Saturday, April 18, 2009

...And We're Back to 1990

Bibi Netanyahu says no negotiations without recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinian leaders of all stripes say absolutely not. Well, in so many words -- words like: "This demand illustrates the racist nature of Israel". And
"No Palestinian leader can ever accept this demand even if the whole world recognizes Israel as a Jewish state," [Palestinian adviser] Omar al-Ghul stressed. "The state of Israel belongs to all its citizens, the Palestinians owners of the land and the Jews living there."

Subtle rhetoric on that one. And:
"Netanyahu wants to replace the Palestinian kaffiyeh with a Jewish kippa," [Hafez] Barghouti said. "This is an irrational and absurd request. No country in the world has ever demanded that it be recognized on the basis of its religion and not political entity."

And finally, Hamas jumps in by saying that accepting the demand was tantamount to legitimizing the "radical terrorist Zionist entity."

So, basically, we're back where we started. The Israeli government won't recognize a Palestinian state. The Palestinian government won't recognize a Jewish state.

Fantabulous. Well, time for more fruitless killing each other.


Anonymous said...

It's hard to accept negotiation with someone who won't acknowledge your validity. It's also hard to be accept someone not negotiating for peace. I think all that's left to say is, "sigh."

And, I just noticed my word verification is 'dersh,' obviously short for Dershowitz. That's gotta mean something, I just don't know what.

Jenny said...

I agree, why should Palestine accept Israel as a seperate Jewish state? They should include Palestines in the state as well.

David Schraub said...

Syria, officially known as "The Syrian Arab Republic."

Jordan, officially "The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan"

Egypt, officially "The Arab Republic of Egypt"

France, officially, "The French Republic"

Italy, officially, "The Italian Republic"

Iran, officially, "The Islamic Republic of Iran"

Afghanistan, officially, "The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan."

Pakistan, officially, "The Islamic Republic of Pakistan."

Mauritania, officially, "The Islamic Republic of Mauritania."

....But "The Jewish state of Israel"? Unacceptable! Racist! Impermissible! Worthy of sacrificing peace itself upon the alter of countless Israeli and Palestinian lives.

This double standard isn't remotely anti-Semitic -- no sirree.

PG said...

I think your point works best with the various "Islamic Republics"; French or Italian or Arab is a culture but not a religion and not invested with much specific content. Jews, for example, can be French or Italian or even Arab; they can't be Islamic.

Also, one could argue that for the Palestinians' purposes, even the Islamic Republics are less Islamic than the Jewish state is Jewish, becaus so far as I know, none of them have a "right of return" in which all Muslims are entitled to move to the country and acquire citizenship. Israel is construed as a Jewish homeland, not just as "hey, it's mostly Jews around here and we're going to have laws heavily inflected by our shared religion."

David Schraub said...

PG: A Jew can be Arab, but a (say) Latina can't be Arab. The Islamic Republic of Iran is closed to me (under the view being interrogated) because I'm not Muslim. The Syrian Arab Republic is closed to me because I'm not Arab. Both are defining the state as being for X group of people. If anything, the religious definition is weaker because I can convert, whereas I can never become Arab.

Similarly, one could note that Iran's practice is more exclusivist than Israel's because it is not open to all Muslims, making it essentially "The Persian Muslim State of Iran". Israel's relative inclusivity has been used against it before, but I still don't buy that it's a valid critique. [this obviously doesn't even get into the fact that Israel's legal structure is significantly more pluralist towards non-Jews than, say, Afghanistan's is towards non-Muslims]

PG said...


I'm not sure how you're defining what it means to be Arab and why it's in a different ballpark than what it means to be French or Italian (as you didn't posit that it's impossible for a Latina to be French or Italian). The Arab League defined Arab linguistically, as "a person whose language is Arabic, who lives in an Arabic speaking country, who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic speaking peoples." Learn Arabic, move to an Arabic speaking country and you too can be Arab, apparently.

I'm also puzzled as to why you claim that Iran is actually not just "The Islamic Republic of Iran" but really "The Islamic Persian Republic of Iran."

David Schraub said...

Well, linguistically and politically, if we're to take that last clause seriously. But the point is that at the very least, these identities implicate ethnicity (French and Italian might too -- I'm not sure the degree to which they define "Italian" to mean "someone who lives in Italy" versus "someone who is ethnically Italian").

The point about the Persian Muslim state of Iran is that, as you say, Iran doesn't see itself as a state "for Muslims". It's more narrow in scope -- it's really for Muslims who are from the areas roughly corresponding to Iran's geography, namely, Persia. Iran doesn't hold itself out to be a state for Muslims from Sudan. It holds itself out to be an Islamic state for people from Persia.

PG said...

But identities that implicate ethnicity as measured by language seem a lot less restrictive than ones that measure it by religion, particularly as converts to Judaism, while eligible for the right of return, aren't counted as Jews under Israeli family law and therefore have to get married outside the country. One doesn't have to prove ancestral Persian-ness in Iran or Muslim-ness in Afghanistan in order to get married there. One certainly doesn't have to prove Arab-ness to marry in Egypt, as I have an acquaintance who is an American-born and -bred white girl with no connectio to Egypt until she fell in love with an Egyptian immigrant to the U.S. She went to his homeland for their wedding and so far as I know was entirely eligible to be married in a Muslim ceremony.

I'm not arguing that Israel's choices in these matters are illegitimate; I'm just saying that it's the "Jewish state" in a way that Italy is not the Italian Republic, nor even Pakistan, land of the pure, an Islamic Republic. It is in certain respects an original project.

Wrt Iran, I'm getting very confused. I don't think Iran holds itself out as being particularly for Persians; it was called Persia until the 20th century, but today ethnic Persians are just over half the population. So far as I know, the government doesn't officially differentiate people based on ethnicity. Persians from Central Asia aren't particularly welcomed as immigrants to Iran.

David Schraub said...

There are obviously differences between the Israeli model and the surrounding states, some which cut in its favor and some which cut against it (some of the latter of which you know I'm vociferious in my desire for change). The point is that if you only focus on spinning the Israeli model so as to emphasize the more restrictive elements and de-emphasize the less restrictive ones, of course its going to look bad -- but that's not fair comparison.

Jenny said...

Pg hits exactly on my problem with your argument: All those countries allow outsiders from other countries to reside wheras Israel is usually promoted as exclusive to Jewish people

David Schraub said...

I'm 99.5% confident that PG finds your views as repellent as I do. Israel is not exclusive to the Jewish people and never has maintained itself as such. I would have hoped you'd have learned by now to stop taking so much stock in your own ignorant presumptions, but alas, once again my dreams are dashed.

I don't know how many people are aching to move to Syria, but my suspicion is that their immigration procedures are probably if anything more restrictive (particularly if they require that a would-be resident be "in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic speaking peoples"). Meanwhile, Jews are still fleeing due to violent attacks in some Arab countries, and Jordan reportedly still prohibits Jews from owning property. Eye on the ball, people.

PG said...


I agree that Israel is engaged in a different project as a nation than the nations that David presented as analogous are. However, I disagree with what seems to be your belief that Israel's project is inferior to those of other nations. My own perspective on this is that given the history of Jews' treatment in other nations, it is imperative that they have a homeland, in a way that is not true of any other people I can think of. (The Kurds' history of getting screwed over, albeit not as awful as the Jews', makes me somewhat sympathetic to their aspirations for nationhood, and I've never heard the level of vitriol turned on their desire for a homeland that's regularly used toward Israel... except by the governments out of whose nations a Kurdistan would be carved, and I guess preserving the current borders of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria isn't as picturesque a cause for Western leftists.)