Siding with Binyamin Netanyahu doesn’t make me particularly happy. But helping people use their brains better does. So consider this a public service announcement.
An individual is not an ethnicity. An ethnicity is not an individual.
No Israeli citizen, regardless of ethnicity, is a second class citizen.
All non-Jewish ethnicities, regardless of questions of citizenship, are second class ethnicities in Israel.
Do you see the difference?
If I am a Jew and I am a citizen of Argentina or Costa Rica or Denmark or England or the Faroe Islands or Greece or Greenland or Iceland or Liechtenstein or Malta or Monaco or Samoa or Tonga or Tuvalu or Zambia, all of which are, by law, Christian countries, then I have equal rights as an individual, but my ethnicity is second class.
Sometimes common usage of language blurs this distinction. So when Netanyahu answered Rotem Sela’s Instagram post, it was a little unclear, if read out of context. Yes, he said, “Israel is not a country of all its citizens.” And a simple reading of that sentence, ignoring the following one, might suggest that he was saying that not all Israeli citizens have the same rights. But that would be ignorant, since the full quote was: “Israel is not a country of all its citizens. According to the Nation-State Law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish nation – and its alone.”
You see? The second sentence immediately clarifies that he is not talking about individuals, but rather ethnicities. The only ethnicity that matters in Israel is the Jewish one. It was for this that the State of Israel was created. Those who object to the one Jewish State in all the world should first go and deal with the dozens of Christian and Muslim countries, many of whom do discriminate against individuals who aren’t part of the state religion.
And then the third sentence makes it even clearer. “As you wrote, there is no problem with Arab citizens – they have equal rights like everybody and the Likud government has invested in the Arab sector more than any other government.”
Leaving aside the self-congratulatory Likudism there (it is election season, after all), I’m not quite sure how much clearer he could have been. Non-Jewish citizens – full equality. Non-Jewish ethnicities – this isn’t their state. Period.
So what about the statement that drew Rotem Sela’s wrath in the first place? Here’s what she posted on Instagram:
“Miri Regev is sitting and explaining to [Channel 12 news anchor] Rina Matsliach that the public needs to beware, because if Benny Gantz is elected he will have to create a government with the Arabs. Rina Matsliach is silent. And I ask myself: why doesn’t Rina ask her in shock: ‘And what’s the problem with the Arabs???’ Dear God, there are also Arab citizens in this country…When will anyone in this government tell the public that this is a country of all its citizens, and all people are born equal….the Arabs are also human beings. And also the Druze, and the gays, and the lesbians and… gasp… leftists.”
And here’s her mistake. Because creating a government with the Arab parties is far different than creating a government that contains Arabs. There are Arabs in the Likud, after all. And Druze. And gays. I don’t know about lesbians, but maybe. No one cares. No one has any problem with that. The problem with the Arab parties is that they oppose Israel being a Jewish State. They oppose the very purpose for which Israel was created. So yes, having parties that oppose the Jewish State sitting in the governing coalition of the Jewish State is highly problematic. At best. Self-destructive and suicidal at worst.