In Tom Friedman’s Wednesday column, Israel’s Big Question, he argues that the question, in response to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s demand that the Arabs recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish nation, is “What is the nation state of the Jewish people?”
I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion, our top priority as a Jewish nation returning to its homeland should have been, long ago, to cement our relationship with the land and with each other through our ancient covenant with God. Everything short of that has left us as merely a bunch of Jewish people vying for control of the state, and not a Jewish nation.
Referring to Secretary of State Kerry’s barely concealed threat in Munich (why do they always go there to bury their allies?), that if the current peace talks failed “There are talks of boycotts and other kinds of things,” Friedman complains about critics in Israel and the U.S. who have pounced on Kerry for this brutish statement.
He argues: “Kerry and President Obama are trying to build Israelis a secure off-ramp from the highway they’re hurtling down in the West Bank that only ends in some really bad places for Israel and the Jewish people.”
What are those “bad places?” Friedman’s unwavering certainty on this one is a lesson in dogmatic thinking and preconceived notions:
1. Unilateral withdrawal from parts of the West Bank. 2. Annexation and granting the Palestinians there citizenship, making Israel a binational state. 3. Israel by default could become some kind of apartheid-like state in permanent control over the 2.5 million Palestinians.
“There are no other options,” in Tom Friedman’s universe. And all three options would lead to a “massive eruption of the BDS movement.”
Without even noticing it, I’m sure, Tom Friedman, who considers himself a friend of Israel, ends up waving the very same hammer over our heads as Secretary Kerry has done in Munich.
He offers those three options with such a finality, one might actually be persuaded there’s nothing else, it really is either a 2-state solution via an American brokered deal, or those scary options—which we’re led to believe are all very bad for us. I’d have preferred a little more nuance.
Off the cuff, without disclosing which of the “only” three options I would have preferred (and without offering several others, since they’re out there, one only needs to be intellectually curious to find them), here’s how I think all of these options could be very good for everybody living here.
1. Israel imposes its law on the Judea and Samaria settlements, creates a contiguous block of Jewish towns and villages and leaves the rest to the PA. Commercial relations between Palestinian businessmen and workers and Israeli enterprises remain intact and are even allowed to thrive further. Increased employment and business on the Palestinian side brings a rise in prosperity and enhances peace.
2. An Israeli state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean offers equal rights and citizenship to all. Through constitutional legislation, the new Israeli republic is both democratic and Jewish. This is achieved through the establishment of two houses of legislation: a lower house, based on a one-man one-vote electoral system, deals with budgets and other legislation; an upper house, with a permanent Jewish majority, deals with national Jewish issues to maintain the Jewish character of the state. If Americans don’t like it, they should ask themselves if their Senate, in which a voter from Alaska is worth about 20 voters in NY State is a democratic institution. Every democracy must do what it can to offer maximum representation within given conditions.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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