Democracy : Is it Good for the Jews?

So the world is entranced and pretty excited by the protests in Egypt. This is all well and good. After all its a big story, and pretty clear cut – millions of peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators on one side and a brutal police state on the other. Everyone’s happy. Except, it seems, the Jews, who have decided that the whole one member one vote thing isn’t really  in our interests.

Not that people are coming out and saying it outright. Being an out-and-out authoritarian anti-democrat is seriously unfashionable. No, the tactic amongst right-wing Jews is to express a seemingly benevolent concern – ‘ wouldn’t it be awful if there were elections, and the Muslim brotherhood won, and then they cancelled elections and made Egypt a theocracy’. Egyptians might, they suggest, be better off with the devil they know. There is a biblical precedent for this kind of approach. Having left Egypt (cute irony) many Israelites think they would have been better off as slaves to Pharoah:

We remember the fish that we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers, the leeks, the onions and the garlic. Now our gullets are shriveled. There is nothing at all! Nothing but this manna to look to!

Sticking with oppression because you’re afraid of the future. Doesn’t get a good press in the Hebrew bible.

Benjamin Netanyahu (always more of a Pharoah than a Moses) has been praising Mubarak to the hilt, and talking in apocalyptic term of what happens if he goes. This, at the very least, represents bad tactics. Being best chums with Israel’s increasingly neo-fascist government is not going to add to Mubarak’s popularity with the Egyptian people. But at least Bibi is prepared to say explicitly what many commentators, bloggers and facebookers are only prepared top hint at. He’s clear that the only important consideration, the goal by which all developments must be judged, is what is good for Israel. Its a very narrow version of good for Israel, granted, but the government, backed by the old slimeball Shimon Peres, is clear that the main that has given security on Israel’s southern border for 30 years, as well as co-enforcing the blockade of Gaza, should be kept in power. Flagrant realism, blatant display of (supposed) national self interest. Is this the current state of Jewish ethics?

If Judaism is not about creating a just world for all then what the fuck is it? As the sublime Emmanuel Levinas put it:

The ethical order does not prepare us for the Divinity, it is the very accession to the divinity.

Or, as he might have said: Justice. Its good for the Jews.

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4 thoughts on “Democracy : Is it Good for the Jews?

  • Democracy in Egypt will be a good thing for Israel, right now Israel has “peace” with the Egyptian (and Jordanian) Government-what Israel needs is peace with the Egyptian people and that can only come about when the Egyptian government represents the Egyptian people.

    And if they don’t want peace, again Israel will know where it stands and better to know now when Israel has a clear military advantage. We all hope and pray that peace is what the people of Egypt wish to have with Israel but realpolitik dictates that the alternative is better in 2011 than 2021.

    Same with Jordan, same with Syria etc. And who knows, a truly representative Egyptian Government may well shame Israel into a just settlement with the Palestinians. One thing is for certain, the “only democracy in the Middle East” meme only has a few more weeks to run.

  • Cochini :

    1. Israel is not the only democracy in the Mid East. I refer you to Gaza which has a democracy.

    2. Israel will never give the Palestinians a just settlement. Israel wants to destroy the Palestinians or let them rot in the hills.

    3. Egypt already has peace with Israel for over 30 years. That did not come from the government of Egypt, it came from the people and the people wish to continue with this.

  • Help! Need my faith in my fellow yidden restoring. I’ve come across a truly foul, racist blog written by American Jews and got into a bisel broiges with them. They tell me I’m an anomaly, that they are the majority view, and that they have NEVER had any Jew other than me object to what they say about Muslims ( and also about Liberal Jews – apparently Shoah was our fault) If anyone’s feeling a little bored and feels like correcting them it would at least make the point to all the non-Jews reading it that they aren’t the voice of the Jewish world that they pretend to be.

    http://barenakedislam.wordpress.com/about/

    Thanks all.

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