What is “Tolerance”?

Webster defines “Tolerance” (in the context of this article) as:

“2 a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own b : the act of allowing something

It’s clear that our modern world is sorely lacking in tolerance of opposing views.

We can see this daily in interviews, articles, protests, and general discourse on the web in which one party verbally annihilates (and sometimes threatens to do the same physically) another party or parties with whose views they disagree.  We see it in our congress, where Democrats and Republicans are intolerant of each others’ views, where Democrats denigrate “Tea Partiers” as “Racist” because they disagree with the way things are being done.

There appears to be very little effort on either side to understand what motivates the other side, or to try to find some reasonable compromise that both sides can live with (i.e. “Consensus”).  Most rational people who have been involved in business negotiations strive for “win win” outcomes, knowing going in that neither side is likely to get everything they really want.

But, on a deeper, more disturbing level, the absence of tolerance manifests itself in much darker ways.

When the government of Israel does something people don’t like, we see demonstrations all over the world calling for gas chambers.  We see references to the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (a fictitious, slanderous document extremely prejudicial to Jews).  We see calls for boycotts of Israeli companies, divestiture of Israeli companies, and calls to forbid Israeli academics from participating in international forums.  We also see Israeli athletes singled out for discriminatory treatment.

All of these show a severe lack of tolerance and much worse, a trend toward anti-Semitism.  I think it is clear that the government of Israel, a sovereign country, is not the same as all members of the Jewish faith worldwide.

Jews worldwide have very divergent opinions on what Israel should and shouldn’t do, yet the calls “All Jews to the Gas Chambers” (heard in US cities very recently!) do not discriminate between Jews and Israel.

Even within Israel, there are many divergent views on what should be done and what CAN be done to end the state of war between Israel and most of the Arab world (with the exception of Jordan and Egypt).

What puzzles me in all this is that there is so much vitriol against Israel, which is, in reality, caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, while at the same time, there is tremendous support for Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, and the other various Muslim/Arab terror groups.

The “tolerance” shown for the behavior of these groups is astounding.

People who would destroy Israel for having checkpoints at which people have to wait in the sun for hours, so suicide/homicide bombers can’t get through to Israeli cities, think nothing of applauding as humanitarians and victims, regimes that would not tolerate their protests for a moment were they to occur on their soil.

In Gaza, protesters are routinely shot.  Fatah members who dissent with the Hamas viewpoint are shot, or worse.

Gays cannot come out of the closet in any Arab or Muslim country of which I’m aware, for fear that they will be killed.

In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive cars (at all!), go out in public without being accompanied by a male relative, must keep their faces and bare skin covered at all times when in public.

In Dubai, a British couple is on trial for public display of affection – they were kissing.

In Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and other countries, adulterers are routinely stoned to death, homosexuality doesn’t exist (wink wink), dissenting opinion is suppressed with real bullets, indiscriminately fired into crowds, and minorities have a very hard time surviving – you can bet they keep their heads down.

So why are these countries considered the “moderates” while Israel is considered the devil?  Why do “liberals” care so much about the plight of the Palestinians, who in reality, suffer under a relatively benign occupation (i.e. there aren’t mass executions of civilians, mass arrest and torture, etc. like in many parts of Africa), albeit they would like their own country, which I fully understand?

As I mentioned before, Israel is between a rock and a hard place.

They cannot simply walk away from the West Bank unilaterally – that would draw the ire of the whole world.

They cannot negotiate with the Palestinians because, well, the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, preferring instead to have the American president do it for them.

The cannot negotiate with the Palestinians, also, because there is no clear Palestinian government with which to negotiate – Hamas rules Gaza, and has emphatically stated that they will never recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The West Bank is ruled by the PA (Palestinian Authority), a descendant of the old Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), but, popular support is rapidly growing for Hamas.

So who is Israel supposed to negotiate with?  What assurances, other than their military strength, do they have that any deal struck with the PA will be honored by the next government, which will in all likelihood be run by Hamas?

What assurances does Israel have that the next administration in the United States will honor any agreements?  We’ve already seen that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton summarily refused to honor agreements made by the last administration, and in fact, have behaved abominably with respect to agreements made with them (e.g. building in Jerusalem was specifically excluded from any agreements about building in the West Bank, yet Obama and Clinton turned that into a major issue even though they had agreed to it personally).

So, let’s talk just a bit more about “Tolerance”.

In Israel, Arabs, regardless of religion (there are Christians, Muslims, Druze, and others), are accorded full citizenship, with Arab representatives in the Knesset (Parliament).  Aside from army service, they have the same rights and responsibilities, by law, as do Jewish citizens.

Why is it that Israel, a Jewish state, is TOLERANT of its Arab minority, while the PA and Hamas insist that no Jews will be allowed to live in their territory?  Why is it that Jews cannot enter Saudi Arabia?  Why did Jews leave most of the Arab countries in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, mostly without compensation for goods, homes, bank accounts, etc., and this is accepted, while Arabs leaving Israel are not acceptable?

Tolerance is supposed to go both directions.

In order to get tolerance, you have to give it.

I see no reciprocity on the part of most of the world, especially the Arab and Muslim world, and frankly, worry for the future of the world if Israel can be singled out and ostracized simply because it’s a Jewish nation.  And, let’s face it, there really is no other explanation for why this piddly little conflict takes up so much space in the world’s newspapers and tv screens….