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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Non-democratic America"

From James Taranto in the WSJ's Best of the Web:

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, a left-liberal Zionist, seems to have been bamboozled into accepting one of the major arguments of anti-Israel leftists. Goldberg takes issue with an Israeli government report that suggests classifying Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank, as under Israeli sovereignty rather than "occupied." Goldberg's response:

What this means, if implemented, is simple: The Israeli government would treat West Bank land as if it were land in Israel proper (pre-1967 Israel). Now, of course, if Israel were to treat the land of the West Bank as part of Israel, it would necessarily follow that it would have to treat the people who live on that land as Israeli citizens, extending them full voting rights, just as it extends citizenship to people who live in Israel proper, regardless of ethnicity. So: The natural consequence of this notion, if it is carried through to law, would be to extend voting rights to the Palestinians of the West Bank. This would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority democracy, but the right-wing in Israel seems more enamored of land-ownership than it does of such antiquated notions as, you know, Zionism.
Goldberg errs in assuming that an assertion of Israeli sovereignty over the disputed territories would necessarily be the equivalent of incorporating those territories into "Israel proper." To see why, look at the American example.

The U.S. has several unincorporated territories--insular possessions over which America exercises sovereignty but which are not part of the U.S. They are, in declining order of population (and omitting unpopulated islands), Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Residents of these territories do not have the right to vote in presidential elections. They have no representation in the Senate and only a nonvoting delegate or (in the case of Puerto Rico) resident commissioner in the House.

Because these territories are not part of the U.S., their natives--unlike people born on the mainland or in Hawaii--are not entitled by the 14th Amendment to U.S. citizenship. Congress has enacted statutes granting birthright citizenship to natives of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Marianas--but not American Samoa.

Natives of American Samoa whose parents are not U.S. citizens have the status of "U.S. national." This gives them rights equivalent to those of a resident alien: They may freely travel, work and live in the U.S., and they may apply for citizenship--but until they become citizens, they are not entitled to vote in mainland elections.

Goldberg and others who repeat this trope need to explain why Israel can't have unincorporated territories if the U.S. can.
Or, as Peter Beinart refers to Judea and Samaria, we can just refer to these territories as "non-democratic America."

(h/t David G)