Unbelievably, the Palestinians are now trying to call into question whether Israel should be allowed to be a Jewish state.
They’re reacting to a plan to have Israel declared a Jewish state by law – essentially codifying something that has been implicit and, as the AP story notes, “as obvious as the Star of David on the Israeli flag.”
The Palestinians, however, insist that stating the obvious would “doom” peace negotiations, making threats, as they usually do, and spinning the truth until it barely resembles the original.
“I remember the days when we were told, ‘All you need is to get the PLO to recognize Israel, and recognize Israel’s right to exist in safe and secure boundaries,” said a prominent member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, according to the story. “The Palestinians did just that,” she noted, as part of the 1990s interim peace agreements. “The Jewishness of the state of Israel; this is a new addition,” she reportedly told reporters Wednesday. “We are working to establish a pluralistic, democratic, inclusive state in Palestine. Not an exclusive state based on religion, ethnicity or whatever.”
Who does this woman think she’s kidding?
First, I think everyone in the world knows the desire has always been for recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. What did they think they wanted to be recognized as? An orange juice stand?
This does not and never has meant that other religions won’t be and aren’t welcome. But, for the Palestinians, who are demanding a Jew-free Palestinian state, to suggest that they’re trying to create something inclusive is patently absurd.
Naturally, the idea of making official the Jewish nature of the state of Israel has wide support among Israeli Jews, the story notes.
“To be criticized even for the desire to have a state of their own – a dream allowed people the world over, from the Irish to the Iranians – chafes many Jewish Israelis,” it says.
Israel was established – in antiquity and the more modern incarnation – as a Jewish state. There was never any question about that. But, like always, one can rarely predict where the next propaganda attack will aim.
Though the U.S. does and always has recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, including President Obama, who said during the State of the Union Address that the goals of the negotiations launched last July were “dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side” according to the story.
The article points out the ethical conundrum Israelis face with this issue – “Are the Jews a nation – or individuals who share a religion?…
Should a religion have a state? Should a state have a religion?” – But, these are questions that can be discussed within the “family” after the fact. The question about whether a religion should have a state is moot — several religions already do have states. Should states have a religion is trickier, since that usually negatively impacts personal freedom. The Jews will figure out how to make it work. But, that Israel is a Jewish-based state is and must be without question.
The story provides a brief lesson on the history of the region, noting that the original Zionists, convinced the Jews needed a state of their own, like everyone else, settled on “the Holy Land, from which Jews were expelled by the Romans two millennia ago.”
In November 1917, Britain — who would soon receive a League of Nations mandate to rule Palestine — issued a declaration supporting “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Thirty years later, with British colonial rule nearing its end, the newly established United Nations voted for partition of the area into independent “Arab and Jewish States,” the story correctly notes.
The story also correctly notes that the debate about what it means to be a Jew, still rages within the “family,” with the ultra Orthodox insisting that behavior and observance is the qualifier and others who say, as does the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, that it’s more complicated than that.
“It’s hard to compare the matter to other countries because of the unique aspect of Judaism,” he’s quoted as saying. “It is not just a religion or a nationality or an identity – it is all in one.”
Israel’s law of return combines the heritage and religion definitions. It grants citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, as well as to converts who have no Jewish heritage but are recognized by the Orthodox rabbis, the story says.
It also touches on the tensions created by the diversity of the communities of origin of the Jews of Israel, a situation that will eventually die of its own weight as people from various backgrounds marry and have children, who, like mine, are both Ashkenazi and Sephardic, and therefore, neither.
But that is another mishpocha matter – something to settle within the family. And what Palestinians – a “people” created out of whole cloth in the 1960s – have to say about it is irrelevant, though the story ends with one such person’s opinion.
“Judaism is a religion like Islam and Christianity,” it quotes a Palestinian legislator as saying. “Israel is a state, a nationality that represents all the groups and ethnicities in Israel – including the Palestinians.”
Nice that this Arab is able to so easily answer the Jews’ millennium-long question.
But, I still want to know how the Palestinians reconcile their “national” desire for a strictly Palestinian state, completely free of Jews, and how the rest of the world seems to accept that premise without batting an eye.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here