A recurrent practice by Israel's apologists in this country is never to miss an opportunity to refer to Israel as a democracy. Two cases in point: Stephen Goodman's letter (2/6) and Richard Garfunkel's letter (2/10). These apologists are determined to spoon feed the readers the idea that Israel's democracy is comparable to Western democracies. This is not the case.
First Israel calls itself a Jewish state. Not a single Western democracy uses a similar qualifier such as Christian, Muslim or Buddhist. Second, Israel considers itself to be the homeland of the Jewish people wherever they live. This extraterritoriality that Israel claims to itself is alien to all Western democracies. Calling Israel a Jewish democracy denotes a contradiction in terms. There is no such thing as a Jewish, Christian or Muslim democracy. Democracy cannot be qualified.
Israel's democracy is rather comparable to South Africa's democracy under the white minority rule. While South Africa then was a democracy by apartheid standards, Israel is a democracy by Zionist standards. Mr. Goodman writes that "Israelis have gone to the poll 16 times to elect leaders." So do Iraqis; this doesn't make Iraq a democracy. Mr. Garfunkel writes that "Arab Muslims serve in Israel's parliament. So do the whites in Zimbabwe; this doesn't make Zimbabwe a democracy
In a Jewish state, Jews are more equal than non-Jews. It has always been that way and unless Israel becomes the country of all its citizens, it will lack the characteristics of a Western democracy.February 15, 2003