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October 11, 2010
NY Times faults only Israel for loyalty oath; overlooks other countries
There is robust debate in Israel about a government proposal to require non-Jews seeking citizenship to pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
But instead of laying out all the pros and cons, the New York Times goes overboard in using this controversy as a peg for unrestrained Israel bashing ("Israeli Cabinet's Draft of New Citizenship Pledge Faces Wave of Criticism" by Isabel Kershner; Oct. 11, page A4).
Kershner's piece, which gets full top-of-the page play as leadoff article in the foreign news section, variously cites critics who call the proposed loyalty pledge "provocative, racist, fascist," while she buries in a couple of sentences Prime Minister's Netanyahu's rationale for identifying the basic essence of Israel as the only Jewish state in the world and one that also happens to be the only democratic one in the Middle East.
Still, I wouldn't mind so much if the Times were equally prone to huffing and puffing about many other countries that insist on allegiance to their particular brand of self-identification.
Starting for example, with the U.S. loyalty oath for new citizens who are required to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, thus forced to embrace the religious identity of the U.S. -- "under God" -- and its identity as a "republic." Atheists and monarchists might be offended to be left out in the cold and forced against their own beliefs to swear allegiance to the deity and to a republic.
Would the New York Times devote as much space and crusading fervor to attack the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance?
Even more to the point: The Palestinian Authority, in its constitution for a Palestinian state, stipulates that Islam will be its official religion; yet rejects Israel as a Jewish state. The Times, however, makes no fuss about the PA's insistence on an Islamic Palestine. Its concern is solely with Israel presuming to be a Jewish state.
And what about the 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference -- each of which makes no bones about the fact that Islam is the core of its identity?
Some of them even put "Islamic" identification in their official names -- i.e. the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (yes Afghanistan for which the U.S. spends blood and treasure to resist Taliban yoke without asking it to eliminate its religious ID from its name); the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania; and, of course, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Where is the outrage about their insistence on recognition as "Islamic" nations -- first and last. Does the Times weep for dwindling numbers of Jews in Iran required to bow to an "Islamic" polity?
And what about Saudi Arabia's total exclusivity as "Islamic" to the point that Christian worship is officially forbidden -- a particularity far greater than Israel's proposed loyalty pledge, which leaves Muslims and Christians -- and atheists -- completely free to exercise their religious, or anti-religious, creeds without any interference from the Jewish state?
Why don't these countries get the Kershner treatment for not comporting with the NY Times' particular brand of PC orthodoxy, which ends up bashing only Israel?