In his review of Ben White’s book, evangelical blogger Daniel Blanche compares the Jewish character of the state of Israel to the BNP:
[…] it defines itself in ethno-religious terms. Only Jews can be Israeli nationals; all Jews are welcome in Israel. Imagine if someone suggested that Britain should define itself in terms of a particular ethnic identity! Oh, wait, that would be the BNP – and we don’t like them, right?
Ultimately, Ben argues that Israel/Palestine must be a place where Jews and Palestinians are equal under the law, and a state which exists for the good of all its citizens. This is much more radical than the two-state solution, much more difficult to move towards than even that mirage. But anything else enshrines racism as a successful nation building strategy.
The world really doesn’t want to go there.
Blanche is then asked a simple question by a reader:
Do you consider states like the ARAB Republic of Egypt or the
Great Socialist People’s Libyan ARAB Jamahiriya to be intrinsically racist? If not, then why do believe that of the world’ one Jewish state?
To which Blanche replies:
1. I am as bothered by Hamas as I am by Israel, except that Israel makes claims (to liberal democracy) that Hamas doesn’t, and therefore invites the world to hold it to a higher standard.
2. Likewise, I am unimpressed by countries which define themselves as Islamic, or in terms of any other ethnic/religious identification. Also likewise, if they were to make pretensions to liberal democracy I would be even less impressed.
So Blanche is unimpressed because Israel claims to be a liberal democracy (which it is), yet doesn’t seem to notice that Libya describes itself as a ‘Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’. Well, is it great? Is it socialist (i.e. does it care for its citizens)?
From the U.S. Department of State on Libya:
The government’s human rights record remained poor. Citizens did not have the right to change their government. Reported torture, arbitrary arrest, and incommunicado detention remained problems. The government restricted civil liberties and freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association. The government did not fully protect the rights of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. Other problems included poor prison conditions; impunity for government officials; lengthy political detention; denial of fair public trial; infringement of privacy rights; restrictions of freedom of religion; corruption and lack of transparency; societal discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, and foreign workers; trafficking in persons; and restriction of labor rights.
Does Blanche have anything to say about the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya? Is he disappointed that Gaddafi’s brutal regime does not live up to socialist ideals, nor truly serve the people it claims are proud of Libya?
Or let’s consider the Arab Republic of Egypt. Here’s the first definition of ‘republic’ I found:
1. a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.
The same state which ordered the culling of thousands of pigs belonging mostly to poor Coptic Christians as a response to swine flu, and the same state which ordered the arrest of innocent citizens, prompting Ben White himself to write an entire article about human rights in Egypt. Is not Blanche appalled that Egypt considers itself a republic?
Then we have the Republic of Sudan, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Darfuris. How is Sudan’s republic acting like a true republic? Surely Daniel Blanche should be far more disturbed by Sudan than he is by Israel?
How about Islamic states which themselves claim to be democracies? What about the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, responsible for disapperances, tortures, massacres, and various other crimes against human rights? Is not Algeria an offence to democratic ideals? Is it really democratic to slap fines on Christian minorities? How does Blanche cope with Algeria’s claims to be democratic?
And, lest we forget, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which also claims to be democratic, and yet really fails to be. The president of Iran’s democratic republic, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, remains in power due to a campaign of rape and murder. Iran, that bastion of freedom where Christians fear for their lives. Surely Blanche is appalled that Iran also claims to be a democracy?
Daniel Blanche claims that Israeli democracy invites the world to hold it to a higher standard, yet why does Blanche not appear to hold Iran or Algeria to similar standards, despite their claims to be democracies?
Finally, we have the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a state where over 200,000 people (including 40,000-60,000 Christians) are imprisoned; a nation which has been making headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. This is a nation which claims to be a Great, Revolutionary Society, and look what life is like for North Koreans!
Perhaps Blanche will soon be drawing our attention to North Korean human rights issues, given that North Korea claims to be a democracy. Perhaps Blanche will soon be comparing the aforementioned republics and democracies to the BNP. Otherwise, Blanche’s claim that he holds Israel to a higher standard solely because it is a democracy appears insincere.