115. Not a democracy

Douglas Goldstein's letter of October 6 [114] is an echo of a long article written by Ariel Sharon in the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot last May and reprinted in an abridged form in the Jerusalem Post on June 2. Both of them candidly put their fingers on Israel's dilemma which Glodstein presented in the form of a philosophical question: "Is a completely democratic state more important than a Jewish State?" By asking this question, Mr. Glodstein implicitly acknowledges that there is a contradiction in terms between being democratic and Jewish.

Reviewing the efforts that led to the creation of Israel, Sharon also acknowledged that they were undemocratic. The 1917 Balfour Declaration which promised a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine "ignored the opinion of 90 percent of the population." The 1947 UN resolution partitioned Palestine "against the will of the Palestinian Arabs who were the overwhelming majority of the population." Even the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel proclaims "in four places," according to Sharon, that the state is Jewish "without defining it as 'democratic'." Regarding the Law of Return, thanks to which only Jews are automatically granted Israeli citizenship, Sharon rhetorically asked: "Does any law book contain any more undemocratic statute than the Law of Return?"

But the problem of Israel goes even beyond being a democraticor a Jewish state. Because when Mr. Goldstein makes such a statement: "the majority of the Jewish MKs did not support the plan" or when he asks such a question: "Is it appropriate to allow the Arabs to swing this vote in a Jewish state?" that's plain racism. The sad thing about this is that, as the Israeli novelist and journalist David Grossman put it in a New York Times Magazine article, "Israel today does not have the psychological force or the moral power to deal with the problem of the Palestinian minority."

October 15, 1993

For a reply see [117]