Should Israel be viewed as a state for Jews or a Jewish State Essay

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Should Israel be viewed as a state for Jews or a Jewish State

What do you think are the key issues at stake in the discussion within the Jewish world over whether the modern State of Israel should be understood as a state for Jews or a Jewish state? Is it posbbile for it both to be a ‘Jewish and Democratic state’. The two main viewpoints are split between those of the secular Zionists that believe the Jews have a right to self determination, and therefore need a safe haven to be protected from damaging anti semitic attacks that can cause many attrocities, such as the holocaust.

The religious zionists agree with the secular zionists, but go further and believe that religious be-liefs should be encorporated in the state. They do not believe Israel should simply be a state for jews, but should have a mandate to promote Judaism to their jews. opinions on the issue: Professor Ariel Rosen Zvi, an observant jews, believes that reli- gion should not be imposed by force as the whole beauty of religion is that it is one that people choose out of their own intellect. He does however believe that both sides should compromise to find a common solution.

Aviezer Ravitsky is a liberal minded professor and believes that the sexcular jew re- quires the country to be free and that the religious jew must go along with that, but the secular jew must cooperate in keeping the nation jewish. He believes the govern- ment should sway more to the side of Jewish law. Rabbi Zvi Weinman “if we dont believe in religion, what are we doing in this land? Hashem promised it to our ancestors on condition that we observe the Torah. If we do not, then we are here as conquerors. We were united over the ages not by common ethnic descent nor by a common history but by a common faith” Contriversial topics: Contriversy lies in specific topics such as busses on the Jewish day of rest (Shabbat).

Many religious people do not want to pay for ireleigous people to break the special commandment of the Sabbath, through taxes. it’s not necesarily the money aspect, but more the fact that they are invariably causing another fellow jew to disobey a commandment. However, ithis method may cause many ireleghious jews to resent the torah. another contribersial topic is the Kosher commandment. whether or not israel should promote the sale of non kosher food within its borders, for example pork. there are over a million non jews in israel, it seems almost discriminatory to disallow these peo- ple the leisure of favourite foods. there is a major rift over the secular and hareidim arguments.

Reasons for this is due to the fact that many hareidis want to eradicate women in public billboards due to the immodest representation that influences many religious men. they want to detatch is- rael from typical western civilization that has made many people very vulnerable to the unconcious influences that advertisement induces on the physical attitudes of the population. Benjamin Netanyahu wants the arabs to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

A Jewish state sounds like a theocracy, and theocracys are conviversial in respects to democratic states run by accountable people. it seems discrimonatory and racist the idea of having a state with one religion. it is governmed by a democraticalted parliament, yet still holds jewish values and religous customs. but this is just like the ones made in the UK with the recognition of Christmas and Easter as holidayhs. i believe that it is just attacked for its jewish character which emblems zionism. Is Israel a state of the Jews, united by shared histrocial traditions and experience , or is it a Jewish state, whose essence is integrally related to religious faith? We can stem this right from the root of Israel, the declaration of independence does not mention god.

Troen believes that if ISrael is a jew- ish state, then democracy cannot exist; but israel does have Jewish elements, and still resides to be the only democratic country in the middle east. Israel’s essentially can be originated back to many sources of importance. The very fact that it can be originated all the way back to the foundation of Judaism is signifi- cant: the first words uttered by G-d to the first jew, Abraham was to leave his home- land and go to Israel. G-d then promised Abraham that he would have a multitude of nations and many descendants of whom would make a nation and a ‘Eretz Yisrael’ which translates as Israel- to be a land to live in.

Abrahams response was to keep the land forever. This laid the basis for zionism in the Jewish religion. The importance of Israel even remains the focus of every day life. Each day, the focus of prayer is the land of Israel. It is the conscious direction of Israel that a jew faces whilst praying, regardless of where the Jew is in the world. The land of Israeel is clearly the focus of Judaism and without a belief in Judaism as a religion, all validity of Israel as a land for the people is gone.. The holiness of the land is at such an extent due to the biblical events that happened there. Jewish history is based on Israel.

The hard- ships experiences by pharoh and other perseuctions were all legistimised by the even- tual redemption of gaining the land of Israel. The Shema which is a prayer recited twice a day states that if the jewish people observe the commandments and behave morally, the land will respond by having enough rain and produce enough crops in Is- rael. However, if the jews stray from the land, they will loose it . thus , the quality and quantity of crops in Israel depends on the behavior of its inhabitants. Every jew agrees that the land is holy and it is promised.

However, the concept of the state and modern day zionism is argued.the stories of the patriachs (Gen. , chs. 12 to 50) form the first chapter in that great theological history of Is- rael’s origins which we find in the first six books of the Bible. Religious Zionists believe that the establishment of national sovereignty in Israel will hasten the messiah. They believe that if settling in the land of Israel hastens the mes- siah, how much more so would enticing all jews to settle in Israel.

Thus they focus on the similarities between secular Zionists to try minimise the differences. Just like ignaz maybaum, they focus on the correlation between the Nazi holocaust and the establish-ment of Israel. They believe that the principle message of the holocaust to be there is now a clear signal from g-d that it s time for the exile to end. They believe that the STATE IS AN OPPORTUNITY BY G-D TO STATE THAT THE MESSIAH IS CLOSER.

CLASSICAL RAB- BINICAL LITERATURE TEACHES THAT BEFORE SOMETHING MAGNIFICENT OR GREAT OCCURS, THERE MUST BE A GREAT TRAGEDY. IN THIS CASE, THE HOLO- CAUST HAD TO OCCUR IN ORDER FOR THE STATE OF ISRAEL TO BE FOUNDED. THIS THEORY SUPPORTS THE ACTUAL EVENTS, AS MANY HISTORIANS BELIEVE THAT WITHOUT THE HOLOCAUST, ISRAEL WOULD NEVER HAVE COME INTO EXIS- TENCE.

(NETEUREI KARTA WONT LIVE IN ISRAEL BECAUSE THEY DO NOT BELIEVE A JEWISH STATE SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED WITHOUT MESSIAH) The rebirth of the state of Israel is contemporary revelation; I is the voice of g-d speaking forth from history, and for some evokes the essence of G-d even stronger in relation to the holococaust. The return to zion is the ultimate vindication of G-ds presence in history and his providential gov- ernance of man and the world.

The Jew witnessed Auschwitz as ‘the hiding of the face of g-d’, yet the rebirth of the state of Israel allows the same jew to witness the smile on the face of G-d which is proof of his quintessence. Eliezer Berkowitz. statehood is the repudiation of powerlessness in exile,”1 The history of Israel would continue in the history of the Jewish people, a people claimed by the God of Israel to live under his law to the last generation of mankind. 2 When the second world war ended, contact between the Yishuv in Palestine and the remnants of European Jewry, which imme- diately created a fateful mutual relationship.

The institutions of the Zionist movement and the Yishuv made every effort to bring the survivors of the death camps back to life and hope, while the latter became an active factor in the determination of Jewish policy, with the unequivocal objective for the entire Jew- ish people of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. After the capitulation of the Nazi’s, thousands of Jews assembled in the Displaced Persons camps of Germany.

But the borders were not yet closed, and a movement westwards began from Eatern Eu- ope. Survivors returned to their home in the hope of findings those members of their families from whom they had been seperated during the Holocaust. The non Jewish population generally did not welcome the Jews. and the problem of restor- ing houses, apartments or property that had been confiscated arose.

Some 150,000 Jews returned to Poland in 1946 from Rus- sia alone. And swiftly consequences followed as in June 1946, a terrible pogrom broke out in Kielce in which docens of Jews were murdered. It had become apparent that the Holocast had not only failed to soften the traditional anti-semitism of the pol- ish people, but had even intensified it. Even in Kiev, riots broke out over the question of restoring apartments to their rightful owners. In Bratislava there were actual pogroms. As a result, Jews began to flee Westords.

Some 200,000 Jewish refugees were assembled in the DP camps in Germany by the end of 1946, most of them looking forward to the one thing- peace and security among their bretheren, that could be only attained through emigration to Palestine. But the gates were closed. 1 Berkovits, Faith After the Holocaust, 4-5. 2 Old Testament Library. John Bright. A history of Israel. Second Edition. SCM Press LTD> Bloomsbury St Loindon. Hugh Dalton 1945 announced at the LAbour partt conference ‘it was morally wrong to restrict entry of Palestine of Jews. it was indispensble tht steps be taken to get common support for the policy of giving facilities for the crreation of a free, happy and prosperous Jewish State of Palestine.

Truman of the US declared in mid august 1945 of his support for the right to free Jewish immigration and on 2 september he sent a missive to Clement Attlee demanding 100,000 Jewish refugees be granted immediate entry. The labour government ignoredthese demands. AS a result, ha’apalah (illegal immigration) was beginning to be carried out. As early as August and September 1945, small boats from Italian ports began to arrive to Palestine with sur- vivors. On the night of 2 November 1945 an attack on railway lines was launched to demonstrate to the British that they could not rule the country against the wishes of the Jewish.

Yishuve. In the meantime, illegal immigration was increasing. The british began to apprehend immigration ships at Sea. The Hagana reacredby blowing up radar installations and policy cars. Two basic facts have determined the development of the young State of Israel: mass immi- gration, which flooded the country immediately after its establishment and brought hun- dreds of thousands of Jews from different countries, united in religion, historical origin and emotional identity, but seperated in language and social values. immigration served as a diversifying factor, creating tensions and undermining the stability of israel society.

The mass immigation in the first years of statehood was the result of pressure exerted by Jews waiting in DP camps in Germany and Cyprus and of refugees from Eastern Europe. It was aimed at fulfilling the Basle Programme, the central aim of Zionism. The very establish- ment of the State of Israel and international support for this act came from the recognition that there was no other place for Jewish Refugees, and the disturbing realization that had such a refuge existed in the 1930s at least part of European Jewry might have been saved.

By the end of 1950, some 45,000 Yemenite Jews had arrived- gathered from their places of residence to Aden whence they were flown to Israel in ‘Operation Magic Carpet’. In 1950 some 122,000 Iraqi Jews immigrated. 30,000 from Libya, 37,000 from Bulgaria. By the end of 1951, 104,000 from Poland and 119,000 from Romania. All in all immigrants in the first three and a half years of statehood totalled 685,000 of whom 304,000 from East- ern Europe. The new arribals were greeted as part of the biblical narrative of ‘Ingathering of the Exiles’ .

3 3 a hist of j p sasson Zionism is distinct from Biblical return to Israel. It represented a transfoermation of this tra-ditional form of self understanding. it fundamental message was: if you wish to change your exilic condition, you must learn how nations emerge and survive. Don’t wait for the miracle but act on instinct. Secular Zionism demythologized the Jewish people’s sense of who they were.

It contradicted accepted patterns of thought by asserting that exile was not necessarily gorounded in sin or Torah commandments , but the result of a failure to explpi- ot the political, social and eocnomic conditions required for nation building. In the period following the establishment of Israel, the Bible served as a foundaitonal text for Israeli society. Although religious and secular Zionists had different attitudes toward it, they shared a common passion for it. The bible opened the seculsar Zionists to a broader vision of community efined by social justice and ethics. It anchored them to the land and energied them to discover the beauty of the Hebrew language.

The bible was a light that illuminated new ways of living in the world as Jews. For secular zionists, the Bible was the basis for new anthropology, how to live ones life in the prescence of G-d. For religious Zionists, the bible supported their con-viction that there was religious significance to their return to the promised land. Just as the bible had provided observant Jews iwht a frame of reference to make sense of exile, it now gave meaning to their return.

After the 6 Day war, the feeling of the religious Zionists towards the Bible depened when the land of the bible, the promised Land, suddenly opened up before them. the Greater Land of Israel movement which opposes yielfindg soverignty over the entire Land of IS- rael, began in response to the feeling that Jewish peoples long history of wairing was now being vindicated by God through an open miracle.

The footsteps towards the Messiah were approaching and God had retuened the land through SIraels democratic vistory through the asserted theme that god was returning his kingdom in victory. The older generations of Israelis loved the Bible. Today, that generation is dying, and what had once been the national literature of the country is slowly being discarded as irrelevant. For the religious Zionist community, the current peace process has destroyed a fundamen- tal part of their religious appreciation of the state of ISrael. Giving up the Promised land that the government are willing to do means that you are turning back on what was sup-posed to be a redemptive biblical drama.

For the Ultra Orthodox Jewish continuiity entails the repudiation of modernity. Our survival in the apst was due to seperation and insulation from the world. ‘The weakeneing of Jewish histrocial solidarity among Israeli youth is due to the loss of the bible as the foundational text of Israeli society. Israelis concerned about the assimilation facing diaspora Jewry are losing their faith that the state of Israel willl provide a viable sec- ular alternative to the traditional religious forms of Jewish identity the 1950 law of return codified this mission to gather Jews from around the world by grant-ing them the right to settle in Israel, gain automatic citizenship.

Official israeli policy re- garding the law of return is explicit: no commitments of faith as long as no alternative faith is adopted. A Jew is adopted whether he or she is athiest, secularist, or unitnterested in Judaism. (shows that it’s a state for Jews) popwer point: Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni 2008 reaffirmed the fact that ‘a jewish state is not a mo- nopoly of Rabbis, it is about the nature of the state of Israel. it is about Jewish tradition and history, regardless of religion. ‘

Avigdor Liberman feb 2014.the term Jewish State refers primiarily to nationality. isnce their emergence in antiquity, the jewish people have constituted a nation, a people and a civilization, anchored in basic aspcts of their identity, such as Judaism and the hebrew lan- guage. israel is to the jewish people what france is to the french. israel defines itself as the Jewish state. the jewish affinity for the land of israel has its roots in continuous jewish presence over the past 3500 years. while the desire to re establish a jewish state in the land of israel was intensified by harsh persecution and repeated massacres, it mostly de-rived from the belief that only in a soveingty jewish state could the jewish poeple epress it- self commpletely.

Even in the declaration of Israel’s indepedence 1948, it begins with the claim that ISrael is the birthplace of the Jewish people. ‘Here their spiritual, relgiious and national identity was formed; here they wrote and gave the bible to the world’ persecering until the restoration of their national freedom.

The ‘Jewish’ nature is first defined within the Declaration of indepe- dence and influenced by its affinity towards Jewish heritage and tradition (as cosidied in the Emblem of Israel, the flag and certain official instrirtutions) The deomcratic character was only added in 1985 ecause of the need to legallly define the Jewish nature and demo- cratic character of the State of Israel arose because of attempts to cancel the democratic nature o Israel. 1994 question whether the israel government is permitted to limit hte import of non kosher meat, despite the basic law: freedom of occupation, arose. initially, the high court of justice ruled that the government cannot limit such imports; however after the knesset past some amendments to the basic laws, the limit was incldued.

Similarly, ultra orthodox are exempted from taking part in the military on grounds of reli- gious admission to yeshivot. It is thought that just as the military provides the physical strength of ISrael, the ones in yeshiva provide the spiritual guarding of G-d. The State for Jews was acknowledge by the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 and reaffirmed by the mandate of the LON, giving explicit international recognition to the his- toric connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, and their right to reconsitute their Na- tional Home. The nai holocaust proved the urgency for a soloution to Jewish homeless- ness.

Hertlzs speach from Der Judenstaat 1896 asserted that the JEwish question is ‘neither a social, nor a religious one’ but instead a ‘national question’ in response to mass anti semitism. ‘we are still decried as aliens. oppression and persecution cannot exterminate us. no nation has endured such struggles. ‘ but he claims that Palestine is our unforget- table historic homeland. however during operation margic carpet in 1948, a jew in yemen Sliman Jaradi stated that ‘we hate israel because it is a ionist state, not a jewish state. Jaradi claimed to have refused to immigrate to Israel because he believed the state had lost its jewish character.

ISrael has no religion, Torah or morals. Modernity granted them citizenship from the ghetto but also led to the holo- caust. For many Jews. For the first time, your position in life wasn’t fate- decided by G-d, but decided by yourself. Jewish population thought how quickly can we assimilate and cast off these tired Jewish rituals- many thought that modernity would promise that much lib- eration and that if you were a Jewish German, you could be German before Jew- ish. The rise of socialism emerged; Jews thought that the suffering they are current- ly enduring can ultimately be drawn back to class warfare.

Their peoples suffer-ing was just an issue of class warfare. People had the freedom to decide who to rule them. Moses Hess wrote the first book on Zionism in 1962. He would differ from the socialist camp by saying history is a racial struggle. They belong in a homeland of their own. Assimilation was a false sense of security that would lead to dead Jews. He rejected the idea that Judaism could be a cultural tradition – Those things can be bent and moulded. They were ethnically distinct. Any idea that you could convert away was just illusionary. This was no longer adequate be- cause Germany stuck by the mantra that you cannot change your blood. Hertzl.

Even during Hertzl’s life- the idea of a Jewish state was a fantasy. He thought the idea of assimilation was great, then the Dreyfus Affair happened. The Dreyfus affair set him straight. Anti Semitism was eternal, it was a joke to act like the Jews could pledge allegiance to their nation. He was in favor of a secular Jewish state, not religious. In terms of potential places to go, Argentina was still high on the list. So long as the Jewish question is not solved on the po- litical level. He’s saying because racial struggle is eternal, the natural and justi- fied logical response of those people is hostility.

So, when the Jews go to Eng-land, it’s logical that they would encounter Anti Sem. To consolidate Ottoman debt if they were offered ottoman support. While the Pope met him respectful- ly, he told Hertzl that ‘he couldn’t support the people that killed Jesus. ’ Hertzl was charismatic but he wasn’t that fanatical compared with the other nationalists of that era. His rhetoric was flaming but it was exactly what you needed to start a worldwide movement. Unfortunately, the first generation of Zionist farmers were unprepared and unskilled but more came, learnt and were traded up. Hertzl made a public journey to TLV to meet Kaiser Wilhem of Ger- many 1870.

Another reason why Jews supported Israel was due to pogroms- This stiumlated the first round of immigration to Palestine between 1881-85. Most of them were litterally fleeing hteir home as opposed to due to a zionist mantra. 1897 – First great Zionist congress. He preached the doctrine of racial distinc- tion and the need for Jews to have their own distinctiveness, he insisted that everyone wore their finest Top and Tails that set the standard very high for the zionist world. The Uganda Offer 1903 – The zionist sent a research team in Uganda, the locals were not willing to accept europeans moving it, but also the animals were scary.

Uganda still has a Jewish population. Tel Aviv founded in 1909. Jewish settlers buy plots of land from local bedouins. Balfour declaration 1917; James Robert Balfour was influenced by Christian Zionism, compelled by his ideology to support the Zionists. He had been lobbeyd into this position for at least a decade. A national home, as distinct from a Jewish state. Interested in a national home, not a Jewish state necessari- ly. The Ottoman position on Israel was good compared to the British people. Chaim Weizmann talking Christian Zionism= The zionism by Christians.

Essential for Jews to have a state so as for the apoc-oplyse to come about. New reading of the bible saw the apololypse as immi- nent and the Jews seeking a homeland as a sign that a new world was coming. Many of the most powerful people, like Lloyd George. Vast majority of Zionist entrance into Palestine was financial, they would buy their way into owning the land. Much of that land while it was ‘palestinian land’, it was not really being used. To this day, The vast majority of Israel purchases is because no one else will buy it. For the Zionist back home, it was only a tiny portion of them that would maybe have a problem.

Palestinian society was not united and it would take them up until maybe the 60s for them to be fully unit- ed and it meant that it took the Palestinians a long time to mobilize and ocme to terms with there being this massive population moving in. Major arab protests and strikes which were too late. The White Paper, 1922. Churchill issued a torn resonponsibility between Arab and Jewish sides. The British government taking their Balfour declaration back. On the one hand you had the genuine British desire for a homeland, yet there was also a desire to unite the arabs. The white paper did not satisfy anyone, the arabs still end up siding up with Hitler.

In 1922, Britain took over. 1929- Massacre in Hebron, both the Sephardic Jewish population had generally lived in peace with Arab nations, but with the ever growing prescience of Zion- ist immigrants, things finally peaked and led to bloody murder. Hagannah, zionist military force. They claimed to help the Zionist movement, didn’t engage in warfare. The Irgun led by Zev Jabotinsky he was in favour of the annihilation of Palestines Arab population and would carry on until the formation of the state. His group was responsible for the KD hotel bombings killing a significant amount of British forces.

36-39 the Arab revolt. Took a v long time to mobilize the group. 21st Zionist Congress 1939 in Geneva.. Following the Second WHITE Paper ab- solved Britain of responsibility to the jewish people. all forthe purposees of a vain attempt to regain arab loyalty so that they didnt side with hitler. Chaim Weizzman was Hertzls right hand man. At this point the world didnt real- ize that the holocaust was going on, and saw the eradication of european Ger- many as a goal because in 1939 Macdonald white paper was published. In it it said that the Balfour declaration has been fulfilled. It is now obselete. Even at

this point when Jews were being killed, the British made it clear that immigra- tion to Palestine was limited. The most effective way of gaining land for the Zionists was to buy it- they were not permitted to do so either. This provoked many of the zionist leaders to establish a legal immigration, to hide the immi- grants in boats and smuggle. Zev Jabotinsky was involved. Churchill was outraged. The new white paper was a step too far. he voted against his own party. They thought if they supported Hitler, that this region could be theirs. Haj Amin Al Husseini, responsible for Hitler to go through with the final solution.

Roosevelt during WW2 he fought anti semitism by conflating anti semitism with nazism, as an american, u do not want to do what nazis do. this campaign was successful…. amogn much of american soiety, non jews started supporting the jewish state en masse. powerpoint: reasons why israel must be recognized as a jewish state former mossad chief meir dagan thinks the demand to recognize isrtael as a jewish state is nonsnse. but it is not nonsense- itis the most natural and justi- fied demand imaginable.

1) for decades Zionism refused to see the palestinian people, and the palestini-an national movement refuses to see the jewish people and recognize in this way its right to a jewish state. the souble and continuing lindness is what ig- nites the ongoing tension. peace will be possible when both realize the need for recognition for eachother 2) the camp david epace summit and oslo ocurds saw a new vision in israel, with many israelis opening up new modern acceptance to the other people in the land. 3) palestinians will not give up on the demand for the right of return. the trau- ma of the nakba is their foundational trauma the jewish people is a poeople of this land and it did not arrive from mars.

It is neesary to demand of them to admit that the jewish people has a history of its own and a tragedy of its own and its own justification. the jews are not colonialists but legal neough- bours. there will not be eace until thechildren growing in deheisheh refusee camp will knwo that the country accross the borderis a legitimate jewish state of a jewish people whom they are to live side by side.

4) an israeli palestinain pece agreement is to an extent a one sided agreement in which israel gives and palestinainsrecieve. only te recognition of israel as a jewish state would turn the longed for agreement into a two sidedone.while israel will transfer concrete assets to its neighbours, the palestinians will give the only give they can: legitimacy. Toren pointed out that most Zionists in the generation that prceded Herzl were Rabbis, but many founders of the state of Israel were in rebellion against the religious tradition because, they felt, if G-d was omnipresent in the lives of Jews, how was Jewish suffering accounted for.

The founders were people who said we cant wait for G-d for salvation, we can’t wait for the end of history, we must take our fate in our own hands. it was a secular humanist revoloution that understood that this would be a state for the jews, a refuge. But it also under- stood that this would be a Jewish state, a state where the language would be Hebrew, a state that would draw on the traditions that had been formed over the centuries.

Asher Susser, a senior fellow at Brandeis Crown Centre for Strategic Studies said he sees Israel as the state of Jews rather than a Jewish state. However, he claims that in terms of Arab affairs, it doesn’t really matter whether Israel is considered the state of the Jews or a Jewish state. The religious thesis for Arabs is considered to be irelevant, it is the Zionist elements that causes the rift.

However, this contradicts with Meir Kahunas point that ISrael cannot be a democratic state and Jewish state at the same time as Jewish state conflicts with the Arabs and other religions that reside in ISrael while democratic con- flicts with the whole point of the need for Israel, if it became focused on a democratic state for Jews, then the Law of Return should have to include Arabs too, and the whole point of having a safety haven for Jews would be dimin- ished.

Susser however agrees with this by ctizieing Arabs who are calling for Is- rael to change in fundamental ways so that they can feel it is a state for all citi-zens. This is a euphemism for the destruction of Israel as the sate of the Jewish people. ‘one of these Arab intellectuals said ISrael should be as Jewish as Swe- den is Christian. that is a complete rejection of my national identity… israel is as jewish as sweden is swidish. our jewishness is parallel to swdenishness, not to swedens christianity’. Salman Masalha – there is a fundamental misunderstanding that underlies his concluding declaration:

‘There is no such thing as a Jewish democratic state, just as there is no Muslim democratic state’ At the root of this sentence lies a deep, tragic misunderstanding that characterizes many Arab positions on Is- raels identity. in the standard arab view, ‘Jews’ are comparable to ‘Christians’ or ‘Muslims’ in other words, they are a religous group, not a nation. And it is not only arabs who thinks that way. there is no dobut that for hundreds of years, Jewish identity was percieved by Jews and non jews alike primarily as a reli- gious identity.

This is where they contradict with the Zionist revoloution that the Jews are a nation, and as such, they have the right to national self determination in a po-litical framework as accepted by the UN on Nov 29 1947, in its decision to parti- tution British Mandatory Palestine into two states- Jewish and Arab. Israel views itself as a Jewish nation state; jewish identity has a religious component, histor- ically.

AND THIS IS THE PROBLEM THAT COMPLICATES ATTEMPTS TO RESOLVE THE ISRAELI PALESTINIAN CONFLICT – the fact that the arab side has difficulty in recognizing that Jews view themselves as a nation. identtity is a matter of self definition, not external definition. Just as jews are not the ones who will de- termine whether the palestinians are a people or not, Masalha cannot deter- mine whether the jews are a people or not.

It is a question of self determina- tion. Arabs refusal to accept Israel as a jewish state attests to an unwillingness to accept the jewish people right to self determination. because what is at is- sue is national identtity, not religious identity, there can indeed by a jewish democratic state, just as there can be an arab democratic state, just like Lebanon and Egypt, an arab stte that maintains a political system with demo- cratic principals. Yair Lapid claims that ‘the problem is that israel is defined. both by law and by a decisive major.

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