PALESTINIANS SEEK ARAB, MUSLIMSTATE YET REJECT JEWISH, DEMOCRATIC STATE
Morton A. Klein, National President
Dr. Daniel Mandel, Director, Center for Middle East Policy
Zionist Organization of America
Israel 's government recently approved an amendment to its citizenship law by which those seeking to become naturalized citizens will take an oath of allegiance to Israel "as a Jewish and democratic state."
Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas' and Arab regimes profess to be outraged. Abbas said explicitly that he would never accept Israel as a Jewish state. This rejection is not new. To an Arab audience last year, Abbas said, "I say this clearly: I do not accept the Jewish State, call it what you will." Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, for example, describes the new oath as a "fascist" act that "proves" that Israel is a "racist country."
Why this rejection? The PLO official news agency, WAFA, explains, "A Jewish state endangers not only Palestinians, but also the Arab World, and the global security. It is a call for legitimizing a racist entity, built on pure ethnic and theocratic criteria."
This is nonsense. One fifth of Israeli citizens are non-Jews, almost all Arab and Muslim, who vote, attend the same universities, use the same buses and eat in the same restaurants services as other Israelis, though few perform military service, from which they are exempted. Israel has had Arab ministers, Knesset members, supreme court justices and diplomatic representatives something yet to be seen in respect of Jews (or any non-Arabs) living in Arab majority states. Iraq, with a Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, is the sole exception, courtesy of the American removal of Saddam's regime.
Moreover, what substance is there to the claim that it is racist to demand that the general identity of the state conform to that of the history and aspirations of those who founded it? Would that assertion leave Arab and Muslim states untarnished?