- Published 02:35 13.10.10
Don’t heed the cries of distress
By Raphael Israeli
An argument has broken out in our country over the necessity for, and benefits of, the amendment to the Citizenship Law, according to which anyone who becomes a citizen – except those who are granted citizenship under the Law of Return – will be required to take an oath of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state. (There is no disagreement over swearing allegiance to democracy. )
The first to raise their distressed voices and express their anxiety over Israeli democracy were Israeli Arabs, or as they call themselves, the Palestinian citizens of Israel. To hear their protests, one would think that they had invented democracy and now were trying to teach the Israelis, who are instituting "fascism" and "destroying democracy." Quite a few Israelis, real as well as bogus liberals, support these pointless claims.
The Arabs making those claims certainly know that all the countries of the Middle East stress their Arab nationalism (even without mentioning democracy as part of their identity ) without batting an eyelid, but they have no words of criticism for the acclaimed regimes in those countries where all the Jews left because of persecution. It is interesting that thousands of Arabs from Jordan and Sudan come here to request political asylum in our repressive country, but no one is in a hurry to seek refuge in Syria or Libya.
But these are mere trifles. The major part of the struggle is taking place on the basic diplomatic level, but it is being ignored by those on all sides who oppose the amendment. Paragraph 20 of the Palestinian National Charter, which has never been amended or annulled, states that the Jews are not a nation and therefore are not entitled to a state. There is a reason why the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas, who denies the Holocaust, refuses to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. There is a reason that all the leaders of the Israeli Arabs, who also serve as members of the Knesset, demand the fulfillment of the right of return. They know that if this takes place, the majority of Israel’s citizens will become Arabs or Palestinians, and in this way the State of Israel will come to an end – that state whose democracy they supposedly want to defend.
Therefore the demand to recognize the state as Jewish is no whim, but the fruit of deep thought on the part of those who see the future of the state as their guiding light. Had the wise men of Oslo demanded that in return for Israel’s recognition of the Palestinian right to self-determination, they recognize a similar right for the Jewish people, then the entire world would have supported the mutuality implied by this. And if, in return for our recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization as the Palestinians’ national liberation movement, we had demanded that they recognize Zionism as the parallel movement of the Jewish people, then all the problems we are trying to correct now would have automatically been resolved.
The notorious charter would also have stopped posing a problem because, contrary to comments by Israeli leaders who have either never read it or never understood it, the charter did not, and still does not, contain anything against Israel – but it is very much against Zionism, which the Palestinians want to totally uproot and which serves them as a kind of platform on which they can pile everything indecent and insulting in their rich storehouse of curses.
At long last, we are filling in the cracks left by the ineffective Oslo Accords. So don’t be alarmed by either the energetic protests of the Palestinians or the cries of distress of the liberals among us. Let this be so, as long as the amendment goes through.
The writer is a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.