The same document that we critiqued in our previous post presents a very common Zionist argument regarding the national symbols of the State of Israel:
The crux of the accusation against Israel is encapsulated in the often-repeated charge that the racism of Israel “is symbolized most clearly in Israel’s Jewish flag, anthem and state holidays.” The accusers have not a word of criticism against the tens of liberal democratic states that have Christian crosses incorporated in their flags, nor against the Muslim states with the half crescent symbol of Islam. For a Western state, with Jewish and Muslim minorities, to have Christmas as a national holiday is permissible, but for Israel to celebrate Passover as a national holiday is somehow racist. For various Arab states to denote themselves as Arab Republics is not objectionable, but a Jewish state is racism and Apartheid.
Arguments by analogy are notoriously weak because before we can determine if the argument is sound we must first check if the analogy is valid. In this case it’s clearly not, since the author is comparing apples that are unquestionably apples with other apples that look, taste and smell like oranges.
As with most Zionist arguing, the paragraph quoted above makes a petitio principii, also known as begging the question, in that it assumes that people who criticize a country are obligated to write a treatise on all other countries that behave similarly. This is patently absurd.
More to the point, even if we criticized the Western countries that have crosses in their flags or celebrate Christmas, the criticism would have to be of a very different nature than the one directed against Israel, and for multiple reasons.
The flags that contain crosses were created at a time when the notion of equality between all citizens of a country (back them they were called subjects) was not firmly established. Also, at the time that they were created the cross actually reflected the reality of homogeneously Christian nations. Furthermore, these nations had evolved over a long period of time before adopting their flags.
While it can be argued that Denmark –for instance– would do well to drop the cross from its flag out of respect for its non-Christian citizens, there are a number of arguments that can be presented agaisnt this idea. In the first place, there exists a long tradition of the Danes using the same flag, which was adopted in the 14th century. In the second place, the cross in the flag is a desemantized symbol (i.e., it has lost its meaning).
The people see it and don’t think of Christianity, among other reasons because it’s in a horizontal, rather than vertical, position. This is also true of all crosses in Western national flags, none of which looks very much like the cross that you see upon entering a church. Thus, the cross in the Greek flag has its horizontal arm longer than the vertical one; that in the Swiss flag has equal-sized arms; and the British flag presents a mix of straight and diagonal crosses. These are crosses based on the Christian religion, but they don’t remind you very much of that faith.
None of this is true in the case of Israel. The country was created from scratch in 1948; i.e., there was no tradition to uphold. It was by no means religiously homogeneous. The principle of equality between citizens had already been established as a requisite for a democracy. The flag with the Star of David was adopted in the full awareness that a significant percentage of the population rejected it, without consulting that segment of the citizenry.
Its religious meaning was reinforced by the menorah being adopted as the country’s coat of arms. Accusing Israel’s critics of not criticizing the crosses in Western flags is, thus, like accusing Saudi Arabia’s critics of not criticizing Britain or Spain, whose heads of State are as unelected as King Fahd.
We have the same problem with regard to Christmas. While it is true that it’s a Christian holiday, its celebration is, once again, desemantized. There are no legally enforceable rules that apply to it. In Israel, on the other hand, the holiday of Pesach (to give the author’s example) is regulated by the chametz law, whereby all people living in a Jewish-majority town, even if they’re not Jewish (for instance, an Arab baker) are forbidden from showcasing leavened bakery products.
The author also wants us to criticize the Arab countries that append “Arab” to their names. This is hardly the same as Israel defining itself as Jewish. Anyone can become an Arab by learning Arabic, because Arabness is a linguistic, not religious, concept. This is not true of Jewish identity, which is defined by rigid criteria and can’t be acquired by, say, an atheist. There’s a world of difference between an inclusive identity, that can be added to your previous one (I can become an Arab while continuing to speak Spanish with my children), and an exclusive one like Jewishness, which forces you to abandon your previous convictions.
Finally, although the author reports the anti-Zionist mention of Israel’s anthem as another tool to segregate the Arab population, for some reason he fails to address the charge. Maybe because it’s kind of difficult to spin the lyrics of Hatikva:
As long as deep in the heart,
The soul of a Jew yearns,
And forward to the East
To Zion, an eye looks
Our hope will not be lost,
The hope of two thousand years,
To be a free nation in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
How can an Arab be expected to love the country that forces them to say they’re Jewish is beyond my comprehension. (Incidentally, the anthem is also discriminatory of Oriental Jews, who, however, don’t take offense, busy as they are hating the other Arabs, the ones with the wrong religion.)
Israel’s exclusionary Jewish nature is evident in all aspects of the country’s business, but the national symbols are unquestionably evidence A.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.