Monday, January 19, 2009

Israeli political correctness

I found another interesting opinion online from the same page as my last post from Ta-Nehisi Coates which is a blog from The Atlantic.

Hey again. No, I definitely do not underestimate the discrimination against Arab-Israelis. Israelis are surprisingly forthright about their prejudices - they have virtually no culture of political correctness. Israelis have hastily assured me that it was an Arab who robbed my friend, and warned not to go out with a particular guy explicitly because he was Arab. The prejudice is definitely there.

But it's not Jim Crow. Nor is Arab prejudice against Jews (Arab states evicted most of their Jews in 48) really analogous to Jim Crow, which is specific to American history. Not in substance and certainly not in context. Whatever their entrenched ethnic prejudices, these populations have actually been physically fighting each other for 100 years. Huge proportions of the populations have personally seen combat. If you've ever heard Hungarians and Romanians talk about each other, you're getting close to the warm-and-fuzzy of Israeli-Palestinian feelings.

I never thought of it before - Israeli political correctness. I wasn't a political animal when I lived in Israel because I was too young so I didn't think of it back then. But now that I am aware of that concept in American politics, it adds a whole new dimension of comparison between Israeli democracy and American (and European) democracy. Israel is only 60 years old. It's new and old at the same time because of its Jewish character. It's in the middle of the Middle East, a regional minority, and faced or waged many wars. Many racist things have been said in the Knesset by the far right. Many offensive things have been said by the Arab MKs as well. Perhaps it is just a product of the Israeli political system with its many parties. Or perhaps it hasn't matured enough to the measure of American and European democracies. After all, it did take more than 60 years for the United States to end slavery.

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