Contrast and Compare:
Arab Racism and Israel's against-all-the-odds democracy, as described by Prof. Ira Sharkansky, of Shark Blog:
One of the questions that bother political scientists is, "Why is Israel a democracy?"
We can put aside the minority of tendentious scholars who insist that Israel is not a democracy, due to how it treats its minorities, or due to its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Such scholars do not compare Israeli Arabs with American minorities, or those of Western Europe; and they do not compare Israel's policies toward the West Bank and Gaza with Americans' behavior toward Iraq and Afghanistan.
Israel scores high on scales of democracy that measure the incidence of free and critical media, political competition, peaceful transition between those who lose and those who win elections, and the access of minorities to the voting booth and parliament.
On the basis of international comparisons, Israel should not have developed as a democracy.
And one likely explanation suggested is:
".. a theme in Jewish culture and religion: the support for criticism. The theme is prominent in the Biblical prophets, who were less concerned with predicting the future than with criticizing the kings, priests, other elites, and one another. Jews view those critics as messengers from the Almighty, worthy of inclusion in religious ritual.
[...] Jesus followed the prophetic tradition with his shrill criticism of established elites. He resembled countless generations of Jewish nudniks who have not tolerated existing practices, and have made life difficult for their teachers and other contemporaries. If Jesus' disciples had not taken his lessons as the basis of a competing religion after his death, and given him the flavor of anti-Jewishness, he might have been enshrined in the Hebrew Bible as yet another prophet who expressed the ideals of those who came before him.
.... Among the explanations of Israeli democracy, however, may be traits of Jews that others have found difficult. We are quarrelsome and critical, and do not lightly accept authority or established conventions. Success in business, science, and the arts may also derive from the same characteristics.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Contrast and Compare: