The NY Times reported this week on a rising demographic phenomenon in American life: multiracialism. One in seven new marriages in the U.S. in 2009 involved members of different races. Multiracial Americans are one the fastest growing groups:
Many young adults of mixed backgrounds are rejecting the color lines that have defined Americans for generations in favor of a much more fluid sense of identity…
They are also using the strength in their growing numbers to affirm roots that were once portrayed as tragic or pitiable.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge who you are and everything that makes you that,” said [Laura] Wood.
…Optimists say the blending of the races is a step toward transcending race, to a place where America is free of bigotry, prejudice and programs like affirmative action.
Warren Olney’s To the Point covered this story today. A pollster noted that 80-90% of Americans under the age of 30 would have no problem with a close family member marrying someone of another race. Among those 65 or older the level of acceptance was 30%.
This reminded me of a shattering annual survey of Israeli attitudes toward democracy. 46% of Israelis said they would not want to live next door to an Israeli Palestinian. The numbers were only slightly better when you substituted “gay,” “mentally ill,” or “foreign worker.” You can imagine what the number would’ve been had the question asked about a child marrying an “Arab.”
In this country, imperfect as race relations may be, you can see things are generally moving in a positive direction. In Israel, not so much. I don’t recall poll results broken down by age, nor do I recall a specific question about multi-ethnic or biracial couples, but I’d be willing to bet that there is only marginally more acceptance among young Israelis than old of this phenomenon.
And let’s not forget the learned rabbis shreying about assimilation when Arab men steal ‘our women’ and take them back to the village where they’ll be victimized, assaulted, and brainwashed in the ways of Islam. Not to mention all the “Ahmed ben Sarah” babies they’ll be producing.
While I am proud of my Jewish identity, you have to face the fact that if you want Israel truly to thrive there must be lots more Ahmed ben Sarahs. One of the best ways for Israeli Jews to understand their fellow Palestinian citizens is for their children to marry each other. But think about what such couples face in contemporary Israel. Something like the ostracism and outrage that greeted mixed race couples in America in the 1960s.
And let’s face the issue of bi-racialism. Will it harm Jewish or Palestinian identity? Why should it? Not to mention: don’t we want an “Israeli identity” to emerge just as much or more than a purely Jewish or Palestinian one? It is a fatal error to conflate “Israel” with “Jewish.” It is and must be both.
If this troubles you overly or you’re geshreying about the end of the Jewish race, then you must face the fact that Palestinians can have little place in your vision of Israel. Might as well send them away (transfer) as Abraham did Hagar and Ishmael.
Israel and its supporters in the Diaspora must learn to walk the democratic walk and talk the democratic talk. Otherwise, it’s just window dressing.