Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hope and Change–How Israel Maybe Took a Step Today Towards Being Democratic and Jewish

Israel is not a liberal democracy that supports the flourishing of its citizenry.  In fact, it is not a democracy, since democracy requires consent of the governed, and Israel controls, directly and indirectly,  millions of Palestinians  without their consent on the West Bank and Gaza.  It is not a liberal democracy even in what Peter Beinart calls “Democratic Israel”, because it excludes a large percentage of its citizenry, native Palestinians, from the nation that the state represents. And because any government that rests on the votes of those outside the nation is considered, by a  great number of Israelis, illegitimate.

I don’t believe Israel is substantively a Jewish state either,at least not with respect to  these issues. That is not to say that there are not a great many Jews here; on the contrary, it is a state of the Jews, and there are Jewish institutions, and Jewish folks like other folks, some good, some bad.  But it is not a Jewish state in the sense that its founding principles do not embody core Jewish principles, in my opinion.  In its treatment of its minorities, its underprivileged groups, its foreigners, it does not reach the level of a decent society, much less a Torah society.  The fact that there may be better or worse societies in the world  doesn’t affect my view that this society is not, on these questions, a substantively Jewish society

Israel could become substantively democratic if it  grants real political power to native Palestinians by ending the occupation; creating the ability for native Palestinians who are not citizens to become citizens, including the Palestinian refugees who wish to return; recognizing Palestinian Israeli citizens as a homeland minority with national and cultural rights; and empowering Palestinian parties by giving them control over ministries and budgets.

This is, of course, a dream. But today we are moving closer to realizing the dream, with the election of a party to the Knesset that will fight for those goals, the Joint List.

There are still many hurdles to face. For years I have been saying pessimistically that even if there were 20 or 30 members of the Knesset that believed in the aforementioned goals, they would be in a permanent opposition, because Israel is considered to be a Jewish state. Even the Joint List has said repeatedly that for ideological reasons it cannot sit in a Zionist government that makes decisions affecting settlements, Palestinians, lands, etc. There is almost a coalition of interests to keep Palestinians out of the government.

And then I read the vision of Ayman Oudeh, the lawyer who heads the Joint List,  who says that in ten years there could be an Arab prime minister of Israel, and that empowering Palestinian Israelis will be good for all Israelis.

And I remember the example of the anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox parties, who found creative ways to take care of their underfunded sectors without being full fledged members of the government, until time did its own work, and they began to be members of the government.

How can Israel become substantively Jewish? By becoming a society that attempts to eliminate social injustice.  By becoming a desegregated society. By saying to itself, “If we are commanded to love the stranger as ourselves, because we were strangers in the land of Egypt, how much more so are we to take care of  ourselves, our citizens, especially those who have suffered through the creation and maintenance of an ethnic exclusivist state!”

Such a state will have its flaws; no state is perfect.  But such a state and only such a state will be worthy of the adjective “Jewish”.

One small step was taken today for Israel to become substantively Jewish and democratic – and, also, Palestinian.


Dan Kelso said...

Jerry your facts are laughable with these ethnic cleansing terms.
Are you the head writer for Pallywood?

The 48 war was the was the result of the Palestinians together with their Arab allies to perform ethnic cleansing on the Jews and their failure to complete it.

Every single Jew in the parts of the Mandate seized by the Arabs was expelled from their homes. No exceptions. They even dynamited the entire ancient Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem in an attempt to wipe out the history of Jewish residence there. They also made it illegal for a Jew to live in the areas of the former Mandate that they controlled, including East Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza and Jordan.

850,000 Jews were also forced from the Arab countries.

After the 5 Arab armies attacked Israel in 48, Haj Amin Al Husseini stated:
I declare a holy war, my muslim brothers! Murder the Jews! Murder them all!
The Arab League Secretary, General Azzam Pasha declared “a holy war. He said, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.

Dan Kelso said...

Sadly Israel has never had a partner for peace in the Palestinians so yes that is correct.
Your still supporting Abbas when he's naming streets after Arabs who bludgeon 3 month old Jewish babies with axes.

If you gave Palestinians pipes to fix their sewage system they would use them as rocket launchers and then blame the Jews for the predicament.

How long can Jerry support these Fatah terrorists?

Palestinian Authority Rewards Terrorists for Number of Jews They Kill
FEBRUARY 8, 2015

Dan Kelso said...

The P.A. don't know the meaning of the word PEACE. They only know terrorizing, destroying and causing havoc where ever they can

The whole conflict is cause by the intolerance of the Arabs with 22 countries who refuse to accept that Jews can have state in their historical homeland

I advise Jerry to wake up and see the Palestinian hatemongers you support.

wkovacs said...

when the hebrews came to the land of mizrayim, it was not their stated goal to destroy that land.

there is nothing in the concept of embracing the stranger that includes embracing those that wish to wipe you off the face of the planet, or to return you to dhimmi status

go and learn

Jerry Haber said...

Geoff, the Palestinians aren't strangers. They are natives. And the Zionists came with the express view of settling the land and achieving Jewish sovereignty. And they deliberately refused to negotiate with the natives and their leaders, preferring to deal only with the colonial powers. So Palestinian resistance to the Zionists was a) expected, b) legal, and c) moral -- Oh, I forgot, d) mandated by Torah morality that says when somebody comes to take something of yours you have an obligation to defend yourself.
Ps Nice to see you have come back to this blog.