Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Visibility for Israel

Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren published an editorial in the New York Times on October 13 titled "An End to Israel's Invisibility". In it, Ambassador Oren plugged the Netanyahu government's new obsession, that everyone needs to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state. It is proposed that this be the basis of a loyalty pledge for all new immigrants to Israel; in this case, Oren echoes Netanyahu's call that the Palestinian Authority acknowledge it before Israel renews--even temporarily--its moratorium on settlements in the Occupied Territories.

Ambassador Oren's argument is fundamentally dishonest in two regards. First, he never mentions the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Palestinian Arabs, generally Muslims or of Muslim descent. To ignore this significant minority in this way is as though the US were to declare itself a White Anglo nation; we'd allow the 20% who are black or Hispanics to remain, but the law would require they be excluded from numerous privileges. Let's enshrine Jim Crow as law and make everyone recognize it! (sarcasm)

Second, while the PA might well be able to acknowledge the obvious fact that Israel is the "national home for the Jewish people", as Oren quotes the 1917 Balfour Declaration--at least that expression does not exclude the native Palestinian Arabs from considering it their home, too--Israel should then make the obverse declaration that the West Bank is not the Jewish people's national home. A clear statement of that fact should make things clearer to the Jewish settlers there who claim to be part of Israel and expect the protection of the state's military. Enough of this "Judea/Samaria" crap.

I originally wanted to write this as a letter to the Editor of the NYT; however, it is impossible to condense this to 150 words, as they require (I did try!). Of course, they never would've published this--even if I were to change "crap" to "nonsense" and take out the sarcasm.

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