Let’s begin with two recent publications in haaretz.com:
“African migrants take to the streets to demand Israel consider asylum requests” by Ilan Lior at http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.564757 and “The migrants aren’t the problem- Israel’s racism is” by Gideon Levy at http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.564683
Both publications assume that nothing is wrong when Israel accepts non-Jewish immigrants from Africa as its potential citizens. The first one considers this from a political point of view while the second one emphasizes the moral obligation to do this to avoid labeling Israel as a racist state. Authors of both publications are mistaken – Israel cannot accept non-Jewish immigrants as refugees neither from political nor from moral points of view – otherwise Israel may not survive as an independent Jewish nation-state within a Torah/Bible-based Judeo-Christian civilization. And here is why.
In order to survive, a nation-state has to have a unique identity that distinguishes this nation-state from other nation-states and provides powerful incentives to protect and defend it from all “external and internal adversaries”. The loss of such unique identity brings a nation-state to the verge of abyss: a nation-state with lost identity might be split in smaller warring pieces or its people might be absorbed by other nation-states with a stronger unique identity. In the Jewish history about two-and-a-half millenniums ago, eight out of the Ten Tribes lost their unique Torah-based Jewish identity and disappeared – two remaining tribes preserved and even strengthened the identity and survived even in the harsh two-millennium-long exile conditions. Now the descendants of those two tribes are State of Israel with its unique Torah-based Jewish character, and now they are facing a problem of accepting the non-Jews (it could be Africans or Middle-Asians or even Russian Russians) with completely different identity – just different, not worse or better. The acceptance may eventually eliminate the unique identity of the Jewish nation-state and really threaten its spiritual Jewish survival.
The unique identity of Israel as a nation-state is grounded in the Jewish understanding of Torah-based reasons for human existence and the “Chosen” status of the Jews among the humans. There is no other foundation for the Jewish unique identity although many secular and religious Israelis would disagree with this: the secular Israelis detest the concept of the “Chosen” while the truly religious Israelis prefer to be “Chosen” in isolation from the others.
The Israel’s situation is not unique – many contemporary nation-states faced in the past or are facing this problem now.
The unique identity of the USA was individual freedoms. This nation-state was established by European immigrants who were deprived in their countries individual freedoms and forced to be a sort of spiritual, political or economic slaves of their civil or religious superiors. However, those European immigrants believed that their biblical human ancestors escaped the Egypt slavery not to be enslaved again later on in the history. They wanted to shape their own life along the lines of their individual understanding of them as “made in the image and likeness of God”; they wanted to do their own material and spiritual creative work without being ordered by political or religious authorities to do something different. A new strong Judeo-Christian nation-state called the USA was created with its unique identity. Unfortunately for this nation-state, these days its identity is changing – individual freedoms are being suppressed and the power of political authorities increased – this nation-state is losing its unique identity and its future becomes gloomy.
The unique identity of Russia is of completely different nature than it is for the USA. Historically, Russia in any of its historic forms (Czarist, Soviet or post-Soviet Russia) has been a state of many nations with entirely different culture and tradition. In order to keep all nations together, the Russian rulers have been playing a role of protectors of all nations inside Russia, and such protection became a leading part of the unique identity of Russian nation-state: it is fear of being captured by a foreign nation-state with the help of internal enemies. This fear is cultivated by Russian rulers and who have been inventing external adversaries with internal enemies. These days an external adversary is the USA and internal enemies are political opponents. In a short period of time after the dismantlement of the former Soviet Union, Russia tried to change its identity – the attempt was unsuccessful and brought Russia to the brink of survival.
The described unique identities of the USA and Russia demonstrate that the Israeli situation is not unique – the survival of Israel as independent Jewish state depends as well on preserving and strengthening its unique Jewish character.
If it is so obvious that the survival of Israel as an independent, democratic and non-racist nation-state requires preserving and strengthening the unique Jewish identity why the two papers quoted in the beginning don’t understand it? The problem is in misunderstanding of the essence of human equality, in particular the human equality in Israel, in contemporary life.
Torah/Bible-based, Judeo-Christian definition of human equality suggests the equality of opportunities for everybody of any race, skill or upbringing – try and reach your best in the frame-work of unique identity of a nation-state you live in. If your national (African, Middle-Asian, Russian …) unique identity is fundamentally different from the unique identity of Israel this nation-state is not for you since you would not be able to reach your best in the frame-work of unique identity of Israel. However, many Jews in Israel and in diaspora define the human equality differently as the equality of results for everybody independently of your national identity. And those Jews are trying to make Israel a nation-state of equal economic results for everybody – Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants alike. And that is a spiritual prescription for a national disaster.
In order to survive, Israel has to preserve and strengthen its Torah-based Jewish identity, and preventing immigrants with non-Jewish spirituality from becoming voting citizens of Israel is an important part of this preservation.