A mosaic, not a monolith

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Israel is too often portrayed by her detractors as a faceless, impersonal and inhuman block of stone. An ever expanding monolith that heartlessly encroaches upon others’ land.

It is uniform, unidimensional and artificially created. As a result, goes the argument, it cannot be reformed or assimilated into the community of nations, and any integration of it must be wholly rejected. The only solution is to demolish it into a state of broken stones.

This depiction of Israel as a monolith is effective because it is simple and understandable. In truth it is a big lie and malicious slander against this beautifully complex and deeply dimensional country. Israel is an ancient mosaic still in progress, not a recently completed block.

Simply because she is the Jewish State does not mean that all Jews in the state are the same. Her Jewish population is far more racially and ethnically diverse than many realise, with an array of Sephardic, Ashkenazic, Mizrachi and Ethiopian Jews. Even within these are diverse sects with differing customs and interpretations. Some Israeli Jews are ultra-orthodox, orthodox, reform or conservative religious, some are secular, some believe it is enough to live in Israel with no need to practice their Judaism, and others are Jewish atheists. All coexist with each other in complex ways to create an extraordinarily rich Jewish society never seen before in history. Almost 17 percent of the country is Muslim, 2 percent Christian and 1.7 percent Druze. The other 4 percent could be Samaritanism, Baha’iism and other religions, or people with no religious affiliation at all. Within these groupings are further differences and diversities coinciding peacefully with each other.

The Israeli government is not a unified edifice. The Knesset is a reflection of a vibrant democracy in action, with loud and energetic debates and arguments from members across religious and ethnic divides. It is probably the only democracy in the world where democratically elected members of minority parties can falsely claim there is no democracy and are given the freedom of speech to claim there is no freedom of speech. Israel’s policies are neither coalesced nor etched in stone, but ebb and flow in a meandering river of politics, and are continuously checked against one of the most advanced judicial court systems in the world. Israel is not perfect, but certainly not wholly imperfect as its detractors like endlessly to claim.

The vast majority of Israeli life is not focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and besides her enemies, it is wrong for even her friends to spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about and focusing on purely political and conflictual terms. It is a country rich with history and culture beyond politics and conflict: a start-up nation; a high-tech superpower; a cultural forest amongst the deserted wilderness; an intellectual and academic powerhouse; an archeological and historical dream; a place where its inhabitants are among the happiest in the world; an unforgettable tourist destination, and a phenomenal place to live, study, raise children and find meaning.

Israel is not a faceless block carved out in a modern era, but a modern assortment of ancient gems that have returned to her from all over the world and re-established a heart and home for the Jewish people. For this, she demands and deserves respect, understanding and recognition amongst the nations and peoples of the world.

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