October 22nd, 2009 21:52 EST
Israel Neither Democratic nor Jewish? A Response
I`m not sure if it is acceptable practice to respond to the article of a fellow contributor but I guess the worst that could happen is that my article could be rejected so I will give it a shot.
In a recent op-ed piece, SOP Newswire 2 made the case that Israel may, in fact, be neither Jewish nor Deomcratic. Some good assertions were put forward but there were a few others that I feel I must respond to.
First of all, the contributor made the valid point that many soldiers in the IDF today are recent immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia and in some cases, there is a question about the authenticity of their Jewishness. The Jewish taxi driver who drove my family from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea raised similar concerns. He said that for the first time in history people actually want to be Jews. Instead of Jews trying to hide their Jewishness, non-Gentiles are trying to adopt some out of thin air. He even claimed that certain unscrupulous Rabbis in Russia had made considerable money providing false certification of synagogue attendance, bogus birth records and bar mitzvah records and the like. While I have no idea of whether this is true or not, he seemed convinced that there were a growing number of non-Jewish "Jews".
That said, I feel the number must still be pretty small. I, myself. recently discovered my Jewish ancestry and put it to the Jewish Agency if I qualify for the "right of return". They responded with a massive list of required documents. If a few non-Jewish "Jews" slip through the cracks, the cracks are quite small, nonetheless.
As for the Israel is not a democracy canard, I must disagree completely. Israel is not a perfect country and I disagree with many of their recent decisions. But if I lived in Israel, was a citizen, and felt the same way that I do now, I would be free to say so and vote so and demonstrate so, as many Israelis do.
I recently read the story of one Jew who became the first official member of Fatah. He is an Israeli citizen and while many people strongly disagree with him, he has the legal right to join Fatah if he feels like doing so. How many people in the Arab and Muslim Middle East would be allowed to join, say, Likud? Voice any kind of support for Israel? In Israel, there are a plethora of often discordant voices. I think peace will come to the Middle East when the same is true for the neighboring Arab countries.
Finally, the author listed Israeli abuses (there are plenty) and put it all on the Zionist lobby in America. Strangely, Palestinian abuses and those of other regional players were not mentioned. All I`m hoping for is a little balance. If one wanted to list Israeli or Palestinian abuses, you could go on all day. But a one sided approach brings us no closer to a solution which should be where everyone wants to go.
During my brief trip to Israel, I visited many Israeli cities as well as a few Palestinian ones (like Bethlehem). In Jerusalem, I enjoyed time in both the west and east (Jewish and Arab) parts of the city and came to love both cultures and people. In Haifa, near the Lebanon border, I saw a city where, for the most part, Jews and Arab Israelis live and work in harmony, even in the local government. Before anyone criticizes either a "non-democratic, non-Jewish" Israel or a "terrorist, extremist" Palestinian Authority, I suggest one visit there and see the real future of the Middle East.
ISRAEL Neither Jewish nor Democratic The state of Israel was established in 1948 by the UN as a Jewish homeland, in the aftermath of the Holocaust in which the majority of European Jews were liquidated by the Nazis
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