A Reader Comments on the Complexity of Defining Citizenship and National Identity in the Middle East

I received this thoughtful comment from a friend who has spent a lot of time in Israel and the Arab Middle East. This comment deserves a separate post as it adds an international twist to my post on April 29th, Defining America’s Current Political Identity

I have always said that the main issue with the Palestinians
in Israel is that they want everyone to conform to
their concept of identity. Most of the Christian Arabs have fled, and
increasingly it is the margin that dictates to the center what it
means to be a Muslim. The same can be said for the Ultra-Orthodox who
want to dictate to the other hard working Israelis “Mi hu Yehudi.” And
they do this while waving the white flag and taking money from the
government of Israel that they openly despise.

However in many ways we have it worse in America….At a Development
conference last summer in DC, an American who lives in the Canaries
said, “Americans are lockstep individualists.” (Meaning every American
has to have the latest gadget or acquisition to “keep up with the
Jones [es].”)

Now driving the materialism is the undertones of religious
re-definition (hint hint, fundamentalism) whether it be Ted Haggard-
style Christian definition (do as I say, not as I do) or anti-semitic
“Replacement Theology,” that defines Israel, not as Israel, but as the
Christian Church. Perhaps those people do not read the 11th chapter of

But the way to overcome these challenges of Nazistic movements to form
Americans in their own images (or in Ted Haggard’s case, in the image
he pretends to be, not in the image he really was… Scary that they
were trying to run him for president before he was discovered), is by
doing just the opposite.

Anat Hoffman is a good example. She normally did not pray with Tallis
and Tsit Tsit, but adopted that pose to show the ultra Dati that they
should let the women pray as they choose to, and not intervene.

I don’t know how old you are, but I know that, influenced by the Flower
Power generation, I am definitely one to be somewhat of a contrarian.

Whatever makes people think outside their Little Boxes on the Hillside…

PASCAL RESPONDS: I am 47. Not a Flower Child, but definitely a contrarian.Images

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