Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Country of Jews or a Jewish State

The latest arguments around the water cooler have to do with the Palestinians and their inability to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The question being argued is whether they even have to. A columnist for Haaretz, Yoel Marcus contends that the answer is no. He makes some good points in his argument. The first point is that we don't need anyone to tell us who we are. Often I agree with that point of view. He rightfully states that they ultimately see us as a Jewish state. It is the reason they have been trying to destroy us for the last 60 years. Also true. Yoel Marcus sees this request of ours as unnecessary. Many view it as a stumbling block put there on purpose by the likes of Avigdor Leiberman. That may be the case but it doesn't change anything. We still need to ask the question. Why does a people who want to make peace with us have so much trouble excepting us for who we are?

My first reaction was a gut reaction. I was tired of their continuing saga where they portray us as having no history and no legitimate claim to the land. How am I supposed to make peace with this kind of people. Its just more Oslo and more Arafat. In Hebrew there is an expression"I've already been to this movie." I've not only been to this movie but it is a horrible movie that always ends the same.

When my temper died down a bit I realized that it is their strategy not to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. If we are a Jewish state then we have a right to Jerusalem and the old city. Our holiest site rests there. If we are a Jewish state then it effects the right of return for refugees. At least in their eyes. In my eyes we cannot let refugees who have not lived here in 40 years come back no matter how they view us. If we are not a Jewish state then it would be unconscionable not to let the refugees back. They know that the refugees would flood this country and it would no longer be ours. If we are not a Jewish state than they can view this as Palestine with a different name.

In a heated argument on our last podcast Charley played devils advocate. He said that they could say they were worried about the Arabs living in Israel. That might be a reason to not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That is pure hogwash. We have almost 60 years of doing well for our Arab citizens that are actually part of the people who are at war with us. So if we suddenly were at peace with them their lot would worsen? There is no logic to that argument. The next point of his as the devil was that Jordan and Egypt don't necessarily recognize us as a Jewish state and yet we have peace treaties with them. These countries and others have indeed fueled the conflict. They still do. Look at how Egypt relates to Hamas. But in the end the peace we have to make is with the Palestinian Arabs. It is with them that we have to divide the land. It is their strategy to deny us any room to negotiate. So it makes a difference.

Charley is of the opinion that we should not care about their reasons. We should basically ignore their strategy. Their strategy has served them well in the court of public opinion. But lets ignore that. Why do we need strategy anyway. Here is where Leiberman and I differ. I would not have used this card yet. Leiberman may indeed want to stop the negotiations. I would have kept my cards closer to my vest. I would have pulled out that card when it came to negotiating over the old city. I would have said we are the Jewish state and this is our holiest site. Then they would have been forced into a corner. They would have had to then be the ones to trip over the stumbling block and decide whether to forge on or stop. That's where I differ with Leiberman. He is like a bull in a china shop and I am more like a stealth bomber on the way to bombing a Syrian nuclear war plant!

In truth I don't think peace is on the horizon. Not until the terrorists have had a chance to crash and burn. A peace only based on borders is not the answer. It has to be based on mutual recognition. The leadership simply fails to understand this simple idea.

Submitted by Carol

5 comments:

August said...

This is a pride thing for them. They believe once land is conquered for Islam it should always be Islamic. So, when Israel was reclaimed, the Muslims felt shamed.

So, now they ask for this distinction so that they can allegedly recognize Israel's right to exist. It may in fact be a real effort- after all, some Muslim actually had to think it up instead of just continuing to refuse to recognize Israel at all. Unfortunately, other Muslims are still just trying kill Israelis, so I doubt it will be very helpful.

Still, it would be less painful than giving up Gaza, so perhaps allowing it would create a situation more amenable to you. To me the solution is military action: giving up land to enemies seems ridiculous to me. But if you want to take this path (whether you call it moderate or left-wing) why not allow the fiction? Maybe you can actually create a stable, moderate, Palestinian government (I chuckled just now) through such diplomatic gymnastics.

Joanne said...

Hi, I'm a new listener to your podcast and reader of your blog. I'm from New York. I have this same comment on the relevant thread, by the way, the one for show #142. I don't know if it's permitted to duplicate, but I'm doing it this time because #142 is already an old podcast, and I don't know if my comment there will be seen.

I agree with Carol that it is important that the Arabs recognize Israel as a Jewish state. I also agree with her that recognizing the Holocaust as a fact is not a parallel example.

Regarding the parallel:
No policy of any country, no outcome to any current conflict, depends on whether Holocaust deniers change their minds or not. But the Arabs and Israelis are involved in a terribly real conflict, with intractable issues to be addressed, and with possibly grave consequences for international peace.

Regarding recognition of Israel's Jewishness:
We cannot dismiss the Arab lack of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as just a matter of pride. It's not just a bad attitude that can be genially indulged and overlooked. Why not? Because this lack of recognition could signal a substantive position that the Arabs may be loath to give up. Specifically, rejecting "the Jewish part" may be the Arabs' way of leaving the Palestinian "right of return" as an open issue. I've often heard of references by non-Zionists to the need to "deZionize" Israel. So, a lack of recognition of Israel's Jewishness can mean a lack of recognition of Israel as it is, period.

Also, Jewishness is not just a religion; it's also a nation and culture (or a complex of related cultures). So, by rejecting Israel's Jewishness the Arabs aren't just rejecting its religion, they're rejecting Israel's national essence.

Israel can be a Jewish state, by the way, without being a theocracy or lacking in freedom of religion. You could even have a Jewish state with no declared official state religion, though Judaism would be understood to be one of the pillars of Israeli heritage. Even if there is an official religion, tolerance of other religions would be obligatory, as in every democracy today.

Joanne said...

Hi, I'm a new listener to your podcast and reader of your blog. I'm from New York. I have this same comment on the relevant thread, by the way, the one for show #142. I don't know if it's permitted to duplicate, but I'm doing it this time because #142 is already an old podcast, and I don't know if my comment there will be seen.

I agree with Carol that it is important that the Arabs recognize Israel as a Jewish state. I also agree with her that recognizing the Holocaust as a fact is not a parallel example.

Regarding the parallel:
No policy of any country, no outcome to any current conflict, depends on whether Holocaust deniers change their minds or not. But the Arabs and Israelis are involved in a terribly real conflict, with intractable issues to be addressed, and with possibly grave consequences for international peace.

Regarding recognition of Israel's Jewishness:
We cannot dismiss the Arab lack of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as just a matter of pride. It's not just a bad attitude that can be genially indulged and overlooked. Why not? Because this lack of recognition could signal a substantive position that the Arabs may be loath to give up. Specifically, rejecting "the Jewish part" may be the Arabs' way of leaving the Palestinian "right of return" as an open issue. I've often heard of references by non-Zionists to the need to "deZionize" Israel. So, a lack of recognition of Israel's Jewishness can mean a lack of recognition of Israel as it is, period.

Also, Jewishness is not just a religion; it's also a nation and culture (or a complex of related cultures). So, by rejecting Israel's Jewishness the Arabs aren't just rejecting its religion, they're rejecting Israel's national essence.

Israel can be a Jewish state, by the way, without being a theocracy or lacking in freedom of religion. You could even have a Jewish state with no declared official state religion, though Judaism would be understood to be one of the pillars of Israeli heritage. Even if there is an official religion, tolerance of other religions would be obligatory, as in every democracy today.

Joanne said...

Hi, I'm a new listener to your podcast and reader of your blog. I'm from New York. I have this same comment on the relevant thread, by the way, the one for show #142. I don't know if it's permitted to duplicate, but I'm doing it this time because #142 is already an old podcast, and I don't know if my comment there will be seen.

I agree with Carol that it is important that the Arabs recognize Israel as a Jewish state. I also agree with her that recognizing the Holocaust as a fact is not a parallel example.

Regarding the parallel:
No policy of any country, no outcome to any current conflict, depends on whether Holocaust deniers change their minds or not. But the Arabs and Israelis are involved in a terribly real conflict, with intractable issues to be addressed, and with possibly grave consequences for international peace.

Regarding recognition of Israel's Jewishness:
We cannot dismiss the Arab lack of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as just a matter of pride. It's not just a bad attitude that can be genially indulged and overlooked. Why not? Because this lack of recognition could signal a substantive position that the Arabs may be loath to give up. Specifically, rejecting "the Jewish part" may be the Arabs' way of leaving the Palestinian "right of return" as an open issue. I've often heard of references by non-Zionists to the need to "deZionize" Israel. So, a lack of recognition of Israel's Jewishness can mean a lack of recognition of Israel as it is, period.

Also, Jewishness is not just a religion; it's also a nation and culture (or a complex of related cultures). So, by rejecting Israel's Jewishness the Arabs aren't just rejecting its religion, they're rejecting Israel's national essence.

Israel can be a Jewish state, by the way, without being a theocracy or lacking in freedom of religion. You could even have a Jewish state with no declared official state religion, though Judaism would be understood to be one of the pillars of Israeli heritage. Even if there is an official religion, tolerance of other religions would be obligatory, as in every democracy today.

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