Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
[ Palestine, Jordan, and Lebanon ] [ Palestinian life and history ]

The democracy of Zionism

Edward Said says Zionism is not democracy since it restricts the rights of non-Jews. Classical democracy was never for everyone. The Greeks refused rights to aliens, even after generations. Only males of a certain age and means could be elected. Every country today gives its citizens more rights than resident aliens. Usually, nationality is identical with citizenship. The nationality of every United States citizen is American. Israel defines nation by Jewish religion and includes all nominal adherents to Judaism—as was more or less the case everywhere in Europe until the modern notion of the nationalist state arose. It is still standard in the Muslim world, where theoretically there is no distinction between Muslims of various ethnic origins. Moreover, Israel made her understanding of Israeli nation clear well in advance of the United Nations partition resolution. Thus, the Israeli concept of national democracy is reasonable both in historic perspective and in theory. Edward Said hypocritically accuses Israel of violating democracy while no Palestinian leader has ever been elected democratically. Nevertheless, Israel accords her Palestinian citizens more rights than Jews, freeing the Israeli Arabs from army duty and taxes. Discrimination comes from private Israeli Jews who don’t want to sell religiously sensitive lands to Palestinians. If Israel treats her Arabs badly, why do the Palestinian refugees want to return?