You know, I thought that The New Statesman had got over its hang-up about Israel after it had the grace (or was forced?) to apologise for its "A Kosher Conspiracy?" front cover of a Magen David piercing a union flag. I should have known better, of course. The New Statesman (hereafter NS) is, after all, the weekly paper of record for the "progressive left" of the UK. Well, a couple of days back, Robin Shepherd, owner/publisher of that excellent on-line paper The Commentator, drew all of our attention to an article just published by the NS by the ever-reliable Ben White: ever-reliable, that is, to attack Israel from all the wrong angles. Although I have included a link to the NS article below, Shepherd tells us all we really need to know in a long and well-argued article (more importantly, the first link below).
Shepherd lets us know the context of his concerns very early in the piece, when he says that "In the context of Iranian threats to destroy the country, the loss of Turkey as an ally and the new pre-eminence of extreme, anti-Israeli Islamists in Egypt, the rantings of Western anti-Zionists have now acquired a new and more dangerous significance."
Among these, of course, are the sayings of Ben White. Shepherd goes on to note that
I[Shepherd] make[s] no direct analogy, but enter Ben White, author of, “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide“. On Sunday, he published an extensive piece in the leading weekly magazine of the British Left, The New Statesman. Essentially, it’s a trash job on Israeli democracy. It, perversely, charges a British pro-Israel grouping, BICOM, with having unwittingly revealed, in a series of recent essays, that Israel is not in fact a proper democracy at all: it’s a racist “ethnocracy“ run by and for Jews.Back in the days when White still spoke to mere mortals who disagreed with him (by commenting on Engage, for example), I recall (along with others) taking him to task for his use of this word - "ethnocracy" - because the last thing Israel was or is is an ethnically homogeneous society. In comparison, in terms of those who are actually citizens (as opposed to actually entitled to enter and remain, legally, within its borders, such as all European Union citizens), somewhere like Britain is actually less diverse than Israel. After all, the vast majority of those who are UK citizens were actually born and bred within its borders; which is far more than can be said of Israel. If White were to substitute something like "a uni-religious society", he would be far more accurate. But the term would apply just as much to the UK, where something like 90% or more of the population would, if forced, acknowledge that they were Christian rather than anything else.
Not that such truths bother Ben White.
Shepherd goes on to make many more pertinent points, among them this:
Mostly, [White's article is] a re-hash of the old arguments that because Israel is a Jewish state it can’t be a true democracy. The fact that it’s had an elected parliament for longer than almost half the countries in the European Union – the 10 members from central and eastern Europe plus Spain, Portugal and Greece – is obviously not mentioned. Nor is the fact that it has one of the finest supreme courts in the world. Nor is the fact that Arabs in Israel have a tradition of living in a liberal-democratic environment that has been absent for Arabs living anywhere else in the region. (And the way things are going that is not likely to change due to the so-called “Arab Spring. “)Anyway, enough from me. The Shepherd article is here, and the link to the New Statesman is here.
By Brian Goldfarb.