Ending the Freeze

Posted on September 15th, 2010

Here we go again.

You do not have to be a prophet to guess the headlines that will emerge in about two weeks:

“Israeli Settlement Plans Derail Peace Process”

“U.S. Angry Over Israeli Building”

Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” (Whoops – Time Magazine jumped the gun and used that one already.)

Yes, the ten month settlement freeze will soon come to an end without, as predicted, producing anything remotely resembling a Palestinian concession. No, I do not believe that agreeing to speak with Israel in peace summits should qualify. Israel will once again be blamed for destroying the hopes of all people in the Middle East for a better future for their children.

But what about the other freeze that will be extended?

The Palestinian have made clear that they will continue their freeze on recognition of Israel as a Jewish State. According to the Palestinian side, such recognition is simply unthinkable. This is a red line that they will never cross.

Why is this such a big issue? Why should Israelis care that our peace partners accept the Jewish nature of our state? Isn’t it a bit racist for Israel to want to be recognized as a state that reflects the heritage of its majority religion/ethnicity? 

Abbas showing his support for the 2 state solution

No, the reason that Israelis like me care deeply about this issue is that we all have a suspicion that the real goal of the Palestinians is a two state solution — two Palestinian states. (Three if you count Gaza.) Why is the demand for Israel to accept a Palestinian State acceptable while the demand for the Palestinians to accept a Jewish State beyond the pale?    

Is not the continued rejection of the legitimacy of the State of  Israel by the Palestinians a greater impediment to peace than a few homes being built in the disputed areas?

In fact, by focusing on the settlement issue, the Palestinians and their unwitting American patrons, have made it clear that the new state to emerge from the negotiations will be a PALESTINIAN (no Jews allowed) State. Yet any thought that Israel should be recognized as a JEWISH State — with full democratic rights for its Arab citizenry — is written off  as right-wing foolishness.  

Where did the Jewish State go?

This is more than semantics. The other side demands that millions of Palestinians from around the world be allowed to flood Israel — the so called “Right of Return.” Were that to happen, Israel would become yet one more Arab majority state. That is why they balk at recognizing that Israel is the Jewish State. They see it as a potential future second (third?) Palestinian State.

Obviously Israel cannot agree to its own demise and anyone pushing the right of return if simply blocking any progress to a real two state solution. Yet has anyone seen the intense American pressure to get the Palestinians to give up this nonesense? Is there pressure from the Europeans? How about the United Nations? Anyone out there?

No, the threat to peace apparently comes from the settlement issue alone. Should Israel be so nasty as to actually resume building, the Palestinians swear they will make good on their promise to walk away from the negotiations.

Abdullah and Mubarek represent Arab States. Is it wrong for Bibi to represent a Jewish one?

Considering that many see the talks as eventually leading to mutiple Palestinian states, would that really be such a bad thing?  

Time got it only half-right. It’s not that we don’t care about peace. We just don’t care for the direction the peace process is headed. If that means the Palestinians walk away from the table — I think we can live with that.

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  1. Chaim Sherman says:

    I think it also should be noted that Olmert also raised this issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state (before Annapolis I think).

    Also, there are a number of existing Muslim countries as well, some of them won’t even allow Jews to visit let alone live.

  2. Susan Levin says:

    It might also be noted that if we complied with the building freeze and put a 100% halt to all building for 48 or 72 hours, the immediate results would be felt NOT in our communities but in the neighboring villages. How many Arab children would go hungry on those nights and how would the world then punish us for such cruel treatment?