"Greater Israel" in Real Life
Date Written: 2014-05-01
Publisher: Against the Current
Year Published: 2014
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20441
Book Review of "Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel" by Max Blumenthal.
The reasons for America's seemingly unsinkable attachment to this desert garrison state are not very difficult to fathom. "Israel," after all, "is the only democracy in the Middle East," runs the common refrain.
Democracy here is a code word for -- white civilized people who speak like us, think like us and, crucially, suffer and die like us. They cry and anguish over the same things we do. They value human life. They are tolerant, moderate, accepting. They treat women with dignity and equality, and allow them the freedom to dress in western style clothes, date, work and travel, and even serve in the military. Like us, Israel is religiously tolerant, multi-ethnic and open to new ideas.
Lastly, Israel is the step-child of the Holocaust, literally a country that emerged from the ashes of the past. It is the answer to anti-Semitism, as the professed racial tolerance of America is our answer to the racism and the slavery of the past.
Needless to say, careful observers of the history of the past sixty years know that the beliefs Americans harbor of Israel are easily overturned by the actual record of usurpation of the Palestinians from their native land, the repression of the remaining population, and aggression against neighboring countries. Much of this is well known and amply documented in numerous books by scholars (including some Israeli historians), and reports by United Nations agencies and international human rights organizations.
Less well known is the entrenchment of Israeli polity and society into an "ethnocracy" (to borrow a concept from Max Blumenthal's book under review), where democracy is largely limited to Jewish Israelis, and the "Jewish and democratic" character of the state is ingrained in law and reaffirmed by social practice against its (mostly Arab) non-Jewish citizens.
The rightward shift in Israel's political mainstream in recent years leaves Palestinian citizens of Israel living in something like the old Jim Crow South. We are talking about a rightward tilt far beyond conventional stereotype. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that the dominant political forces in Israel today display an open contempt for democracy and democratic institutions, with a primary concern that the state be Jewish above all else.