Odeh Bisharat in the Boston Review:
A village boy once asked his local priest, “Father, when you go to sleep, where do you lay your beard, under or over your blanket?” Ever since he heard the question, the priest couldn’t sleep through the night. If he laid his beard under the blanket, he felt hot; if his beard was over the blanket, he got cold. He had always slept fine, without waking. But once he was asked to pick a single side, neither one seemed comfortable.
Such is the case with the concept of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic country.” As a Palestinian citizen of Israel, I have always found the notion a contradiction in terms, a source of unfair Jewish privilege. The very proposal of this phrase, the democratic half of which was codified into Israeli law in 1985, turned into a national obsession: Which would be more important, the Jewish or the democratic side? On whichever side of the equation you gripped, something went awry.