Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Swearing at an oath

Every once in a while there is a news items that drives one to despair, or a least to a very healthy serving of an adult beverage.  Such an item appeared in the news today. On October 10, 2010 the Israelis decided that everyone who was not a Jew had swear an oath of loyalty to Israel. The proposed legislation was ratified by the Knesset on a Sunday in the U.S. bringing about a very uncomfortable juxtaposition with another Sunday all the way back in 1941. While no battleships were harmed on this Sunday in October, a direct hit was scored on the reputation of Israel.

Loyalty Oath. Few other words could be more toxic to a functioning democracy. Few other notions are more onerous to a free society. It does not take much guess work to see who is the target of this legislation. It does not take much imagination to realize the implications for Israeli Arabs; Israel has now formally declaimed them second class citizens.

We are well beyond the bounds of good and bad ideas; of good or bad policy. We left those shores for much stormier seas. It is no longer a question of good or bad it is a question of right and wrong. It is a question of good versus evil. This legislation is evil. It evil because it fits one of the central aspects of evil as laid out by Andrew Bard Schmookler  “A central feature of evil --one of its defining traits-- is that it tears things apart, that it rends the various fabrics that wrap vulnerable life in a protective structure.” Other aspects of this definition include: injustice, disobedience to rules, and fomenting division.  
With this definition in mind, the evil that Israel has done becomes manifest. The legislation reeks of injustice. It only applies to one subset of Israel, to the Arab minority.  It is clearly targeted toward them. It is making a blanket claim that all Israeli Arabs are forthwith considered fifth columnists. By legislative fiat Israel has now declared that Arab subversion of the Jewish state is now passed down genetically, just like Mitochondrial DNA. All Arabs are guilty of treason without exception and must prove by solemn oath otherwise.

The law ironically is disobedient to the rules of humanity. It is a declaration that Israel will now make the rules up as it goes along. Israel will no longer be encumbered by the norms of Advanced post-modern Nation-States. No more inalienable rights, no more minority rights, no more presumption of innocence, no more equal justice under law. No, none of that for the Nation-State of Israel. From this date forward some Israelis will be more equal than others.

The law definitely foments division. Not only does it divide Jews from Arabs in very toxic manner; but it also divides the friends of Israel from each other. Those liberals and progressives who are hard-core, dyed-in-the-wool civil libertarians ( guilty as charged your honor) are forced to take up their arms in the defense of great lockean supposition of inalienable rights. They find themselves in full Berserker rage, looking for a useful skull to implant their rhetorical battle-axes into. Unfortunately they find themselves arrayed against their fellow liberals and progressive who have answered the call in defense of the Israeli state.

For those on the neo-con right there will less of problem; they have had long service in the support of evil. They have become experts in both lies and character assassination ; essential parts in Schmookler’s definition of evil. In the apologia offered by neo-cons, palo-cons and others going to be a festival of lies, distortions and accusations of anti-Semitism.

The decision of Israel or more properly the Israeli Knesset to pass this law requiring a loyalty oath of non-Jews is evil. This claim is no over-the-top piece of political polemics. It is a statement of fact. The law, and the apologia offered for the law, check off every box of Schmookler’s definition of evil.  Injustice is covered, the law is manifestly unjust, disobedience to rules is covered, the Israelis are changing the rules to cover their violation of those same rules, It foments division, it is destructive and the defense of the law will include both lies and character assassination.  

As a matter of fact it will be in the apologia by the usual suspects that the true evil of this act will be worked. It will be both very typical and teeth-grindingly hideous at the same time. We will be hearing the same tired explanations and the same self-serving justifications. It will be the same tired culture war that we have been slugging out since at least Reagan, if not since Nixon. Since this is Israel, the arguments will range from this is no big deal, to accusations of anti-Semitism. 

Hiding behind all the arguments will be the same old tribal warfare that boomers have indulged themselves in since the Vietnam War. Liberals will pointlessly attempt to appeal to high-minded principles whilst the forces of reaction will not pass go, not collect one hundred dollars, and hippy bash. In their appeal to the lizard brain, neo-cons and palo-cons will lie, cheat and bully. They will bite, scratch and claw. If Amanda Marcotte is correct, and more and more evidence is bearing her out, the right wingers will continue to repeat bogus talking points not despite the fact they are manifestly false, but because they are manifestly false. The right wingers will revel in calumny and idiocy of their arguments because it will aggravate the Left no end. They will knowingly advance patently false nonsense because they absolutely refuse to ceed any ground to the Left. Their arguments will be less about the facts on the ground, and more of a act of religious/political faith. 

Meanwhile the brain-dead corporate media will indulge in its favorite game of he-said, she-said; not even bothering to gather any empirical data on the subject; because as we know the facts have a built-in Liberal bias. Besides it is much better for the bottom line to keep the conflict boiling.

Meanwhile Israel will loose yet another part of its soul.  The zionist prospect and project will get a little more soiled. The decadence and corruption of the Israeli democracy  gathers apace. Israel becomes a little less Western and becomes a little more like its authoritarian neighbors, a little more Middle Eastern. With this law Israel take one small step toward bigotry and one giant leap toward self-destruction.
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