Israel’s undemocratic oath to democracy

10 Oct

Don’t usually wade into the mire of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis as I don’t live there and don’t really feel I have the right to pass judgement.

However, this latest call (click here for BBC report) for new immigrants to Israel to have to swear loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state“, the “centrepiece” of far right-wing MK Avignor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beteinu electoral campaign in 2009, struck me as so depressingly theocratic and undemocratic in its very nature that I, as a Jew, can’t resist commenting.

In a country made up of a significant Muslim/Christian Arab minority (20%), it seems no less than petty-minded and inflammatory to demand of new immigrants such as “Palestinians married to Israelis who seek citizenship on the basis of family re-unification, foreign workers, and a few other special cases” (quoted from BBC report) to have to swear allegiance to the Jewishness of the state of Israel, rather than to a democracy made up of people from a full spectrum of religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Which other country around the world demands that you swear loyalty to the religion adhered to by the majority of its citizens when you immigrate? I certainly didn’t have to swear loyalty to the USA as a “Christian and democratic state” when I got my Green Card last year.

Why not just stick to loyalty to democracy and leave religion out of it?

That way you might actually live up to your claims of being a democratic state.


3 Responses to “Israel’s undemocratic oath to democracy”

  1. Mark October 10, 2010 at 21:22 #

    Maybe instead, they should be required to take an oath as follows:

    I hereby declare, on oath,

    that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;

    that I will support and defend the laws of the State of Israel against all enemies, foreign and domestic;

    that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;

    that I will bear arms on behalf of the State of Israel when required by the law;

    that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the State of Israel when required by the law;

    that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and

    that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

    Would this oath be acceptable to you? (other than the fact that most of the exact same people that would have a problem with the proposed oath would have a bigger problem with this one)

    • rebeccainspace October 12, 2010 at 10:10 #

      thanks for your response – glad to have opened up the debate.
      I see your point but I think this oath (and the racist ideology of some of its proponents) runs counter to the guiding principles of Israel’s Declaration of Independence:
      “Israel…will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;”

  2. Elle October 22, 2010 at 05:33 #

    I am not shocked. I agree.

    I understand you are okay with the secular aspect. A few years ago, we had such an oath (and written history questions) in England to acquire British citizenship, which is fine by me.
    For the religious aspect, when you are a small state (in size) surrounded by hostile bigger (in size) states, and accepting a fifth of foreign religions according to your article, you have to protect yourself.

    The Arabs stayed in the arabic peninsula until 632 AD. When they came out, it was to colonise and fight the Christian populations who were living there. They all submit. Apart from the Jews, the only population that kept its dignity and its identity throughout the centuries. And by doing so, they gave us our cultural and religious heritage on the Judeo-Christian line.
    At its origin, North Africa had a Jewish population but the Arabs invaded that geographic area with the results being, for example, the Jews people having to step down the pavement when crossing with an Arab…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: