Berdichevsky thinks we can be one happy family if we give up Zionism

Ted Belman. I think that Berdishevsky is promoting Israel as a state of all its citizens rather than the nation state of the Jews. His arguments are not convincing at all. He espouses the opposite of what Martin Sherman espouses.

By Norman Berdichevsky

Many observers of the Israeli scene are convinced that the extreme views of the elected Arab Knesset members are a true measure of the community’s rejection of any accommodation of living peacefully and harmoniously with the Jewish majority. To do so is a common error in the mistaken and often ignorant understanding of Arab culture and the realities of Middle Eastern politics that characterize almost all of the so called “pundits” and reporters working in the field for major news gathering agencies. This includes the BBC at the top of the list with a huge staff of competent professionals and many years residence in the region. This short-sighted view has been put into dramatic relief by the universal praise accorded to the so called “Arab Spring” as a huge progressive step towards “democracy” and the recipient of extravagant praise from President Obama. He cavalierly abandoned his strongest ally. Egyptian President Husni Mubarak. in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and its leader Muhammad Morsi only to see the Egyptian people rise in defiance against the islamists in what has been called the largest mass political demonstration in history.

How can one explain the apparent massive shift in sympathies and the ignorance of our State Department that continues to repeat the same mistake? Ignorance of Arab culture, language and mentality lie at the bottom of all these turnabouts.

George Deek is a young Christian Arab from Jaffa and Israel’s vice ambassador to Norway who addressed a gathering hosted by the Norwegian group “With Israel for Peace” in Oslo on October 27, 2014. His speech is being characterized as “the best speech an Israeli diplomat ever delivered” and made waves for many people who had no idea that Israel has had several prominent non-Jews in its diplomatic corps.

Most observers who are aware of the unrelenting hostility of Arab Knesset members do not give sufficient recognition to the prevailing opportunism that characterizes the political culture in the region of the Muslim Middle East embracing Arabs, Iranians and Turks. This means there are no real political parties, no free press or independent judiciary—hence the expression “The Arab Street,” i.e., the opinion shaped by the inability to confront the power of intimidation exercised by the prevailing majority and conventional wisdom.

There is an untapped potential among the non-Jews in Israel for participation in an Israeli Nation-state with a Jeish majority in which the minority shares equal rights and responsibilites and is able to cultivate its own sense of individuality much like the Wlesh or Scots in the U.K.

Language has played a central role in the nationalist movements of many peoples who realized that it, together with a common territory is the basis for a nation. In Israel, this realization has been long delayed but is slowly emerging as memories of the Holocaust and Jewish homelessness fades and has been facilitated by two converging forces.

The first is the inability of a modern nation-state such as Israel to continue to rely on an outmoded religious definition of “Who is a Jew”, an intractable religious controversy and one that has already produced enormous frustrations among the hundreds of thousands of new Israeli citizens from Russia and the former USSR who are “not Jewish” according to halacha (Jewish rabbinic law). The second is a growing realization among many “Arabs” in Israel that like the Druze and Circassians, there is no realistic alternative to full integration and equal rights as well as responsibilities.

Israel has long been defined and simply regarded as a “Jewish state”. Its national anthem ha-Tikvah (The Hope) sings of the “Jewish soul” (Nefesh yehudi) yearning to return to “Zion”. Israel’s Arab citizens are between a rock and a hard place and “damned if they do and damned if they don’t.” Another dozen such aphorisms accurately describe the dilemma of non-Jewish citizens, among who are many vociferous critics, some who are nothing less than a disloyal “Fifth Column” and others who cannot express their loyalties and sentiments openly for fear of being targeted by extremists and sympathizers of the two recent uprisings (“intifadas”). Many observers sympathetic to Israel (let alone those who are hostile) commonly despair that any meaningful formula can be found to integrate the Arab minority.

There is also a growing realization that those who have cast stones at Israel live in an even more fragile glass house in which there was never an authentic “Syrian”, or “Iraqi”, “Libyan” “Afghan”, “Palestinian” or even Egyptian nation but only a mosaic of sectarian, religious, tribal communities at each other’s throats and subject to the whim of shifting mafia-like coalitions of families.

Maronites, Druze, Greek Catholics in Lebanon and Syria, Coptic Christians in Egypt, Chaldo-Assyrian Christians and Kurds in Iraq, Armenians, Turcomans, Marsh Arabs, Berbers throughout North Africa, the minority communities of Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia and Sunnis in Iran all currently have less chance of being treated as fully equal members of their homelands than the Israeli Arabs.

Would a Hebrew Republic Necessarily Be “Less Jewish?”
Opposing any separation of the religious character and official state supported Rabbinate in Israel is the frequent and emotional use of the straw man argument made by many politicians who argue that the Palestinians must recognize the “Jewish character” of the State of Israel as a pre-condition of peace negotiations.

Even if a Hebrew Republic were established along the lines of the United States with a clear separation of “church and state” formally expressed in a constitution, it would not sever the deep emotional connection still felt by those in Israel and abroad who would continue to view it as a historic continuation of three thousand years of Jewish history. No other state would continue to view its heroes as those who fought in the Warsaw Uprising, at Masada and the Bar-Kochba Revolt nor emblazon the symbols of the Star of David and Menorah (the seven branched candelabrum) on its institutions and flag. No other state would seek to glorify the armed uprising and heroism of the Haganah , Irgun and Le?i ( a.k.a. The Stern Gang ) against the British mandate that put an end to colonialism.

A nation, said the French philosopher Ernest Renan is two things, “a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbors; It is a daily referendum.”

Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Sudan, Lebanon and Pakistan all failed as nations that broke apart into their original ethnic and confessional fragments. They never could call on a common sense of nationhood. Elsewhere in Europe in countries like England and France, diverse peoples of different tribal origins and speaking mutually unintelligible dialects eventually achieved a higher sense of community by generations of rule under a royal authority that imposed national standards – weights, measures, currency, educational systems, devotion to a flag and the cultivation of a myth that they shared a primordial link with a common past and aspirations for the future.

Sixty years after its founding, Israel has become an outcast among the nations and the Jews a pariah people once again. How did this occur? From “Darling of the Left to Pariah State” (see NER May 2012), subject to continual venomous attacks coming from those who call themselves “liberal” and consider themselves “progressive“ and “morally sensitive,“ i.e. the mainline churches, university faculties clamoring to boycott and “disinvest“ from Israeli owned companies, the media elite and those on the Left side of the political spectrum who equate Israel with apartheid and cannot think outside the box of “identity politics” – i.e. your views must conform to the ethnic, racial, religious, gender or class of your ancestors (see “George Deek and his Rejection of the Arab Culture of Intimidation, Intolerance, and Intransigence,” NER, Dec. 2014,). Of course, they and the media pundits and journalists know nothing and care less about the history of Arab-Jewish relations either during the Mandate or today that departs from the conventional wisdom of confrontation or portrays those responsible for the Arab victims as other Arabs.

Strange, illogical and utterly incomprehensible is the zero-sum “them and us” game played by the media and swallowed mostly whole by the public. In our own Civil War, the facts on the ground contradict the simplistic division of North vs. South. On each side there were significant numbers of dissidents and sympathizers with the “enemy.” Northern “Copperheads” sympathetic to the South launched the 1863 uprising against the draft and continuation of the war in the heart of New York City. This resulted in the use of federal troops to put down what amounted to an uprising; estimates of fatalities run from one thousand to two thousand demonstrators killed. The riots remain the largest civil and racial insurrection in American history, aside from the Civil War itself.

On the other hand, throughout the Border States and in the upland areas of Appalachia and extending throughout Alabama and even Louisiana were yeoman farmers who detested the wealthy planters’ plantations and slave-economy and thus opposed secession. Statistics make this abundantly clear.

In his masterful treatise, The South vs. the South, Kentucky university professor William W. Freehling argues that 450,000 Union troops from the South (200,000 from the Border States of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri; 150,000 African-Americans who fled from the Confederacy and volunteered and 100,000 whites from the Deep South) – helped cost the Confederacy the war.

What does all this have to do with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs? It puts into the starkest relief for anyone intent on pursuing the facts, that the media has shown a persistent and determined bias in portraying one side (the Arabs) as the victims and neglecting any opposing voices among them. If any recognition is given at all to dissidents, it is the media’s infatuation with extremist Jewish ultra-Orthodox sects such as Naturei Karta who are not only anti-Zionist but have openly identified with the PLO and even Hamas in their hatred for what others call “The Jewish State.”

Most recently, the international media continued its policy of highlighting civilian casualties among the Arabs of Gaza used as human shields by Hamas and the violent demonstrations among Arab citizens of Israel (predominantly teenagers) egged on by Arab Knesset members (who have the most to fear in any day of reckoning with the Palestinian terror organizations) demonstrating against their government while totally ignoring the condemnations and many appeals for calm, restraint and a return to normalcy issued by the mayors almost all Israeli Arab and “mixed” towns. Only anti-Israel violence is newsworthy for the media that casually ignores the distinction between “the Palestinian Arabs” in the territories and “Arabs” who have been Israeli citizens since 1948.

What makes the split within Palestinian society qualitatively different from the divisions among Americans at the time of the Revolution or the Civil War is the enormous gap between words and deeds. Although almost always strenuously denied, Arabs agreeing to cooperate with the Zionist program during the British Mandate (1920-48) made rational decisions based on inter-clan rivalries, the prospect of increased economic wellbeing and deeply valued motives of revenge and pride. The frequent official denunciations against ‘traitors’ was a central and persistent feature of the Palestinian Arab press and public meetings where frequent use of extremist religious rhetoric damned all those cooperating with the Jews. Violence, blackmail and threats of beatings, deportation, the denial of religious burial in Muslim cemeteries and even calls for wives to abandon their husbands were all used with only mixed results (see book reviews by Norman Berdichevsky, “Palestine Betrayed (by the Palestinians),” Efraim Karsh and Army of Shadows – “Arab Support for Zionism, 1917-1948,” Hillel Cohen, ).

Prominent Arab personalities with little sense of a nationalist identity saw in the growing strength of the Zionist movement, a potential ally, the traditional recourse to the enemy of my enemy is my friend. This was proven time and time again even during the major riots of 1929 and the general Arab uprising of 1936-1939, as well as in Israel’s war of Independence and the two intifadas that have captured world headlines. It is true today, in the continued inter-Arab violence and competition for power between the Fatah and Hamas movements. In all of these struggles, the number of Arabs killed and wounded by other Arabs, exceeds the count of Jewish victims.

From the very beginning of the Mandate, the Zionist movement sought out Arab leaders willing to cooperate. The Zionist leadership made vain efforts to offer a variety of rewards that would tempt collaborationists, running the gambit from bribery, raising the general standard of living, manipulating inter-clan rivalries and providing convincing arguments that Zionism could not be extirpated and that an accommodation would be a much more farsighted policy than the eternal confrontation offered by the Mufti.

No “moderate” Arab segment of public opinion could openly confront the extremists for whom terror, blackmail and threats rather than elections or policy debates were the established way of dealing with an opposition. The only hope lay rather in convincing extreme Arab nationalist currents that confrontation would ultimately lead to an Arab defeat. Among those Arabs who did openly express opposition to the Mufti, many eventually had to flee the country and felt abandoned by their Jewish allies.

The legacy of almost thirty years of coexistence within the British Mandate left considerable ties between Jews and Arabs in areas that brought tangible benefits to many Arabs in technical and agricultural assistance, trade union activity, transportation, medical treatment and employment. These were not simply jettisoned to satisfy the demands of the power hungry and corrupt leadership of the Palestinian Nationalist movement. As early as July, 1921, no less an authoritative Arab political figure than the mayor of Haifa and head of the traditional Muslim National Association, Hasan Shukri sent a telegram to the British government as a reaction to a Palestinian delegation setting out for London to protest the implementation of the Balfour Declaration:

“We strongly protest against the attitude of the said delegation concerning the Zionist question. We do not consider the Jewish people as an enemy whose wish is to crush us. On the contrary, we consider the Jews as a brotherly people sharing our joys and troubles and helping us in the construction of our common country.”

Shukri’s fate was sealed from that moment and although he enjoyed immense local prestige and authority among the Arab population of Haifa, he was the target of a failed assassination attempt in May 1936 just weeks after a successful one ended the life of his brother-in-law and former mayor of Haifa, Ibraham Bey Khalil, a member of one of the richest families in the city.

Shukri was born in 1876 in Jerusalem to a family in the highest levels of the Ottoman bureaucracy. His family moved to Haifa when he was young, and was appointed mayor in 1914. Throughout his tenure, Shukri displayed a positive and conciliatory attitude toward the Jewish community in the city, and gave them senior posts in the municipality. One of his first decisions after Jews began taking part in local politics was to add Hebrew to the Arabic of the city’s documents in 1927. In 1933 he opened up city tenders to Jewish contractors as well as Arab ones. Shukri and other moderates were the major opposition element among Palestinian notables who feared the Grand Mufti, al-Husseini and were labeled “The Nashshibi faction.” They were continually frustrated by the British policy of supporting the most reactionary and extremist Muslim religious segment of Palestinian society.

January 4, 2015 | 44 Comments »

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  1. The Israeli Declaration of Independence identifies Israel as a “Jewish State”,[3] hence, a state that is influenced by its affinity towards the Jewish heritage and Tradition. These characteristics were codified in the Emblem of Israel, the Flag of Israel, as well as its official institutions such as the Religious Services Ministry, as well as the status of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and in its legislations such as the Law of Return, Israeli nationality law, and the Status of the World Zionist Organization – Jewish Agency for Israel law. While a constitution was to “be adopted … not later than the 1st October 1948”,[3] no such document has been passed by Israel’s legislature.
    Democratic state

    The word “Democratic” is absent throughout the Israeli Declaration of Independence. However, the declarations states the intention to:

    “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex: it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.[3]

    and appeals to:

    “the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions”.[3]

    Basic Law of 1985

    Since no constitution had been passed by 1985, the Supreme Court ruled that the Declaration of Independence document is a guiding principle of Israeli society and its state,[3] the need to legally define the Jewish nature and Democratic character of the State of Israel arose. During the 1984 Knesset elections, religious ideas were brought up that were aimed at canceling the democratic character of Israel, and replacing it with a theocratic Halachic state, and thus in the eleventh Knesset session, the amendment to the Basic Law: the Knesset was passed (to become effective as of the Twelfth Knesset), that stipulated that:

    “7A. A candidates list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset, if the goals or actions of the list, expressly or by implication, include one of the following:

    (1) negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state;

    (2) incitement to racism;

    (3) support for armed struggle by a hostile state or a terrorist organization against the State of Israel.”[4]
    —Basic Law: The Knesset (1985)[4]

    Later usage

    Since then the definition of “a Jewish and Democratic State” was used in additional Basic Laws of Israel: Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty and Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation, that were legislated in 1992, and amended in 1994. These laws specifically states that:

    “1. The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”[5]
    —Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty[5]

    “2. The purpose of this Basic Law if to protect freedom of occupation, in order to establish in a Basic Law the values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”[6]
    —Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation (1994)[6]

  2. @ Bear Klein:
    Please stop inventing words that are not there.
    The Founders were not stupid, if they would have wanted to say democratic and write it down they would have done so.
    BOTTOM LINE is that they did not do so. Nekudah!
    That later on the live rabbit eaters “democrats” slipped in that word through their selected courts means nothing Bear. The post Jewish crowds use creative wording and word hijacking as their SOP.
    The democratic word is not in the signed document declaring Independence. Please stop regurgitating your personal interpretations of unrelated declarations.

  3. @ Bear Klein:

    You are confusing liberal concepts of civil-liberties with democratic systems. They are not all the same and each affords and restricts civil liberties differently.

    Jews for example had more rights and autonomy as Jews in the ghettos of Europe than they do today in Canada and America.

  4. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2: Israel is a democratic state and the Jewish State as I know you are aware.

    The Basic Laws codified the democratic state nature and the declaration of independence did not use the word “democracy” but described it with the all full rights listed for all its citizens (see above post for actual words).

  5. You seem to forget things…:) The Independence papers do not include the word “democratic” Bear.
    Israel is the JEWISH State.

  6. @normanberd
    65% of non-Jews responded that they are proud to be Israelis

    Same poll said about 85% of Jews are proud to be Israelis.

    The state can do many things better but it does not need to change from being the “Zionist State” or the “Jewish Democratic State of Israel”.

    Loyal minorities can be acknowledged and rewarded in ways other than changing the state identity.

  7. A FINAL word from me in this unequal debate where the very title chosen distorted my views – shared by many in Israel about the essence of a Hebrew Republic- Strange and elf-contradictory but many of those who have attacked this idea consider themselves “liberal” and yet cannot think outside the box of “identity politics” so cynically used by president Obama – i.e. your views must conform to the ethnic, racial, religious, gender or class of your ancestors (see “George Deek and his Rejection of the Arab Culture of Intimidation, Intolerance, and Intransigence,” New English Review Dec. 2014,). How did a Christian Arab from Haifa come to represent Israel as Vice-Ambassador in Norway. Go on the internet and youtube and you can find numerous biographies of Arab volunteers in the IDF including Bedouin tank commanders, Muslim volunteers in Golani – Israel’s toughest infantry unit. They have often exposed themselves to significant risk from ultra-nationalist or Islamic circles but they do it as matter of conscience -just as many Ultra-Orthodox do because they believe their conscience does not permit them to serve in the armed forces to protect their country. By the way, three non-Jews (Two of them Druze)have also reached the highest diplomatic rank of ambassador representing the country abroad – by referring to their I.D. card ? Among those 100% Jews according to their ID cards and were found guilty of high treason were Yigal Amir, assassin of Prime Minister rabin, General Yosef Baer, a member of the general Staff during the War of Independence and a close associate of Ben-Gurion and a Soviet spy; Aharoq Cohen, a “Sabra” and ultra-Leftist from Kibbutz Mishmar Ha-Emek who spied for Syria, Sammy Baruch, a textile merchant who sold military secrets to several Arab states, wealthy businessman Nahum Manbar who illegally sold chemicals and biological information to Iran. To know who someone is – you need to examine them as individuals – not who their ancestors were. The much maligned FBI head Herbert Hoover was the only member of FDR’s cabinet and intimate circle who objected to deporting Japanese-Americans from the mainland to “relocation camps” violating their civil rights – 99% were loyal americans with no contacts with enemy agents. This very site recently published the recent poll about pride in beng an israeli – 65% of non-Jews responded that they are proud to be Israelis. The Arab Knesset members who peddle extreme anti-Israel rhetoric are cynical opportunists who fear that anything less than a militant anti-israel stance will expose them as targets to the fanatics of Hamas and the PLO, etc.

  8. honeybee Said:

    A signed painting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Much too valuable a reward but I’ll happily accept it.

    Few have had that privileged honor.

    Prison guards ??? Medics ?????

    Got me!!!!! 🙁

  9. @ normanberd:Apparently you did not read my comments.

    I have advocated for a while that all main streams of Judaism should be recognized in Israel as equal. Conversions from reformed and conservative rabbis outside of Israel work for purposes of Aliyah, currently.

    Friendlier Jewish religion works in Israel as has been provided by some of the Zionist Rabbis in the IDF, in contrast to some of the ultra orthodox rabbis.

    We have debated this point in the past on this site with quite some vigor. Many of the prolific commentators do not hold my viewpoint.

    For those minorities who are loyal to the state they should be treated with respect and with rights. All citizens of Israel should have equal civil rights.

    I think however, your proposal to downgrade the Jewish part of the state strikes me as wrong. In fact security requires a Teduat Zehoot (Israeli ID card) that distinguishes who one is.

    Friendly Co-existence with those who are loyal to the state is a good thing. However, closing ones eyes to the fact that their are enemies among us is naive and dangerous. The Arab Knesset members who want to bring down Israel could not get elected if the Arabs did either not agree with them or turn a blind eye to the state of evil they represent.

    I like how the Israeli Declaration of Independence recognizes Israel as a Jewish democratic State with rights for all its citizens. I think both parts need to codified under the basic law or in a future constitution.

  10. I had no choice where we lived but to attend for two years a Primary school operated by Jesuit Order Christians. They spoke the highest level Hebrew. I would not have them as our equal partners in Eretz Israel, ever. Or maybe when the Vatican include operating Synagogues in there.
    Again I demand that Muslims have here the same rights Jews have in Saudi Arabia and most of the rest. No more or not less.
    Obviously the person has only his and his associates of ways agenda to deliver here. He does not read and answers except in the dialectic form of the old USSR, to NONE of the comments that refute his suave attempts to settle extreme Frankist views as the core of a Greek “democracy” copy cat in Eretz Israel.
    I for one am not willing to start eating parts of a live rabbit to prove to Norman the we are democratic. The original Declaration of Statehood proclamation is sufficient to me.
    Clearly Norman and the rav Weiss associates as well as others label themselves “Jews” as long as the rabbit is part of the menu. We will not do that or move to any destination Norman. You obviously moved.
    There you will find plenty of gold fish swallowing, homosexual “marriages”, pagan religious rites to enjoy. But not here.
    This is the Jewish National Home and is going to be Jewish according to our ancestral guidelines.

  11. @ normanberd:

    Jews do not have a common history, a common language,a common culture and not a common land. The only thing that unites a Jew from Uzbekistan and NYC and every other Jew is Judaism not language or a narrow beach front strip of land.

    Jews have a longer history in Europe than in the Land of Israel and when in the Land of Israel those lands were the exact same Lands you and that traitor Halevy would give away to those who are those who either migrated here in the last century from other lands or those who invaded the territory and murdered those who were the indigenous rightful residents the Jews or at best drove them out. The Arabs have no rights except those who conquered and murdered and took our lands in the past eith from us Jews or the other invaders and murderes of Jews the christians.

    Rights? You want us to afford them rights? Ha Ha Ha!!!!
    A people if the could and had the power would off all of us without a second thought or an iota of remorse.

    You seem to be a pie in the sky idealist, a communist in all probability who deserted the land and the people for the galut and pontificate from your ignorant Ivory tower what we should do or not do in our country, where we are doing the heavy lifting so that you and yours might have a place to flee in the future. I wouldn’t take you back not because of your stupid ideas and they are but because you write with malice and quote as authentication sources who have shown their mettle by allowing the mass murder over time of thousands of Jews men women and children on the alter socialist social and political engineering.

    Few of you from arch traitor Peres to your Halevy and finally yourself have ever issued a mea culpa for your collective perfidy and chutzpa for constantly and consistently getting it wrong, resulting in avoidable death and misery to so many Jews here.

    In Hebrew there is an expression that “You leaned nothing and forgot nothing”.

  12. Not one of those responding to the column has apparntly actually read what I wrote or sought to explain why the examples I gave comparing the Welsh and Scots or the Constitution of the Slovak Republic are not relevant, or has responded to any of my arguments but only vented their anger. I several times explained that my book has 16 chapters that are an expression of love for the Hebrew language and the generations of pioneers who lovingly created it. The column labeled derisively ….Berdichevsky thinks we can all be one happy family without zionism prejudiced the debate. It is clear that the additional respondents to this column have descended to the silly and vulgar. No one want to acknowledge that there are any loyal Arabs or disloyal Jews in Israel’s history (Six were convidted of high treason) or that individuals should be judged on their merit. Anyone looking at my record at New English Review where my 60 plus essays – most of them vigorously defending Israel and or criticizing vehemently the anti-Israel policies of Obama and the U.S. State department – might believe they were written by another Norman Berdichevsky. They were not. As regards the ultra-Orthodox, let me only cite ….the former head of the Mosad Efraim Halevy, 78, served as head of Israeli Mossad under three prime ministers and negotiated the peace treaty with late King Hussein of Jordan in 1994. Yet, even such a pillar of the Israeli defense establishment and spokesman for the official Zionist ideology of the State proclaiming it as the “Homeland of the Jewish People”, has publicly noted with dismay how Jewish Orthodoxy has moved to the extremes in Israel and speculates that with the continued growth of non-Zionist Orthodox communities, Zionists could become a minority in Israel even without the Arabs.

    Halevy condemned religious extremism in the Israel Defense Forces warning that Israel’s actual existential danger comes from within and is more threatening than Iran’s nuclear program. He recounted his own experience in England growing up in a religious home and as a member of the religious Zionist movement Bnei-Akiva. He spoke at a military academy meeting commemorating fallen soldiers and said….
    We have today a situation in Israel in which 100s of 1000s of Israelis do not have a personal status in the country. They are not recognized technically as Jews… When they want to marry, they have no way to marry and have to go outside the country. Their Jewish identity is not recognized by the state. These are very serious problems, because in the end this could be a major split inside Israeli society. Which I have said in the past… I think this is a greater threat to Israel than the Iranian nuclear threat.”

    These statements are a measure of how far apart and divided “Jews” are in Israel regarding the nature of a “Jewish state”. For many Hareidim, Yiddish continues to be their habitual language and “elders” in the community continually admonish their children not to use Ivrit, a really hopeless task when, even in ultra-Orthodox residential quarters such as Mea Shearim or Bnei-Brak, it is constantly heard on the street and is the medium exerting pressure towards a cultural uniformity whereas in America, Britain or France, the Hareidim can more easily shut out modernity by associating it with the “goyim” through their languages – English or French.

    The Prospect
    Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of Israel’s Jewish population, both observant and secular, love and honor the Hebrew language, both as an essential ingredient of their faith, as the national language as well as their mother tongue. A future Hebrew Republic based on language and territory in addition to the heritage of Jewish longing for an independent existence as a nation, and a state with equal rights and obligations for all citizens is the only credible future framework for a political solution in harmony with the accepted views of democratic states. those who do not accept these principles should move elsewhere – to Syria, or Williamsburg

  13. honeybee Said:

    You passed the challenge.

    🙂 Goodie what do I win?

    honeybee Said:

    Drop your pants, horns you know.

    Never in public in front of everybody… Few have had that privileged honor. 😉

  14. yamit82 Said:

    Raison d’etre or raison d’art:

    You passed the challenge.

    yamit82 Said:

    Go ahead; tell us what do you suggest is a better criteria and definition.

    Drop your pants, horns you know.

  15. normanberd Said:

    I argue in my book solely for a state in which halacha is no longer used as a determining factor to decide “who is a jew”.

    Go ahead; tell us what do you suggest is a better criteria and definition.

  16. honeybee Said:

    raison d’art.

    Raison d’etre or raison d’art:

    either of them would negate our purpose, our collective national and religious purpose.

  17. You are correct the actual word “democracy” is not found. The words found for my beliefs are the core of democracy:

    complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions;

  18. Bear Klein Said:

    I have NO problem with Orthodoxy I was raised in an Orthdox Schul. I just do not believe they should be the exclusive in marriages and conversion and divorces.

    Where is the word or term democracy or democratic in your excerpt. It was added only some 20 years ago by the extreme left into law here to counter the Jewishness of the country which btw ain’t all that much today.

    I want to see you defend your position like present a convincing argument not emotional and biased one.

  19. @ yamit82: One I know you disagree with me on religion. We will need to agree to disagree about that.

    Precisely what the declaration of Indepence said is below:

    THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nation

    I have NO problem with Orthodoxy I was raised in an Orthdox Schul. I just do not believe they should be the exclusive in marriages and conversion and divorces.

  20. Bear Klein Said:

    I like the Declaration of Independence which recognizes Israel as a Jewish democratic State with rights for all its citizens. I think both parts need to codified under the basic law or in a future constitution.

    You are wrong in most of your opinions.

    The declaration of independence makes no reference to democratic or democracy. Jewish yes but not democratic.

    No Arabs no problem, it goes away.

    Bring enough American Jews to Israel then the problem as you see it with orthodoxy becomes mute.

    Makes no sense to change the traditional fabric of Judaism and the State and no immigrants from America come.

    Chicken and egg conundrum. First come then change if you get the numbers and the power to do it but never before.

  21. @ normanberd:I have advocated for a while that all main streams of Judaism should be recognized in Israel as equal. Conversions from reformed and conservative rabbis outside of Israel work for purposes of Aliyah, currently.

    Friendlier Jewish religion works in Israel as has been provided by some of the Zionist Rabbis in the IDF, in contrast to some of the ultra orthodox rabbis.

    We have debated this point in the past on this site with quite some vigor. Many of the prolific commentators do not hold my viewpoint.

    For those minorities who are loyal to the state they should be treated with respect and with rights. All citizens of Israel should have equal civil rights.

    I think however, your proposal to downgrade the Jewish part of the state strikes me as wrong. In fact security requires a Teduat Zehoot (Israeli ID card) that distinguishes who one is.

    Friendly Co-existence with those who are loyal to the state is a good thing. However, closing ones eyes to the fact that their are enemies among us is naive and dangerous. The Arab Knesset members who want to bring down Israel could not get elected if the Arabs did either not agree with them or turn a blind eye to the state of evil they represent.

    I like how the Israeli Declaration of Independence recognizes Israel as a Jewish democratic State with rights for all its citizens. I think both parts need to codified under the basic law or in a future constitution.

  22. normanberd Said:

    Once again let me repeat – Israel will continue to be a Jewish (ethnic) majority state in which minorities – Muslims, Christians, Druze, circassians (and the ultra-Orthodox community) will share equally in rights, responsibilities and the burdens of citizenship

    Your concept of a Jewish State and mine are as different as night and day. A Jew from Ethiopia and Russia are not exactly the same ethnicity or a Jew from Yemen and a Jew from Canada. Nether ethnically not culturally.
    Israel has not yet established a singularly and particularly Jewish Israeli culture, not yet at least.

    Arabs don’t want integration and Jews don’t want to integrate them either so we have essentially a built in cultural apartheid state by [unwritten] agreement. The difference between our form of apartheid is that it’s voluntary, unwritten agreement by all sides. Not only do the Arabs enjoy political and personal civil rights in Israel they have more rights and advantages than do the Jews and have fewer civil and national responsibilities, due to our version of affirmative action they have few responsibilities and demands by the state from them.

    No country in the history of nations can abide more than a 5% minority who are opposed to the core values of the state (Jewish Zionist) and are mostly irredentist in their World and national outlook. You want to create a situation based on your concept of humanism as an ultimate ideal to elevate our current untenable 22% of Arabs to 35-45%…. That would be a guarantee for national suicide. One person one vote is for us an anathema. Democracy is not a suicide pact!!!

    Some historical contexts:

    “One way out given to the Canaanites was to accept Israel’s terms. No autonomy but then no intolerance either…. The second method was to leave…. This idea in itself is not new to Zionism. Israel Zangwill suggested it in 1920, the British put it forward in the Peel Report of 1937 as did Avraham Sharon and Avraham Stern in the ’40s. Official Zionists opposed the plan due to moral hesitations (not a Jewish morality but one influenced by liberal emancipation and in continuation of their naive belief that the Arabs will agree to coexistence if we succeed in convincing them that Zionism is beneficial for them…. If the two foregoing are not acceptable — let it be as it may. There is no fourth solution of ‘autonomy’ in our sovereign area.” (Israel Eldad)

    The only solution is Transfer of both Arabs inside and outside the green line from the sea to the Jordan!!!!!!

  23. @ normanberd:
    Shmuel HaLevi. Married, father of four and grandfather of seven, Jewish, Levite. Decorated soldier “OT Lebanon” with the IDF.
    Retired Senior-Fellow Engineer, US Department of Defense Military Avionics Programs. Invited Consultant to the Israel Ministry of Defense. Professor, Member of College Graduation Boards. Patents holder. Published by the UTA and several International Conferences.

    Could you tell us the names of the countries that by Law and in cases Constitution proclaim their exclusive religious / ethnic identity?
    I’ll give a head start: Argentina. Article II of their Constitution. Remind us what it says.
    Then visit several of the Nordic countries. Could you tell us about their religious identification by law.
    Did I read correctly Lutheran?
    How about Greece? Tell us.
    Notice that I do not mention Islamic countries at all.
    Maybe you can?
    And while at it. review the US Constitution and tell us why the President allocated days to review certain legislation do not include Sundays.
    And the President is sworn in on what?
    I can provide a precise listing if you find difficult to find information.
    ISRAEL was and is a JEWISH Country and the Law will reflect that. Nekudah. Non Jews that are citizens enjoy all the rights Jews enjoy. Non Jews must accept that to become citizens here it is not less difficult than it is to become a citizen in Spain, (take a look), Germany, etc.
    If we wanted to gyrate in neutral we will let you know.

  24. Once again let me repeat – Israel will continue to be a Jewish (ethnic) majority state in which minorities – Muslims, Christians, Druze, circassians (and the ultra-Orthodox community) will share equally in rights, responsibilities and the burdens of citizenship. There is an untapped potential among the non-Jews in Israel for participation in an Israeli Nation-state with a Jewish majority in which the minority shares equal rights and responsibilities and is able to cultivate its own sense of individuality via language, its own school system if they so choose, much like the Welsh or Scots in the U.K; that no internal teudat zehut (ID card) which list “nationality” (except Israeli). Israel will continue to use the Hebrew calendar, honor the Jewish religious holidays on solemn occasions and great Jewish historical events such as the Warsaw uprising and welcome aliya as well as joyfully accept new citizens who are not Jews by religion but identify with the state, its, culture, history and institutions. I personally know several non-Jews whose children and grandchildren live in Israel , are “officially” Jews , speak fluent Hebrew and have converted to Judaism by non-Orthodox rabbis and continue to be refused their pleas for israeli citizenship because they are not recognized as “Jews”. A Hebrew Republic is NOT a binational state or state without an ethnic or historical identity. Just as American Jews may continue to preserve any heritage, religion, with their origins and yet be regarded as equal citizens, so should non-Jews in Israel. Is that difficult to understand?

  25. @ normanberd:
    Thank you for your bio.

    Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (Ph.D. – Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1974) is an author, freelance writer, editor, researcher and lecturer of history and culture for several major cruise lines.

    Formerly a lecturer of Judaic studies at the Universtiy of Central Florida and lecturer at the San Pedro Center, Winter Park, Florida, he is the author of several books and lives in Orlando, Florida

    .

  26. @ Bear Klein:
    Bear klein proposes to write my autobiography. he can go to nberdichevsky.com to find out about me – I hold an Israeli identity card and lived for 12 years in Israel. I am the author of 6 books and over 300 articles – many of them on Jewish subjects, israel, zionism and the Hebrew language. I was selected by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to undertake a translation of the Danish electoral laws into Hebrew (still gathering dust in their archives). The well known translator and journalist who uses the pen name Philologos praised my book on the Hebrew language in a recent issue of the Jewish Daily Forward praised my book Modern Hebrew, the Past and Future of a Revitalized Language as an authoritative and informative source. My article Hebrew, Mother of Languages appeared in the respected Israeli Cultural Quarterly Ariel in all its foreign language editions – Spanish, French, German, Russian and Chinese.

  27. @ normanberd:
    Please can you in a sentence or two say what you want Israel to do?

    Have you ever lived in Israel for a substantial period of time or you are foreigner telling Israelis what to do with their country?

  28. Looking at the whole picture I much rather loose Berdichevsky than Zionism. He can peddle his wares to Burg. He, Burg fits neatly into Berdichevsky’s planned objectives.

  29. @ Ted Belman:
    @ Ted Belman:
    @ Ted Belman:
    @ Ted Belman:
    @ Ted Belman:
    @ Ted Belman:
    During the Mandate (1920-48), the dominant force in the Zionist movement was decidedly secular and aspired to creating a national home or eventual autonomous community/state in which Hebrew would be the national language and devoid of any original religious connotation. This view changed considerably among the elite in the new state after 1948, who began to regard Israel in the “apocalyptic” terms not as a normal nation-state united by territory and language but the Holy Land of all the Jewish people, “A Light unto the Nations”.
    The first vision did not seek to make Israel the nation-state of all Jews but only those who Herzl had predicted would not be able or wish to assimilate. The strong Hebrew national character of the Jews in Palestine was a matter of choice and affiliation either with Herzl’s original Zionist vision (A State of the Jews – i.e. only those who wished to establish it, whatever their motivation) OR that of the exclusivist apocalyptic vision of the leadership in Israel (“A Jewish State”) that seeks to speak for all Jews and believes that they are destined to affiliate with Israel and eventually become its citizens.
    Obviously, the two terms have a different significance for non-Jews who are Israeli citizens. One asks them to regard the state as principally but not exclusively Jewish; i.e. a state of the Jews and others, whereas “The Jewish State” tells them that they cannot truly identify with it.
    The Emergent Goal of a Hebrew Republic
    A Hebrew Republic is an idea based on the efforts of five generations of Zionist pioneers who created an authentic national community and for whom “A Jewish state is not a Judaic state”. For secular Israelis who support the idea of a Hebrew Republic, Jewish identity has been decided in a national sense once and for all and in only one place – in Israel, not Uganda, Argentina, Birobidzhan, affluent American suburbs or ultra-Orthodox Jewish Diaspora neighborhoods.
    A “Republic” has long been associated with full equality as in Switzerland, the ideal model for incorporating peoples of diverse cultures, languages and religions but sharing in common civic ideals and loyalty.
    Keep the Flag – but Change the Anthem
    One modest change that could and should accommodate all Israel’s non-Jewish population would be a change in the national anthem with its obsolete lyrics of the two thousand year old Jewish longing for Zion for which the “Jewish soul is longing”. It grates on the ears of many secular and even some religious Jews as well, particularly those who were born in the country so it is not only the Arabs who feel uncomfortable in singing the lyrics. The anthem is clearly now obsolete.
    Denmark’s and Finland’s Dual Anthems
    Many states have dual anthems. Denmark has one sung on occasions of historical significance in which a naval victory over the Swedes is recalled (Kong Christian stod ved højen mast…King Christian stood by the high mast) and another civic one of a quite different tone (Der er et yndigt land…There is a beautiful country) whose words describe the natural beauty of the landscape.
    The Finnish national anthem has words in both Finnish and Swedish. The latter is sung by Finnish citizens of Swedish origin in the autonomous Åland islands who enjoy special rights of local autonomy, control of migration and serve in Finnish speaking units of the Swedish armed forces. Such a model of distinct majority-minority relations would best serve a future Hebrew Republic.
    Sponsoring a competition for Arabic words to a common anthem and replacing ha-Tikvah (or permitting an alternative anthem) that sings of love for a common homeland would offend no one except the obtuse and obdurate. Israel must, of course, also strive to eliminate some of the major disparities in employment opportunities and municipal services to Arab towns and villages. Even high ranking Israeli Arab officials such as judges and members of the Knesset often remain embarrassed and silent when it is sung.
    Example of Other “Ethnic States” that Ensure Equality before the Law
    For the liberal mindset, Israel is way out of line because the link between religious establishment and state authority is so strong. The proclamation of a Hebrew Republic could follow the example of Slovakia that states in its Constitution …..
    “We the Slovak nation, mindful of the political and cultural heritage of our forebears, and of the centuries of experience from the struggle for national existence and our own statehood, in the sense of the spiritual heritage of Cyril and Methodius and the historical legacy of the great Moravian Empire, proceeding from the natural rights of nations to self-determination, together with members of national minorities and ethnic groups living on the territory of the Slovak Republic, in the interest of lasting peaceful cooperation with other democratic states, seeking the application of the democratic form of government and the guarantees of a free life and the development of spiritual culture and economic prosperity, that is, we the citizens of the Slovak republic, adopt through our representatives the following constitution…”
    There is an initial mention of “We” clearly referencing the Slovak nationality and a second “We” meaning all those who share in Slovak citizenship and live in the territory of the Slovak republic including individuals who are members of national minorities and ethnic groups. Such individuals do not have to be labeled in an internal passport type of document. If these individuals of Hungarian or German, Croat, Gypsy or Jewish descent do not feel secure and equal and cannot accept the terms of such a constitution and citizenship (like a considerable number of Israeli Arabs), they must choose to live somewhere else.
    In comparison with Estonia where the Russian language minority has been subject to special regulations demanding near fluency of the local languages in order to enjoy full political rights, Israel appears more “liberal” but this overlooks several important considerations in which it falls short of being a true Republic. Israel’s Law of Return affords Jews (including immediate family members) from abroad automatic citizenship, not because they are in danger, and not because they have acquired the rudiments of Hebrew and knowledge of Israeli laws.
    Critics
    Critics will immediately cry out…”but Israel is in the Middle East and not Europe”, or “Arab-Jewish relations are burdened with more than a hundred years of intense religious and ethnic conflict and can hardly be compared with peaceful Scandinavia or Switzerland” (whose national anthem may also be sung in all the various official languages) or other small ethnic states of Europe like Hungary and Slovakia. The claim that Arabs and Jews cannot be “integrated” in Israel is made by many on both sides.
    Jews in the Diaspora – No longer A Firm Ally ?
    Several prominent Jews who have served as Foreign Minister or Secretary of State of their countries such as Henry Kissinger and Hector Timmerman of Argentina have taken rigid hard line positions against Israeli interests and have provoked the intense criticism of their fellow Jewish citizens at home. No matter that Israel’s Fundamental Law of Return and ideology as the “Jewish State” regards them as enjoying a legal “right” to automatically acquire Israeli citizenship. Both are undeniably “Jews” and yet loyal to the nation they owe allegiance to and not Israel. This was the normal situation in most of the past 2,000 years of history and has not changed. It is no less true that there are “Arabs” and non-Jews who are Israeli citizens and loyal and patriotically serve their homeland and are ready to defend it with their lives, even if under considerable animosity from family, friends and neighbors.
    At the university level, Judaic studies and Hebrew are in decline. Nationally and locally, Modern Hebrew is a standard offering at approximately 140 U.S. colleges and universities. This includes the Ivy League schools, and almost all of the “Big Ten” but the statistics are not encouraging.
    The situation among the Jewish community with regard to knowledge of Modern Hebrew has become a perennial source of despair. Dozens of Jewish community leaders, academics, Hebrew teachers, rabbis and the parents of students about to choose a foreign language requirement at a college have sought to explain the decline. The majority have come to the conclusion that modern Hebrew is not trendy, that it no longer is a source and sign of ethnic pride, that it is too remote and “foreign” from the usual texts they are accustomed to reading at synagogue services, that it is too linked with Israeli governments whose policies on a host of issues are not in line with the political stance of many American Jews. The currently popular revival of ethnicity has largely encouraged an emotional tie to the Yiddish language and folkways of the grandparents” generation rather than identification with Israel.
    Sociologist Steven Cohen, co-author of the 2007 study Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and their Alienation from Israel, an acknowledged expert in the field, concludes “The apparent linkage between ever increasing alienation among American Jews is a “reflection of deep-seated change in Jewish life, representing a shift away from an emphasis on the collective including the Jewish People, ethnicity and politics – and towards the private – prayer and spirituality. Jewish Intermarriage is a reflection of that shift and a cause.”
    Among the most amazing responses from the study is the high percentage (over half) of respondents under 35 that would not view the destruction of Israel as a personal tragedy! (sic).

  30. Correct me, if I am wrong but the writer of this article of this article does not live in Israel and never has for any extended period. He gives me the impression of a westerner who makes analogies to his history and life experience.

    The issue with this the article it does not really relate the actual world of the middle east and Israel. Some of the minorities do service in the IDF and integrate in the reality of Israel. Some act as enemies and want the destruction of the state.

    Israel is not Canada or the USA or the UK. It is the democratic Jewish Nation and it resides in a sea of Arabs.

    Losing your Zionist identity to appease others or to make Israel something she is not is a formula for the loss of the only Jewish Nation in 2000 years.

    No thanks! Bi-National State No Thanks!

  31. Hotevely is a prominant right winger. She proposes an alternative to the TSS where she supports annexing Area C and giving citizenship to qualified Arabs as follows:

    Phase IV – adopted in legislation the principle of the State of Israel being a Jewish nation-state, which abides equal rights to its citizens. Also, anchoring state symbols – the anthem, holidays Israel and the Law of Return – Basic Laws received a majority of 80 Knesset members, and not be changed but that most.

    Do you have a problem with that?

  32. normanberd Said:

    Israel is a State that was built by Zionism and an identification with jewish heritage but it must function as a state without special privileges.

    What special privileges are you referring to?

    Do you consider the Right of Return for “Jews” one of those special privileges. How about Jewish symbols and Jewish holidays. Are they OK. Or our national anthem.

    The people you sight as loyal citizens have little problem with being loyal to a Jewish state. They may even like it.

    As long as there is no discrimination against them, there is nothing wrong with Israel being the nation state of the Jews.

    I have trouble understanding what you are saying.

    Put another way what do you think Israel is doing wrong that must be changed. Or in one sentence what is your point?

  33. Who are “the people without a country who are always victimized”? watsa46 tries to refute my arguments without any specific facts but simply claims…:there are many examples”?

    Since May 15, 1948, the gates of Israel have stood open for any Jew wishing to settle and receive immediate citizenship including watsa46 and U.S. Secretary of State Henry kissinger and Argentinian Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman – both undeniably Jews who nevertheless acted to oppose vital Israeli interests because they acted against “the jewish state”. Many non-Jews in Israel including the entire Druze and Circassian communities as well as Muslim and Christian individuals have done more than just talk – they have acted to prove their loyalty. It is a commitment that many Jews in the diaspora only claim in words but not deeds. Zionism is not just being sympathetic to Israel.

    In my book Modern hebrew – the Past and Future of a Revitalized Language, I make the point that those individuals whether Arab nationalists or extreme ultra-Orthodox Jews such as Naturei Karta who cannot accept the principles of equal citizenship with both rights and duties should look elsewhere to find a home.

    Israel is a State that was built by Zionism and an identification with jewish heritage but it must function as a state without special privileges. It is a state with a clear majority – not a binational state or a neutral state without any ethnic identity. It is a state in which many non-jews are proud to be Israeli citizens and deserve respect.

    Like the example of those in the border states and among African-Americans as well as poor white farmers in the deep South who hated slavery and rallied to the cause of the Union, fled the Confederacy and served in the Union army, there are always “dissidents” who cannot be judged on the basis of their ancestry but solely on the basis of their acts. One of the saddest chapters of the holocaust is the case on those Jews (more than a handfull) who to save themselves cooperated with the gestapo and provided vital information to uncover the hiding places of Jews who had sought refuge among Christian friends and neighbors. the fact that according to halacha they were “Jews” only makes their behavior more despicable.

    I argue in my book solely for a state in which halacha is no longer used as a determining factor to decide “who is a jew”. TENS OF THOUSANDS of Israeli citizens who have served in the IDF are the children of “mixed marriages” (primarily from the former USSR). They are not recognized as “Jews” on their ID cards and thus have problems if they wish to marry in Israel. This is a blot on the record of Israel as a democratic state. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON why people like George Deek cannot serve their nation – he is an Arab but regards Israel as his home and is loyal to it just as countless Jews in the diaspora are loyal to the states in which they are citizens regardless of whether they are orthodox, conservative, reform or unaffiliated.

  34. This will not eliminate antisemitism but make it even worst. A people without a country is always victimized, demonized and 2nd class, subjected to possible extermination. There are many examples.