Zev Levi

Freedom, Pride, and Unintentional Racism

I am a proud Australian even though I am ashamed of some aspects of Australia. I am ashamed of Australia’s racial disparity in living standards, its current Prime Minister (who is an idiot), and of course its past of slaughtering Indigenous peoples.

Here’s how I can still be proud.

There is a difference between Pride and Worship. And there is a difference between Options and Justice.

Most countries today have inherited injustices. We find ourselves living after a century when people had to prove that gender and race do not affect human value. The lessons haven’t propagated universally (yet?) so we are a society that believes in equal opportunity in a country where a minority is poorer, less educated, less influential, and dies earlier than the general population.

I am heartbroken by my inherited injustices but I am only angry at people who consciously try to maintain them.

Pride and Worship

I can be proud of my country by not worshiping it. By not assuming that it is absolutely perfect, just the way it is. By being involved in the next stage in its national evolution and helping it rid itself of inherited injustices. I am proud of Australia because of growing movements of change like Generation One, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and Recognise.

Options and Justice

When it comes to implementing change, the least terrible option may just be necessary but is not necessarily just.

“Black servants in South Africa may only see their children a few times a year, but servitude is their best means of financial and medical support – all their other options are worse.” A social system is unjust if financial self-determination is divided by racial lines. It may have to be adopted for a period (while a replacement is developed) but playing the benevolent autocracy is not moral.

If a social norm maintains inequality, it is not a valid source of pride. So before waving the flag I’d ask: Is the next generation being educated equally? Are pay rates equal regardless of race? (And most importantly) Is the social majority forcing the government to ask local leadership for direction to end disparity?

The litmus test of a democracy is how it treats its minorities. – Anton Goodman (Co-Director of Development at The Abraham Fund Initiatives)

I am so proud to call myself Israeli. With that in mind, this is the Israel we have inherited:

  • 20.7% of Israel’s population is Arab (source). These are Israeli citizens.
  • There is a disproportionate difference between national infrastructural support received by Israeli communities, depending on whether the community belongs to the cultural majority or minority.
  • Israeli Highway 6 has no direct exits to Arab Israeli towns in the ‘small triangle’ (Taibeh and its surrounding villages) but has direct exits to Jewish towns in the same area.
  • The time between a town’s zoning submission and the national response can be decades as opposed to months.

The Mayor of Qalansawe said recently that:

  • All individual Israelis have equal rights, but minority towns are not proportionally represented in the national decision making process. This limits access to their rights when it comes to national projects like waterways and roads. (Australia is also familiar with the problem of under-representation)
  • Arabs with Israeli citizenship appreciate that their lives in Israel are better than they would be outside of Israel. What they would like, though, is equal access to their equal rights.
  • The Israeli government has acknowledged its unequal treatment of Arab towns, but there has, as of yet, been no experienced change.

How we got here is irrelevant. As it stands today, we have Israeli minority communities without proportional representation in Executive government (the people that do the things, not Legislative government – the people that decide the things) that want it. To live up to our own self-image, it’s on us to make that change. And the change is happening, but it needs more Facebook likes.

My love of Australia is what makes me disgusted by the Prime Minister when he says, “in 1788 (Australia) was nothing but bush.” source

My love of Israel is what makes me disgusted bythe Prime Minister when he says to Jewish Israelis, “go to the polls, bring your friends and family,” because, “Arab voters are going en masse to the polls.” source

I am a proud Israeli because I support an Israeli organisation working to institute justice.

See The Abraham Fund Initiatives for more.

About the Author
Zev Levi is an Australian oleh cataloging how his opinions on local issues change and why.
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