Dina Grossman
Pro-Free world. Pro-Respect. Anti-Appeasement.

“Israel is the only xxx in the Middle East” – NOT!

Earlier today I was checking in on a handful of pro-Israel groups on Facebook. In one of the groups a member wanted us to share delight in the fact that homosexuality is no longer a crime in Lebanon. His point of departure was — see, Israel is NOT alone in the Middle East.

Indeed. But many lovers of Israel say: Israel is the ONLY xxxx in the Middle East, for example the ONLY democracy. I find this arrogant and condescending – and absolutely no way to win friends and influence people.

I believe it would be much more persuasive – and truthful – to say things like:

  • Israel is the most inclusive country in the Middle East.
  • Israel is the most developed example of an East-West country, with one foot in each main culture.
  • Israel has the most developed liberal democracy in the Middle East.
  • The history and culture of the Jews is one of the oldest surviving in the Middle East.
  • Israel is probably the Middle-Eastern country with the most extensive cooperative relationships with neighboring countries on issues of water and environment.
  • Arabs in Israel within the “green line” generally have a better standard of living and more freedom than in Arab countries.
  • Among countries with a state religion, Israel is among those that give most religious freedom – on a par with e.g. Denmark.
  • As a country under constant siege, Israel has remarkably little censorship.

— Get the idea?

Negative discrimination and prejudice exist every where – even in Israel. Cultural changes are always necessary to develop inclusiveness of minorities – AND it is important that laws don’t institutionalize negative discrimination. Heck, Israel gets accused of not being good enough because there IS discrimination not only against Arabs, but also against Mizrahi Jews and Ethiopian Jews … so more cultural development is needed along with some fine-tuning of laws.

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And – what do you know! Minutes after getting embroiled in the group’s discussion, I ran across this posting on another page: “Same-sex activity has been legal in Israel since 1988. Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed in foreign countries (Israel still does not perform same-sex marriages) . Same sex couples are allowed to adopt and openly serve in the Israeli military, Gay pride parades in Tel Aviv are one of the largest in the world. Tel Aviv was ranked the best gay city in 2011 [1] . A holocaust memorial for the gay victims has also been erected in Israel.”

Corey Gil-Shuster replied: “We cannot adopt Israeli babies. Only heterosexual married couples between certain ages can adopt an Israeli baby. We can adopt foreign babies if the country of adoption agrees or we lie.”

I wrote  “And so – there is still a way to go! Keep up the good battle.” I wasn’t just fishing for a Like, but Corey rewarded me with one.

Please note that even in this justified boasting about Israel, performing same-sex marriages is still on the list of “need-to-do”  – along with total marriage reform! Oy gevalt!

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A final note on my experience today. Quite a few members in the group felt that rejoicing in progress in Lebanon has nothing to do with Zionism. And many had a great time presenting scornful criticism: Well, there is still discrimination; – Well, the law could suddenly be changed again; – Well, they’ll never be as advanced as Israel; – Well Lebanese are terrible people except for the Christians; – ad nauseum.

At one point a Lebanese Christian member of the group asked people to stop attacking her country – but as the discussion continued, she started prefacing statements about the many good things about her country by saying “Lebanon isn’t perfect BUT …..”

This is an insanely self-destructive way of thinking.

And it is shameful that my fellow defenders of Israel can push a friend into the “not perfect BUT” mode of thinking. Which, by the way, is something that we should not accept when talking about Israel.

About the Author
I am an American who has lived and worked in Denmark since 1978. On retiring from "gainful employment" in 2013 I noticed - really noticed - how much bashing Israel is getting from within and without, and found it not only grossly unfair but dangerous. Since then I have worked full time as a volunteer to try to open Danish minds and hearts, to stimulate curiosity about Israel to replace or prevent the development of indifference or actively negative feelings. Sometimes I write in English and use my ToI blog to share.
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