Just finished reading the article on the New Republic website (What Egypt Means for Israelis and the US Neocons). The article is a succinct, quick read and for those reasons, I recommend it. Anytime the power relations in the Middle East change, the result is interesting to analyze and I think the relationship between US conservatives and the Israeli right wingers is one that needs to be further probed. I’m not from Israel or Palestine, but my IR specialist is focused on the Middle East (specifically the non-Arab periphery). So, I often find myself unable to decide which side of the debate I am most comfortable with (but my professors encourage ambivalence). I do, however, think that some statements in the article should be highlighted.
1. Israel would love to be surrounded by democracies—but only if they are genuine democracies with all of the attendant qualities: checks on power, secularism, a free press, and other features that distinguish a truly liberal democracy from an illiberal one.
Huh? Did I read that right? Israel wants to be surrounded by states that are based on secularist values? This is how they define “genuine” democracy? Well if that’s a component for genuine democracy, Netanyahu needs to go back to the drawing board. Are we thinking about the same Israel? The state that defines its legitimacy purely on a religious mandate? A country in which religion and state are so intertwined and connected, they make the secularist republics roll their eyes and whisper, “ugh get a room.” Look, I agree with Israel, that the best democracy is one where secularism is the cornerstone and essence of the state, but you can’t tell me, that such a statement makes sense coming from Israel. Well you can tell me, but I just won’t believe it.
2. Democracy in the Middle East, Ganor and others say, must be about a liberal culture that respects the rights of women and minorities—and acknowledges the presence of a Jewish State.
….and minorities? Guess the whole “practice what you preach” memo didn’t make it’s way to Tel Aviv. Again, I agree that neocons get prematurely excited about these things (anything that might remotely vindicate George Bush gives neocons a hard on) and I also agree that democracy should be measured by that criteria, but you wont have to Google for long (yes, Google has become a synonym for ‘research’) to understand that minorities (let’s cut to the chase and call them Palestinians) aren’t exactly living in the democracy that Israel wants others to emulate. To say that the Palestinian minorities are like the unloved step-cousins at the family reunion might be an understatement.
In sum, although you might think that this post suggests otherwise, I genuinely find myself in the middle of the Israel-Palestine debate. But my hypocrisy radar is always on high alert.
- worldviewinprogress posted this