"Minority in otherwise-Jewish state" (was: NYTimes: email)

Russell Turpin deafbox@hotmail.com
Tue, 02 Oct 2001 13:50:56 +0000

Paul Prescod writes:
>Palestinians don't want to be a minority in an otherwise-Jewish state.

I wouldn't want to live in a Jewish state, either. But I
wouldn't mind being a minority in a secular state. (Indeed,
if demographic trends continue, I soon will be. Anglos are
due to become a minority in Texas, in the next few years.
And that's fine with me, because even when Texas is
majority hispanic, it will *not* be a Hispanic state the
way Israel is a Jewish state. This will be merely a
demographic fact, not a description of state policy.)

>Now if you were an Israeli, would you feel comfortable thinking your kids 
>or grandkids might live in a mostly-
>Arab state when you are surrounded by mostly-Arab states with abysmal human 
>rights records and a hatred of Jews?

The question is: Are they willing for their kids and
grandkids to live in a secular state, that has a good
human rights record, where the Arab citizens, who might
be a majority or a large minority, also want to maintain
the government as a secular democracy? Given the NYTimes
email that started this thread, I suspect the answer to
*this* question is "no," for a majority of Israelis as
well as a majority of Arabs in Israel. And that is the
problem, because as long as the two groups are
intransigent that the answer is either "Jewish state"
or "Muslim state," the problem will remain.

The western democracies should shift their international
policy to make it clear that those two answers, that
that *kind* of answer, is wrong. Jewish states and
Muslim states have no more place in the 22nd century
than white states or black states.

I find it interesting that most people who live in
western democracies understand that the very notion of
a Muslim state is wrong, and that such states, in the
future, should become secular. Without hesitation, and
also without bias against Islam, I can say that Turkey
has moved in a direction that eventually Iran and Iraq
should move, and that the Muslim rebels in Indonesia
and the Philipines are dangerous movements that we
should oppose. The one group in the west who can't
say these things are those who support Israel AS a
Jewish state. And they are largely blind to the fact
that that support undermines their ability to oppose
in principle one of the most dangerous movements in
the world today. They can say only "we oppose terrorism,"
however that is defined. They are unable to say "we
oppose the reactionary branches of Islam that fight for
Islamic states." And if they do say that, it has little
weight, because they can say it only from the viewpoint
of religion A versus religion B.


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