Saturday, 6 August 2011

a democratic, secular state

is it too much to ask?  Anywhere in the world?  I live in one,  pretty much, now, and have done so before, when I lived many years ago in Japan.  Although Japan does have a state religion, Shinto, in which the Emperor holds rank, and to which all prime ministers make obeisance on special days.  However.  France is a secular state (though Alsace is the least secular bit of it - Good Friday is a public holiday here, unlike in the rest of France, and there is religious education in schools here, you can choose Catholic or Protestant and in one or two schools even Jewish) which seems to me a Very Good Thing.  I am a communicant Anglican these days, but share (I think) with the Archbishop of Canterbury a wish for the disestablishment of the Church of England.  Oh, and in secular France we have a long weekend coming up - Monday 15th August is a public holiday, the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, an illustration I think that while states may try to be secular they are often not very good at it.

I was struck by an editorial by David Hearst in the Guardian (natch) to which my  attention was drawn by Norm and others, in which the wish is expressed for a democratic, secular state of Israel/Palestine, in which no religious or ethnic group has pre-eminence.  Who could be against that?  Not me.  Like many nominally on the Left (which is where I place myself, though others may not) I am not comfortable with the notion of a state based on religion or ethnicity.  Iran, where people get arrested for having water pistol fights because such things are "un-Islamic", and its client Gaza, whose people are human shields against the Jew.  And others.  But where does that lead us?  Back when I was young and foolish there used to be an organisation called the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and although I did not go in for taking positions on the Middle East when I was in my teens, on what I still think is the sensible ground that I didn't know what I was talking about, I did support that organisation.  It doesn't exist any more, and there doesn't seem to be anyone who would like a democratic, secular state in the region.  I have no idea what the majority Jewish people of Israel think about this.  Because I am talking about one state, not two.  And where does that lead us?

Well. you tell me.  Is there any way for one democratic secular state to exist which does not involve the destruction of democratic Israel and the slaughter of its people?  As Hamas and others have pledged to do? Norm and others take the view that what is apparently the start of a move towards one state inevitably means the removal of support for Israel in "the West", which in its turn means destruction and slaughter.  Are they right?  I fear so.  But is there another way?  I don't buy Lush products any more because of their support for Islamist racism (they've taken that off their website now), but it's hardly enough, is it?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

All for secular states. Don't like religius ones.

Anonymous said...

Can we hear from you on the recent IT case which went agaibnst RCRE and Raj Sophal?Incidentally did u know that sophals wifey isan appalling anti-semite with family connections to WW2 nazi groups in India[bose]?and personal connections to south african fascist groups also.I only ask.

Jane Griffiths said...

1. No, not really. I read the report of its findings, but otherwise know nothing about it.

2. Did not know this, if true, if you have evidence please do publish, or find someone who will. I find Mrs Sohpal a charming person, but that is by the by perhaps.

Rob Marchant said...

You're right, of course. I thought the article looked all reasonable at the beginning, and by the end it was just rubbish. Example, which I pointed out at Harry's Place:

I marvelled at the cripplingly flawed logic of the following statement, just before the end:
“The discrimination suffered by his community is extensively documented…Only 19% of Arab women with Israeli citizenship are in a job, compared with 65% of Jewish women”.

Whilst I’ve no doubt that some anti-Arab discrimination exists, Hearst does not even contemplate that in Israel perhaps there are a significant number of modern, Westernised Jewish women who may be culturally a little more likely to work than an equally-skilled Arab woman living in a fairly paternalistic culture under a theocratic leadership?

Go figure. It's the Guardian, after all.

dreamingspire said...

The USA support for Israel includes supporting Israeli high texh industry on which the US govt relies. It will take a good deal of Gore Vidal's prediction of the American Empire fading before they cast Israel loose and there can be any hope of a securlar state.

Anonymous said...

The reason why some anti-Zionist views can be seen as anti-Semitic is because a standard is applied only in the case of Israel and not elsewhere.

I will be in favour of Israel as a secular state only when Saudi Arabia and the rest becomes secular. Until then I won't begrudge a single Jewish state which allows other faiths. How many synagogues are there in Mecca?

Anonymous said...

Before 1948, the Zionist left supported a binational state, the mainstream supported partition, and the right wanted a mainly Jewish state. After 1948, with the Arab attack (led by British officers) on Israel, the left gave up their position, as it was impossible, in favour of partition. While Israel became a Jewish-Arab state, the Jordanian and Egyptian occupied areas became purely Arab areas. This led in turn to the settlements after 1967.

In law, Jews, Christians and Muslims have full and equal rights within Israel. In practice, as in any democracy, governing parties tend to favour their own supporters.

A secular, democratic state is now code for abolishing Israel, even though most Israelis regard themselves as secualar, and not religious, and democratic. Compare that to the theocracy that is Gaza.

I would like to see Israel, Palestine and Jordan join both the European Union and the Commonwealth (they qualify for the latter, along with Iraq). That would be a better way of achieving democracy.

The Democratic Front, Popular Front, and similar groups were Trotskyists and the like, led mainly by Christians.

Strange how those advocating a democratic, secular state do not suggest that solution for the similar partitions of India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, Cyprus/North Cyprus, Irish Republic/Northern Ireland, Croatia/Serbia/Kosovo etc.

Jane Griffiths said...

Anons 2114 and 0209 tend to agree. Thanks haters for staying quiet for now. Btw to be fair to Jewish woman in shop she had time to get home before sunset if she lived locally, and being of Mediterranean appearance she was keen to identify as not-Muslim.

Anonymous said...

I dont know if the Sophals are quite the Nazis some believe them to be but I do know that as Muslims they believe the jews to be the people of the book.As such ,according to R Sophalthey must submit to Islam..which apparently means be denied acess to certain professions etc..er Germany 1933 anyone?

Anonymous said...

The position of jewsin an Islamic state is something people tend to overlook I think..I dont know Sophal that well but have heard that there is ahistory of people leaving RCRE in situations engineered by himself and hiswife..