Thursday, June 11, 2015

Vic Rosenthal's weekly column:

Israel’s Declaration of Independence calls for a Jewish and democratic state. This is creatively ambiguous because very few people agree on precisely what each of these characteristics entails, although they have very strong opinions. This isn’t a theoretical discussion; both of these concepts have a direct bearing on Israel’s policies, in particular the question of a “Jewish State Law” and the possible annexation of all or part of Judea and Samaria. Today I’m interested in the ‘democratic’ part.

As everyone knows, the ancient Greeks gave us the word δημοκρατία, democracy. What they had in Athens, of course, wasn’t terribly appealing by modern standards, since only free males had the right to vote (and there were plenty of slaves). Here is a modern definition of democracy:
1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.
2. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
3. Protection of the human rights of all citizens.
4. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.
Significantly, this definition, and most others, refer to ‘citizens’ as the beneficiaries of democratic governance. But who is a citizen? Some things are clear: as in the case of Athens, a definition of citizenship which excludes women is not acceptable. An extreme view is that anyone who resides within the borders of a polity is automatically a citizen of it, regardless of any other considerations (how he or she came to be there, etc.)

Although some immigration activists in the US would like to see this criterion adopted, it has not been and probably will not be anywhere in the world. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, says that “everyone has a right to a nationality,” but not that a state needs to offer one to anyone who lives within its boundaries.

In Saudi Arabia, a citizen must either have lived in ‘Saudi land’ before 1914 and not have taken non-Ottoman citizenship, have a Saudi father, or apply for naturalization. In the US, anyone who is born on US soil receives citizenship automatically, but otherwise must undergo naturalization. In Germany, those residents who do not have at least one German parent must apply for citizenship (but there are exceptions for children born in Germany of long-time residents).

Under some conditions states can revoke citizenship. In Canada, a dual citizen who is convicted of treason, espionage or membership in a group engaged in armed conflict with Canada can lose his Canadian citizenship. In the US, naturalized citizens can have their citizenship revoked for various reasons, including membership in a subversive organization or refusal to testify before Congress. This has happened more than a few times.

Today it is considered wrong to grant or deny citizenship on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity, although some Arab countries require all citizens to be Muslims. Prior to 1965, the US had immigration quotas based on national origin; but these were considered unacceptable and replaced by a system based on family unification, skills, etc. with per-country caps. Nevertheless, many countries (e.g., Greece) are adjusting their citizenship laws to deal with the reality of ‘irregular’ population migrations.

What happens when a country annexes territory? When Israel extended its authority to eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Israeli citizenship was offered to existing residents. Those who didn’t accept it were granted residency, along with the right to vote in local (but not national) elections. When Russia annexed Crimea, it offered Russian citizenship to the inhabitants — and let them know that after a month anyone that refused it would be barred from government jobs. In 1950, Jordan gave most Arab residents of Judea and Samaria (the Jewish ones had been expelled during the conquest) Jordanian citizenship, although lately it has been revoking the citizenship of ‘Palestinian refugees’ whom the ruling Hashemites see as a demographic threat.

What would happen if Israel annexed all or part of Judea and Samaria? One thing that’s certain is that Israel would not refuse to grant citizenship to anyone on the basis of ethnicity or religion. But as we’ve seen, it would not be exceptional to limit full citizenship on the basis of other criteria, such as criminal convictions or membership in terrorist organizations, or to require a process of naturalization.

Would it be ‘democratic’? When we talk about democracy, it’s important to understand that it is a more limited concept than fairness or even human rights in general. Strictly speaking, democracy resides in the relationship of a state to its citizens, and therefore the process for obtaining citizenship doesn’t bear on the democratic nature of the state. Of course, fairness demands that the process not be based on irrelevant factors like skin color or gender. But — just like screening airline passengers — it is not necessarily unfair to allow security considerations to affect decisions to grant citizenship or not.

Viewed in this light, much of the tension between Jewishness and democracy in Israel evaporates. The Law of Return, a prime target for those who claim that a Jewish state can’t be democratic, is a criterion for immigrationwhich does not apply to those who are already citizens — and there are no states in the world that don’t assert the right to make rules about immigration. The expressions of national identity that are essential to a Jewish state — the flag, national anthem, holidays, etc. — may be disliked by minority citizens, but they do not affect their participation in the democratic process. And it’s quite a stretch to argue that there is a basic human right to an approved national anthem.

Israel, by any reasonable definition, is a democracy. It will remain one if a Jewish State Law is passed, and even if it annexes all or part of Judea and Samaria without granting citizenship to all their inhabitants.

This is not the dream of the post-nationalist, post-Zionist, post-everything Left which believes that the Hatikvah is ‘racist’ and that economic migrants from Africa and ‘Palestinians’ who have never lived in Palestine have as much right to be citizens of the one tiny Jewish state as the descendents of Jacob. But it may be the reality that will sustain the democratic Jewish state.

EoZ Book:"Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism"


EoZTV Podcast

Podcast URL

Subscribe in podnovaSubscribe with FeedlyAdd to netvibes
addtomyyahoo4Subscribe with SubToMe

search eoz





For $18 donation

Sample Text

EoZ's Most Popular Posts in recent years


Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


Donate to fight for Israel!

Monthly subscription:
Payment options

One time donation:

subscribe via email

Follow EoZ on Twitter!

Interesting Blogs


#PayForSlay Abbas liar Academic fraud administrivia al-Qaeda algeria Alice Walker American Jews AmericanZionism Amnesty Amnesty 2022 analysis anti-semitism anti-Zionism antisemitism apartheid Arab antisemitism arab refugees Arafat archaeology Ari Fuld art Ashrawi ASHREI B'tselem bahrain Balfour bbc BDS BDSFail Bedouin Beitunia beoz Bernie Sanders Biden history Birthright book review Brant Rosen breaking the silence CAIR Campus antisemitism Cardozo cartoon of the day CEDAW Chakindas Chanukah Christians circumcision CJ Werleman Clark Kent coexistence Comix Community Standards conspiracy theories COVID-19 Cyprus Daled Amos Daphne Anson David Applebaum David Miller Davis report DCI-P Divest This double standards Egypt Elder gets results ElderToons Electronic Intifada Ellen Horowitz Embassy EoZ Trump symposium eoz-symposium EoZNews eoztv Erekat Erekat lung transplant EU Euro-Mid Observer European antisemitism Facebook Facebook jail Fake Civilians 2014 Fake Civilians 2019 Farrakhan Fatah featured Features Fervent Embrace fisking flood libel flotilla Forest Rain Forward free gaza freedom of press palestinian style future martyr Gary Spedding gaza Gaza Platform George Galloway George Soros German Jewry Ghassan Daghlas gideon levy gilad shalit gisha Goldstone Report Good news Grapel Guardian guest post gunness Haaretz Hadassah hamas Hamas war crimes Hananya Naftali hasbara Hasby 2014 Hasby 2016 Hasby 2018 hate speech Hebron helen thomas hezbollah history Hizballah Holocaust Holocaust denial honor killing HRW Human Rights Humanitarian crisis humor Hypocrisy ICRC IDF IfNotNow IJ Benjamin Ilan Pappe Ilhan Omar impossible peace incitement indigenous Indonesia infographic international law interview intransigence iran Iraq Islamic Judeophobia Islamism Israel Loves America Israeli culture Israeli high-tech J Street jabalya James Zogby jeremy bowen Jerusalem jewish fiction Jewish Voice for Peace jihad jimmy carter Joe Biden John Kerry jokes jonathan cook Jordan Joseph Massad Juan Cole Judaism Judea-Samaria Judean Rose Judith Butler Kairos Karl Vick Keith Ellison ken roth khalid amayreh Khaybar Know How to Answer Lebanon leftists Linda Sarsour Linkdump lumish mahmoud zahar Mairav Zonszein Malaysia Marc Lamont Hill Marjorie Taylor Greene max blumenthal Mazen Adi McGraw-Hill media bias Methodist Michael Lynk Michael Ross Miftah Missionaries moderate Islam Mohammed Assaf Mondoweiss moonbats Morocco Mudar Zahran music Muslim Brotherhood Naftali Bennett Nakba Nan Greer Nasser al-Lahham Nation of Islam Natural gas Nazi Netanyahu News nftp NGO Nick Cannon NIF Noah Phillips norpac NSU Matrix NYT Occupation offbeat olive oil Omar Barghouti Omri Boehm Only in Israel Opinion oxfam PA corruption PalArab lies Palestine Papers pallywood pchr PCUSA Peace Now Peter Beinart Petra MB philosophy poetry Poland poll Poster Preoccupied Prisoners propaganda Proud to be Zionist Puar Purim purimshpiel Putin Qaradawi Qassam calendar Quora Rafah Ray Hanania real liberals RealJerusalemStreets reference Reuters Richard Falk Richard Landes Richard Silverstein Right of return Rivkah Lambert Adler Robert Werdine rogel alpher roger cohen roger waters Rutgers Saeb Erekat Sarah Schulman Saudi Arabia saudi vice self-death self-death palestinians Seth Rogen settlements sex crimes SFSU shechita sheikh tamimi Shelly Yachimovich Shujaiyeh Simchat Torah Simona Sharoni SodaStream South Africa Sovereignty Speech stamps Superman Syria Tarabin Temple Mount Terrorism This is Zionism Thomas Friedman Tlaib TOI Tomer Ilan Trump Trump Lame Duck Test Tunisia Turkey UAE Accord UCI UK UN UNDP unesco unhrc UNICEF United Arab Emirates Unity unrwa UNRWA hate unrwa reports UNRWA-USA unwra vaccination Varda Vic Rosenthal Washington wikileaks Winstanley work accident X-washing Y. Ben-David Yemen YMikarov zahran Ziesel zionist attack zoo Zionophobia Ziophobia Zvi

Best posts of the past 6 months


A new, better definition of antisemitism

Blog Archive