Veterans Today contributor James Wall, not to mention his various allies in the religious left, is outraged–outraged, I say!–at the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a condition for peace. Why, how dare Israel–founded as the Jewish half of the United Nations’ partition plan of 1947–seek to be recognized as a Jewish state! Of all the chutzpah! Wall writes:
Israel will not negotiate with the PA until it recognizes Israel as a “Jewish State”. This is the card Uri Avnery has correctly dismissed as “nonsense”. This demand for a “Jewish state” was not a part of any Palestinian-Israeli negotiation until it was introduced into the conversation in 2007.
And the demand that Israel completely halt its settlement activity, including in areas that are recognized by everyone to eventually be included in Israel as part of the “land swaps” President Obama has been trumpeting, was not part of any negotiation until 2009, when Obama–not the Palestinians–made it part of the equation. Wall, of course, picked it up without hesitation, and has been banging this particular drum ever since.
Yonatan Touval was a senior policy analyst with the Geneva Initiative, an Israeli nonprofit organization, when he wrote in a New York Times op ed column, May 12, 2009:
While the demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist was unique (after all, it is non-states that customarily seek such recognition from already existing states), the more recent demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state is dangerous. It must be resisted by those who care about Israel’s long-term strategic interests.
Israel’s leaders had never sought such recognition from any party, friend or foe. The 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, which Begin signed, only expresses mutual recognition of the “sovereignty,” “integrity” and “political independence” of both parties. The peace treaty with Jordan that Yitzhak Rabin concluded in 1994 uses the same language. No mention of Israel’s Jewishness appears in either treaty.
In fact, it was only on the eve of the Annapolis conference in November 2007 that then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert first trotted out the Jewish card, conditioning his participation on Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Fortunately, the international community did not respond and Olmert abandoned his demand.
The issue of Israel’s Jewishness was irrelevant to the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, neither of which had citizens demanding the “right of return” to Israel. It is only in the context of negotiations with the Palestinians, who seek to fundamentally change the character of the Jewish state by resettling in Israel hundreds of thousands if not millions of Palestinians who have never lived there.
Not only is this recent addition to Israel’s demands without precedent in the international community, it also ignores the fact that 1.4 million Palestinian Arabs live as citizens within the boundaries of Israel.
That they do, with the same rights and privileges as Jewish Israelis. (Yes, there is discrimination against Arabs in Israel, and that needs to be eradicated, but at least there are Arabs in Israel, as opposed, say, to Jews living in Gaza.)
This is the crux of the argument that Wall, the Israel Palestine Mission Network, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and all of their anti-Israel and anti-Semitic friends on the far left make. There are over a million Arabs living in Israel, so it cannot be a Jewish state. They make this claim despite the following facts:
1) The state that is proposed for the West Bank and Gaza is a “Palestinian state.” It will be such whether it is Judenrein or not. You hear this expression used a hundred times a day by the same people who claim that Israel cannot be a Jewish state. Double standard? Is the Pope Catholic?
2) The U.N. partition plan explicitly stated that there were to be two states in the Holy Land, one a Jewish state, one an Arab state. (By the way, check out a 1947 map of partition: it makes no reference to a “Palestinian state,” but rather an Arab one, because at the time no one knew anything about a people called “Palestinians.” The latter term simply referred to all of the residents of the region, whether Arabs or Jews.)
3) Across North Africa and the Middle East, the following are officially Islamic states: Mauritania, Somalia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. That doesn’t include the ones where Islam is the state religion (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and Algeria, among others). Most of these states are characterized both by legal restrictions on non-Muslims and by frequent official and non-official persecution of non-Muslims. This all constitutes a reality about which Wall and his allies are entirely silent.
4) Hundreds of thousands of Jews, many of them parts of Jewish communities that had been in place for centuries, were expelled from their native lands in the decades following World War II. They were taken in by the Jewish state without regard to where their former homeland was. No other nation on earth would have, or did, take in a significant number of those who had been made refugees.
The truth is that for Wall and his allies, Jews should be required to live as a permanent minority in whatever land they live, subject to the whims and prejudices of whatever people are willing to temporarily put up with them. And when the latter get tired of them, or need a scapegoat, or simply want to expropriate their possessions, they are free to kick them out, and will hear no complaint from the religious left in the West.