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Middle East Issues





Washington Post Op-Ed Imagines Non-Jewish Israel Would Uphold Civil Rights


Every so often The Washington Post publishes a commentary by an outside contributor calling for an end to Israel as a Jewish state. Op-Ed columns recommending finishing with Jordan as a Palestinian Arab majority country on a majority of the territory originally intended for the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate, for example, have been non-existent. Likewise opinion pieces advocating undoing Egypt as a Sunni Muslim-dominated state so the country’s large, indigenous Coptic Christian minority could attain either civil and social equality or autonomy.

 

One could look in vain for Post Op-Eds similarly targeting Syria, Iraq, Libya or Lebanon —other neighbors of Israel so bloodily divided religiously, ethnically and culturally as to give “balkanization” a good name. But in this as in many other ways, the Jewish state is subjected to a double standard.

 

Not as blatantly manipulative as “One state is enough,” by anti-Israel agitator Ahmed Moor (The Washington Post, March 4, 2012 [see CAMERA’s “Washington Post Features More Unopposed Palestinian Propaganda”]), Prof. Patricia Marks Greenfield’s (“An Israel equal for all, Jewish or not” Sept. 28, 2014) features an author manipulated to the same end.

 

Greenfield was identified as a psychology professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. In her column she said she and an American colleague “traveled to Israel at the end of June to continue research with an Israeli team composed of Jewish and Muslim researchers from Ben Gurion University in Beersheba.”

 

They were studying “how rapid social change has shifted values among Arabs in northern Israel, Bedouin Arabs in the Negev and Ethiopian Jews in southern Israel—Israeli citizens all.” Greenfield wrote that although Israel “is a full-fledged multiethnic, multireligious society,” it fails to “provide equal legal and day-to-day treatment to all its citizens….”

 

CAMERA replies

 

A CAMERA letter to the editor, unpublished by The Post, asserted:

 

“Prof. Greenfield is mistaken. All citizens of Israel, from any religion or ethnicity, are equal under law. Minority Christians, Muslims, Druze and Ethiopian Jews serve in parliament, the military, and as judges on the Supreme Court.

 

“Greenfield claims Israel is ‘out of step’ with much of the world because nations are becoming more ethnically and religiously diverse. It would be difficult to find a more diverse population than Israel’s. Yet around the world Kurds, Uighurs, Catalans, Basques, and Scots demand national autonomy if not independence. South Sudan, Montenegro, and Slovakia have all seceded from other states. Why does Greenfield feel compelled to deny national identity to Jews?

 

“Contrary to her short-sightedness, a strong Israel is crucial today for world Jewry. Nazi-inspired slogans are chanted on the streets of Berlin and assaults against French Jews by Islamists prompt many to emigrate. That Jews don’t and won’t require a state of their own is ahistorical

 

“Because Palestinian leadership repeatedly rejects a two-state solution, Greenfield proposes to destroy the Jewish state by including their Arab populations with in Israel? 

 

“In a region where Sunni and Shiite Muslims fight each other, Christians are brutally persecuted, women often are oppressed, and the United States reinvolved itself [in Iraq] partly to prevent genocide against the Yazidis, Israel stands out as a multiethnic democracy. So Greenfield’s big idea is to make its Jewish national identity impossible. If superficiality can be deep, this is it.”

 

The professor against herself

 

Greenfield argued against herself, describing Israel as truly multiethnic and multireligious yet “as long as being Jewish holds such a preeminent place in Israel, then Muslim and Christian Arabs will always be second-class citizens, vulnerable to discrimination in housing, employment, education and other areas.”

 

Perhaps Muslim and Christian Israelis experience some social, not legal, discrimination because Arab countries and movements still threaten to destroy Israel since it is the Jewish homeland? Yet maybe non-Jewish Israelis enjoy equal civil rights in ways unimaginable for minorities in Arab countries because it is a Jewish state? For Greenfield, apparently no flash of insight.

 

She also wrote that “many Jewish Israelis subscribe to the unfortunate demographic myth that high birth rates among Arabs and Ethiopians mean that they will soon outnumber Jews of other national and racial origins. But education and economic opportunity unfailingly drive birth rates down. If Israeli minorities were provided with the same educational and employment opportunities as other Israelis, their birth rates would decline to the same levels ….”

 

Such a decline has been underway for nearly a generation, which may be why the much-publicized “demographic revolution” of the 1990s appears to be a “myth.” So maybe Israeli minorities already are provided with educational and employment opportunities like the non-Ethiopian Jewish majority. Just because Greenfield conducted research in Israel doesn’t mean she saw Israel.

 

The Post did publish a rebuttal letter (“Flawed assumptions about Israel,” September 30) by Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Among other things, Bryen noted that Greenfield “wrote of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza as if they are the same as Israel’s loyal non-Jewish citizens who are ‘committed to Israel.’ They are not the same.

 

“There is a virulent nationalist and religious conflict across the Middle East today, of which Palestinians and Israelis reflect only a part, that cannot be erased from the safety of an American university by blaming Israel’s imperfect but very real protections for minorities.” 

 

Bryen also questioned Greenfield’s assumption that Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, absorbed in the professor’s one non-Jewish state delusion, would “give up their nationalism, which at a minimum insists on full independence in precisely those territories” Greenfield recommends Israel annex and thereby liquidate its status as a Jewish state. “Does she think Hamas will turn Gaza over to Israel for secular benefits? Does she think the Palestinian Authority no longer covets Jerusalem?”

 

There’s nothing wrong with living in an ivory tower, especially one as balmy as U.C.L.A. Destruction comes, too often, when those outside begin to follow the advice of tower residents. That’s something The Post’s Op-Ed page might ponder, especially when reviewing anti-Jewish state Op-Ed submissions.  

 


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