The winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel. Rude and arrogant power brokers, some of whom hold senior positions in government, exclude non-Jews from Israeli public spaces. Graffiti in the streets demonstrates their hidden dreams: a pure Israel with “no Arabs” and “no gentiles.” They do not notice what their exclusionary ideas are doing to Israel, to Judaism and to Jews in the diaspora. In the absence of a binding constitution, Israel has no real protection for its minorities or for their freedom of worship and expression.
If this trend continues, all vestiges of democracy will one day disappear, and Israel will become just another Middle Eastern theocracy. It will not be possible to define Israel as a democracy when a Jewish minority rules over a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — controlling millions of people without political rights or basic legal standing.
Burg, unlike a less clear op-ed last year, is now far more clear about his vision for Israel’s future as a democracy. His new clarity is hardly unique, and therefore not so remarkable. It is no less important, however.
More Israeli voices, especially ones with such stature in Israel and Jewish Diaspora as Burg, need to be talking about the future of Israel only being possible through ”a state that belongs to all her citizens and in which the government behaves with fairness and equality toward all persons without prejudice based on religion, race or gender”. Ideally it should be two-states — a division will reduce animosity, solidify national aspirations and enhance prospects of stability on both sides — but, sadly, there may come a time when only one is possible. Democracy is the preference over theocracy — he is right. But we aren’t there yet.
In his last op-ed it seemed he was more keen to allow Israel to descend into single-state doom. He expanded on his views in my post’s comments, too. This time, invoking Herzl, his views are much more sensible: “For all the cynics … I can only say to Americans, ‘Yes, we still can,’ and to Israelis, ‘If you will it, it is no dream.’”. It’s hard to point to where, based on this article, where his principles deviate from my own.
The only question now is: who can bring this dream through to fruition?