What if I told you of a people that thought that they were a superior class of humans. They were stronger, smarter and more attractive. They were going to rid their land of immigrants and foreigners, rid it of anyone not like them. Those who stayed would be persecuted minorities.
Is that how you think of Israel? More and more, that is how she is portrayed. But, in fact, that would be Iran, Nazi Germany or any ISIS-controlled territory. Contrary to the lies of anti-Semites like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who said two weeks ago that Muslims do not have freedom of worship in Israel, Israel Muslims are the freest in the Middle East. To be clear, when she said that Muslims are not free to worship, she was dead wrong.
Created out of Necessity
In order to understand why Israel is the antithesis of racism, you have to understand her origins. Unlike Nazi Germany, Israel never sought to create a master race. Unlike the Islamic state, that wanted to control the world through Islam, Israel was created out of the necessity to survive. There was an existential threat against the Jewish people.
After 2,000 years of wandering the world, the Jewish people came under increasing persecution at the end of the nineteenth century. Not that things were easy before that. In seventeenth-century Ukraine, as many as 100,000 Jews were murdered by the regime of Bogdan Chemelnitsky. Tens of thousands of Jews were forced from their homes and livelihood in Spain in the latter fourteen hundreds. Thousands of Jews died during the crusades.
A Father is Born
But, in the late eighteen hundreds, pogroms (violent demonstrations against the Jews) broke out in Russian, Poland and Ukraine. During that time, a young Theodore Herzl did not think the Jews needed their own country. He just wanted to see people of all countries accept the Jews that lived among them as equals. He was an anti-Zionist.
However, when he covered the trial of Alfred Dreyfus in France for the Vienna-based newspaper for which he worked, he was shocked. It was clear Dreyfus was innocent. The Jewish officer was arrested on trumped up charges, brought by anti-Semites in the French military. When he was convicted and sent into exile at Devil’s Island, a conviction overcame Herzl: The Jews will never be accepted among the nations. We need our own country!
He wrote a book called “The Jewish State” and began to promote Zionism all over the world. A secular prophet, he called for the restoration of Israel on her own land.
The Opposite of Racism
So, you can see that Israel was not birthed because of Jewish racism against others, but because of racism against Jews by virtually every other nation. However, we implored the Arabs in the region not to leave, but to stay and become equal citizens in our new nation. Read the following excerpt from our Declaration of Independence, spoken by our first Prime Minister on the day of our birth, May 14th, 1948:
WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
Did the Nazis give an invitation like this to the Jews? Does ISIS seek to give minorities equal rights? No! Half a million Jews chose to leave their nations after Israel’s independence for fear of their lives. Racism broke out against the Jews after Israel’s rebirth and the only nation that could protect them was the newly-formed Jewish state—proving her need to exist!
Some 800,000 Arabs fled Israel during the War of Independence at the urging of the surrounding Arab states. They were going to destroy Israel before she began. These Arabs were told (by the surrounding countries) to leave temporarily and that they could come back for the spoils after the victory. The 600,000 Arabs who did not leave became Israeli citizens, while those who left in hopes of Israel’s destruction became refugees. The descendants of the Arabs who stayed are full and free citizens of Israel.
For more than 70 years, oil-rich Arab nations have done everything in their power to keep the 800,000 Arabs who fled (and now their descendants) in refugee camps. They could have absorbed them into their nations, but, instead, they treated them terribly, so they could continue to be used as a political issue against Israel. Thousands of Palestinian refugees have been murdered in Syria’s civil war, yet you never even hear about it. The fact is that the racism other Arabs nations have towards Palestinian Arabs is tremendous. In English, they talk about the poor Palestinians and, in Arabic, they curse them.
The Palestinian Issue
Palestinians are not the same as the Israeli Arabs. Palestinians are actually Jordanians. After Israel became a nation, Jordan swallowed up the West Bank (ancient Judea and Samaria). They never once offered to build that area into a “Palestinian State”. There was no such thing as a Palestinian Arab ethnicity. They became Jordanians. The word Palestinian referred to any person living in region—Jewish, Arab or European.
But, during the Six Day War, after Israel promised not to attack them, Jordan decided to attack Israel. Within two days, Israel drove them out of Jerusalem and over the West Bank. It was a swift and unexpected victory. Suddenly, Israel was in a pickle having to administrate the lives of more than 1,000,000 new people. Giving back the land—that again, we gained only because we were attacked—was illogical from a security point of view. It is a complicated issue for sure. But it is not connected to apartheid or racism, but to security.
I would be lying to say Israel is racism-free – no country is. But I can say two things that are true: Israelis’ negative feelings toward the surrounding Arab nations and Palestinians have everything to do with the fact that they hate us. We would love to live in peace with them. And, secondly, if you come to Israel, you will see that Israel is most embracing of other cultures and ethnicities in the world. It is a wonderful country!