Anti-Semitism has a long history in Britain, unfortunately it is on the increase. This is not only due to the rise of radical Islamism, there is plenty of home-grown anti-Semitism. Normally we associate this with right-wing extremism. Anti-Semitism is just at home on the left, only more subtle.
Recently an alteration in the oath of loyalty sworn by new citizens in Israel was proposed. Those seeking to become naturalized citizens will take an oath of allegiance to Israel “as a Jewish and democratic state.” The oath doesn’t require the new Israeli citizen to be Jewish, but to acknowledge the essentially Jewish nature of the country. As well as being the only truly democratic country in the region Israel is also the most ethnically and religiously diverse nation in the Middle East.
The reaction from the liberal press in Britain is sadly predictable. Adrian Hamilton in yesterday’s The Independent explodes that this, “is a case of racist discrimination on any interpretation. But it is more than that. At heart it reflects a push to make Israel into a mono-cultural, ethnically-homogenous nation which deliberately rejects other races or beliefs within it.”
Given the present political situation it is possible to describe the new oath as unwise politically, but to describe it as “racist” and an attempt to create an “ethnically-homogenous nation” deliberately rejecting anything non-Jewish verges on the hysterical.
Arabs make up 20% of the population of Israel and they have the same rights as Jewish and other non-Jewish citizens. Perhaps Mr Hamilton would care to comment on the position of Christians or Jews in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and most of the rest of the Middle East? Oppressed at best, persecuted at worse. If our liberal compatriots wish to fulminate against genuinely racist countries who are truly mono-cultural they need only look at the rest of the Middle East.
The reaction of Syrian dynastic strongman Bashar Assad is unsurprising. In his opinion the new oath is a “fascist” act that “proves” that Israel is a “racist country.” Perhaps Mr. Assad should be asked about Article 1 of the Syrian constitution which declares that “the Syrian Arab region is a part of the Arab homeland” and its citizens are “part of the Arab nation.”
Hamas, who control the West Bank and which is constitutionally committed to the extinction of Israel decried the oath in similar terms. However, its own charter declares that “the Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” The Hamas slogan is “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Koran its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.” That falls a good sight short of liberal inclusiveness. If the peace process fails to yield results, it will be because of Islamist sentiments like these – not because of an Israeli citizenship oath that acknowledges the obvious.
Article 4 of the Palestinian Basic Law proclaims, “Islam is the official religion in Palestine” and “the principles of Islamic Sharia shall be the main source of legislation.” Article 116 states, “laws shall be promulgated in the name of the Palestinian Arab people.”
Our Lord spoke about noticing specks of dust in eyes of others and ignoring planks in our own. Mr Hamilton is entitled to share the fashionable view of Israel and having an anti-Israel bias is not the same as anti-Semitism. Hamilton, however, by couching his argument in terms of religion and a constant reiteration of the phrase ‘the Muslim majority Middle-East,’ like some other liberals, moves seamlessly from the one prejudice into the other.