This article was written jointly with Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University
"There are three yardsticks by which the nations of the world are measured," someone once said, "One for Dictatorships, one for Democracies and one for Israel."
The last one is not only the loneliest yardstick, it also seems to be the busiest.
Why is Israel judged in a category all of its own by so many both from within and from without the country? Moreover, why is it judged so harshly, and on issues to which most Dictatorships and some Democracies do not devotedly adhere themselves, as Israel is expected to do?
I doubt there is anyone who would claim that Israel is a dictatorship and would be able to bring forth proof of that. There is plenty of evidence that it is not.
On the other hand, I doubt that there is anyone who would be able to provide evidence that Israel was not founded on the principles and pillars of Democracy, and operates according to them on a daily basis. Perhaps it is not the ideal of democracies but it unquestionably aspires to reach it. It certainly is expected to be the ideal based on the harsh manner in which the world responds to its efforts to survive as a sovereign nation.
What is it that makes Israel so different in the eyes of the world? Why is it that the world feels a greater and more pressing need to put Israel under the most gigantically magnifying microscope, and monitor each and every one of its moves?
The answer, in my opinion, rests on its very rare and unique Jewish Democratic essence.
Israel is a strange breed in the eyes of the world. It is a kind of an experiment on the timeline of history, a close to seventy - years - old experiment.
In the eyes of many, especially those in the Muslim world, and it is the Arab/Muslim "narrative" which the world seems to follow, and unfortunately believe nowadays, Jews were never a Nation. According to Dr. Mordechai Kedar, the foremost expert on the Arab and Muslim world, they were, for almost two millennia, no more than mere "communities" conducted and controlled in a similar mode to the tribal system and mentality that still run the Arab/Muslim world. "Suddenly," writes Kedar, "Jewish communities declare that they are one people, sharing the same ethnic background, as if all the Jews in the world look alike, speak the same language, share customs and cuisine, and dress in similar fashion! This is the "great lie" of the Zionist movement, according to Islamists: Creating a Jewish People out of nothing, and trying to convince the world at large that a Jewish People does indeed exist. Even worse, these Jewish communities have decided to migrate to Palestine, to "displace" the "original" inhabitants and to establish a State whose name has no connection to the Jewish people, but to the mythological Sons of Israel. So, from the Islamic perspective, how can one recognize this state as the ‘State of the Jewish People' - an ethnic group that does not really exist?" (http://www.biu.ac.il/SOC/besa/docs/perspectives87.pdf)
Arabism and the Western World which seems to be intoxicated by its venom, seem to be sitting there watching and following very closely the experiment called "Israel, the Jewish State." Not only does it seem to examine each and every one of its actions, responses and maneuvers, but Dr. Kadar and I honestly believe that it is probably hoping and praying that this experiment fails. Moreover, they seem to do all they can to ensure that it will never succeed.
We both believe that the world is jealous. It is envious of the Jews and the Jewish State on a few planes. It is perplexed by the sight of the rebirth of a sovereign state that was able, in a relatively short period, and after an ensanguined history of its people, to overcome and cope with, thrive and flourish in a reality very few other nations were ever faced with, let alone overcame. It is baffled, lost and mystified by the face of a nation that has defied all odds and all efforts by the many people who toiled hard to erase its traces, remove it from the family of nations and turn it into a mere page, or at the most, a chapter in the history of mankind. Israel is the mirror that reflects the failure of the world, a constant reminder of its own inadequacies. And who wants to be reminded of their shortcomings?
As matters look from where we stand, it seems that the lonely yardstick will remain the loneliest and the busiest for a long time. We, the Jews, do not intend to give up, so the world it seems will have to contend with the experiment called "Israel" for many years to come.