Personal thoughts on current events, cultural events, Israel, Judaism, Jewish/Israel innovations and life from a Jewish perspective - read into that what you may.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Democracy and Judaism

The fact that consecutive Israeli governments (left and right) have dealt with our control over YESHA, Yerushalayim and Har Habayit irresponsibly does not mean that we must give up our right to live there, it means we finally must take full responsability for YESHA and deal with the issues connected to the Arabs who live in all of Israel.

The starting point of left and right are the same, that the current situation vis a vis the Arabs is wrong. It is the steps afterwards that we take different directions.

I do not believe it is right nor wise to formulate a solution for our situation seperating the Arabs who live in YESHA and the Arabs who live in Israel - in the end they will all work towards the same goal - the annihalation of the Jewish State - in one way shape of form, regardless of all the "practical" seperation plans implemented. Whether by continous intifadas within Israel (Galil and Negev) with support from YESHA Arabs, or through the "demographic" demon one day rearing its head (regardless of a "border" between Israel and YESHA) and turning Israel into a bi-national state en-route to an Islamic/Arab state.

In addition, the Arabs are not our problem, we are the problem. If we would establish the Jewish society we are supposed to in Israel, then the Arabs will get off our backs. Our cultures are in some ways more similar than Western society. Many of our values are similar - modesty in dress/speech, respect for elders, family, an overall tribal responsability, religion as a communal way of lfe etc. as opposed to the individualistic "rights" based values of the western cultures.

We are hated here in Israel by the Arabs because we currently symbolize the Western culture in the Middle East. But Jewish society is not equivalent to Western culture. If we would just become more of a Jewish culture stressing the Jewish values over Western individualistic values, we would probably be pleasantly surprised to see our relations with the Arabs change. Now we are truly acting like colonists, western colonists, who happen to be Jews.

Domgraphics is not the problem. It is the substance of the Jewish State that is the problem.

The Torah is very clear on the issue of Ger Toshav as a way to deal with "others" who live within the Land of Israel. The Torah did not promote this solution as a form of discrimination. It is a a just solution that limits the influence that the "others" can have on Israeli society - which is exactly what is needed today. Any society with unique cultures need ways to preserve those cultures. Today, the world values equal rights for everybody and everything, but that doesn't make it correct that everyone must have the right to vote in a society with a unique culture different than theirs. There are countries in this world that make it extremely hard, even almost impossible, for "others" to become citizens of their countries for the simple reason of limiting the impact on the host countries culture/society (Japan is just one example).

In any case, Ger Toshav is the most practical solution that deals with the core problem - the substance of the State. Just because the democratic ethos causes problems for some Jews to think that the Ger Toshav solution is not a possile solution with today's world value system, does not make it wrong or inapplicable. It just means we have to reintroduce the concept, why it is correct and why it is right - to ourselves and the world. A democratic system with a vote for all is not necessarily a Jewish value, just the best governing model that has worked to this day - but that doesn't mean that we have to adapt our governing model, our citizenship rules and our value vis a vis the Land of Israel because of the way others view democracy.


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