Lieberman’s proposed loyalty oath inches closer and closer to becoming official and with it, the government here further alienates anyone sympathizing further left than fascism.
Though it’s been in the works and in the news for quite a while, yet another obstacle fell to the wayside and we are that much closer to living in a complete theocracy…or worse. “Ministers approved a draft of the proposed oath, which would require anyone taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’.” Thus was rejected Netanyahu’s proposed revised wording: “the nation state of the Jewish people which grants full equality to all of its citizens”.
The proposition is being attacked as racist, anti-democratic, ultra-nationalist, fascist…the list goes on. It’s all of these and more. It’s the beginning and an integral part of a terrifying trend not only of religiosity but of ultra-ethnic-nationalism that needs to be recognized.
No citizen should have to swear loyalty to a state that does not even make overtures to protect them. Would you swear loyalty to a white, Protestant United States of America? Wouldn’t that mean that Protestant doctrine bests all others in official discourse? I know Israel and the U.S. aren’t the same, and I am going to play this on the assumption that the state of Israel is a necessary evil to create the sanctuary some Jews feel they need to future-protect. But that does not give them the right to withhold equal right from all citizens, and certainly does not give them the right to force a religious-ethnic-national state down everyone’s throats. This isn’t just Arabs, although they are by far the largest minority. What about migrant workers? What about legions of secular or leftist Jews who are made uncomfortable by the idea of a Jewish state?
It also begs the question, what does Jewish state actually mean? Jewish homeland? Theocracy? How do we define Judaism? Is it a religion, is it a nation, a race, a culture? Another Ha’aretz article explains the proposal as “a controversial proposal that would require any non-Jew taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic state.’” Which, when combined with the Conversion bill…
Here’s the real problem, as I see it. To characterize Israel (or anything) as a Jewish state leaves you with two options. In the first, a Jewish state can be a theocracy in which Judaism means religion and the Jewish state encompasses in its governmental structure all aspects of religion. I vehemently reject this idea, and it disadvantages anyone who sees religion – theirs or otherwise – differently. On the plus side, theocracies can have systems to protect their religious minorities/dissidents, the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages notwithstanding. The second option is seeing Judaism as a nationality or an ethnicity, which is much scarier. Once you have a Jewish national-ethnic state, you have an ethnocracy. You have a new final solution. You have a new superior, supreme race. A “race” which is defined by no tangible characteristic other than matriarchal lineage, self-affiliation subject to someone else’s approval, and a roughly defined shared history. (Oppression, broadly defined, did not manifest the same in Eastern Europe as it did in Northern Africa. We are from different cultures.) A third option is a combination of these two, but that is self-evidently scary as hell.
Supremacy is created by exclusion, and here it’s no different. To declare allegiance or loyalty to a Jewish state would validate someone else’s vision of Judaism to the exclusion of all others. It would let someone else define who is a Jew, and what it means to be a Jewish state and be a part of a Jewish community. It means that only those who are approved by the Ministry of Deciding Who is Jewish (better known as the Jewish Agency) can be full participants of this state. I means people like me, life-long Jews who love and respect their religion and culture, would be rejected – even if I chose to swear loyalty, which I never would – based on the fact that my mother’s blood is impure. She’s a Muggle and I’m a Mudblood in Lieberman’s Israel. If I had wanted to be a loyal member of the German state and the Nazi party in the 30s, I would not have been allowed because of my father’s blood. In Israel in the 2010s, if this passes, I will not be allowed to be a full citizen because of the exact reason that might have given me a chance in hell of surviving the Holocaust.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. This is the Catch-22 and the irony of it all.