There is self-determination and then there is ethno-tyranny (the Jewish state is the latter)

Following up the last post:

Israel indeed has laws that apply only to, and favor, Jews (ergo, discriminating against non-Jews). These mostly concern ownership of property. (For example, most of the land in Israel cannot be legally sold to non-Jews.) This is why the “only democracy in the Middle East” does not have its own constitution, with anything resembling a Bill of Rights; declaring universal equality before the law would run counter to the content of those laws.

None of this should be surprising given Israel’s nature as a “Jewish state” whose founding document declares the “sovereignty of the Jewish people” to govern. What is puzzling to me is why this strikes almost nobody as nastily racist.

The typical defense against such a charge is to cite the virtue of “self-determination,” arguing: The State of Israel is the product of the Jewish self-determination struggle, which is parallel to and just as valid as the self-determination struggles (Vietnamese, Haitian, Philippine, etc.) that gave birth to many other nations.

But this strikes a flawed analogy: There is a key difference between a group of regional inhabitants throwing off colonial shackles and forming a nation “on the spot,” as it were—and a group of persons, scattered all over, gathering on a spot where another group of regional inhabitants already lives, and declaring legal rule over them.

It’s the difference between painting the house I already live in, versus somebody’s breaking into another’s house to paint it, against the owner’s objections—and then defending it by saying there is no real difference between the two scenarios: “We’re both just painting—if he can do it, why can’t I? Everybody paints, right? Why are you picking on my painting?”

The problem, of course, is not the painting but the breaking in. The problem with Israel, of course, is not the “self-determination” but the circumstances under which it was undertaken.

Whatever other reasons might be given in favor of Jewish supremacy in Israel, the “self-determination” analogy does not work. Determination on the basis of ethnic or religious or any grounds other than shared geographic locality is, all things being equal, immoral, not to mention tyrannic.


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