To know where a country’s religious leanings lie, one often need only examine its national holidays.
Christmas is one of them in the United States. It’s also celebrated as such in places such as France and Brazil.
These are quite disparate nations. Yet all three have one big thing in common.
They’re all democracies.
Israel is a democracy, too. Yet one of the credos of anti-Semites who wish to denounce it is that it can’t remain so while continuing its status as a Jewish state. According to them, it’s one or the other. There’s no room for both.
This argument, of course, is absolute balderdash and smacks of the worst kind of bigotry. A country whose residents primarily comprise individuals of the Jewish faith, Israel offers a mix of secular and religious practices that are comparable to those in the land I reside in: America. Still, those who hate Jews maintain that these kinds of behaviors are incompatible. They don’t argue the same when it comes to other democracies. Just Israel.
Here’s my rebuttal to those who disseminate such sophistry: Stuff it.
There’s a lot that is wrong with Israeli government policy. There is prejudice in the country, as there is in all other nations. There are lopsided relationships that could stand to be corrected. There is a need for fairer treatment of various groups. In that regard, Israel is no different from other places. It doesn’t make it right. But it doesn’t make it an aberration.
Anti-Semites speciously perceive Israel as an anomaly, and that is just not the case. Many argue that one cannot have a Jewish identity and advocate democratic principles, too. This is pure prejudice, and they know it. Their bias, however, narrows their vision to the land they despise. They don’t count states such as the one I live in … or countless others around the world.
What they ought to do is think twice about what they believe in and take a look at the national holidays celebrated here and elsewhere.
Not that such an activity will convince the worst of them, for sure. But it would definitely call attention to their hypocrisy. And more of that kind of outcome wouldn’t be at all unwelcome.
There is room in Israel for all peaceful peoples, as there is in the United States, France and Brazil. The Jewish state, though, initially was founded as a haven for those who share my heritage, to provide protection to a population that has so frequently been persecuted throughout history, to provide safety, to provide comfort. My ancestors left that land ages ago, and now my brothers and sisters have come back. They have a home of their own. They have a state to be their shield.
In that light, Israel is composed of a fabric that is inextricably Jewish. Members of its government are predominantly Jewish. Many of its national holidays celebrate events in Jewish culture.
Yet it is a democracy through and through. Its people vote on their government. There is no king, no emperor. It has a legislature. It has laws.
There is no reason, then, to regard it as significantly different from my own nation as a place where its denizens count in the development and composition of its elected officials.
Folks who loathe Jews won’t recognize this. So be it; their loss. Democracy and religion go hand-in-hand throughout countries around the world. They’ve done so for ages. As a state, Israel is relatively new, but it follows that same path. That’s not an ethical dilemma. That’s just another footstep. That’s just another route.
I think we can safely say that anti-Semites’ opinions will always fall to the bottom of the ideological well, never failing to be free of the irrational prejudice that infuses them and informs their intolerant perspectives. Most people don’t believe in this, and that’s a very, very good thing. Given that fact, Israel should continue to move forward while examining itself critically from inside and out and making itself better all the way along its road. There is, certainly, room for improvement. There is, however, no room for bigotry.
Happily, that’s a precept any great democracy, including the Jewish state, can get behind.