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The Jewish problem

January 5th, 2009 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

Israel’s problem – it’s fundamental problem – is its self-declared nature as a Jewish state.

To be clear – I am blaming political Zionism, and not Judaism or the Jewish people.

Israel defines itself as a religious state. A state for the Jewish people. Its borders – the places where it meets non-Jews – will be bloody by its very nature as it tries to maintain its exclusive character.

The ‘separation barrier’ in the West Bank is the most visible example – non-Jews on one side, Jews on the other. But the invasion of Gaza, the occupation of Egypt (now ended), Lebanon (partially ended), and Syria (ongoing) are all part of this ‘bloody-border’ policy.

Internally too, non-Jews are treated like second class citizens. Israel wants to be a theocracy. Israel may claim to be the “only democracy in the Middle East”, but it isn’t. Israel is an ethnocracy.

If you don’t believe me, listen to Nelson Mandela (thanks Cheb):

“Palestinians are not struggling for a “state” but for freedom, liberation and equality, just like we were struggling for freedom in South Africa.

Israel’s racial discrimination is daily life of most Palestinians. Since Israel is a Jewish state, Israeli Jews are able to accrue special rights which non-Jews cannot do. Palestinian Arabs have no place in a “Jewish” state.

The responses made by South Africa to human rights abuses … shed light on what Israeli society must necessarily go through before one can speak of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and an end to its apartheid policies.”

(Despite the controversial title, I have tried to be very clear that my argument is with Israel as a Jewish state – not with Jews or Judaism. It is the same argument against Taliban-run Afghanistan, or Wahhabi-run Saudi Arabia.

I am aware this is a controversial argument. Feel free to leave a comment if you disagree.

And yes, the logical conclusion of my argument is that the solution is one-state for Jews and Muslims living together under one political and legal system. The two-state solution simply solidifies the status-quo. But that argument is for another time.)

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 abu kareem // Jan 6, 2009 at 3.14 am

    “…the solution is one-state for Jews and Muslims (and Christians) living together under one political and legal system.”

    I agree, anything short of that is not a viable long term solution. This is what Edward Said also concluded in his final years.

  • 2 ??? ?. // Jan 6, 2009 at 10.19 pm

    And this was the situation before the Oslo accords, but there were some clues that the Palestinians do not really want to live in a country dominated by people from other religion and culture. Or maybe you meant to suggest that the Israeli jews should change their culture and religion to fit in?

    How exactly can a state populated mainly by jews can be non-jewish? Is the US not christian? or syria with all its minorities not muslim?

  • 3 mark-k // Jan 6, 2009 at 10.22 pm

    The previous comment is mine…. sorry for littering your site with hebrew characters.

  • 4 Jill // Jan 7, 2009 at 11.36 pm

    Mark-k – I hope you don’t mind me answering what you asked. First, I want to say, I really cannot believe I’m reading this post because these thoughts echo mine – and I’m a Jewish middle-aged woman in the USA who has lived in Israel and was just visiting there in 2008. I love my religion, I love Israel, but I love democracy too and I agree with pretty much everything written in this post.

    Now – you asked, “Is the US not christian?”

    Well – actually, although 80% or so of the residents of the US may be of some Christian denomination, particularly for those of us who are not Christian? We do not consider the US a Christian country and we are quite vocal about that. That’s part of the reason for the schisms going on in the Republican Party – this battle over the role of religion in public life.

    There is a great deal more that could be said about this issue, but I just wanted you to know that while it is true that many US residents may consider the US a Christian country, and many people outside the US may see it that way, I assure you – there are many of us who not only don’t see it as a Christian country but work very hard in our activism to defeat that image.

  • 5 Shira // Jan 8, 2009 at 11.10 am

    In theory it sounds great, and although I’m a staunch Israel supporter, if I thought that solution would really result in an end to the bloodshed, I might actually be all for it – but after all these years, do you not think if the people of the West Bank and especially Gaza were to return to Israel, there would be a desire for ‘payback,’ so to speak? I can’t imagine that those who talk about driving the Jews into the sea might not try to finish the job once they actually have access. After all, they were trying to force the Jews out, and rioting against them, long before 1948. They couldn’t live in peace then – what makes anybody think they could live in peace now?

  • 6 Jill // Jan 8, 2009 at 4.37 pm

    Shira – I agree with that concern – it’s what’s holding back a lot. And I’m not sure about the one-state – I’m really not. But I’m not against exploring it either, and regarding the concerns you raise – which I completely agree are real to many, many people – we need to look at N. Ireland and S. Africa – we need to realize that those populations had reasons to be similarly fearful of the flipflop in minorities and majorities. We must look at how they did it and how they are doing it – because obviously it can be done w/success – Ireland is the best example so far.

    But I actually have a question for SASA or anyone else willing to respond: I just came across a definition of one-state, from a person who had once been and may still be a member of the SSNP, as being the reunification/unification of Lebanon, Jordan, the Sinai, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank – that that is all Syria and that the resistance to occupation is to reunify all of that having been partitioned.

    Sasa – are you able to shed any light on that? Am I just naive? I thought that the way you write about one-state here – as Israel and Gaza and the West Bank becoming one and being a secular, single nation, was the one-state.

    Now – I’m reading something completely different.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • 7 Sasa // Jan 8, 2009 at 4.44 pm

    Hi Jill,

    From what I understand, the SSNP also considers Cyprus as part of the area they want to (re?)unite!

    It’s just a weird twist on pan-Arabism, but just focussed on the Levant. The SSNP has a handful of members in Lebanon (and was made legal again in Syria recently).

    But that’s not what we talk about when we refer to the one-state solution (well, no more than when Al Qaida says it wants to unite the Muslim world!!).

    I remember Josh Landis wrote the best piece about the SSNP that I’ve read – it’s here: http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1616

    I hope that makes sense! If anyone else has got anything to add, fire away…

  • 8 Jill // Jan 8, 2009 at 5.16 pm

    Thank you very much – it’s incredibly helpful – I will be posting something about this shortly – but I wanted to try to make it coherent, and since I really didn’t know much about SSNP etc., making what I wrote coherent wasn’t so easy! This will help a lot.

    As I wrote, after researching the individual who suggested a one-state solution yesterday on our local political news show (radio), I realized that he was in the past and may still be – I have no idea – a member of the SSNP and very much promoted this pan-Syria idea. So now I’m unsure as to what he meant when he said one-state solution and if people who follow him etc. know what he meant, but to the rest of us, we think he’s talking like you are and I am etc.

    Sigh. Words! :)

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