I thought, "Well, while the ideas Jim presents can often be considered controversial, I ought to play it a bit safer, on account of this being my first written piece for the site". Caution is the best approach.
Therefore, I'm writing about why our inability to question the U.S. political backing of Israel is total bullshit.
Now, before my Jewish readers close the page (a few probably have already), I want to make clear that I do NOT think that Israel shouldn't exist. I am well aware that there is, and always has been, a concentrated population of Jewish residents in the region, given its high significance to the religion. Please realize that I am also supportive of their decision to live there, and their rights to practice their faith peacefully and without violence or forceful coercion.
It's their inability to do the last thing on that list that affirms my opinion.
The word that many use to define this "Jewish right" to the state of Israel is "Zionism". While that is, in fact, the word's literal definition, I often find that it's thrown around by White Supremacists and other anti-Semites. And because I respect the right for Jewish people to have their own state (peaceably), I'm not exactly anti-Zionist. Instead, I'll refer to it by its most logical corollary term: manifest destiny.
It's no secret that there are laws in the books in Israel that discriminate against Arab and Palestinian residents, often in favor of Jewish citizens, despite there being a supposed edict of equality within its constitution. If you happen to be a Palestinian who wants to live within Israel's borders, the process is notoriously difficult - but not if you're Jewish. Due to the Israeli "Citizenship Law", even Jewish immigrants with no prior connection to Israel get a free pass.
What if you have family within Israel's borders? Forget about ever seeing their new house - due to the family unification policy of 2003, non-citizen spouses and children of specifically Arab Israeli citizens are barred from the automatic citizenship granted to any member of any other nationality with an Israeli spouse(3). It was an enacted as a temporary "security measure", but has been extended since, and is still enacted to this day. Most currently think its purpose is to prevent "foreign occupation" of Israel.
What if you're a single Arab man, and you find that you're really compatible with the Jewish girl next door? Well, if you live in the municipality of Petah Tikvah (a city ten and a half miles from Tel Aviv), she probably won't date you after her family called the locally supported telephone hotline, which provides psychologists to provide counseling for Jewish girls who date Arab men(). Or, if you live in the municipality of Kiryat Gat, a town of in the south of Israel, you probably wouldn't even get the chance to talk to her - they've started showing girls, in local schools, a video warning against the dangers of dating local Bedouin men. It bears the title, "Sleeping with the Enemy", and describes interfaith dating as an "unnatural phenomenon" (2). This "educational" campaign was supported by a publicly funded organization: Yad L'Achim.
According to it's web page's mission statement, it "was established in 1950 to help new immigrant adjust to the newly born country and to help them find a suitable religious framework." It sounds innocuous enough, until you get to the third paragraph:
"Another focus of attention is assimilation. Though it was once thought that this could not be a problem in a Jewish country, not even for the secular, the tragic facts show an increasing number of Jewish girls getting involved with foreign workers and, even more so, with Arab men. Indeed, Yad L’Achim gets some 1,000 calls a year reporting such cases.
Our Anti-Assimilation department responds to all such calls. In some cases, this means launching military-like rescues from hostile Arab villages and setting the women up in “safe” houses around the country, where they can build new lives for themselves."(4)
A lot of these "rescues" are characterized by a lot of other media sources as kidnappings. They are reportedly not funded by the Israeli government, but they work with them when it comes to doing things like indoctrinating schoolgirls with racism. They have enough political persuasive power to pull ads of other religions' "missionary messages" from government run radio stations (), and subsequently brag about it on their website. They make the following claim on the "Goals" section of their website:
"The Jewish soul is a precious, all-too-rare resource, and we are not prepared to give up on even a single one. That’s why we fight with such intensity for both the Russian Jewish immigrant who has become a regular at the missionary center in Afula and the Jewish woman who is married to an Arab."
That statement should appear, to any reasonable person, as disgustingly racist. If you still don't see what's wrong with it, try to imagine "White" in place of "Jewish" and "Black" instead of "Arab". It's the same line of thinking that fueled American Segregation, and Israel supports it in populist fashion. All I'm saying is: why should we be supportive of it?
I find it troubling when anyone uses their religion as an excuse to hold prejudice against another race or culture. We can clearly see the examples of religious segregation within Israel's legal system. How can they ever expect peace, when they discriminate openly within their own legal system? And why, in the year 2012, is there such a clear disseminating line, between two different religions, that extends well into our own culture and political system? Aren't we past this?
Apparently not. I'm a staunch Obama supporter, but even he kowtowed to the pressure from American religious zealots (including the religious Right) to include reference to "God" and the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in his convention stump speech. Why on earth should any government, especially ours, support another religious government's nationalist agenda?
This is a country who claims to take land as a demilitarized buffer zone against hostile countries, then builds settlements on the same land. This is a country largely composed of European and Russian immigrants, who feel they have right to that land simply from the fact that they're Jewish. This is a country that is able to exist because we lent them aid, but we neglect to pull that aid when they've overstepped their own constitution's decree of equality.
The scariest part of this whole conflict (you know, besides the fact that this political stance is a major inspiration for anti-American terrorist violence like 9/11) is how divisive this subject is on our own soil. After I brought up this issue on Facebook, my own high school art teacher - practically my-mom-at-school - told me she was afraid of losing all respect for me if she continued the conversation any further. My parents warned me that putting such a thing on a social networking site would threaten my future, professionally and socially. But when I discussed this issue with my former boss (who was Algerian), he smiled at me and said, "Do you have any idea how many kids there are your age, in this country, who have no idea what you're talking about?"
There are two sides to every story. Why can't we discuss both?