Ariel Center for
Policy Research



NATIV   ■   Volume Fifteen   ■   Number 1 (85)  ■  March 2002   ■  Ariel Center for Policy Research




Israel: The Jew Among Nations

Alan M. Dershowitz

In order to assess the status of Israel in the international community, it may be useful to look at the Middle East’s only democracy as “the Jew” among nations. Privately admired for its pioneering spirit, intelligence, aggressiveness and tenacity, the State of Israel has been publicly condemned as racist, militant, xenophobic, uncompromising, authoritarian and stiff-necked. During its century-long struggle for nationhood and survival – following millenia of forced dispersion and exile – the modern pre-state (yishuv) and state (medina) of Israel has been far from perfect in its adherence to its own professed elevated values and those of international law, human rights and civil liberties (hereinafter described collectively as “the rule of law”). But it is the thesis of this essay that no nation in the history of the world which has faced comparable threats to its survival – both external and internal – has ever made greater efforts at, and has ever come closer to, achieving the high norms of the rule of law. Yet no civilized nation in the history of the world – including totalitarian and authoritarian regimes – has ever been as repeatedly, unfairly and hypocritically condemned and criticized by the international community as Israel has been over the years. The net result is that the gulf between Israel’s actual record of compliance with the rule of law and its perceived record of compliance with the rule of law is greater than for any other nation. The underlying reason for this misleading gulf is that Israel’s imperfections – and there are many – have been greatly exaggerated by large segments of the international community, the media, the academic world and public opinion, while the comparative imperfections of other countries – indeed sometimes their absolute perfections in the destruction of the rule of law – have been minimized.

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