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Why I oppose recognizing Israel as a Jewish state

A country can, at least in theory, be ‘Israeli and democratic.’ It cannot and will never be ‘Jewish and democratic.’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu introduced the demand for the Palestinian to recognize Israel “as a Jewish State” (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Early into his second term as prime minister, as he was presenting his conditions for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a new demand for any final status agreement, one which was absent from every previous round of talks, both formal and informal. Unlike his predecessors, Netanyahu wasn’t satisfied with Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel, something the PLO did in 1988, and once again as part of the Oslo Accords. He wants them to recognize it as a Jewish state.

Like many of Netanyahu’s policies, this last step was treated by many as another trick designed to prevent the diplomatic process ever reaching a conclusion; and the suspicion wasn’t unfounded. In the past, Netanyahu was caught on camera boasting to settlers about his success in finding loopholes in the Oslo Accords and using them to derail the process. The demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state could have been another carefully planted mine bound to detonate if a serious prospect of a two-state solution were to ever appear.

However, even if Netanyahu’s demand was genuine and not part of his (non)negotiation strategy, it should be opposed – not just by the Palestinians but also by Israelis. Because a “Jewish” state – as opposed to a state whose culture is Jewish or is “a national homeland” for Jews – will always be a racist, discriminatory state.

Most mainstream Zionists would argue that “a Jewish State” is no different than a German state or an Italian state, or any similar nation-state whose identity is not based on the melting pot of an immigrant society (like the America model).

The citizenship model in those countries is based on blood-relations within a well-defined community; occasionally, they also carry with them some religious symbolism, like a cross or a crescent. Why shouldn’t the Jews – arguably one of the oldest, most persecuted nations on earth – enjoy their own nation-state too?

But this argument is only half true: modern-day nationalities, especially post-World War II, have an inclusive dimension to them. A person might not be of German origin, but once he assumes German (or Italian or British) citizenship, he or she becomes German (or Italian or British) for all intents and purposes. They enjoy both the same legal rights and symbolic status as every other citizen, no matter how far back in the nation’s history his family lineage goes.

In other words, the state’s implementation of the term German is broad and inclusive, even if the historic German nationality remains exclusive. A person can be German but he or she can also be Jewish and German or Muslim and German or Turkish and German.

Jewish identity cannot and does not wish to be inclusive (in my mind, that’s part of the beauty of Judaism – that it never tried to convert the non-believers). A state that sees itself as “a Jewish State” is inherently an exclusive state, because a person cannot become Palestinian-Jewish or Muslim-Jewish.

Almost 25 percent of Israeli citizens are not Jews. That’s way more than blacks or Latinos in America. If Israel is a Jewish State, that means that every fourth person cannot – ever – assign themselves or be assigned the state’s core identity. He or she will probably be discriminated against both formally and in practice, but more importantly, this person will be deprived of the symbolic meaning of citizenship in the nation-state model.

The fact that the Palestinians are an indigenous minority only makes things more grotesque. Imagine, for example, if the Basques were to be excluded from Spanish nationality while still remaining residents of Spain, or if Native Americans were not called – or didn’t enjoy the full rights that come with being – America; or if American was to be recognized as “a white state”, but blacks could still be citizens. And so on.

Does that mean Israel must be an inherently racist, exclusive state? Not at all. That’s why Israeli identity was invented. Unlike “Jewish,’’ Israeli identity could, in theory, be inclusive. A person can be a Palestinian-Israeli or a Muslim-Israeli. Whether they would want to is a different story, but the option of inclusion exists.

In fact, it’s possible to imagine an Israeli identity that is indifferent to questions of ethnicity or religion (to be sure, this is not the case now): a country that has many Jews in it and a dominant Jewish culture, but a country to which non-Jews belong in the same way Jews do.

There is no such thing as “a Jewish and democratic” state; there never was and there never will be, unless you want to redefine what citizenship in a modern-day democracy means. But there could be an Israeli and democratic state, at least in theory (*).

I would like to live in a state that defines all its citizens on equal terms. Politically, it means that I support the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel (if and when a two-state model is discussed; a bi-national model requires different definitions). But I don’t want any country or institution to recognize it as a “Jewish state.” Israel can be a state whose culture is Jewish or the national home for Jews, but it cannot and should not be a state just for Jews.


[*] These days, the notion of an inclusive, democratic Israeli identity is the least popular idea of them all. The Jewish mainstream, both in Israel and abroad, has come to view the terms “Israeli,” “Zionist” and “Jewish” as overlapping, so the the idea that Palestinians are not really full members of the nation-state is very natural for them; in their eyes, an anti- or non-Zionist is not really a Jew or an Israeli, and so on. Palestinian and international intellectuals also reject the term “Israeli” for their own reasons; some of them even avoid using the word. I will write more about the rejection of Israeli identity by the Right and the Left alike in one of my next pieces.

A ‘truly’ Jewish democracy: On the ideology of Likud’s Moshe Feiglin
‘A Jewish and Democratic state is a zombie idea’ 
‘Religion and politics’ in Israel: The mythology of Jewish nationalism 

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    1. XYZ

      As someone who supports the creation of a Palestinian state, whose already existing constitution states that it will be an “Arab” state, with a special, favored role for Islam, thus automatically discriminating against all non-Arab and non-Muslim citizens, why should you object to Israel defining itself as a “Jewish” state?

      Reply to Comment
      • So it won’t be democratic as well.

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          The PA is already not democratic. Which, by the way, is exactly how Israel likes it.

          Reply to Comment
      • Since my neighbor beats his children, I should enjoy the same right. As you consistently disdain Arab States, I cannot see why you appeal to them to construct your ideal Israel.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Benjy

      Great post, Noam.
      I would like to add that Jews, both in Israel and abroad, should also be against defining Israel as a Jewish state. Seeing as how the state defines Judaism in a very narrow way, a seperation of synagogue and state would strengthen the more enlightened forms of Judaism, such as my own Reform Judaism.

      Reply to Comment
    3. I respectfully, yet strongly, disagree. Although Israel today cultivates significant strands of xenophobia, a “Jewish State” is not, by definition, exclusive.

      The dichotomy presented here between the “inclusive” civic nationalism of Germany and the “exclusive” ethnic nationalism of Israel is a false one.

      Some inconvenient facts:
      (1)Back when Germany was a fledgling Prussian Empire in the late 19th century, the country’s nationalism excluded Catholics and Social Democrats.
      (2) We all know what happened when that nationalism evolved toward fascism in the early 20th century.
      (3) And today, one need only ask Germany’s many migrant workers (who have lived in the country for decades without citizenship) or Arab immigrants to realize that the country is hardly entirely inclusive.

      Germany is not inherently MORE inclusive than a theoretical Jewish State of Israel – it is DIFFERENTLY inclusive. National identity does not necessarily prescribe social policy. Countries with allegedly inclusive national identity (i.e. USA, Germany, India, Post-Apartheid South Africa) can harbor repressively exclusive social policy towards “outsiders.” Likewise, countries with allegedly exclusive national identity can espouse a benevolent social policy to integrate and accept non-Jews.

      Therefore, one can imagine a future Jewish State of Israel wherein its Jewish-national identity does not oppose – and in fact, commands – that the country treat Others in its midst as equals regardless of whether they are Jewish.

      Reply to Comment
      • [same comment I posted in your FB page]:

        The fact the Germany in the past was exclusive only proves my point (see what happened there). Now they are inclusive (if not always in practice, but this is common and we are talking principle here). What Israel is trying to do is like the US defining itself “as a white state” but allowing blacks to be citizens. Yes, it happened, but we passed the point where this is considered democracy, at least in the West. And if your definition of democracy is broad enough to include such models, than my political project is to narrow it.

        Plus what reason do we have to reject the “Israeli and democratic” model beside a desire to exclude the Palestinians?

        Reply to Comment
      • As to your 1: And indeed, back then it wasn’t a true democracy either.

        As to your 2: Strawman. Utter straw-man in fact. When did Germany become monstrous? When it turned its back on inclusiveness and tolerance for the presence of the “other” and defined itself on purpose so belonging to only *some* of the people of the land. Thank you for proving the point.

        Reply to Comment
      • Gearoid

        I would suggest you search the definition of a “liberal democracy” versus an “illiberal democracy” or “ethnic democracy”.

        A Jewish state cannot be the first one, though it can be the other two. Modern Germany is a liberal democracy, as is the US, and most of Western Europe. Israel, currently is a different kind (the actual definition varies by scholars, I generally agree with Smooha on the ethnic democracy).

        The idea is not repressive social policies against minorities, but how the fundamental character and view of the state is built. An American minority has equal stake in the character of the state, theoretically, and equal claim to being “American”. An Israeli minority does not.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      As you mention, the issue is largely a red herring that Netanyahu has cynically latched onto, knowing full well the Palestinians will reject it out of hand (as any rational person would).

      The problem is that Israelis have latched onto the issue as well, not realizing (or not caring) for some reason how undemocratic it is.

      This negotiation demand by Netanyahu is just a natural extension of all the anti-democratic laws enacted by the knesset in the last few years.

      Reply to Comment
    5. A state that sees itself as “a Jewish State” is inherently an exclusive state

      Exactly right, but also a state that makes itself a target.

      A one-state solution is the way to go – perferably an Israeli republic in which ethnicity, religion will not be relevant in the eyes of the law.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        Just like those Middle East multi-ethnic, multicultural success stories Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. Those are your models, right?

        Reply to Comment
    6. A democratic state would be the best for most I guess. I have been contemplating a Jewish Monarchy along the lines of the prolific Yitzchak Ginsburgh, but the idea that “any trial based on the assumption that Jews and goyim are equal is a total travesty of justice” will not lead to peace with its neighbours, I’m afraid.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Vadim

      My parents have lived in a country in which everyone was equal. My dad’s “salary” was only increased when his boss was out of town, when his Jewish friend wanted to join to Communist Party he was asked to wait – they were not sure what the rules were for Jews and they had to check, my mom only studied medicine because she was good enough to enter the Jewish quota and so on.

      You can claim that was the Soviet Union and no doubt our little experiment will be much better. And I’ll say – you’re no better and your experiment will fail. We have suffered these theoretical ideas and experiments of equality long enough. Let us have one tiny JEWISH state.

      Regardless – Israel is a country that allows people from the US, the former Soviet Union, from Ethiopia and countless Arabic countries, from Germany and Poland and where not to call it their home. You can’t get any more inclusive that this.

      Our only issue is with people that we fight with for over 100 years…

      That’s my reasoning. But the political demand has justification by itself. It is an admission that we belong here as well. It’s an acknowledgement that Israel AS A JEWISH STATE has a right to exist. That the conflict is REALLY over. That’s the only path to normalization, to reconciliation, to real peace.

      Just because Netanyahu demands it doesn’t make it wrong.

      Reply to Comment
      • If over 20% of the citizenry were not Jewish, your case would be much stronger. You risk doing to others what was done to your parents. Recognizing Israel as it sits in the UN (and, yes, I know it is often isolated there) gives you territorial integrity. Nor is there a single definition of “Jewish.” You or your parents came to Israel. Arab citizens of Israel were born there. The State is as much for them as you. Jewish privilege is solely in free ingress into the State.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          My case is strong because of hundreds of years of oppression that took place in dozens of countries. It’s strong because of all the failed attempts to create states without a nationality and ignore the issues for some greater cause. Having a 20% non Jewish population doesn’t make it a bit weaker.

          They live in a Jewish state, a state that is first and foremost for Jews. They have every right to live here, but that is something we all must acknowledge. If they can’t cope with the idea of Israel being a JEWISH state, they are free to migrate.

          I will not sacrifice my only home for some higher theoretical idea that failed again and again when attempted in the real world.

          The UN can’t safeguard anything. Only a fool would rely on it.

          My son was born in Israel. The children of my sister and my wife’s brother were born here as well. This distinction between us immigrants and the Arabs who have supposedly lived here for millions of years is absurd.

          And I’ll say this again – they are citizens and must the same legal rights – but this country is first and foremost for Jews.

          Reply to Comment
    8. Noam, what do you mean by “in my mind, that’s part of the beauty of Judaism – that it never tried to convert the non-believers”.
      There’s the “Fast-Track Conversion for Immigrants”.
      And recently rabbi’s went all the way to Peru to convert the poor…

      Reply to Comment
    9. Richard Witty

      Of course Israel can be jewish and democratic, though I would suggest putting the democratic first.

      Any definition of a state, even land-based citizenship is exclusive by some definition.

      That you have a body, and are more concerned about yourself and your family than someone that you don’t know, could be construed as racist, exclusive.

      What about family of families, extended families? Or, groups of extended families comprising a family-originated nation.

      That’s what Israel as Jewish is. Its a good thing, not a contradiction with democracy.

      The trick is to emphasize the democratic in the balance.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Richard Witty

      Your last phrase “just for Jews” is the misrepresentation.

      It is possible.

      You could argue that it is unnecessary and hinders negotiation.

      But that is very different than impossible or fundamental contradiction or inevitably discrimminatory.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Y.

      I don’t see any difference in ‘oppressiveness’ [per Noam’s definition] between ‘Jewish and democratic’ and ‘Israeli and democratic’. The latter is as ‘opressive’ as the former.
      It is possible in both cases to ‘belong’. One case requires religious conversion [lets use the most restrictive definition for now] and the other national ‘conversion’. The implied assumption is that the latter is no big deal –
      but there are lots of people who would disagree. For example, Native Americans seem to be a lot more pissed about the entity which nigh wiped them out than about Christianity.
      Noam seems to allow for this when he mentions some people won’t choose this newfangled ‘Israeli’ identity. But I don’t see how than any of the argument survives. Either this ‘Israeli and democratic’ state is still not democratic, or whatever way is available to our ‘Israeli’ state to treat the citizens which do not regard as ‘Israeli’ decently enough would be available to our ‘Jewish’ state.
      Even if (and I don’t see how it stands) our theoretical inclusion is satisfactory, this still isn’t enough to excuse – whatever alleged harm is done to people who don’t choose would still be done here – our ‘democratic’ state would be punishing people for their free choice. Maybe it would be possible to strip Israeli so far down it would be meaningless – but then, why have it at all?
      If the intent is really to be more inclusive, I suggest to work with the identities which people have – rather to try to shoehorn them to a Ca’ananite-like ‘Israeli’ identity which almost no one feels belonging to.
      P.S. The demand to recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ predates Nethanyahu – e.g.
      (“Jewish state call alarms Mideast press
      Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s call for the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state as a pre-condition for post-Annapolis peace talks is seen by some Israeli papers and a Jordanian commentator as reasonable and necessary.
      But the demand horrifies the Palestinian daily al-Ayyam and other Arab papers who describe the concept as “racist” and a bar to the return of the Palestinian diaspora.”)

      Reply to Comment
    12. Often when reading Noam, I am struck by how simple and straightforward thought may be, and how brave one has to be to get there.

      There is a sense in which “Jewish” is core to the State of Israel through the law of Return. Germany has such a law as well, albeit more restricted. German return, however, while affecting individuals, cannot really affect the character of the State. Israeli return, such as the post-Soviet immigration which produced a political party enjoying power within ruling coalitions, can. Self defined German migration is at an end; but, say, a massive influx of American Jews into Israel could once again impact the State as a whole.

      As I view the Declaration of Independence as a meta-constitutional document, I do not believe the Law of Return a Knesset indulgence. The Declaration guarantees free ingress of Jews, and the Knesset can do no more than place limits on “Jew” and admissible non-cognate relatives, the former under Court review to conform to the intent of the Declaration. But the Declaration also mandates equal enjoyment and protection of rights for all citizens, explicitly barring racial privilege (this promise as well applied to the ingathering as a whole, which has/had ethnic subgroupings). Free ingress affirms Zionism and Independence; equal protection is essentially post-Zionist. The Declaration was the UN’s price for admission of Israel, requiring a constitution holding the latter as minimal content; the First Constituent Assembly required ingress as well, and the UN agreed. Freely asserted at Independence, the Declaration is a meta-constitution, enshrining both principles as law of the land.

      Free ingress does privilege “Jewishness,” as Arab citizens can expect neither the same admission of distant relatives nor influx of culture or language. But equal protection was explicitly a promise to all citizens at State foundation. Since equal protection is granted to citizens, the State cannot strip individuals of citizenship, for this denies their prior equal protection. Nor can the the State act against a “demographic threat” of some of its citizens (as the Chief Justice, writing for the majority, did in the Citizenship Law Case; that decision should be annulled by the Declaration). Free ingress of Jews biases culture towards “Jewishness,” but cannot predetermine the outcome.

      Israel is an experiment in refuge under equal protection. The US Congress has often denied immigration by State origin and so race; refuge is a moral and political indulgence. Israel cannot deny refuge to Jews. But, with Noam, I believe that a denial of equal protection within Israel leads to State applied racism. Apart from the free ingress which is the promise of refuge and the core reason for the creation of Israel, the State must remain neutral. Whether free ingress and equal protection can abide together is the gamble of Israel’s Declaration, apart from issues of external security. Until both principles are given constitutional status, the gamble and promise of Israel is shunned.

      Reply to Comment
    13. jjj

      Absolute nonsense.

      Nationalities are complex and intertwined, based on historical paths, cultures, identities, religions, etc. Get over it.
      There’s no utopian model of a civilian state in which ethnicity or religion (or gender, unfortunately!) hasn’t been a divider.
      And in light of the clear and present danger, when people in the middle-east call for its destruction, giving up this definition is plain suicidal.
      So, I would give up this utopian crap, which usually leads to a lot more shedding of blood, then the present awkward but peaceful model.
      I am sure in the end no Arab citizen should feel Israel is not a good home for him/her, and where he could fulfill his aspirations as a member citizen.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Laurent Szyster

      Next article in the serie: “Why I support another (or two) Arab and (or) Islamic Palestinian State(s)”.

      You see, everywhere in the world states can be national and democratic.

      But not Jewish ?

      Reply to Comment
      • Aaron Gross

        Laurent, Noam answers your objection in this article. Maybe you should read it.

        Reply to Comment
        • Laurent Szyster

          Noam did not answer my objection in his article.

          To deny that a Druze, an Arab, a Christian or a Muslim can also be Israeli, Noam willfully confuses jewish nationality with israeli citizenship.

          But such confusion seems not to exist in his mind when it comes to Turkish citizen of Germany or Basques peoples in Spain.

          Why ? Why can a person identifying himself as a Turk also be a German citizen without the State being a binational Turko-German state ? How do fiercely autonomous Basques manage to be also full citizens while their state is only Spanish ?

          I am a Jew and a Belgian citizen, which means the subject of his Majesty King Philippe. The national hymn of my state does not refer to anything Jewish. It’s laws and institutions are replete with references to a catholic culture which is not mine. And yet I don’t have a problem with that.

          There are many African, Arabs and Turks too in Belgium and most of them make do with the belgian identity of the state.

          So, why can’t Arabs be citizen of a jewish state ?

          Reply to Comment
          • Nathanael

            Because the racist Israeli government refuses to let Christians, Muslims, atheists, and even Arab Jews, be treated as full citizens. It won’t give them the vote. Among those who have the vote it bans their political parties. It harasses them with the police; it doesn’t recognize their marriages; and so on and so forth.

            Really exactly the way the Nazis treated disfavored minorities before they set up death camps. Israel’s government will be setting up death camps any day now, based on their current behavior.

            Sure, you could have a democratic state with Jewish cultural traditions, but *the state of Israel refuses to do this*.

            Reply to Comment
    15. Aaron Gross

      Good article, but I think the word “democracy” has been so emptied of any meaning it once had, that it’s mostly useless except as a “god-word.”

      I still think that Ahmed Tibi said it best: Israel is a democracy for the Jews, and a Jewish state for the Arabs. Israel is not now (universally) democratic by any substantive definition of the word, but pace Noam, I think it could become a Jewish, democratic state in the future. But that’s just our different definitions of the word “democracy.”

      Even if Noam is 100 percent right here (instead of just 90 percent right), in the real world there’s basically zero constituency for the kind of democratic state he envisions here. Jews don’t want it and Arabs don’t want it. Noam’s vision of a democratic state is probably less popular in Israel-Palestine than it was in Egypt back when the supposed “Facebook” uprising brought in the Muslim Brotherhood. Actively trying to realize such a universally democratic vision in Israel-Palestine, in today’s reality, will most likely have similar results: bloodshed, chaos, and oppression.

      Reply to Comment
      • Carl Too

        Aaron: “Actively trying to realize such a universally democratic vision in Israel-Palestine, in today’s reality, will most likely have similar results: bloodshed, chaos, and oppression.” I’m not sure if you’ve read any other articles on +972 but that’s a fair description of IS/PL at the moment. Maybe a different system might work.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          You may argue about oppression, but when it comes to bloodshed and chaos – our conflict is tiny and insignificant. Look at Egypt, Syria and other places with civil war to understand what bloodshed and chaos really means. So – it’s not a fair description of our region at the moment, even if some articles on +972 try to make it seem so.

          Our neighbors should be grateful their conflict is with us, their brothers would have behaved VERY differently in our place.

          Reply to Comment
      • There is an interm advance of a federated quasi-State in the Bank with full economic rights for all. One may limit voting to within the State, but share a common court in civil common law in matters of economics. This might permit the evolution of society on both sides. But nationalism (absence of Gaza) and Return may make this impossible. If you continue the present path of occupation ultimately civil conflict will place One State before you.

        As to your quote of Tibi, there is no excuse for less than full equal protection of Israeli born Arabs. You have the legal tool in your Declaration of Independence. If you fail that, in the absence of expulsion, you fail democracy in Israel itself.

        I have long thought that dealing with the occupation requires as well, perhaps first, dealing with this failure of equal protection for Arab Israelis. And there is little doubt that the ruling Knesset coalition cares much about that at all.

        I think it a grave mistake to say you are better than your neighbors. You have to better than what you have been.

        Reply to Comment
    16. Mikesailor

      The problem with an exclusivist “Jewish” state is that it is an inherently unworkable entity. Not only is it racist at its core, it enshrines the whine that Jews as a group are not only a religious entity but also somehow an “ethnic” entity owing allegiance only to other Jews rather than sharing common cause with their neighbors. Sharing this faux ethnicity gives them license to discriminate against those not of the tribe. Then they wonder why they are not trusted by many goys and suffer the prejudice known as “antisemitism”. With the arguments stated above, one wonders why the majority of goys are not antisemitic and brings up the question whether the Jews bring such feelings upon themselves. When you consider yourself not bound to your neighbor, and his well-being is unimportant becuas you are a member of this faux ethnicity, wouldn’t the natural result be a distaste for Jews among those labelled Goy who are secretly treated with such contempt and disregard. I find it strange that Vadim, Roichard Witty and other commenters do not have the intellectual honesty to follow the inexorable logic of this exclusivist “Jewish” philosophy and see where it leads. The fault, dear Jews, lies not with our stars but with ourselves.

      Reply to Comment
      • Laurent Szyster

        Yeah, how can one be Jewish ?

        German, Spanish, Belgian, you could understand. But Jewish, naah, that’s a “faux” ethnicity !

        A Federal Republic of Germany, a Spanish or Belgian kingdom, that’s all fine and democratic.

        But a Jewish State that’s “inherently racist” ?

        Go fuck yourself Mike …

        Post Scriptum: it is no wonder that antisemite thinly disguised as “antizionists” like you are attracted by +972 moronic rants like flees by bull shit.

        Reply to Comment
    17. I am a “Diaspora Jew” with deep and strong ties to Israel. I feel very strongly that Israel and the Diaspora each needs the other, in ongoing dialogue and creative tension, for Yahadut to remain viable as we move through our post-modern nightmare towards whatever possible meaning Yemot HaMashiach might have for us down the road. “Jewish and democratic”, “a place for ingathering of Jews”, a place where “Jewish culture” might flourish (pace A.B. Yehoshua et al), all these terms seem less essential — vis a vis our ultimate concerns (our Ultimate Concern) — than keeping the living dialogue alive. Throw out the “Jewish” and substitute “Israeli” and you kill that potential, in my opinion.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Mikesailor

      Poor Laurent. May I suggest you get a life and begin actually thinking before writing the same old indefensible claptrap. German, Spanish etc. have all decided to separate citizenship from ethnicity. Yet you seem to revel in the outmoded and destructive belief that ethnicity should be the basis for citizenship fron which flow political and legal rights. Not only that, you claim a faux ethnicity for Jews, per se, are not an ethnic group.(You cannot convert to an ethnic group). When Jews begin to they begin to act like a separate ethnic group,they engender hostility from their neighbors who rightfully see them as fellow citizens who do not share the ethos of citizenship that ‘we are all sharing in this experiment and owe our fellow citizens our full allegiance and concern”. Instead they are seen as citizens who take from the common good yet owe their allegiance somewhere else.
      An example would be the idea that American Jews should join the IDF rather than the US military. Should an American citizen, who happens not to be Jewish, wonder why Jews refuse to join the US military yet happily join the foreign one? Especially when the US is engaged in hostilities. And when these IDF volunteers insist upon keeping their US citizenship? Do such actions engender ‘antisemitic’ feelings among these gentile citizens who are prosecuted if they join any other military or paramilitary force of another country? If Jews receive special benefits unavailable to other members of society,and place the interests of “Jews” over the interests of their neighbors, then all the whining about antisemtism is doomed to fall upon deaf ears. And you will have nobody to blame but yourselves, although you seem to revel in blaming all others anyway.
      Trying to make Israel a “Jewish” state is insane, for nothing has proven a worse basis for government than religion, unless it is ethnicity.For then you will have to decide if one ‘Jew” is purer or more worthy of basic political and legal rights than another, let alone the “other” in your midst. Grow up,Laurent.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Weinstein Henry

      Would you oppose recognizing Israel as the Hebrew state, Noam?
      It is a genuine question, not a trap.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Shmuel

      Let’s look at the word “Jewish”. It can be one or both of two things:

      1. A people (as in a nation tied by blood lines same as Germans and Italians (to use Noam’s example).

      2. A religion. Same as the Anglican religion (which incidentally is the official state religion of England).

      So why can’t Israel be defined as the nation state of the Jewish people not in a religious sense? Why cououldn’t it still be as democratic as germany?

      I beg to differ with Noam. Yes, you COULD define people as Palestinian Jewish or Muslim Jewish. It might seem strange now but after a bit of usage people would understand it exactly for what it is, Jewish in a national sense not in a religious sense.

      Would there be discrimination? Yes! But only in one area. In immigration policy. The state would have a policy of maintaining the Jewish majority (Jewish by blood line). But if that is undemocratic, then I posit that there are no democracies on this planet of ours. Why? Because I don’t believe that the German people or the Italian people or any other people for that matter would allow an immigration policy that would result in the German or Italian people (by blood line) becoming a minority in their own country.

      Oh and what about having Judaism as the state religion? Would that be discriminatory? Depends how it is implemented. If it is implemented in the same way that Anglicanism is the official religion of England, then it isn’t discriminatory. I have never heard anyone complaining about it regarding England. If it is implemented in the same way that Arabs implement Islam, then yes, it could be discriminatory. The challenge is up to the Jewish state to remain democratic.

      Reply to Comment
    21. It just won't happen

      Perhaps Micronesia and Honolulu will agree with “Moses” who maintained (see the book of Genesis ch. 15)
      “God made a covenant with Abram, saying: Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates”.

      Now, while it is true that 70% of Israeli Jews believe that they are indeed the CHOSEN People”, the world outside the Zionist test-tube does Not.

      Reply to Comment
      • Shmuel

        “Now, while it is true that 70% of Israeli Jews believe that they are indeed the CHOSEN People”, the world outside the Zionist test-tube does Not.”

        The world? The same world that does nothing about the atrocities in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world? What matters is what we the Zionists are able to do. If we F….k up, the Arabs will wipe us out. If we keep the “Zionist Test Tube” going for the next 1000 years, we will be here in spite of the annoyance of enemies like you. The world cares about themselves. Not about Arabs or Jews.

        Oh and 70% of us believe that we are the CHOSEN people to be hated by the likes of you. Other than that, we are no different than the rest of the shmucks on this crazy planet of ours.

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    22. Piotr Berman

      There was a time when England was an Anglican state (there are some vestiges of that even today) AND non-Anglicans had no political rights. Then the political rights were extended to all Protestants, but not Catholics, who included almost all Irish under the English rule. (Eventually even Catholics got equal rights, but the prejudice against “Celtic nationalists” and “poppery” survived much longer).

      Suppose that in 1922 England would agree to grant Irish the independence, but under the condition that the Irish recognize the right of England to be an Anglican state. Wouldn’t it be rather idiotic?

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      • Shmuel

        “Suppose that in 1922 England would agree to grant Irish the independence, but under the condition that the Irish recognize the right of England to be an Anglican state. Wouldn’t it be rather idiotic?”

        Well that depends. If the Irish would have objected to the existence of an Anglican state in 1900, and swore to destroy the Anglican state, not only swore but also actively tried to destroy the Anglican state, then it would NOT be idiotic for the English state to insist that the Irish must recognise the English state to exist before being granted independence.

        But seeing that in 1922, the Irish did not threaten nor tried to destroy the Anglican state, yes it would have been idiotic for the English to demand recognition from the Irish.

        Now, Piotr, have you got some more inappropriate analogies?

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        • Piotr Berman

          I had to provide a hypothetical situation that had some resemblance to the actual history. So first you tell me that it would be perfectly reasonable for the English to demand recognition as an Anglican state that treats millions of Catholics (mostly Irish) as second class citizens, denied equal rights to buy or rent property and many employment opportunities, having state employed priests cursing all Anglicans who dare to rent to Catholics and so on. Fair enough. But how do you conclude that my analogy is incorrect, when you exhibit such sympathy with hypothetical intolerant Anglicans?

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          • Shmuel

            “I had to provide a hypothetical situation that had some resemblance to the actual history.”

            No Piotr, there is no resemblance whatsoever between English/Irish and Israeli/Palestinian history.

            The Irish never sought to destroy the English state and to drive out all the Anglicans from England.

            The Palestinians, historically, have been seeking to destroy Israel and to drive the Jews out. Many of them still do to this day. You deny that??Then look at the Hamas charter.

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          • Shmuel

            “But how do you conclude that my analogy is incorrect, when you exhibit such sympathy with hypothetical intolerant Anglicans?”

            Piotr, I am sad to say this but I think you suffer from comprehension problems.

            Read again what I said. I never said I SYMPATHISE with intolerance. Anglican, Jewish or Arab intolerance for that matter. But the sad thing is that prejudice exists in all human societies.

            On the other hand, institutional discrimination does not exist in some human societies. Do you understand the difference?

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      • Shmuel

        “(Eventually even Catholics got equal rights, but the prejudice against “Celtic nationalists” and “poppery” survived much longer).”

        Prejudice you say? Show me a place where large numbers of human beings live but which is free of prejudice?

        I thought we were talking about whether it is possible for a state to have a state religion in such a way that minorities who have different religions don’t have to face official discrimination.

        I suggested that England is such a place. Modern England, not England in the early 1900s or before. Or are you saying that minority religions in England today face state discrimination?

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    23. Shlomo HaCohen, Hadera, Israel

      As a native Jew to Judea/Palestina (from Peqiin’ today i am living in Hadera) – Jewish state can be democratic if the Arabs will get civil (but not national) rights.
      My family used always to live here since expelled out of Jerusalem at 70AD but even after Christians, Muslims, Druze started to live in our village we used to live in coexistence until outsiders tried to kill us so we used to leave pekiin (if someone does not beliving me he can ask Margalit Zinati – the last native Jew in the village, she is still holding the ancieny Synagogue in the village by herself) so my idea is giving full civil rights to the Arabs BUT! they should remember that they are not living in a Palestinian state and attack Jewish citizens because political issue between PA and Israel like they did in october 2000 events.

      Reply to Comment
      • Nathanael

        Common sense from you! I wish the government of Israel thought like you do.

        Unfortunately the government of Israel is run by racist descendants of Germans, such as Netenyahu: and it refuses to give equal civil rights or voting rights to Arabs in Israel, and also routinely steals land and property from them.

        Reply to Comment
    24. Felixio

      Amazing to see that we keep wondering if that country is a democratic state or not, do we ever wonder if a circle is an square or not????.

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