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Israel's bigger battle ahead: its national identity

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DogPoundPup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:45 PM
Original message
Israel's bigger battle ahead: its national identity
excerpt~
For Israel to be at peace with its neighbors, it must first be at peace with itself. It's a hefty, and long delayed, process, but here are three objectives Israeli leaders and voters should work toward in building Israeli identity.

1. Required national service for all may be the lowest-hanging fruit. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last year that Arab enlistment in the army reached an all-time high (still only in the hundreds), and the Knesset, Israel's parliament, is considering making civil service compulsory for Arabs as it has been for Jews.

No one should expect any substantial number of Israeli Arabs to join an army that is sometimes called upon to fight their families in the occupied territories and neighboring countries. However, serving one's own community in Israel through civil service makes sense. In a country that puts a premium on service and self-sacrifice, Arabs would have a better leg to stand on when demanding equal treatment.

2. One education system for all is essential. Today, three groups of citizens attend three kinds of schools that deliver three kinds of curriculum.

The majority secular Jews enroll in public schools, similar to any other Western country. Religious Jews can study in publicly funded religious schools. Largely underserved Arabs attend schools taught in Arabic and framed by Arab history.

How does a society forge an identity from children who grow up with different understandings of their country? How do citizens learn to live together when they are raised in a segregated environment?

3. The lack of a constitution is the most glaring deficiency of Israel's democracy. Instead, it gets by on a collection of basic laws that enjoy semiconstitutional status.

Israel must ratify a constitution that enshrines equal rights and protections for all citizens; recognizes Israeli Arabs as the collective, indigenous minority that they are; separates religion from state but still preserves the Jewish character of the country (in the same way England is officially Christian, but the Jewish minority has no trouble living there).

A constitution is more than a set of laws. It is the ultimate symbol of national unity: one document from which all citizens will be judged equally and fairly. No one is above it or forgotten by it.

Dealing with Israeli identity or the lack of one could in itself tear the country apart, and it's why no Israeli leader has seriously gone down that path. Attacking external extremists has always been preferable to confronting its own citizens.

more...http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0122/p09s01-coop.html
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 12:52 PM
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1. Good article
The point about school integration is particularly important.

www.handinhandk12.org

I agree that Israel would do better with the rights of all citizens enshrined in a written constitution. So would the UK - but perhaps that's for another thread.
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Idealism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:05 PM
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2. Great ideas, but I don't see Bibi desegregating schools or writting a Constitution
Perhaps in the next decade Israel can join this century.
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:06 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Bibi is not PM, and let's hope he doesn't get to be!
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Idealism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I hope he won't win, but it doesn't look good at the moment
Even if he doesn't win, the other choices aren't exactly winners either :(
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tularetom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:05 PM
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3. A constitution only works if elected officials honor it
When your leaders do everything they can to ignore, dishonor or evade the requirements of your constitution it may as well not exist.

Of course I'm not referring to any specific examples. :sarcasm:
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Vegasaurus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:20 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Israel doesn't have a constitution
so there is nothing to ignore, dishonor or evade.

Great Britain and New Zealand don't have constitutions either.
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LeftishBrit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. I thinkTulertom was probably referring to the USA
You're right that we (Great Britain) don't, and I think we should.
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Idealism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Calm down Vega, he wasn't talking about Israel
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Chulanowa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 02:10 PM
Response to Original message
9. Israel only harms itself with its ethnic nationalism
It's a philosophy doomed to failure. It ultimately puts Israel in harm's way. A single, integrated state is the only possible way this conflict can end.
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Idealism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-21-09 10:58 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Unless they plan on systemically killing all Arab Israeli's
Within say the next 40-50 years. Otherwise the 'demographic timebomb' Bibi talked about will come to fruition. Imagine the fear and hysteria in the Israeli press then...
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