Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why I love Israel - Part1

I had been intending to write this series for sometimes. The more and more I read and learn of Israel's history I am amazed and spellbound by the qualities of the Jewish race. Its a politically incorrect thing to say these days. Its easy to get sucked in by the controversies around Palestine, easy to be anti-Israel cloaked in love for supposedly oppressed Palestinians. The Palestine issue is way beyond my present scope. Suffice it to say its an imbroglio in which no party is a saint, Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs of neighboring countries, America, Europe have all in almost equal measure contributed to the mess.

Today I picked up a book on sale, "Israel: A History" by Martin Gilbert. Gilbert is a British historian known for his many books on Churchill. Flipping the pages I was struck by a passage on discrimination against Jews in Russian educational institutions.

Many think that Jews suffered only during holocaust and that too only from Germans. The word "pogrom" comes from Russia, it denotes the genocide of Jews by Russians. The word "ghetto" comes from Venice where Jews had to live secluded from the city. Shakespeare portrays the antisemitism in Venice very vividly in his "Merchant of Venice".

Russia, in an attempt to prevent Jews from gaining any outsize dominance relative to their population, decreed that Jews should not exceed 10% in each department, not just out of the total student body. Thus Jews were artificially limited to 10% in each department. Gilbert writes "one cruel form of discrimination was the exclusion of Jewish children and students from the full rights of education". Now USA was no different either, see my earlier blog .

Theodore Herzl, the father of Zionism, recognized that educating Jews is the foremost duty in establishing Palestine. To that end in the first zionist congress a resolution was adopted to create a "Hebrew University", it was spear headed by Chaim Weizman (later first President of Israel).

Herzl spelled out the aim of the university, "The Jewish university should bring together all the scholarly qualities of the best universities, technical schools and schools of agriculture. The institution will offer nothing unless its of the very first rank. Only then can it render real service to scholarship, to the students and to the country". What nobility of thought, what perspicacity, what a visionary. Well maybe he took a leaf out of Thomas Jefferson who in turn thought that American students must have their own world class University so they do not have to go to Europe and lose their souls in European ideologies. Jefferson, who wrote his own epitaph, wanted to be remembered first as founder of University of Virginia, only second as President of US. One also remembers Nehru who created the IIT's, with Homi Bhaba, modeled after Harvard and Yale. [The destruction of IIT's is well under way with the implementation of Mandal now]

Denial of educational oppurtuities has often been wielded as a sadistic weapon to push away the deserved in the garb of social justice. Social justice thus stood in opposition to just plain natural justice. Ambedkar is the first rate sadistic and Machiavellian schemer in this regard. He is somebody who is appreciated, like most of his ilk, beyond his achievement and what he truly deserves. The constitution he created, a mish-mash of American and British constitutions is basically useless after being amended 100+ times in less than 60 years.

Check out the history of Hebrew University .

I doubt if any other race that fought for its very survival for centuries across continents had shown such vision. A friend of mine recently bemoaned the dominance of Jews in Nobel Prizes, mostly in the science category. When Einstein was presented a petition signed by a hundred scientists denying relativity he replied "If I am wrong it does not take 100 people to disprove just one would suffice".

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