Saturday, October 16

The Deed is Done

Eli YishaiImage via Wikipedia

The Pledge of Allegiance Bill recognizing Israel as a Jewish and democratic state will be passed into law. This pledge is directed towards potential non-Jewish immigrants who wish to become naturalized Israeli citizens. Jews, who immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, are exempted from the pledge.

This heinous bit of racist legislation was orchestrated by the Yisrael Beiteinu Party of Avigdor Lieberman. It received overwhelming support from the right wing coalition Knesset members. The spineless, weak, Labor Party made a few ineffectual squeaks of opposition, but is still in the coalition. This comes as no surprise, as the Labour Party under Ehud Barak, has sacrificed its ideological platform for seats in the odious right wing cabinet which includes the likes of right wing Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and Shas leader Eli Yishai, the Minister of Interior, whose dislike for Arabs is no secret.

Their hatred even spreads to non-Jewish foreign workers who are victims of a "revolving door" policy. They are contracted laborers, many of whom look after our aged as caregivers. After a number of years, many of these people marry and raise a family. Their children speak Hebrew as their first language. They are integrated into the Israeli education system, see themselves as Israelis, and have Israeli friends. Now Interior Minister Eli Yishai is trying to get them deported. The reason - foreigners are a threat to the Jewish identity of the State of Israel! How xenophobic can one get? We have been victims of anti-Semitism in the Diaspora. Now we are becoming xenophobic ourselves and are resorting to discriminatory measures to preserve our Jewish identity in Israel whether it be allegiance pledges of loyalty or our attitude towards our Israeli Arab citizens. Even the foreign worker as mentioned is caught up in this weird and unjustified crusade.

Israel seems to be joining a host of Middle East Countries that are using religion as part of the identity of the state. Some examples are: The Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Mauritania

Naturally these Moslem theocracies are not democratic and some of these countries even forbid Jews from living there. Is it appropriate for Israel to follow their example by discriminating against non-Jews whether they are foreign workers or have an Israeli spouse especially if she or he is not Jewish?

Any theocratic state is not democratic. Religion and democracy are not compatible and there is no reason to believe that Israel will be any different in the future. The Pledge of Allegiance is just the first stage in the erosion of democracy in Israel which could become "The Jewish Republic of Israel" with all its ramifications.

The prospect of transfer of Israel's Arab population who has a problem of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state could be the first target. This does not mean that Israel's Arab population does not recognize Israel's right to exist. It is a matter of terminology. Most Israeli Arab citizens have no problem with Israel's Declaration of Independence. Why does the Jewish identity of Israel have to be so aggressively emphasized when this has never been an issue in the past?

Surely this bodes evil and could put every non-Jewish citizen's loyalty under scrutiny.

The Israel Government is occupied in justifying its attitude towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict while at the same time building in occupied territories and passing a controversial Pledge of Allegiance law.

Israel is moving down the slippery slope of intolerance towards those who are different. This is against the spirit of the Declaration of Independence which stresses equality of Israel's citizens irrespective of race, colour or creed.

Now we arrive at Israel's requirement of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Surely it is sufficient that the Palestinians recognize Israel as an independent state. The nature of Israel as a Jewish state is understood without it being turned into a hot potato.

While both the Palestinian and Israeli side are placing great emphasis on marginal issues that are causes of disagreement between the two sides in order to torpedo the talks and win world support in apportioning the blame for the failure of peace negotiations. The Pledge of Allegiance and the demand by Israel that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is a ploy by Israel to pull out of the peace talks. Ending the moratorium on settlement activity is another excuse.

So there we have it. Intransigence and obstinacy on both sides, coupled with a lack of vision are laying the foundations for further violence between the two sides. The deed is done and another opportunity for achieving peace is slipping away.

A state
That declares war
On a fifth
Of its citizens -
Can it be called

A state
That persecutes
Its minority -
Can it be called

Gush Shalom Ad in Haaretz, October 15, 2010
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