A message to the Palestinian people Why and When A Jewish State.
Yoram takes us on a history of the region and the definition of a Jewish State. Enjoy.
By Yoram Getzler
WHY & WHEN THE “JEWISH STATE WHY A “JEWISH STATE” NOW?
“Palestinian Future under Continuing Occupation and the Fading Realization of a State”
(I would like to speak to this meeting of Palestinian intellectuals and attempt to be the voice of the majority of the Israeli people…
Could there be a problem with the good old revolutionary strategy of violence that has still not worked?)
The importance of the idea behind the phrase “a Jewish State” has been gaining public attention lately. It has been given an added boost by PM Netanyahu’s Bar Ilan University speech where he conditioned continued negotiations with the Palestinians for “a two state solution” on their “accepting Israel as a Jewish state”.
This idea has stimulated a range of sarcastic, mocking, as well as rejectionist responses. Some writers, especially those associated with the political Left attempt to denigrate this idea by proposing that it is us, the nation that lives in Israel that require some conformation that we are indeed living in a Jewish state. With all the irony they can muster, they insinuate that it is we , who are lost and are calling for a sign post in our lives to confirm our Jewish identity within this state. While there is some truth to the idea that many Israelis are confused about their identities, it is not the real issue or reason for the idea being brought to public awareness.
A few others understand that the definition is a required attempt in order to fix the idea in the consciousness of our enemies (“one makes peace with enemies!”) who claim their willingness to recognize and accept an amorphous state that calls itself, (for some unknown reason) Israel.
In an all too brief conversation with Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, several years ago, he insisted that the formal Palestinian “recognition of Israel” (PLO 1988) was sufficient and that there was no need to add the word Jewish to that recognition.
This situation has can be compared by the simile of Israel recognizing a Palestinian state, inhabited exclusively by people of the Bahai faith, or maybe by nationals of Portugal or the Check Republic . I am sure that Mr. Erekat takes for granted that Israel and the world will accept a “Palestinian state” as the one that he envisions. Populated almost exclusively by Arabs, mostly Muslims who at some point in their family history had lived in the area known during the British Mandate (1918 to 1948) as Palestine . I also suspect that he has no complaints with the name chosen by what was once known simply as Iran and now calls itself, the Islamic Republic of Iran, or the self defined Arab Republic of Syria, or the Egyptian Arab Republic in reference to their apparently exclusive ethnic or religious identities.
Are we are dealing here with a problem of a deliberate and purposeful ignorance? I can understand people not knowing that Israel was the divinely given name to Jacob, the third patriarch of the Jewish people? So too I can understand that people do not know that Israel means “those who contend with the divine” a description of the Jewish people.
I believe that the problem is deeper. At the time of the birth of Mohammad, and the subsequent development of Islam the Jews had not had a national identity for five hundred years. They were one of a number of other non-Arab tribes in Arabia , none of which was considered a nation. As far as Mohamed and his followers knew the Jews were no more than another religion without specific national attachments. This was also true for the Christians in Arabia . They had no specific national allegiances, their loyalty was to their religious heritage. So why should Mohamed and his followers’ think of the Jews as a nation.? …and why do we care today?
At a conference held in East Jerusalem campus of Al Aksa University last year the former chief of Security for the Palestinian Authority Jibril Rajub gave an impassioned plea for understanding. Focusing of course on the need for Israelis to “understand” Palestinians. During the question period I could not help but as him if he “understood the reason the Jewish people chose this particular place on the planet in which to make their home. Did he think it was the extreme wealth of diamonds, gold or oil that drew us here. Or maybe it was the vast fertile and well watered agricultural lands?” Of course he did not dare to answer me directly but rather chose to rage that it was not he that needed to understand me, the occupier…
Here essentially we have it. There is no logical reason the Jewish people descended on the poor weak Arabs of Palestine other to steal their lands. If there are reasons they are of the nature of perversity or a hidden agenda. The best reason they seem able to come up with is; our desire to fracture the continuity of what they perceive as their exclusive possession, the immense expanse of the earth from the north African Atlantic coast to Bangladesh.
I think it is also appropriate to go to the contemporary historical record. The mandate awarded to Great Britain by the League of Nations on July 24 1922 , after the defeat and disappearance of the Ottoman Empire the former ruler of the area named Palestrina by the Romans in identification with the Philistines, a Mediterranean tribe who invaded and settled the costal area of Judea more than two thousand years ago. The League declaration set as a specific goal of that mandate “the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people”. The British established a commission in 1937 to investigate and recommend a just and practical solution to the conflict in the mandatory area between the Arab people who had lived there since the Arab conquest (occupation) in 638 CE, and the Jewish people who had been exiled from there in the year 135 CE. That official commission used the term “two states for two peoples”. Ten years and one World War later the United Nations, in an attempt to bring a just solution the issue also called for the partition of Palestine into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state.
I do not know the exact origin of the term “a two state solution” or of its descriptive extension; “two states for two people”, but I am quite sure that the two peoples for whom there should be two states are an Arab state for Arab people, alongside a Jewish state for the Jewish people. Yes, there is an inherent dis proportionality here, as there is no other state for the Jews and there are many Arab states, and even more Muslim states. But so be it. We have over the past centaury continually voiced our acceptance of this less than perfect compromise. While it is true that our enthusiasm for sharing this land with the Arab people who were in the past a majority has declined as it has become more obvious that their true aspiration is more do destroy our state than to create and develop their state.
From my point of view and understanding the acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state does not demand the Arab acceptance of the true justification for a “Jewish state” here. That reason; that justification has to do with our legitimate historical claim to any of the land between the rivers ( Jordan ) & the sea ( Mediterranean ). That is in deed the point of understanding that is required for there to be a possibility however remote for these two peoples to succeed in living together as neighbors.
Somehow the problem the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim world have with Israel as a Jewish State seems to be part an expression of the unwillingness and/or inability of the Palestinian / Arab/ Muslim world to recognize that the Jewish people, (also known as Israel ) have a legitimate historical claim to any of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea .
This is the minimum because the true understanding is the justified historic claim by the Jewish people to the right to any of this land.. Otherwise we are nothing but thieves, who came from afar and stole this land by force from its inhabitants. So long as this is the narrative as understood by the Arab/Palestinian people they are obligated to fight us, by all standards of justice and retribution and by any means. And even more so if you add US President Obama’s understanding that we deserve this land because of the European generated Holocaust.