Bintel Blog

Saudi Envoy Calls Kettle Black

By Daniel Treiman

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How’s this for jaw-dropping hypocrisy?

The JTA reports:

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States rejected recognizing Israel as a Jewish state

“There are 1.5 million civilians in Israel who do not define themselves as Jewish,” Adel al-Jubeir told reporters at the U.S.-convened Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Annapolis, Md. “We do not believe states should define themselves according to religion or ethnicity.”

Yeah, Saudi Arabia — where a gang-rape victim was just sentenced to be lashed for “adultery” under a particularly backwards reading of Shariah law — isn’t a religious state at all. And, as far as the ethnicity bit goes, maybe we should refuse to call it “Arabia.”

Incidentally, it is true that neither ethnicity nor religion — while certainly central to the Saudi state — is Saudi Arabia’s single most defining characteristic. Instead, the defining fact of Saudi statehood would actually be that a single family — the House of Saud — sort of owns the entire country. Imagine if the Israeli ambassador had retorted: We don’t think that states should define themselves according to the principles of absolute monarchy or oligarchy. But, thankfully, even Israeli diplomats are too polite to say something like that at a peace summit.

Ruth Fri. Nov 30, 2007

Al-Jubeir's remark carries a dangerous whiff of the old apartheid argument. Bravo to Mr. Treiman for focusing on the hypocrisy and ignorance of his statement, rather than feeding into the issues of population and power that this quote raises.

Serge Thu. Nov 29, 2007

We do not believe states should define themselves according to religion or ethnicity. Erm, that's fine, but international law does. Believe in states defined according to ethnicity. It's a little principle known as the self-determination of peoples, and it's the foundational bedrock of international law. I think the Saudi diplomat garbled the Arab League party line a little bit on this one. The usual approach is to stick to the "no states defined by religion" idea, neatly precluding the possibility that there exists a Jewish people. And if there is no Jewish people then, indeed, there is no right to self-determination. Hence the ongoing campaign to portray Jews as a random collection of co-religionists. No diaspora. No archaeological finds. Just, y'know, fellow citizens of the Mosaic faith.

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