group. However, since these countries want to abide by democratic standars, they extend political rights to their ethnic minorities. This is why in such countries nationality is separated from citizenship. And as Smooha demonstrated it by citing the example of other Eastern European states, in the case of a peaceful ''ethnic democracy'', it is very difficult to notice the fact that minorities are indirectly discriminated against. Nonetheless, if you dig a little bit, you can easily find out that there are still subtle inequalities (in state symbols mostly but also when it comes to national institutions like the Jewish National Fund in Israel or in national celebrations from which they are de facto excluded). That's the case for non-Jewish Russians in Israel for example, who don't really feel discriminated against even if they are excluded from Israel's national identity (which encompasses Jews only). They identify so much with Israël that they even vote for Lieberman! However, in context of tension or war (like in the case of Baltic countries whose relationship with Russia is very tense or Israel's everlasting conflict with the Arab world), minorities, especially if they belong to the same ethnic group as the enemy, are treated like a fifhth column (like the Russians in Latvia or the Arabs in Israel). Of course, Israel should evolve towards a more inclusive model, but if you contend that Israel is an ''ethnocracy'', you should say the same thing about half of the European Union member states. Frankly, that's just abusive.

Unknown said...

Part 4
I have no time to talk about the shortcomings of civic nationalism which makes no room for the recognition of national minorities since the national identity is merged with citizenship (and since there is only one citizenship, there can be only one nationality). In fact, countries that base their national identity on civic (political) grounds are based on the negation of minority rights and they are much more homogeneous culturally than other states because they have either brutally assimilated their minorities in the 19th Century, like in France (see Peasants into Frenchman by Eugene Weber), or destroyed them physically like in the US or in Australia. Thus, cultivating this manichean dichotomy between civic and ethnic nationalism is both Eurocentric and inadequate to settle conflicts in multiethnic states. This is why people like Shumsky (with his idea of an Israeli federation which is reminiscent of the British power- sharing system adopted in the 1990's) or Yakobson who wants to give every Israeli the right to chose freely his nationality rather than being imposed an Israeli nationality which he is likely to reject (especially Israeli Arabs who want their Palestinian identity to be recognized within Israeli institutions), have proposed alternatives which avoid the pitfall of both ''civic'' and ''ethnic'' nationalism.

Jerry Haber said...

C. Bendavid,

Thanks for your comments, and for my apologies for not seeing them for so long.

Some quick points:

1. "Transposing this system [civic nationalism] to Israel would been that Israeli Arabs would no longer be recognized as a nation."

"Israeli Arabs" is a rubric invented by the Zionist state and not a nationality or ethnicity. They are Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, and these (arguably) Druze and Beduin, and this nationality is not recognized by the State. In fact, as you are aware, it is primarily the lack of recognition, and the concommitant lack of group rights, that was beyond some of the Palestinian Israeli proposals of 2006-7 (such as Adalah's Future Vision proposal.)
I have written before that Israel becomes an ethnic nation state in order to exclude Palestinians and a civic nation state. in order to deny them group minority rights

Jerry Haber said...

C. Bendavid, have you read my post on What Israel Can Learn from Germany? There are many states that give preference in immigration to national groups. But Israel is not one of them because the law of return is not an immigration law. Please read my post on that.
I am glad to see that Yakobsen and Rubinstein would allow Muslims and Christians to be considered members of the Jewish Nation. That's an important step in the right direction. But I have a suggestion (and I see that Shumsky makes a similar one.) Let there be an Israeli nation, and they will be part of it. Since Israel is the name of the Jewish people, that will make them part of the Jewish nation as well. Case closed.

Jerry Haber said...

Finally, there is no comparisons between Israel's law of return and that of Greece, Ireland, etc. Those who make such comparisons have never looked hard at those laws. I had a long comment thread on that. Heck, even Latvia, which is an ethnic state, has more liberal immigration laws than does Israel, which only has the law of return. Show me another country in the world that grants citizenship merely on the basis of religious conversion! Do Yakobson and Rubenstein want to do away with that?

I don't consider Israel a modern ethnic nation state, because the state defines membership in the ethnos in a way that flies in the face of other modern ethnic state.

Finally, you realize, of course, that Sammy Smooha's concept of ethnic democracy has been much criticized.

I find the attempts to say that "Israel is no different from X" intellectually bogus; they rely on superficial comparisons that don't hold water. All those countries that give preference in immigration for certain ethnicities provide routes for naturalization that Israel lacks -- I have heard Rubenstein say as much. And in the case of Israel, the Palestinian minority is a homeland nation that was made a minority through laws barring the return of natives to their homeland. That is very different from, say, the Latvian case, where ethnic Russians were encouraged to migrate there during the period of the Soviet Union.

Jerry Haber said...

Ethnocracy -- you realize that I did not coin the term. Oren Yiftachel wrote a book about it.

Please answer me these questions:

How much political power do Palestinian Israelis have in Israel?

In sixty five years, how many Arab political parties have been invited to join the coalition?

How many have been invited to participate in coalition talks?

Why have Jewish political parties with less MKs have more political power than Arab parties?

Why didn't Ehud Barak invite any Arab political party to his coalition talks after he had received 96% of their vote?

I find your examples of prominent Arabs well-meaning but ultimately offensive, the sort of tokenism one would expect in an ethnocratic state. Settlers who are in violation of international law have more political clout than law-abiding Arabs. And why?

It's a Jewish state.

If you want to look for some European comparisons, go back to nineteenth century Europe, where Austria was debating over how to give the Jews equal rights without damaging the Christian character of the Habsburg state. The leadership was also concerned about the demographic threat of the Jews -- and this was well before the rise of nationalism at the end of the nineteenth century.
Fortunately, the liberals got the upper hand, and arguments were made for the importance of including the Jewish minority within the Habsburg state. The rise of ethnic nationalism, of course, saw the retreat of that sort of liberalism.

Anonymous said...

In Re: "the end of the ''fictitious'' Jewish people"

While Sand is expressing the Matzpen ideology of his youth, obviously the whole concept of the Jewish people is a complete fiction.

Zionist ideologists of the 1880s reinterpreted the autochthonous Eastern European and Southern Russian Yiddish/Ashkenazi ethnic group consisting entirely of descendants of Slavic and Turkic converts to Judaism to be the pan-Judaic ethnonational group in order to make plausible a ridiculous, psychotic, and genocidal claim to Palestine.

As far as I know before the invention of Wissenschaft des Judentums, there are no references in any Jewish text to the Jewish people, העם היהודי, das jüdische Volk, דאס יידישעס פאלק, etc.

Expressions like:

עם ישראל
דער ייִדישער קהל
כלל ישראל, etc.

have only religious significance.

The issue of Pontic Greeks is irrelevant, for this transfer was negotiated between legitimate Turkish and Greek governments back in the 20s. Greece never extended its immigration law to deal with the Grico population in Italy because there is in fact and never was a transnational Hellenistic people/Volk even if there were shared cultural product and religious cult.

There is only one legitimate comparison with the State of Israel and Zionism:

The Confederacy and Slavery, which had superficial legitimacy and legality but had to be consigned to the garbage dump of history.

As for me, practically all my father's family were murdered by German Nazi genocidaires in the Ukraine.

Genocide must be considered the most heinous of crimes. No group should get a pass on genocide whatever that group's history of victimization may be.

Just as German Nazis were punished, Zionist genocidaires must be punished, and all of Palestine must be returned to the native Palestinian population while people like Peres and Netanyahu should be on trial at the ICC under The International Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

Otherwise, the Nuremberg Tribunal was a travesty and victor's justice just as Goering claimed.

pabelmont said...

What is a nation? Jews never thought of themselves as members of a nation of Jews until forced to it by Holocaust, etc. Palestinians never thought of themselves as a nation (rather than, say, members of a particular village or Arabs or Muslims more generally) until the unspeakable horror of displacement by Zionists came onto the radar screen in 1930s and 1940s.

I am an American, wherever my grandparents came from (Russia, Germany). why? Because the USA is a welcoming nation -- for me, anyhow. [Ted Cruz and some others seem to feel that being un-welcoming to many folks is part of being American.]

If Jews and Arabs lived well together (as in Spain, back in the day, I doubt they'd have any (further) trouble being and truly regarding themselves as nationals of whatever their joint-country was called.

Unknown said...

Good morning Mr haber,

Sorry for responding so late. Me neither, I didn't notice your answer earlier. Nevertheless, I'll briefly try to respond to your arguments

1) I used the term Israeli-Arabs because I wanted to avoid any confusion with the Palestinians of the West Bank. There was no ideology behind it. However, whether you call them Palestinian citizens of Israel or Israeli Arabs, it doesn't change anything to the fact that they want their distinct national character to be recognized. Thus, imposing a territorial Israeli nationality upon themis just not an option. If Israel were to do so, Israeli Arabs would merely be recognized as a cultural minority, not a national one. Sorry Mr Haber, but Israeli Arabs are not Oriental Jews. The eldest members of my family are comfortable with the idea of defining themselves as Israelis whose mother tongue is Arabic. However, Israeli Arabs are much more than Israelis who happen to speak Arabic at home. They are part of the Palestinian nation as well and they don't want this identity to be repressed.

Unknown said...

Good morning Mr Haber,
Sorry for responding so late. Me neither, I didn't notice your answer earlier. Nevertheless, I'll briefly try to respond to some of your arguments

1) I used the term Israeli-Arabs because I wanted to avoid any confusion with the Palestinians of the West Bank. There was no ideology behind it. However, whether you call them Palestinian citizens of Israel or Israeli Arabs, it doesn't change anything to the fact that they want their distinct national character to be recognized. Thus, imposing a territorial Israeli nationality upon themis just not an option. If Israel were to do so, Israeli Arabs would merely be recognized as a cultural minority, not a national one. Sorry Mr Haber, but Israeli Arabs are not Oriental Jews. The eldest members of my family are comfortable with the idea of defining themselves as Israelis whose mother tongue is Arabic. However, Israeli Arabs are much more than Israelis who happen to speak Arabic at home. They are part of the Palestinian nation as well and they don't want this identity to be repressed.

Unknown said...

2)As for Israel's immigration policy, I never said that I agree with the way it is right now. The only thing I said is that the Law of Return is consistent with democratic principles. Of course, Israel also needs to open its doors to non-Jewish immigration as well. But once again, there is no need to throw the baby with the bathwater.

By the way, I don't want to get into the details of the 1948 war. But you cannot depict the expulsion of the Palestinians as a colonial conquest. They were the ones who attacked the Yishuv in the first place. And during the 1948 war, 1% of the overall Israeli population and 8% of Israelis aged between 18 and 21 were killed. I could also talk about the fact that 10% of Israeli Jews were driven out of their homes... Of course, the Palestinians did not do this because they were crazy or evil. They felt that their land was being stolen. However, the Zionists (at least since the beginning of the 2nd aliya) did not see themselves as colonialists. They justified the fact that they wanted to establish their state in a territory that was already populated by invoking the homelessness of the Jews. And therefore, they felt that it was morally justified to require the Arabs who were already blessed with a quite large territory, to share a part of it with the Jews who were a landless people. Now, you are entitled to disagree with this idea, but it has nothing to do with ''colonialism''. Chaim Gans calls it ''distributive justice''. Katznelson and Jabotinsky referred to this idea as some sort of land reform and a redistribution of the wealth (which means the same thing). Only radical conservatives such as the Tea Party dare to compare wealth redistribution to theft.