Monday, April 16, 2007

Arabs, Jews and the State of the Jewish People

On the one hand, our Leftists (and post-Zionists and the anti-Zionists) will quote the words of criticism like those of Abba Eban:

"The exercise of permanent rule over a foreign nation can only be defended by an ideology and rhetoric of self-worship and exclusiveness that are incompatible with the ethical legacy of prophetic Judaism and classical Zionism."

It even gives them, people like Pappe and others I have quoted from on this blog, great pleasure, but real pleasure to do so.

And then, along comes the Azmi Bishara affair (*) and we have words like these of Uri Elitzur:

Thank you, Bishara

MK Bishara reminds us that Arabs can never feel Israel is their country

To some extent we should be thanking him, because Bishara's big mouth sheds light on questions we insist on sweeping under the rug and pushing to dark corners. "The State of Israel's establishment is the 20th Century greatest robbery. I am an Arab and therefore Syria is not my enemy." Do most Arab Israelis think like him? We can assume that the answer is both yes and no. We can assume that Bishara expresses the Arab, anti-Israeli identity in a radical manner, and that the majority is more moderate than him.

...We cannot sweep this under the rug. An Arab Israeli is first and foremost an Arab, and a Jewish Israeli is first and foremost a Jew, and a thousand post-modern sociologists will not be able to erase the connection between a people and a state, even if the thousand modernists who came before them were unable to define this connection well.

Israel is the Jewish people's state. It includes non-Jewish citizens who enjoy full civic equality, all individual rights, and all the freedoms guaranteed by a democracy. There is one thing we cannot give them: We cannot completely be rid of their foreignness. They live in another people's country.

...I do not propose that Israeli law should demand them to believe in Zionism, and of course not the other way around, that we would make this country less Jewish in order to resolve the problem. First of all, because this would not be fair. Secondly, it would not resolve anything, but rather, only make the problem worse. I only suggest that we understand there is a problem. This country is democratic and equal and just, and they are its citizens, yet at the same time it would never be theirs: It would never give up on being Jewish and they would never give up on being Arab...


Background here, here and here.

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