Smadar Al-Ani who describes herself as an Israeli writer of Iraqi origin, and is from the well-known Al-Ani family wrote an article for the prestigious electronic media ‘Shafaf’, (Transparent) about the ‘Jewishness’ of Israel and its democracy, and how it succeeded in balancing its act between the two in total harmony.
The Jewish State, in her view, simply means a state with a Jewish majority, in which Judaism is the state religion, without this denying the rights of followers of other religions who have absolute freedom to perform their religious rituals and celebrate their holidays.
She added this equation was adopted by Israel since its inception, and despite all the tensions that cannot be denied, Israel has succeeded, according to her, in maintaining the balance between the Jewishness of the state and its democracy, in line with the spirit of the Independence Document, which combines the Jewish nature of the state with the features of the modern state characterized by freedom and equality.
From the perspective of our Middle Eastern reality, the author says, ‘We see that all Arab countries, except for Lebanon, the religion of the state is Islam and a source of basic legislation, in addition to the presence of dozens of political, financial and advocacy institutions that move in the same religious direction.
This confirms the strong presence of the religious factor in Arab countries and societies, including those which are most advanced, and even the symbols and colors of Arab flags, just as the Israeli flag is linked to its religious history.
In light of this fact, it is impossible to adopt the Western model in our region at present, especially with regard to the absolute separation of religion from the state. This situation applies to all countries of the region.
Al-Ani continues saying that the Jewishness of the state has not been a hindrance to the continuous increase in the number of non-Jews who are employed in the highest positions. The state also cares for all Arab educational institutions and protects mosques – which are about 400 – add to this list the number of churches.
She also says that this approach is considered one of the Israeli constants, and differs from the painful scenes that we are witnessing, perhaps in all of the Arab countries of constant neglect of Jewish heritage sites and the sabotage operations that target them, if it is allowed to keep them.
The author points out to a painful fact that there is a continuous and increasing emigration of minorities from Arab countries, and most of them have transformed into ‘Mono societies’, or individual religion. In parallel, minorities in the Jewish state are witnessing a continuous growth in their numbers and live in total safety unlike some other Middle Eastern countries.
She concluded her article by saying the Israeli society should not be tagged with any individual ‘terrorist’ act, describing it as racist. Extremism and extremists are found in every society. She wonders: ‘Why is the only Jewish state in the world not entitled to preserve its religious and national identity, in an atmosphere of tolerance like the rest of the components, just as the Arab countries that have the right to link their national identity with Islam?
There is no doubt that Al-Ani’s article contained a lot of bias towards a racist state, but if we look at ourselves, we will find that we are not less racist and profess hatred for the other.
I think if the Arabs of Israel had a choice between leaving it, in exchange for granting them the nationality of any other Arab country, they would choose to stay where they are. I do not exaggerate when I say this.
By Ahmad alsarraf