Sunday, January 25, 2009

Arab City = anti-Zionism? עיירה ערבית = אנטי-ציונות

Shamefully, MK David Rotem declares that our government has apparently “…lost its Zionism entirely”. Zionism. The Jewish people’s national movement, leading to the establishment of a homeland. Got the homeland -- we can cross that off our national to-do list. Well, not exactly. Like all countries, we’re far from perfect, and there’s a ton of work to do, including rectifying our relationship with the Arab minority. So now minority rights are…anti-Zionist?

If Zionism means refusing to give minorities what they’re entitled to, then count me out. I’ll be post-Zionist, but not Zionist. Why, oh why, must every move to enfranchise minorities or advance cooexistence necessarily be spun as anti-Zionist? Why must every win for Arabs be a “lose for the Jews”? When did the definition of Zionism become so horribly distorted? If “Zionism” has become a dirty word, it’s not entirely the fault of the UN; the likes of David Rotem are also to blame.

Moving to another facet of the article, I have to say that I’m a tad unsteady on the idea of building an “Arab city”. If coexistence and integration are the goals, how does building an explicitly “Arab city” advance these? I’m still waiting for what happened in North America and Europe in the 1960s: For students and young couples to “discover” that housing in minority areas is inexpensive, and to start moving in. Let the market forces take effect; the market nearly always succeeds where do-gooders and movements often fail. Just let real estate happen!

Lastly, has anyone asked any of the hypothetical young Arab couples if they’re interested in such a community? From what I understand, Arab culture is strong on extended family and living in proximity to at least one partner’s family, if not under the same roof. Moreover, Arabs tend to build single-family dwellings. Will this spanking brand-new community be a clone of the dozens of exurban developer-spawned Jewish-populated projects? If so, how many Arab families are likely to sign on? And finally, what if this yet-to-be-built community is so appealing that I want to move in? Will this be prohibited? Is such a prohibition legal? If not, why dub it an “Arab city”? Just do what the rest of the world does: Aim your advertising at your target population, and watch them come out in droves―you hope.

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