OPINION: Condemning the Jewish state to history would condemn the Jewish people
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Analysis

OPINION: Condemning the Jewish state to history would condemn the Jewish people

Sir Mick Davis roundly rejects Peter Beinart's controversial polemic, 'I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State', which advocates for one binational state for Jews and Palestinians.

Sir Mick Davis
A Palestinian boy looks behind a wall separating Jewish part and Palestinian part of the West Bank. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian boy looks behind a wall separating Jewish part and Palestinian part of the West Bank. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

American political commentator Peter Beinart recently published thousands of words advocating a binational one-state solution. There is a world of difference between criticising the government of Israel for at times undermining the future of a Jewish and democratic state, as I have done often in the past, and asking the citizens of Israel to voluntarily dissolve that state.

Two states haven’t yet been achieved but I still believe, as do many others more highly qualified than myself, that the obstacles can be overcome in the long-term with creativity and sufficient political will.

Beinart’s argument, as many have written, is utopian. It takes flawed binational models like Northern Ireland and Belgium and elevates them to a status their flaws do not warrant, while ignoring bloodier examples like Yugoslavia.

It dismisses the concerns of Israelis caused by several decades of regional and local annihilationist terror and aggression as some kind of psychological throwback to the Holocaust, rather than an understandable response.

Sir Mick Davis

Fundamentally, as President Obama’s ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro tweeted, “His proposal means the elimination of the very purpose of Zionism: the sovereignty in their homeland that the Jewish people deserve and history proved repeatedly they suffered grievously without.”

Therefore, even if it was in the universe of the possible, which it is not, I reject it.

Beinart’s argument, as many have written, is utopian. It takes flawed binational models like Northern Ireland and Belgium and elevates them to a status their flaws do not warrant, while ignoring bloodier examples like Yugoslavia.

If the State of Israel is not a Jewish state why should it exist and what connection would Jews outside Israel have to it? Diaspora Jews would become mere foreigners. Whatever stake we feel we have in Israel would disappear. For all Beinart’s long expressed concerns for the future of Diaspora Jewish connection to Israel particularly among the young, his proposition would make Diaspora Jews and Israel irrelevant to each other, entrenching a schism he previously feared.

If the State of Israel is not a Jewish state why should it exist and what connection would Jews outside Israel have to it? Diaspora Jews would become mere foreigners.

Yet our connection to Israel has been vital for the continued existence of Jewish communities. The Zionist enterprise forged and has maintained a Jewish identity relevant to modernity. Beinart’s proposal not only existentially threatens the State of Israel but modern Jewish identity. If Israel is no longer a collective Jewish endeavour then, over time, the Jews will cease to exist save as a relic of history. Judaism and Jewish identity would become the sole preserve of the ultra-Orthodox.

To condemn the Jewish State of Israel to history would do the same to the Jewish people. It would be as dangerous a self-indulgence by the left to give up the Jewish nation state as for the right to erase from history the Palestinian right to their own nation state. No one should contemplate giving away the right to statehood conferred by UN resolution 181 nor deny that right to Palestinians.

Peter Beinart (Wikipedia/ Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/newamerica/4679931032/ / Author New America Foundation / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

That Palestinians wasted so much time fighting Israel’s existence and that for the last decade both sides have been grotesquely unable or unwilling to negotiate a solution does not make that solution irredeemable.

The imposition of facts on the ground to in effect inhibit the viability of a future Palestinian state has indeed been infuriating but we shouldn’t buy into the notion, ironically encouraged by both the Zionist hard-right and anti-Zionist left, that such facts are forever irreversible.

In a vacuum with no momentum, however, others will propose far worse ideas. But the issues that have bedevilled the two state solution – no trust, a belief by many on both sides that the land is theirs alone, huge wealth disparities – will not be solved by jumping off a one state cliff and hoping to fly. And if we outside Israel embrace one state we would be complicit both in the mayhem and violence it has the potential to unleash and in the demise of the Jewish people as we know it.

..the issues that have bedevilled the two state solution – no trust, a belief by many on both sides that the land is theirs alone, huge wealth disparities – will not be solved by jumping off a one state cliff and hoping to fly.

Instead of giving up on Israel and a two-state solution, we need to embrace both with more conviction than ever. Is it difficult to achieve? Is it difficult to persuade younger generations of the patience, moral and political compromises needed to achieve it? Of course, but so what?

It’s a hard sell but an attainable goal. A binational state, however, is a dangerous, disingenuous and ahistorical cop out.

read more:
comments