21 March 2013

Israel is undemocratic...or not, as the case may be.


Whether he means to or not, Prof. Levine (philosophy at the U of Massachusetts) manages to employ antisemitic tropes in his argument that the Jewish state is, somehow, undemocratic by virtue of privileging the rights of Jews above others. This is all reported in an article by Stephen Bayme in The Times of Israel, here

This argument is flawed before it begins if only by virtue of not making the same case against the 30 or more Muslim states which do not merely privilege Islam above other religions, but often make it difficult, at the very least, for non-Muslims to practice their religions. Nor is there any mention of those Christian states, some of which are less than tolerant of either other religions or of other denominations of Christianity, even if they are a declining number in the 21st century. The Greek constitution, for example, I am assured by a Greek citizen, demands that citizens must profess Greek Orthodoxy, even if it is, in practice, tolerant of, for example, Jews.

Almost inevitably, Levine fails to note that in Israel, one is free to practice any religion or none (providing that it doesn't involve harm to others, including animals), let alone be different in other, say sexual, ways. Arguably, self-confessed Jews may have a harder time in Israel (from, e.g., a Haredi perspective) if one is "non-orthodox". 

Bayme goes on to make many of the points that have been made over and over again in these and similar columns: yes, Israeli Arabs should have de facto as well as de jure equality; ofcourse, the Israeli political system isn't perfect (but then, which one is? just remember Winston Churchill's riposte to the complaint that democracy was a dreadful system: "Yes, madam, it is...until you look at all the others."), and so-on.

The article is well worth a read, if only to confirm what we already know: that those who claim to talk in our name "as-a-Jew" are talking only for themselves, not the 90+ of world Jewry who are Zionists; and that they, nearly always unwittingly, often employ antisemitic tropes.

By: Brian Goldfarb