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Recently there's been a lot of talk about whether Israel should be a Jewish religious state, a Jewish and democratic state, a Jewish Zionist state, or a plain old everyday state for everyone who wants to be a citizen.
For example, Israeli Member of Knesset, Mohammed Barakeh (Hadash), said in the Knesset recently, that although he swore loyalty to Israel when he took his oath as an MK, he is not loyal to a Zionist Jewish state. "I admit here that I am not loyal to a state that is Zionist and Jewish. The state must serve all its citizens and not have its citizens worship this gold calf," Barakheh said.
What golden calf?
Israel as a Jewish State, was created by its founders (with UN and world-wide sanction after the Holocaust), for the purpose of righting the historical wrongs done to the Jewish people (occupation of Judea, followed by forced expulsion from their homeland by the Romans and Byzantines, and later the Arabs and Ottoman Turks), through affirmative action.
What Barakeh said isn't particularly new, he's just part of a long line of seditious Arab MKs, who have publicly admitted to being disloyal, while enjoying their personal freedom in Israel (unlike in Arab states). Barakeh, and others like him (such as Azmi Bishara, MK for the Balad Party, who gave succor to Hizbollah while visiting the enemy state of Syria, with whom Israel is still in a state of war), constantly flaunt their Knesset membership to undermine the Jewish State. Yet they have never been stripped of their position, tried for treason and executed.
According to a recent study conducted by Prof. Sami Smooha from the Jewish-Arab Center at the University of Haifa, most Israeli Arabs accept Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, but reject the description of it as a Zionist state. About 70 percent of the Arabs agreed with the statement that, "Israel, within the Green Line, has the right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state in which Jews and Arabs coexist." But the vast majority (72%) of Israeli Arabs believe that, "Israel as a Zionist state, in which Jews and Arabs live together, is racist," and reject all of the state's Zionist goals. Only 13.8 percent agree to the concept of Israel as a Zionist state.
And what is it that Israeli Arabs reject?
According to Prof. Smooha, Israeli Arabs differentiate between Israel's Jewish character and its Zionist goals. Israeli Arabs believe that a Jewish state is a state in which most of the citizens are Jewish, whereas a Zionist state is a state for the Jewish People from around the world.
"For Zionists, one of the goals Israel should set [for] itself is maintaining its Jewish majority at all costs," says Smooha. "That is a Zionist goal, and includes settlement in the Jewish sense [establishing new Jewish communities - ANP] and the ingathering of exiles [promoting Aliyah, Jewish immigration to Israel - ANP] by means of the Law of Return. But the Arabs are not willing to accept this situation in perpetuity."
That means Israeli Arabs want to close down the gates of Aliyah, so as to preclude Jews permanently being the majority in their own country. "But the Arabs are not willing to accept this situation in perpetuity." They aspire to become the majority (Arab birth rates are higher), and change Israel into an Arab state.
The Israeli Arabs' concept of a Jewish and democratic state means a state for all its citizens, rejecting Jewish affirmative action. They don't want Israel to be a homeland for the Jewish People, which is an outright denial of Jewish history.
The survey also found that most of Israel's Jewish population want its Arab citizens to accept Israel as a Zionist state, as it is accepted by the international community. According to the survey, 75 percent of the Jews agreed with the statement, "Israeli Arabs have the right to live here as equal citizens with full rights," as individuals.
According to Smooha, Jews in Israel believe that the Israeli Arabs' right to be full and equal citizens of Israel, are conditional on them renouncing any national aspirations of their own (for an Arab state - Palestine - to replace Israel). Israeli Arabs should recognize the Jewish People's exclusive national rights in Israel. Some 80 percent of the Jewish respondents in the study said that, "An Israeli Arab who defines himself as 'a Palestinian Arab in Israel' cannot be loyal to the state and its laws."
There you have it, a basic conflict of views.
Most Israeli Jews want Israel to be the National Homeland (i.e. state) for the Jewish People, and to work to help Jews move back home, build new communities (i.e. settle the land), and restore the Jewish People's historic national rights that were violently taken from them through occupation and exile.
Israel's Arab citizens reject these goals.
Whether you're a religious person and you see it as the G-D of Israel's unfolding redemptive process being implemented today, as promised in the Bible; or as the righting of a historical wrong done to a persecuted people; it's not racist, Israel is a Jewish Affirmative Action State.
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst and consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko
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