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Flags, etc

Reader comment on item: Accepting Israel as the Jewish State[: Public Opinion in Four Arab Countries]
in response to reader comment: an old brave new world

Submitted by KM (India), May 20, 2010 at 04:36

Thanks for responding to my little soliloqy...but I wish the Grand Vizier had chosen to respond substantively to my points instead of somewhat superficially. My principal points: (1) how silly it is to use descent over more than 3 generations for citizenship, selectively allowing people of one religion in. Why not we all have the right to move to Ethiopia since that is our true ancestral home? (2) The point was not whether there exist some nations who have religion-centric flags (there are, but not India's) - but whether Israel's national icons are appropriate for a modern nation that has 74.6% Jews and a 16% Muslim minority (not counting West Bank or Gaza). (3) how non-Western the values underpinning Israel's laws on different religions/ethnicities are.

My responses to your objections:

"I for one disagree with that statement. Most Westerners would agree that Israel will remain in their perception a Western country, despite its location, whether they call themselves Jewish or not."
That's a perception based on optics, not values. A perception because most Israelis look like Westerners (white), and have a standard of living close to the West. So, yes, they look Western. If you look at values, an ethnicity and religion neutral orientation in a nation's laws and constitution is a bedrock principle in modern Western jurisprudence and the Western sense of fairness. No amount of spin will change the fact that Israel does not share those values (yet).

"I guess a case in point is your own Indian flag - with its ashoka chakra very evident at its centre."
I'm writing from India but am not Indian. Even then, the point should be about the argument, not me, right? Many European nations had/have remnants of a cross on their flag, but that has morphed and ebbed over the centuries - and now religion is on a remarkable decline in Europe. The Star of David and the colours are unambiguously and forthrightly religious. The Indian flag is almost equivalent to having a Muslim crescent on the Israeli flag. You'll see why. I wish you had read through the link you provided, because (1) the Ashoka Chakra is uncontroversial and is not seen as a religious symbol in India but stands for "righteousness", (2) is unrelated to Hinduism - it actually is, to whatever extent "religious", linked to Buddhism (Ashoka converted to it) which is a MINORITY religion in India, and (3) that article clearly says "a few days before India became independent on August 1947, the specially constituted Constituent Assembly decided that the flag of India must be acceptable to all parties and communities." That doesn't sound like something Israel will do, even though it should.

"I'd be happy to just settle for a world where Islam was recognised for what it is."
Well, there's the supremacist "we're better than them" tendency coming out! The sooner we realize all old cultures and peoples have equal amounts of good and bad in them, the better off we'll be. It's dangerous to start blaming one religion, or assigning blame with a broad brush, instead of blaming individuals for their actions (and not their "culture"). If I was to go down your poisonous road - this is what I'd see: take a simple measure of counting extra-judicial deaths (terrorism, wars, assassinations) over the last 100 years. Take the Mideast, or the whole world. And hold responsible those who actually pulled the triggers (whatever their justification/excuse - self-defense, fighting for freedom, vengeance. Then those deaths caused by Judaeochristian groups far outstrips those caused by Islamic groups. I've seen the numbers before somewhere. And if one factors in great power interventions and structural violence, not just trigger pullers after a stable system has been destabilized, then the Judaeochristian culpability is even higher. For example, without the US invasion of Iraq (and the Jewish and neocon cheerleading that led to it), the million plus excess deaths that have occurred (two of the most reliable studies indicate that), would have been avoided. Does that lead me to say Christianity or Judaism are violent religions or that you are violent because someone else was? No. But your line of thinking would lead down that path. I think that Judaeochristian societies are as pro-peace or pro-violence as Muslim ones, even though that violence takes forms that are deadlier (deadlier technology), involve killing from a distance (nicer guys can kill), and killing through structural violence (suffering triggered by our actions or structures). Don't look at selective evidence that fits your worldview - please look at all of it and quantify it.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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