Loyalty oath not such a bad idea

As usual with Gwynne Dyer’s article Jewish State not Racist just Incredibly Mean-Spirited, he manages to omit crucial facts while slamming Israel.

As usual with Gwynne Dyer’s article Jewish State not Racist just Incredibly Mean-Spirited, he manages to omit crucial facts while slamming Israel. He claims the proposed new loyalty law in Israel that requires non-Jews to pledge allegiance to the state as a Jewish state is racist and mean-spirited.

Is it?

Israel is a tiny place, the size of the distance between Calgary and Edmonton and just a few kilometres across. It sits in the midst of Muslim states — the equivalent famously stated by a U.S. comedian as being a matchbook in the middle of the playing field at a football stadium. There are seven million Israelis, about five million of which are Jews. The balance is a collection of Muslims, Arab Christians, Beduin, Orthodox Christians, etc., with by far the largest group of those being Muslim Arab Israelis. Israeli Arabs make up some 20 per cent of the population.

Many Arab Muslims in Israel identify themselves as Palestinians and their demographic have higher birth rates than most of the Jewish Israeli population. Likewise, some find marriageable partners from Palestinian populations outside of Israel who are then often granted citizenship within Israel.

Maybe you are starting to see why Israel would be interested in such a pledge of loyalty.

There are other reasons of course.

For instance, while Israel has fairly successfully integrated Arab Israelis into all echelons of society — the Druze often serve in high ranking military positions and there are Arab judges, lawyers, doctors, professors — there are also a number of Arab politicians, some of whom have used their soap-box for state destruction.

In recent years, much to the shock and alarm of Israeli citizens, several of these Israeli Arab politicians have made a point of visiting local enemy states or terrorist groups and declaring their solidarity with people who want to destroy Israel! Hamas, Hizbollah, Syria, Libya . . . it’s a long list.

That’s a bit like Taliban Jack going over to Afghanistan to sit in the Taliban trenches like a modern-day Jane Fonda with the Viet Cong, or Michael Ignatieff going to the UN to stage a protest outside against our admission to the security council. What the …? I thought these folks were supposed to be on our side!

In 2006, Azmi Bashara, Jamal Zahalka and Wassel Taha of Israel’s Arab Balad party visited Syria without government permission. Ahmed Tibi used to meet with Arafat all the time.

Azmi Bishara was the first Arab to run for prime minister in 1999; he also happened to help out the Hizbollah with inside information for their 2006 attack on Israel. He’s been wandering around the Middle East, telling the enemy that Israel might strike pre-emptively and handing out other tips on how to crush Israel, meanwhile on the taxpayer’s payroll as a politician.

Nice representative for a country, eh?

Well, he left home for a few days in 2007 and as far as I know he never came back, realizing that maybe he’d gone a bit too far, though he claims it’s because he’d never get a fair trial in Israel. That’s a bit rich.

I am sure if he lived in any neighbouring country and pulled a similar stunt, he wouldn’t get a trial at all. He’d probably get beheaded or tossed into a dark dungeon for the rest of his days. But I guess beheading isn’t racist is it? It’s just . . . neanderthal.

So that’s how racist and mean-spirited Israel is compared to its regional neighbours. Just trying to stop people with split loyalties from thinking that “freedom of speech means never having to say you’re sorry for helping the enemy destroy your country of citizenship.”

In regard to the Palestinians outside of Israel and nascent peace talks, wouldn’t it only be prudent of Israel to make the point in advance of peace agreements that Israel is a Jewish state and intends to remain so? Again, it’s the demographic timebomb ticking inside the state and without. Kind of like how Europe is trying to deal with the reality that Muslim immigration into Christian-secular democratic states may lead to the law changing from rule of law to rule of Sharia. Very similar issues.

So we don’t see any criticism from Dyer on Saudi Arabia’s lack of churches or their requirement that infidels live separately from others in compounds or wok camps. Nothing racist or mean-spirited there. Ah well, as Theodore Hesburgh said, “All of us are experts at practising virtue at a distance.”

I just wish Dyer would stop practising it on Israel and spread his manifold criticisms of state practice around a bit in the Muslim world too. Of course, that’s unlikely as he wants to avoid a fatwa, nothing mean-spirited about that either. Just par for the course.

Michelle Stirling-Anosh is a Ponoka-based freelance writer.