Why does Israel keep insisting that the Palestinians accept a "Jewish" state? What's the big deal?
Dear Friend of Israel, Friend of FLAME:
In his speech before the U.S. Congress this last May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the observation that "Our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It has always been about the existence of the Jewish state. This is what the conflict is about."
Netanyahu went on to describe the drumbeat of hateful incitement against Israel and Jews that is perpetuated in the West Bank and Gaza by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as the fantasy that one day the state of Israel will be flooded with the descendants of Palestinian refugees.
"My friends, this must come to an end," said Netanyahu. "President Abbas must do what I have done. I stood before my people---and I told you it wasn't easy for me---and I said . . . 'I will accept a Palestinian state.' It is time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say . . . 'I will accept a Jewish state.' Those six words will change history."
It sounds simple, doesn't it? But Netanyahu exposed a profound truth about the Palestinian's desire for an independent state side-by-side Israel. They don't want one.
Just a few days after Netanyahu's speech, Mahmoud Abbas made the following statement: "With regard to [Palestinian recognition] of a Jewish state, or whatever, this has never been an issue. Throughout the negotiations between the Israelis and us, from 1993 until a year ago, we never heard the words 'Jewish state.' Now they have begun to talk about it, and our response was: 'Go to the UN, and call yourselves whatever you want. We are not the party to address. Not only that---we refuse to recognize a Jewish state. Try to wrest it out of the UN or anyone else . . . Why does Israel insist on demanding this from us, and us alone---it did not demand this from the Arabs, from Egypt, from Jordan, or from any Arab country with which it negotiated? Only from us. We know the reason, and we say: 'No, we refuse.'"
What's going on here? Why won't Abbas utter those six simple words? Because unlike Jordan and Egypt, the Palestinian Arabs have never renounced their desire to conquer Israel. They've continually demanded the right to "repatriate" Israel with 1.5 million descendants of Palestinian refugees. What's more, the other Arabs never claimed that peace negotiations were merely one step toward the ultimate destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, as the Palestinian leadership has many times in the past.
Indeed, if the Palestinian Authority were to openly accept the Jewish state of Israel, it would break a decades-long promise it repeats nearly daily to the Palestinian people: That they will one day take possession of Israel and drive the Jews out.
One might actually compliment the Palestinian leadership on how effectively they've imbued their people with this surrealistic vision. A new poll of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, conducted by The Israel Project, shows that 66 percent believe "The real goal should be to start with two states but then move to it all being one Palestinian state." Only 30 percent agreed with a statement accepting permanently a two-state solution that includes a homeland for the Jewish people.
No wonder Mahmoud Abbas can't utter those words. No wonder peace talks have foundered. President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton: Are you listening?
This week's FLAME Hotline, by commentator JanSuzanne Krasner, argues forcefully for the imperative that Israel remain a Jewish state, a refuge for the Jewish people. It also decimates a recent Time magazine article asserting that the notion of a Jewish state is out of date. Every supporter of Israel should read this week's piece.
Israel: The National State Dedicated to Jewish Survival
Consider this question: "If the Israelis gave the Palestinians everything, would Jews be able to live in Palestine in peace?" Everything means giving all defense technology; all territories including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Settlements, the Western Wall and other religious sites; water, all the oil, gas, and other natural resources of the land; and the right of return. Those who believe that the answer is "no" will understand that this presents the most compelling reason to defend Israel's right to be acknowledged as the "National Home of the Jewish People."
During PM Netanyahu's last visit to the US, his most impassioned words to President Obama and Congress was a plea for the Palestinians to recognize and accept the existence of Israel as a "Jewish state." It is not the indefensible '67 lines that is the basis of the stymied Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The Hamas-Fatah unity agreement, forged to legitimize the Palestinian call for statehood in the UN, has exposed the truth about the negotiation failures. It is unwillingness of the Palestinians, not to mention the general Arab population, to accept any Jewish state or an agreement that does not include the 'right of return.'
In a recent commentary, TIME Magazine's senior editor Tony Karon questions: "Is Israel the National Home of the Jewish People." The debate over this question goes to the heart of a growing division in the Jewish-American community.
Karon offers the argument that it is only persecution that has driven Jews to find protection in Israel, not their desire to return to a Jewish homeland. Only 5.6 million of the world's population of 13.5 million Jews lives in Israel. He claims that in present day Western societies, "the prime problem facing efforts to persuade the bulk of Jews to move to Israel may be the decline of anti-Semitism in the Western world. It seems increasingly far-fetched to suggest to third-generation Jewish Americans or Canadians, Britons or Frenchmen that theirs is a temporary, twilight existence in the countries of their birth and citizenship, a way station en route 'home' to Israel."
Karon uses this reasoning to justify why Israel should not be called the "National homeland of the Jewish People." By applying the same logic toward other nationalities, one would then believe that countries like Ireland and Lebanon, with more of their people living out of their respective countries, should no longer exist. And, Karon may not realize that anti-Semitism still flourishes even in countries where statistically there are no Jews, like Poland.
Karon thinks that anti-Semitism in Western societies is on the decline. This couldn't be further from the truth. The facts show that belligerent organized groups are taking direct aim at Israel to end the existence of a Jewish state. In the last decade, voices against Zionism have given rise to a tripling of anti-Semitic violence in Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Australia. And countries where Iranian influences (and links to neo-Nazi organizations) are being felt, like Venezuela, Hungary, Greece, France and Chile. Also noteworthy is that the US Congress, in a resolution back in 2009, acknowledged this growing threat throughout South America, including Bolivia and Argentina. Muslim immigration to America also brings with it a fast growing minority of anti-Semitic sentiment.
Karon, like many Americans, may be ill informed as to the growing anti-Zionist threat in universities and colleges that comes from the Muslim Student Association (MSA supported by the Muslim Brotherhood). Jewish students on many campuses in the US and Canada are severely intimidated by the aggression of these students who are backed up by their Middle East studies professors.
Just a decade ago, the Anti-Defamation League released a nationwide survey showing the number of Americans with anti-Semitic attitudes on the rise after a ten year decline, demonstrating a reason for concern that Jewish hatred persists in America. Abraham Foxman, ADL National Director said: "We are greatly concerned that many of the gains we had seen in building a more tolerant and accepting America have not taken hold as firmly as we had hoped, and have to some degree been reversed." 2009 FBI statistics has shown that of all the US (and Canadian) religious hate crimes the percentage against Jews has increased from 67% to 72%.
To make matters much worse for Jews and their future generations, growing global anti-Semitism has become deadly as their enemies pursue nuclear weaponry. Americans should not forget that Israel is still a very tiny country in the midst of 22 Arab countries spanning two continents, containing 325 million people with an anti-Semitic ideology that ranges between 90-100% of the populace. But, Karon points out that skeptics see Netanyahu's demand for recognition as a Jewish state as just another delaying tactic and not relevant to the peace talks.
It is Netanyahu who understands the severity of the situation and is committed to the protection and survival of the Jewish People. His stipulation that the Palestinians recognize and accept Israel as a Jewish state before effective negotiations can take place is imperative. The denial of Israel as the 'National Jewish Homeland' where the people are willing and able to defend the right to be a Jew will surely cause a domino effect. It will quickly embolden the enemies of Jews around the world. Even American Jews will be forced to make very hard decisions, much like Jews have had to make throughout the centuries as anti-Semitism ran rampant in the countries they lived in.
Karon recognizes America's general support of Israel, as well as the lack of concern, and in some cases apathy, third-generation American Jews have when it comes to that support...not to mention that few are interested in making Aliyah. This nonchalance coming from an assimilated Jewish community that feels relatively secure in the safety of American arms is very shortsighted. Jews have a propensity to forget history while history will not forget them. They must not fail to remember that there have been other times, in other places, where Jews had similar 'glory days'... but, eventually the ugly head of anti-Semitism caught up to them. Try telling European Jews who are now part of a new Diaspora that they are not in "a temporary, twilight existence."
Today, under Barack Obama's Presidency, American Jews are waking up to a new threat. Many are wondering if this Administration will throw Israel under the bus in support of Palestinian statehood and ever shifting Arab alliances. Whether Karon realizes it or not, he is making a classic case that conveniently falls into the hands of those who want to delegitimize and destroy the State of Israel. His blindness and uninformed opinion is frightening and could lead to the destruction of the Jewish State should Americans, not just Jews, buy into this argument. Then the question would become: "How safe are Jews around the rest of the world?"
So, one is not an alarmist to point out that the average American Jew may one day be confronted by the viciousness of anti-Semitism should Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state be denounced. That will be the time that Jews, both to the Right or Left, will be praying for the existence of a National Jewish state.
It seems that the world may have to come to terms with the fact that there many never be peace until the Arab world accepts that Jews of Israel are there to stay.