Monday, December 31, 2012

[INTER 2103] They have it too good

David Ha'ivri wrote a column for Ynet in which he raises the following questions:
  1. Are the Palestinians a distinct race? If not, how could they be victims of racism? (The same can be asked about Israelis: are they a race? If not, how can they be perpetrators of racism?)
  2. Does Israel have any security threat coming from Arabs both inside and outside the borders of Israel? And if so, does Israel have a right to protect itself?
  3. Do people in all countries, communities and neighborhoods around the world enjoy the same standard of living, freedoms and rights?
  4. Do Arab residents of Israel really have it that bad?
Presumably, these questions are meant to be rhetorical. First, Ha’ivri thinks that the Palestinians are not victims of racism. Second, he thinks that Israel does have a right to protect itself. Third, he thinks that "Israel is a haven for Arabs." Finally, he thinks that "Arabs under Israel might very well have a better standard of living than what is available in neighboring Arab regimes."

As for (1), whether or not the Palestinians are a "race" is a red herring. People and groups can be victims of discrimination and oppression because they are perceived as belonging to "the wrong racial group," "the wrong ethnic group," "the wrong religious group," "the wrong gender," and so on. So the real question is this: are the Palestinians victims of discrimination and oppression?

As for (2), note that Ha’ivri switches from talking about "Arabs" to talking about "Palestinians." But they are not the same. The Palestinians are those who inhabited the region of Palestine before the establishment of the state of Israel; many of whom (or rather their descendants) now live in the Occupied Territories. So the real question is this: in what sense, if any, can an occupier be said to be "protecting" itself from the occupied?

As for (3), even if rights and liberties vary across national and geographic regions, so what? Is that a reason to think that some people should have no rights and liberties?

As for (4), even if "Arabs under Israel might very well have a better standard of living than what is available in neighboring Arab regimes," so what? Is that a reason to discriminate against them? Oppress them? Or mistreat them in any other way?

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