Arab Disenfranchisement

{Of major importance to our philosophical 'battle stance' IMHO, and a continuation of our exploration of the relationship of Judaism to Israel - Tiburon}

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Arab disenfranchisement, if undertaken by a secular democratic government in Israel, would indeed be a form of racism. If Israel, however, had a Torah-oriented government, the disenfranchisement of Arabs or of non-Jews would not be racist!

This is extremely difficult for secular or non-observant Jews to understand if only because cultural egalitarianism dominates their mentality. Let me explain.

There are two basic reasons why disenfranchising Israel’s Arab citizens would not be racist if undertaken by a Torah-oriented government. The first reason is this: Any non-Jew can convert to Judaism regardless of his race, provided his conversion conforms to the moral and intellectual standards prescribed by Jewish law.

The second reason is more profound, and has to do with the world-historical function of the Jewish people prescribed in the Bible of Israel. Here I shall quote various passages from Joshua Berman’s excellent book, The Temple.

The laws concerning life in the land of Israel,” says Berman, “are designed to create an environment in which the children of Israel can encounter G-d.” By comparative analysis of key terms, Berman shows that Eretz Yisrael is the counterpart of the Garden of Eden. The Temple represents “the spiritual center of the country. Here, at the site where G-d’s presence is most immanent, the representatives of the Jewish people execute commandments and rites that symbolize the service of the nation as a whole.” (Just as Adam was expelled from the Garden of Eden for failing to obey G-d’s commandments, so the Jewish people were expelled from the land of Israel for the same failing.)

Notice, however, that the Garden of Eden “heralds the capacity of all men to enter into communion with the Almighty, for all men are descendants of Adam.” (This is why any non-Jew can convert to Judaism.) Hence any non-Jew, so long as he adheres to the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality, can bring certain sacrifices to the Temple. But this is only a minute part of the picture.

Why is it that more than four centuries elapsed between the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt and the construction of the Temple? Here is Berman’s answer. G-d refers to the Temple as “the place I shall select to establish My Name.” The construction of the Temple therefore represents “a public declaration of G-d’s sovereignty [in the world]. The ambition of declaring G-d’s sovereignty in the world, which was initiated by Abraham, is the calling of the Jewish people.

Berman continues: “G-d’s acclaim in the world is a direct function of how Israel is perceived [by the nations].” Israel must become a great country. “A great country should possess political stability at home and should be at peace with its neighbors. It should possess a strong economy and should be home to a culture that boasts strong [moral and intellectual] virtues.” Israel did not become such a nation until the reign of King David, and it was left to his son Solomon to build the (first) Temple. All nations then flocked to Jerusalem, which was recognized not only as the City of Peace but the City of Truth.

“The function of the Temple as a symbol for G-d’s acclaim in the world reaches its apex with the visit of the queen of Sheba to Solomon’s court” -- Solomon, the wisest of kings. Ponder, therefore, Isaiah 2:1-3: And many nations will go and cry, ‘Let us go up the to mountain of G-d’s house, to the house of the L-rd of Jacob, and we will learn from His ways and walk in His paths, for out of Zion goes forth the Torah and the word of G-d from Jerusalem.’”

Here we see not only the profoundest and noblest meaning of a Jewish state. Here we also see why disenfranchising non-Jews in the State of Israel is absolutely essential to the world-historical mission of the Jewish People. That mission is to acclaim G-d’s sovereignty in the world -- specifically, by revealing His infinite wisdom, power, and graciousness in every domain of existence. Only as a Torah nation can Israel acclaim G-d’s sovereignty. Only as a Torah nation can Israel be a light unto the nations. Only then will war and racism cease to afflict mankind.

Nothing can be further from the truth than to identify Judaism -- Torah Judaism -- with any form of racism. G-d creates nations as well as individuals. Each nation has a particular function in world-history. Israel’s function is defined above. Israel cannot possibly fulfill that function as a secular or as a bi-national state. Israel cannot fulfill its G-d given mission unless it is an authentic Jewish state. Israel cannot be an authentic Jewish State so long as Arab residents of Israel shape its laws and policies. Nor is this all.

Israel is reputed to be a democracy. However, the democratic principle of one adult/one vote will eventually transform Israel into an Arab-Islamic dictatorship. This eventuality provides the only justification by which a secular Israeli government may disenfranchise Arabs. But this democratic justification, sound so far as it goes, obscures the fact that Israel cannot fulfill its world-historical mission as a democracy. Israel is supposed to be a “kingdom of priests,” i.e. a nation of noblemen, which means a universal aristocracy. Not popular sovereignty, but popular sovereignty under G-d is the key to Israel’s and mankind’s salvation.

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