The Jewish State and Its Detractors

Israel has increasingly come under fire from Europe, the United States, and the Arab world for its behavior in its conflict with the Palestinians.  It has been called an apartheid state, compared to Nazi Germany, and been the target of innumerable boycotts and divestment campaigns. Liberals across the Western World have pilloried it, it has been demonized at gay-pride parades, lambasted by feminists, and criticized by human-rights organizations. However, this anger is misplaced and progressives, rather than attack the Jewish State, should embrace it.

There is no moral equivalence between Israel and its enemies. Israel is a democracy, where each citizen, Arab and Jew alike, chooses their leaders in free and fair elections. The Jewish State has a vibrant free press, which regularly takes on the country’s leaders, and a judiciary that often overrules the government on the most substantive matters. Everyone is entitled to worship as they choose and the holy sites of Jerusalem are open to the adherents of all three Abrahamic faiths. Women are treated as equals and in Tel Aviv there is a sizzling gay night-life. It is blessed with economic prosperity and a dynamic free market, and all of its people enjoy higher living standards than those living in other parts of the Middle East.

Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv.

Now let’s compare Israel to its Muslim neighbors. The only other democracy in the area is Turkey, where everyone is afraid to speak out against the government. Iran is ruled by the oxymoron, known as the Islamic Republic, Saudi Arabia is under the thumb of absolutism, and Syria is governed by a military dictatorship. In Pakistan, freedom of expression is restricted by Internet censors, who recently blocked Facebook for un-Islamic content. Jordan, supposedly ruled by an enlightened monarch, bans Jews from owning property or holding citizenship. In Saudi Arabia, women endure a truly untenable existence; banned from driving, allowed out only under the supervision of a male relative, and forced to hide their faces in a sweaty, black abaya. It is even worse in the Islamic Republic. In Iran, where President Ahmadinejad claimed no gays live,  homosexuals face the death penalty. Most Arab economies are government-controlled and resistant to innovation, and even in Dubai, the financial capital of the Muslim world, abject poverty persists.

A lighthouse shining through the darkness

More succinctly, Israel is a lighthouse of freedom, shining over a dark sea of despair and depredation. Because of this fact, it is hypocritical for progressives to sully the Jewish State’s good name while condoning Arab oppression. Real liberals, which I consider myself to be, should support Israel for the sake of shared values, from an accurate reading of history, and with a good sense of the challenges that it today faces. The struggle of the Palestinians is not one of national liberation, it is one that seeks to destroy an established nation and people, replace light with dark, and supplant hope with hate. The Palestinians are not an oppressed people, they could have had a state long ago. They are rather the most recent manifestation of an enemy that has plagued the Jewish people from time immemorial; the heirs of the Amalekites, Nebuchadnezzar, and Hitler. Indeed, Hamas is not a big leap from Haman. They are the barbarians at the gate and the Visigoths of our time, the arch-foes of civilization and civility. It is in this historical sweep that the conflict must be viewed to be properly understood.

American liberals must seize on the positions of the giants of their past, like Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, both dear friends of the Jewish State. But why should they support Israel over the multitudes of Arabs? Simply “because it is right,” as President Johnson once declared.

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9 Comments

Filed under Middle East

9 responses to “The Jewish State and Its Detractors

  1. strith

    Yes, Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region of grossly tyrannical and theocratic states. It’s also a serial abuser of human rights, as has been documented ad nauseum. The conscientious and fair-minded observer will celebrate the former, condemn the latter and acknowledge the reality of both.

    You remind me of the shrill conservative hysterics who get apoplectic whenever fundamentalist Christianity is criticized, crying fowl over what they perceive as letting other faiths (usually Islam) off the hook. Which is of course silly; Christianity gets criticized far more here because it’s far more relevant and omnipresent in our society.

    Same thing with the subject of your post. Yes, Saudi Arabia et. all are a whole lot worse than Israel. In other news, the sun is expected to continue rising in the east for the foreseeable future. This is not a contentious point; we get it. The relevant point is Israel, because we *don’t* get that here in America. And so of course we’ll harp on the inhumanity of a spiteful Israeli blockade more than the inhumanity of the latest gay Iranian to be stoned to death.

    Put another way, critics harp more on the faults of Israel because they hold it to the standards of a civilized Western-style democracy, as well we all should. No one expects the theocracies of the Middle East to behave any differently than they do.

    This is the part where I’d usually compare it to the same higher standard America is held to re: torture, and how America will rightly be more frequently condemned by the upper echelons of the fourth estate for lesser offenses than, say, Syria, but somehow I don’t think you’d agree with that either.

    Also, using Biblical/fake people (Haman) in your comparisons to back up the outdated and no longer applicable Israeli victimhood mentality just makes it look, well, outdated and no longer applicable.

  2. Israel is no longer a victim, but only because it has adopted a strong military posture with which it protects its citizens from annihilation. It is a Western democracy, but it doesn’t live in a Western neighborhood, so it must arm itself and implement hard-nosed tactics to stop the Arabs from destroying it. Also you saying that it must be held to a higher standard is the exact opposite of what most Israel haters say, that there is a moral equivalency between the two parties. Its so-called human rights abuses are overblown, someone can’t sneeze in Israel without winding up on the front of the Times. Israel makes mistakes but as a democracy it possesses the tool of self-correction, ie the way the Israeli government was brought down after the wave of protests surrounding the Sabra and Shatila massacres.
    Fundamentalist Christianity and Israel are not similar at all. The blockade is not spiteful, it is absolutely necessary. Biblical references are relevant; because Haman represents the persecution of the Jews,past,present, and future. Not only that the Bible is a great book for parables and morals.

  3. strith

    I’ve already said my piece, and I’m not really interested in a back and forth on the subject. A few words on the Bible, though, won’t hurt.

    From a moral and philosophical standpoint the Old Testament is almost wholly abhorrent; the New one much less so, but it’s still just largely repackaged Buddhism, perverted to allow for a control mechanism for the elite via humanity’s culpability in the death of Christ.

    Looked at from a literary perspective the Bible is largely a snorefest with a few solid myths. Greco-Roman mythology destroys it in both style and substance.

    And lastly, Biblical history very often just… isn’t. Probably the most wrongly canonized example of this, and once you seem to have taken as fact, would be Hebrew slavery in Egypt – didn’t happen. Total con job, with no historical record or archaeological evidence to back it up.

    The best thing that can be said about the “good book” is that it served as source material for some cool Cecil B. DeMille movies.

  4. This constant and uncritically one-sided condemnation of Israel is indeed absurd. As a Swede/German, I can also say that it is not a matter of holding Israel to a higher standard over here (I cannot speak for the US), but simply unfair and biased attacks. By analogy, if an Israeli starts a fight with a Palestinian, the Israeli is correctly blamed—but if the Palestinian starts the fight, then the Israeli is still blamed. Notably, very many of the members of the strong left seem to have a preformed and immutable opinion “Israel is an evil bully; Arabs are poor, innocent victims.”, and adapt their view of events to fit this opinion. (Whereas a critical thinker looks at the events and adapts his opinion.)

  5. strith

    Of course it’s about standards. If someone gets stoned to death in Iran it’s just another stoning. If someone ever got stoned to death in Sweden the collective outcry would be deafening. Not because one is worse than the other, but because of standards and expectations.

    Doubtlessly there are those who’re just plain biased against Israel and will cast them as the villain no matter what the circumstances. The opposite is also true, and here in America it’s the overwhelmingly prevalent attitude – Israel is always right. About everything. Ever.

    Even a blockade that the Red Cross has called “collective punishment” and a violation of the Geneva Convention.

    • It is not a violation of the Geneva Convention, during times of war it is permissible to blockade an enemy. It is not the responsibility of israel to help sustain in power a group committed to its destruction. Nonetheless, no one is starving in Gaza because aid trucks deliver food to the inhabitants. If Hamas didn’t use cement to make weapons maybe the Gazans could rebuild their homes. The Red Cross, which is actually known as the International Committee of Red Crosses and Red Crescents, has an anti-Israel bias. And Israel is right about almost everything and it deserves the US’s conditional support to counter the unconditional condemnation it gets from Europe. And while I get your point, it is not because they consider Israel better but because they seek to establish a moral equivalency between the two parties that Israel haters condemn that country’s actions disproportionately.

  6. strith

    Well now, that is one giant pile of wrong right there.

    The blockade is collective punishment of a civilian populace, a violation. While we’re at it, the settlements in occupied land (which Israel refuses to even stop *expanding*, let alone withdraw from existing ones) is likewise a violation. Such is the overwhelming consensus of the global community.

    But pointing this out to you is pretty much all for naught, because you’ve gamed the system – any criticism you come across will be summarily dismissed as anti-Israel/Semitic. You’re no different than those who deny anthropogenic global warming or humanity’s evolutionary roots in the face of similarly overwhelming consensus; a close-minded, agenda-driven zealot, seeing no evil, hearing no evil, and always just shouting at the rain.

  7. Just because everyone says it doesn’t make it correct. Most people in the South thought segregation was OK, and most Christians in Europe thought the persecution of the Jews was just fine. Consensus and group think are not relevant, it is about what is right. And yes, most criticism of Israel emerges from anti-Semitism and self-loathing. The Europeans and the Arabs have a long history of that and I wouldn’t expect them to depart from it. The left, which I consider myself a part of, is completely out of whack in condemning Israel. you should get worked up at the Arab world, not israel.The Jewish State is a democracy that can correct itself and has a history of doing so. There already is a Palestinian state, it’s called Jordan, go live there. Stop trying to steal the patch of dirt that we turned into an oasis, we have earned it. It is our land with our history attached and we are not leaving, so the Arabs can destroy it again. The settlements are a part of Israel’s commitment to preserving territorial integrity, which it must do. It is not occupied land, it is the homeland of David and Solomon, Judea and Samaria and it is part of what must constitute a greater Israel. And do you know what I am a partisan and I am totally and unabashedly committed to the Zionist cause. It is a fight for the preservation of Western civilization and a clear-cut battle of right against wrong. And by the way, what is your evidence, because evolution and global warming are solid theses. As I recalled there is a huge debate surrounding the conflict with views distributed across the whole political spectrum.

  8. strith

    It’s not about groupthink, which is actually the *opposite* of the two examples I just pointed out – most people don’t believe in human evolution, and only around half in AGW. Just like with those issues, what matters isn’t the thoughts of Joe Schmuck on the street, but the informed conclusions of authorities on the subject. With those examples it’s the scientific community, where there is no doubt as to their veracity. When it comes to international law it is the world courts, United Nations and humanitarian organizations, all of which have overwhelmingly condemned the Israeli blockade and settlements as violations of international law and human rights.

    There is genuine debate to be had on the *overall issue* of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There is none to be had on those specific issues of the blockade and settlements, just as there is none to be had on Hamas’ rocket attacks into civilian areas, which have likewise been condemned.

    And really, ditch the “David and Solomon” rhetoric – it smacks of the pulpit.

    I’d also be interested in the specifics of just why you use the pronoun “we” and refer to “our land’. You’re a secular suburban kid from a multi-generational American family – how are you part of the “we”?

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