In a YNet op-ed, Hagai Segal writes,
Our Declaration of Independence includes 650 words. The word “Jewish,” in its different forms, appears 20 times, while the word “democracy” doesn’t even appear once.
The people who drafted the declaration and signed it had the highest regard for democratic values, but first and foremost they wanted to stress its Jewish side. Perhaps they said to themselves that there are many democracies in the world, but only one Jewish country. It’s important to protect it.
These days it’s even more important. From the outside and from within attempts are being made to undermine the Jewish character of the Jewish state. The dark forces rely on the fatigue of the Zionist material in order to internationalize Israel and declare it a state of all its citizens. They are taking advantage of the fact that over the years the fashion here has changed, and democracy has been emphasized at the expense of Judaism.
The Israeli Left takes its cues from Western Europe and the U.S. From Europe it gets the ideas of multiculturalism, postnationalism, hedonism and hatred of religion. Together these are a recipe for a low native birthrate and a rapidly increasing, non-assimilating Muslim population. Europe is rapidly moving toward a point of no return, in which, paradoxically, the very features of its Enlightenment culture that support openness and egalitarianism will lead to its replacement by a distinctly non-democratic, authoritarian Islamic one.
America is another source of ideas, in this case the absolute maximum of freedom of expression. Where else would the outrageous Westboro Baptist Church be tolerated? American freedom of expression is remarkable in the world, and that may be in part because the US is a large nation both physically and by population, with friendly neighbors, separated by oceans from its enemies. It is also composed of diverse groups that more or less buy into the general narrative of the nation. That doesn’t mean that nothing can bring it down, but it can absorb a great deal of internal and external pressure without breaking.
Israel, on the other hand, is small and surrounded by enemies. One out of every five Israelis is an Arab, the same ethnicity of most of its enemies, who — while he may be loyal to the state — almost certainly believes in a historical narrative in which the state is not only illegitimate, but his oppressor, responsible for the dispossession of his relatives in the great ‘disaster’ of 1948. There are also Jewish Israelis who believe, for religious reasons, that Jewish sovereignty is an abomination.
There are also great external pressures opposed to emphasizing the Jewishness of the state. To a large extent they come from Europe, which is jealous of Israel’s cultural and economic vitality, angered that is succeeding on a path so divergent from Europe’s, and suffused with guilt about the recent genocide of its own Jewish population. Europe is acting on its beliefs, both by explicit pro-Arab diplomacy, and by covertly expending millions of Euros to support NGOs in Israel that promote its anti-nationalist (and even anti-state) line.
Another force is the American Jewish Left, as represented by the New Israel Fund (NIF) and to some extent by the Union for Reform Judaism. The NIF is particularly dangerous, supporting Israeli Arab groups that would like to redefine the state as binational.
A state that requires sacrifice from its people to survive, will only get it if there is a compelling ideological motivation driving its citizens to make the requisite sacrifices. This is how Israel has survived until now. But there is no compelling ideology for maintaining a “state of its citizens” next door to Hizballah, Hamas, the Muslim Brothers and whatever vicious regime will rule Syria.
Jews yearned for Jerusalem for 2000 years, and Zionists have struggled for more than 100 — and are continuing to struggle — to restore and now preserve Jewish sovereignty in Land of Israel, which I believe has become a necessary condition for the survival of the Jews as a people. I can’t see today’s Judaism surviving another diaspora. A great deal is at stake here.