Friday, November 04, 2005

More Israel, not less

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Last week's New Spartsman contained a series of articles on Israel - rightly pointing out that for some reason that particular state attracts more than its fair share of adulation/opprobrium.

I've explained my own theory several times at Harry's Place that at least part of the opprobrium stems not from anti-semitism but almost its opposite - viewing the Israelis as European - self rather than other - westerners holding Israel to standards they would not apply to an unconditional Other. This may well be aggravated by the fact that Israel is a formal liberal democracy - with some very democratic traits - for Jewish citizens (at least, so the accusation goes).

The failings of Israel are thus also the failings of democracy - much as some intellectuals lost faith in democracy when democratic nations walked off to World War One, it's promise of bringing peace forever shattered.

Add to that colonial guilt and you've got a potent mix for left-wing hostility to Israel.

The mistake opponents, like Looney make is to essentialise the problem - asserting Israel is at heart a racist state and always will be so. Rather than stating the problem in terms of specific practises or policies they attribute everything to Israel itself as a concept - much like opponents of the EU. In British politics, for instance, we don't blame Britain esentially for poor rail infrastructure - no one calls for the break up of the Union in order to fix the trains.

The best peice in the Spartsmen described how Israel has achieved remarkable democratic institutions that don't go far enough (much as the vaunted Athenian dmeocracy had a few nasty limits). The point is, surely to further and cement those institutions, in terms of universal human rights rather than contesting where a particular boundary should be drawn.


Blogger Andy M said...

Erm... this post is really sensible, and I agree with every word. An original viewpoint, which I at least have not heard expressed so clearly before. I may even try this line myself sometime, though I don't doubt I'll be howled down. Cheers!

1:34 AM  

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