Sunday, December 18, 2005

On the limits of tolerance...

I have often been told that I have "strong beliefs", an assertion with which I do not disagree, as "strong beliefs" are not to be equated with wrong beliefs. Believe it or not, I am aware that more often than not, my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters have beliefs that are contrary to my own, and as much as I might enjoy the idea of having everyone share my worldview every now and again, I am prepared to accept that on any given issue there will likely exist a plurality of Jewish beliefs.

While I certainly will not agree with all viewpoints expressed on any given issue concerning the Jewish People & State, I am willing to accept that my way is not the only way, and that I must be willing to work together (wherever possible) with my Jewish brothers and sisters, if we are to be able to live together as "one nation in the Land".

However, this attitude only goes so far, and it reaches its limit when I come across someone like Azmi Bishara. Bishara is an enemy of both the Jewish State & People, and he also happens to be a member of Israel's Knesset, and is the ring-leader of the 5th column within Israel, that is working against the interests of the Jewish State.

Bishara recently violated Israeli law by visiting an enemy country, in this instance Lebanon (he had previously attended a pro-Hezbollah rally in Syria where he called on Arab countries to expand their "resistance against Israel’s occupation, and to provide for the Palestinian people’s struggle against the occupation"). While in Lebanon, he had the following things to say about his home country, Israel, and in whose parliament he serves (Courtesy of Yediot Achronot):
"I will never recognize Zionism even if all Arabs do," he said. "I will never concede Palestine. The battle is still long..."

"The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not a demographic dispute, but a national one," he said. "It's not the problem of 1.2 million Palestinians living in Israel. They are like all Arabs, only with Israeli citizenship forced upon them... "We are the original residents of Palestine, not those who came from Poland and Russia," the MK added. "Return Palestine to us and take your democracy with you. We Arabs are not interested in it."

Bishara has meanwhile returned to Israel and told Yediot Achronot Saturday night that his speech was "about Zionism and citizenship." "I didn’t say anything new that I hadn't said in other places. I've spoken like this in the Knesset," he said.

Not only is Bishara an enemy of the Jewish People & State, but he is also clearly an enemy of democracy.

Upon Bishara's return from Lebanon, he wasted no time in continuing his anti-Semitic diatribe (Courtesy of Arutz-7):
The gathering in Nazereth Saturday morning was under the banner "responsibility for the historical Nakba," referring to the "tragedy" of the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state.

MK Azmi Bishara, who was born and lives in Nazereth, encouraged the crowd to keep "burning the coals of the struggle against Zionists."

(And lest you think that Azmi Bishara is the exception to the rule, this incident represents only the tip of the iceberg. Another example can be found here).

To add insult to injury, the State of Israel's inaction in meting out a suitable punishment to someone like Bishara not only undermines Israel as a Jewish State, but as a democratic one, as well. If Bishara's comments do not fall under the scope of sedition, then what does?

Why is it that in the Jewish State of Israel, that we must suffer the indignity of having people like Azmi Bishara sit in the Knesset and have a say shaping the policies and character of the Jewish State? Azmi Bishara is not my brother, nor will he ever be, and I do not feel compelled to extend to him the same tolerance and understanding that I must extend to my fellow Jewish brothers and sisters - and certainly not to one who is not only not a member of the family, but one who is actively working to destroy the Jewish State!

Why is it that we find it so difficult to stand up for ourselves, and to assert our rights as proud Jews?

Perhaps having a steadfast belief in the justness of one's cause, and the willingness to stand behind one's beliefs regardless of the consequences is a lesson that we can learn from Azmi Bishara, himself.


Ze'ev, you're absolutely correct. What he has said amounts to sedition and he should be brought up on charges, found guilty and thrown out of the knesset and perhaps imprisoned. Israelian democracy enables enemies of Israel to spew hatred of the state and looks towards its ultimate destruction. Israeli response is talk and tolerance of these life-threatening views. This is tantamount to committing suicide. It's beyond reason to accept these views. Thank you Ze'ev for bringing this to our attention. Why don't you run for the knesset?

By Blogger hippo, at Mon Dec 19, 12:36:00 AM GMT+2  

Hippo, thanks for the commnet. It's amazing the things that go on in this country.

There are days where it seems that we are netiehr a Jewish nor a democratic state, and then one is left wondering what and whowe are exactly.

As for runing in the Knesset, I appreciate the sentiments - although my wife wouldn't - we'll see...

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Mon Dec 19, 09:01:00 AM GMT+2  

Let's say that we throw Azmi Bishara out of the Knesset, prosecute him, throw him in jail, whatever. What happens next? The same people who voted for him will elect someone else who's just as anti-Israel, if not worse.

What are you going to do? Take away their right to vote? Take away their citizenship? Throw them out of the country? Kill them? So much for democracy.

The problem isn't Azmi Bishara - not that I have any particular love for the man. The problem is that in 57 years since independence, we have largely failed to give Israeli Arabs a reason to feel Israeli rather than Palestinian. Of course the failure hasn't been total, or we'd have more Azmi Bisharas in the Knesset than we do. But we need to accept that Azmi Bishara was elected by people who really do feel the way he does about the State of Israel, and by their own lights have every right to feel this way.

I'm not sure how to solve this problem. Creating a less discriminatory society might help, but it would be painful and expensive, would take a long time, and certainly wouldn't be 100% effective. All I can say for sure is that focusing on Azmi Bishara as the villain of the story is exactly the wrong thing to do - it won't do a thing to solve the underlying problem.

By Blogger Don Radlauer, at Tue Dec 20, 06:55:00 PM GMT+2  

One thought:

Enforce some sort of rule for members of Knesset. many countries have rules regarding their government members, such as not having a criminal record. Having some sort of test - something to the effect that Knesset members shouldn't want to destroy the State of Israel - would not be disenfranchising Arab voters. Their representatives would be subject to the same tests that all other representatives.

I don't think this would in any way threaten democracy. Perhaps it might limit Freedom of Speech, but if so, I believe it's a totally reasonable limitation.

By Blogger Nathan, at Thu Dec 22, 04:36:00 PM GMT+2  

I posted this comment back on Don' blog... and again here, since it's an open discussion!

The point is.. as long as they're called Israeli Arabs [and
ofcourse, as long as they call themselves that] it's always gonna be this way... U have to start thinking of them as Israelis... I think that Israel should seriously start re-thinking the whole Jewish State ideology... because no matter how u try, u're gonna end up with somekind of descrimination against non-jewish population...

Ideally, I'm not too fond with Israel [we could discuss that for days in lame], but it's there, and we have to deal with it.. just as u have to deal with the former-Palestinians, Now Should-Be-Israelis...

I think that we have the same situation in here, but on a less crucial level, but still... check this post!

I think what's most important, is to make them feel as part of the country, and that can not be accomplished unless u accept their culture [as-it-is, ofcourse with concern to the basic humanitarian principals], u have the Duty of making them feel that they belong, because after all.. no matter how u put it, they've EARNED they're right to belong ages ago..

By Blogger Yazan, at Sun Jan 08, 06:22:00 AM GMT+2  

Front Bumper! - Thanks for the comment.

Do you believe, when you say that Israel must reconsider the whole Jewish State idea - that the Jewish people do not have a right to a Jewish State? As if to say, if Arabs in israel can't be made to feel as if they are 100% equal, and as usch, have the right to change Israel into Palestine, that a Jewish State shouldn't exist?

Also, what exactly do you mean when you say: "they've EARNED they're right to belong"?

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Sun Jan 08, 12:49:00 PM GMT+2  

no, I don't honestly feel okay about a country being based on a religion... I do believe Muslems, Chrisitians and non-believers living in Israel are just as humans as Jews are... and nobody has the right to question or threaten their basic rights!!
U'll see that when u accept them as Israelis, just Muslim Israelis, when u make them feel that they belong alongside with a basic constitution that calls for a secular state, they will feel Israelis and they won't need to turn it into Palestine... we're all humans, we need to adapt and accept eachother, and accept exceptional events that could take place... and I believe that they will!!

I know that palestinian-israelis are much more under-developed in comparison to Israelis, and that is partially because of the discrimination still in place against them having full citizinship!! Not underestimating the other factors relating to their social structure and other factors relating to them in particular...

What exactly is the difference between a Jewish state, and a Secular state with rights to worship anything... Just more freedom and democracy and human rights concerning all citizins!!!!

Historically, No I wouldn't be in favor of pulling out a 100yrs population out of it's lands to emmigrate ppl from all over the world with nothing in common except their religion... but that's way behind us now... Israel is now here, generations have been born there, and earned they're right to belong [whether I liked or not] the answer is not throwing Israel into the sea, and definitley NOT shadowing palestinians living in Israel!!!

happy belated chanukah btw!

By Blogger Yazan, at Mon Jan 09, 12:07:00 AM GMT+2  

it is totally ignorant to call an Arab anti semitic, becuase Arabs ARE semitics!! ;)

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