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Israeli demand sparks ‘Jewish state’ debate

Wonder how the world will view Israel if this passes within the Knesset?

From the AP

JERUSALEM (AP) — Is Israel “the Jewish state”?

The answer may seem as obvious as the Star of David on the Israeli flag. Yet the question is starting to complicate the ambitious U.S. effort to ram through a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel.

A broad-based group of Israelis plans to lobby the Knesset to declare the country, for the first time, a Jewish state by law. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s “Jewish status” explicitly, as part of any agreement.

“This is the Jewish land. This is the Jewish state,” he said in a speech this week to assembled U.S. Jewish leaders.

Leading Palestinians made their opposition clear this week, insisting that by introducing the Jewish factor, Israel is drawing a red line that could doom negotiations.

“I remember the days when we were told, ‘All you need is to get the PLO to recognize Israel, and recognize Israel’s right to exist in safe and secure boundaries,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The Palestinians did just that, she noted, as part of the 1990s interim peace agreements.

“The Jewishness of the state of Israel ; this is a new addition,” she told reporters Wednesday. “We are working to establish a pluralistic, democratic, inclusive state in Palestine. Not an exclusive state based on religion, ethnicity or whatever.”

The U.S. usually doesn’t recognize countries by ethnicities, but Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. does recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In his State of the Union speech to Congress last month, President Barack Obama said the goals of the negotiations launched last July were “dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.”

Indeed, if Israelis eventually hand over significant territories to a Palestinian state, the motivation will stem largely from a desire to unload their Palestinian population and leave themselves with a strong Jewish majority. An Israel that controls the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza — the areas occupied in 1967 — would have some 12 million people roughly evenly divided between the two groups.

Writing in the Haaretz newspaper on Thursday, liberal columnist Ari Shavit said: “The deal on the table is clear: A Jewish state in exchange for the 1967 borders.” That, Shavit and others maintain, means the Palestinians must forget about a return by Arab refugees and their descendants to Israel.

But the notion of a Jewish state is a complicated one. By shining strong light on a matter that lives more comfortably in the shadows, Israel may be rekindling some awkward questions: Are the Jews a nation — or individuals who share a religion? Should a religion have a state? Should a state have a religion?

And beyond that lies a bigger issue still: Is the idea of a nation-state — with members of that nation fretting over how to stay dominant numerically — not somehow unbecoming in the age of globalization?

If time allows, read the entire article–it’s interesting.

My only comment is this: The current Israeli government leaders, have for all intents and purposes, taken the road to isolationism. I believe they set out on this road a long time ago–perhaps it was always the intent of Zionism to form an isolated state? Don’t know enough about Zionism (Jewish Zionism, not CZ) to say. But I can’t see how that would have ever been deemed possible, for the simple reason the State of Israel is so dependent upon ‘outside’ sources—I laugh all the time when reading news items of AIPAC money going into the coffers of US Senators and Congressmen, knowing it’s actually US money just finding it’s way ‘back home to the US’. aha!

But seriously, I do question or at least wonder if the US will continue to militarily and financially support Israel, at least to the degree we do now, if it becomes a “Jewish only” State by law. (Not necessarily referring to our current government, but of future US government leaders and/or Presidents.)

Just musing outloud….


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