August 7, 2023


Don't Give Up on the Dream of a Liberal Israel (MICHAEL WALZER, AUG 7, 2023, Persuasion)

First of all, if Israel's current government succeeds in all its plans, Israel won't be a Jewish state in the simple sense of those two words. It will be a particular kind of Jewish state, requiring adjectives like "ultra-Orthodox" and "ultra-nationalist"--at odds, then, with most of world Jewry. In the Diaspora, Judaism is a pluralist, multi-denominational religion. In the Israel projected by the far right, the state will be actively hostile to the leading diasporic denominations--more so, perhaps, than to Christianity and Islam, though it won't be welcoming to them either. In the largest Diaspora community, the United States, the politics of the Jewish people is overwhelmingly liberal, a kind of cautious center-leftism. This is the historic politics of a minority people that relies for its safety on the rights that liberal democracy guarantees. A truly Jewish state cannot override those rights.

But that's what Israel's government is doing right now: it denies the rights of Israeli Arabs; it represses Palestinians on the West Bank; it entrenches ultra-Orthodox courts that rule again and again against women. And its aim is to make all this legally definitive, part of the very definition of the state.

Posted by at August 7, 2023 12:00 AM


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