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The Only Democracy? » Discrimination, Featured » Israeli McCarythism 2010: Now with loyalty oaths

Israeli McCarythism 2010: Now with loyalty oaths

By Jesse Bacon

When I was guest-editing over at our  sister blog Muzzlewatch, I was struck by the extent that “McCarthyist” had gone from a crude epithet, like “That’s fascist, man” to an actual blueprint for advocating for Israel’s policies. The writer I was responding to was the brother of former Prime Minister, he claimed to have a “list” of BDS academics who would then go on to the state department. Well, less we think the sibling of an out of power PM is some kind of marginal figure, the Israeli Knesset has decided to revive another aspect of the Bad Old days (which lest we forget often targetted Jews as un-American,) loyalty oaths!

“A controversial national loyalty oath took a step closer to becoming law on Wednesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost a battle to soften the wording of a new citizen’s declaration.

Ministers approved a draft of the proposed oath, which would require anyone taking Israeli citizenship to swear allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state”.

Here’s Prime Minister Benamin Netanyahu,

I do not want them to fear they are the objects of any ‘witch hunt.’ They are not being spied upon; they are not being restricted in their activities. They have nothing to fear from the loyalty program, since every effort has been made to guarantee full protection to those who are suspected of disloyalty. Rumor, gossip, or suspicion will not be sufficient to lead to the dismissal of an employee for disloyalty.”

Just kidding, that was President Harry Truman, announcing the creation of a federal loyalty program in 1947. What does Netanyahu have to say?

Sources close to Netanyahu said the prime minister had decided to approve the proposed legislation in light of continuing peace talks, in which he has repeatedly pressed the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

“What we demand of the Palestinians, we must demand of our own citizens too,” a Netanyahu confidante said.

This reminds me of Netanyahu’s refusal to continue his partial settlement freeze, on the grounds of consistency. He certainly embodies the central value of the Israeli right, the ability to consistently and overtly adhere to illegal and self-destructive behavior. As opposed to the Israeli left, which inconsistently and covertly adheres to illegal and self-destructive behavior.

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JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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