It is customary in vibrant democracies' election campaigns for parties to criticize the platforms and candidates of other parties. What is peculiar to Israel
is for ethnicity and religion to be wielded as a weapon to discredit rivals. These tactics, despicable as they are, would be perhaps easier to understand if they were limited to groups that are currently at war with Israel. Unfortunately this is not the case. There are broad strata of the Israeli population where to discredit an adversary by labeling him a "goy" is considered legitimate and patriotic.
What is surprising about the propaganda
of Shas and the declarations of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef regarding Habayit Hayehudi is not that they highlight how widespread xenophobia is in Israel, but rather the reactions of Shas' adversaries. These parties defended the Jewishness of the targeted groups, not realizing how this defense implies that not being Jewish
is somehow shameful.
The reactions to the Shas slanders are not the sole instance where good intentions have been demeaning to non-Jews. Another instance is the episode of conversions to Judaism. The haredi rabbinical establishment insists that conversion to Judaism should be based on a demonstrated commitment to follow a religious lifestyle. This stringency has resulted in a situation whereby hundreds of thousands of olim from the former Soviet Union have not converted.
Responding to the complications this situation currently leads to, the national religious camp - as well as secular figures - have demanded that the conversion process be streamlined to hasten the conversion of these immigrants. We do not wish to discuss the conditions under which a conversion should be granted or whether rabbinical courts should serve the interests of state-building. It is far more interesting to notice how this episode proves that for large swathes of the Jewish public in Israel goyishness is a condition to be cured at almost any cost. Including the cost of disassociating conversion from any commitment to following the rules of the Jewish religion.
It is in this context that the contribution of gentiles to Israel ought to be mentioned: Without the declaration of the gentile Balfour, a Jewish homeland would have never been established; without the skills that the gentile Orde Wingate imparted to the Haganah, Israel might not have been ready for the War of Independence; without weapons supplied by the gentile Czechoslovakia, the War of Independence would have not been won. Without the aid of gentile France, Israel's nuclear program might have not succeeded; without the generous financial and military assistance of the gentile might called the United States of America, Israel would have probably already succumbed to its enemies.
But this gentile contribution is by no means limited to non-Jews living thousand of miles away from Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Druze, Bedouin and Russian gentiles have served the state with courage and blood in her battlefields. Tens of thousands of Filipinos practice care for the Jewish elderly and disabled of this country with a patience and devotion about which others can only preach about.
It is for these reasons that perhaps the time has come for gentiles and Jews to march hand in hand in Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem at a Goy Pride Parade. This would not only serve the interests of the millions of Israeli citizens whose mother happens not to be Jewish, but especially the interests of the Zionist enterprise. Indeed Israeli Jews should do well to remember that one of the key criteria according to which mankind, history and God will judge Israel to be a genuine "Light unto the Nations" will be its love and respect for the stranger among its gates. This love and respect should also encompass Israel's election seasons.
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