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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish State’

Knesset Bills Would Define Israel as Jewish State

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Two bills submitted to the Knesset on Tuesday would legislate Israel’s Jewish character and as a democratic state.

A bill proposed by coalition chairman Likud Knesset Member Yariv Levin and Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked would create a Basic Law declaring that Israel is the national home of the Jewish people and does not recognize it as a national homeland of any other people. It confirms that Israel is a democracy and says that the country will uphold the rights of all of its citizens no matter what religion.

The bill submitted by Ruth Calderon of the Yesh Atid Party calls for the Declaration of Independence to be adopted as Basic Law. According to the Declaration of Independence, Israel is defined as a democratic state of the Jewish people.

A similar bill was proposed in the last Knesset by former lawmaker Avi Dichter of the Kadima party, though that bill called for Hebrew to be the country’s only official language.

The political significance of the bills would be to preclude any possibility for Israel to accede to Palestinian Authority demands that the country allow the immigration of approximately five million Arabs who live in foreign countries and claim Israel as their home.

Obama to Palestinians: Accept the Jewish State

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

One key shift in U.S. policy was overlooked in the barrage of news about Barack Obama’s eventful fifty-hour visit to Israel last week. That would be the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, called by Hamas leader Salah Bardawil “the most dangerous statement by an American president regarding the Palestinian issue.”

First, some background: Israel’s founding documents aimed to make the country a Jewish state. Modern Zionism effectively began with the publication in 1896 of Theodor Herzl’s book, Der Judenstaat (“The Jewish State”). The Balfour Declaration of 1917 favors “a national home for the Jewish people.” U.N. General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947, partitioning Palestine into two, mentions the termJewish state 30 times. Israel’s Declaration of Establishment of 1948 mentions Jewish state 5 times, as in “we … hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”

Because of this tight connection, when Arab-Israeli diplomacy began in earnest in the 1970s, the Jewish state formulation largely disappeared from view; everyone simply assumed that diplomatic recognition of Israel meant accepting it as the Jewish state. Only in recent years did Israelis realize otherwise, as Israeli Arabs came to accept Israel but reject its Jewish nature. For example, an important 2006 publication from the Mossawa Center in Haifa, The Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel, proposes that the country become a religiously neutral state and joint homeland. In brief, Israeli Arabs have come to see Israel as a variant of Palestine.

Awakened to this linguistic shift, winning Arab acceptance of Israel no longer sufficed; Israelis and their friends realized that they had to insist on explicit Arab acceptance of Israel as the Jewish state. In 2007, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced that unless Palestinians did so, diplomacy would be aborted: “I do not intend to compromise in any way over the issue of the Jewish state,” he emphasized. The Palestinian Authority immediately and unanimously rejected this demand. Its head, Mahmoud Abbas, responded: “In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else.”

Only six weeks ago, Abbas again blasted the Jewish state concept. The Palestinian rejection of Jewish statehood could not be more emphatic. (For a compilation of their assertions, see “Recognizing Israel as the Jewish State: Statements” at DanielPipes.org).

When Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded Olmert as prime minister in 2009, he reiterated this demand as a precondition to serious negotiations: “Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognize Israel as a Jewish state before talking about two states for two peoples.” The Palestinians not only refused to budge but ridiculed the very idea. Again, Abbas: “What is a ‘Jewish state?’ We call it the ‘State of Israel.’ You can call yourselves whatever you want. But I will not accept it. … It’s not my job to … provide a definition for the state and what it contains. You can call yourselves the Zionist Republic, the Hebrew, the National, the Socialist [Republic] call it whatever you like, I don’t care.”

American politicians, including both George W. Bush and Obama, have since 2008 occasionally referred to Israel as the Jewish state, even as they studiously avoided demanding Palestinians to do likewise. In a typical declaration, Obama in 2011 sketched the ultimate diplomatic goal as “two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.”

That sentence breaks important new ground and cannot readily be undone. It also makes for excellent policy, for without such recognition, Palestinian acceptance of Israel is hollow, indicating only a willingness to call the future state they dominate “Israel” rather than “Palestine.” Then, in his Jerusalem speech last week, Obama suddenly and unexpectedly adopted in full the Israeli demand: “Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state.”

While not the only shift in policy announced during Obama’s trip (another: telling the Palestinians not to set preconditions for negotiations), this one looms largest because it starkly contravenes the Palestinian consensus. Bardawil may hyperbolically assert that it “shows that Obama has turned his back to all Arabs” but those ten words in fact establish a readiness to deal with the conflict’s central issue. They likely will be his most important, most lasting, and most constructive contribution to Arab-Israeli diplomacy.

Originally published at the Washington Times and Danielpipes.org, MArch 26, 2013.

Recognition First, Recognition Above All

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state.
— Barack Obama, March 21, 2013

The ‘Jewish state.’ What is a ‘Jewish state?’ We call it, the ‘State of Israel.’ You can call yourselves whatever you want. But I will not accept it. And I say this on a live broadcast… It’s not my job to define it, to provide a definition for the state and what it contains. You can call yourselves the Zionist Republic, the Hebrew, the National, the Socialist [Republic] call it whatever you like. I don’t care.
— Mahmoud Abbas, 2009

When some 120 Israeli figures came here, they said, ‘What’s your opinion concerning the Jewish state?’, and I said that we wouldn’t agree to it. We know what they mean by it, and therefore we shall not agree to a Jewish state…
— Abbas, 2011

We say to him [Netanyahu], when he claims — that they [Jews] have a historical right dating back to 3000 years BCE — we say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7000 year history BCE. This is the truth, which must be understood and we have to note it, in order to say: ‘Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history.
— Abbas, 2011

Obama did not suggest that recognition of Israel as a Jewish state be a precondition for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has called for “negotiations without preconditions.” But there is no doubt that it must be a precondition — not just for talking to the P.A., but for diplomacy with anybody about anything. How can a nation have a give and take discussion with someone who thinks that it is fundamentally illegitimate?

The Arab League initiative, for example, which I discussed here, does not include any mention of recognition. This is not merely an oversight: the initiative was conceived and is understood as an admission by the “Zionist regime” that is fully responsible for the conflict. The initiative calls for a redress of their historic grievance in part by means of the ‘return’ of almost five million Arabs who claim hereditary refugee status — something unheard of in the annals of diplomacy — which is incompatible with a Jewish state of Israel.

This is not a symbolic issue. Like Turkey’s Erdoğan, the Arabs have a narrative that they are not willing to compromise, not even a little. It includes the propositions that

* The Zionists created the conflict by taking Arab land and expelling the residents
* Israel perpetuated it by starting wars
* All the land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan is ‘occupied Palestinian land’
*Terrorism against Israelis is justified resistance to occupation

An agreement acceptable to the P.A. or the Arab nations must include an admission of guilt and an acceptance of the ‘ownership’ of the land by Arabs. Once this is done, then they may be more or less magnanimous to the Jewish residents — Hamas talks about killing them and the Arab league is willing to have ‘normal relations’ with them — but true Jewish sovereignty is out of the question.

So the Arabs insist on ‘right of return’ in order to reverse the nakba. They insist on withdrawal from 1967 territories to reverse the results of the several wars, and they insist on the release of all terrorist prisoners, even convicted murderers. All this sounds entirely fair and reasonable to them within the framework of their narrative.

This is why discussions about borders and security entirely miss the point, it is why the Camp David, Taba and Olmert proposals went nowhere, and why the negotiations that President Obama intends to restart will fail as well.

Unfortunately, many Israelis are blind to the importance of Arab ideology. They see the harsh statements of Arab leaders as ‘merely symbolic’, made for propaganda purposes or for home consumption. They believe that the Arabs are at bottom pragmatists like themselves, willing to set aside ideology for economic development or some degree of political autonomy.

This explains some really terrible ideas, such as the plan which surfaces periodically to grant the ‘refugees’ a ‘right of return’ in principle, but not in fact. Proponents say that it would satisfy the Arabs’ need for symbolism without destroying the Jewish state. But if such an abstract right were granted, then it would immediately be followed by demands to implement it in reality — just as the ‘apology’ to Erdoğan has been followed by demands to end restrictions on the flow of weapons and explosives to Hamas in Gaza.

They are not posturing. They mean what they say, and what they say is that they don’t accept a Jewish state.

As long as the Arabs cling to the idea that Jewish sovereignty is unacceptable, then no possible negotiations can end the conflict. But the process of negotiating under pressure from the U.S. — and the pressure is always almost all on Israel — is not only frustrating and pointless, it can be humiliating and even dangerous.

There is a simple solution. Israel must insist that there can be no negotiations until all parties agree that Israel is the Jewish state of the Jewish people.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Livni: I Will Fight to Block Bennett’s ‘Israel Is Jewish’ Law

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

MK Tzipi Livni, Israel’s newest Justice Minister, stressed on Saturday that she would not support the basic law bill “Israel is the national state of the Jewish people,” whose promotion is part of the new coalition agreements with the Jewish Home party.

In the absence of a constitution, The Basic Laws of Israel (Chukei Hayesod) deal with the formation and role of the principal state’s institutions, and the relations between the state’s authorities.

Some of the basic laws also protect civil rights.

These laws were originally intended as draft chapters of a future Israeli constitution, but since over the past 65 years the Knesset has yet to come up with a final, all-encompassing constitution, these laws are being used by the courts as a de facto constitution.

As of today, the Basic Laws do not cover all constitutional issues, and there is no deadline set to the completion of the process of merging them into one comprehensive constitution. There is no clear rule determining the precedence of Basic Rules over regular legislation, and in many cases this issue is left to the interpretation of the judicial system.

The new bill, endorsed so far by at least 40 MKs, many of them Likud members, opens with a paraphrasing of the original Israeli Declaration of Independence:

The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish nation, where it fulfills its desire for self-determination according to its cultural and historical heritage.

The right for the realization of national self-determination in the State of Israel belongs exclusively to the Jewish nation.

The provisions of this Basic Law or any other legislation will hence be interpreted in light of what is prescribed in this section.

The rest of the proposal includes references to Israel’s democratic system of government, its official language (only one – Hebrew), the law of return, the national calendar, Jewish law as the final arbiter of judicial conflicts, and the preservation of the holy sites.

In short, there’s much in there to upset a lefty. Indeed, a think tank named The Israeli Institute for Democracy, has been warning against it for several years, saying it would disrupt the delicate balance between Israel’s being a Jewish state and a democracy.

Justice Minister Livni told interviewer Nadav Peri: “I’m against the law and will act to make sure it doesn’t pass.”

Livni added that she is also about to serve as chair of the ministerial legislative committee, which sends up government laws for Knesset approval, a new role she took up especially in order “to prevent legislation that would harm the Democrats values of the State of Israel.”

A Jewish State Can Be Democratic and Moral

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Joseph Levine is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and he has published an essay in (where else?) the New York Times, in which he argues that the proposition ‘Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state’ is false.

There are many things in the article to complain about, but I am going to content myself with pointing out the single massive howler by which his argument collapses.

He makes the distinction between “a people in the ethnic sense” and in the “civic sense,” which means either residents of a geographical area or citizens of a state. He generously grants that there is a Jewish people in the ethnic sense who live in Israel, but only an ‘Israeli people,’ which includes Arabs, in the civic sense. Then he tells us,

…insofar as the principle that all peoples have the right to self-determination entails the right to a state of their own, it can apply to peoples only in the civic sense…

But if the people who “own” the state in question are an ethnic sub-group of the citizenry, even if the vast majority, it constitutes a serious problem indeed, and this is precisely the situation of Israel as the Jewish state. Far from being a natural expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, it is in fact a violation of the right to self-determination of its non-Jewish (mainly Palestinian) citizens. It is a violation of a people’s right to self-determination to exclude them — whether by virtue of their ethnic membership, or for any other reason — from full political participation in the state under whose sovereignty they fall…

“Any state that ‘belongs’ to one ethnic group within it violates the core democratic principle of equality, and the self-determination rights of the non-members of that group” [my emphasis].

His exposition is much more lengthy and you should read it. But I think I have extracted the gist of it.

Interestingly, while he explains what he means by ‘a people’ and draws a distinction between two senses of the expression, he does not even hint about his understanding of the concept of ‘democracy’ and especially “the core democratic principle of equality,” the violation of which he believes disqualifies Israel from continued existence as a Jewish state.

Levine explains how Israel violates these principles:

The distinctive position of [a favored ethnic people] would be manifested in a number of ways, from the largely symbolic to the more substantive: for example, it would be reflected in the name of the state, the nature of its flag and other symbols, its national holidays, its education system, its immigration rules, the extent to which membership in the people in question is a factor in official planning, how resources are distributed, etc.

Actually, concerning the “more substantive” things, Arab citizens of Israel are doing quite well: they have the right to vote, to hold political office, and a large degree of control of their educational system; there are rules against discrimination in housing and employment (with exceptions related to national security), etc. In other words, they have full civil rights.

Naturally there are differences in the treatment of Jews and Arabs. Some are due to cultural differences — Arab towns are governed by Arabs and distribute resources differently — some are related to security, and some to anti-Arab prejudice. But the degree of prejudice in Israeli society is not particularly great compared to other advanced nations like the U.S., and nobody is suggesting that the U.S. does not have a “right to exist” unless all discrimination can be eliminated.

In any event, discrimination in what he calls “substantive” ways are not essential to the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, and there is a general consensus that such discrimination is wrong and should be eliminated.

Israel’s immigration rules are certainly unequal. But immigration rules by definition do not apply to citizens; and few — if any — of the world’s nations permit free immigration.

Levine also does not consider security issues at all. If Israel ignored them it would cease to exist without philosophical arguments. This would be bad both for the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel (just ask any of them if they would prefer to be citizens of Israel or the Palestinian Authority).

Why Some Israelis Welcome Rocket Attacks

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Here is a report posted today on an Israeli blog called The Muqata:

Due to the rising tensions in the countries neighboring Northern Israel, the IDF has recently positioned multiple “Iron Dome” anti-rocket systems around Israel’s north.

Some of the installations are nearby to Israeli Arab villages, and NRG/Maariv reports that today a group of Israeli Arabs cursed the IDF soldiers manning the installation, and pelted them with rocks till the police arrived. …

The question is, why would Israeli Arabs hurl curses, harass and stone IDF soldiers — when the anti-rocket system protects them as well. The answer depends on understanding the phrase “Israeli Arab” and other names for the same thing. An Israeli Arab is an Arab who lived (or his ancestors did) in the area that became Israel in 1948. He has the right to vote in Israeli elections, utilize Israeli health care, receive state funds for schools, etc. He is neither required to sing “Hatikva” nor to serve in the IDF, but is expected to be loyal to the state and not assist its enemies or engage in terrorism.

In recent years some former Israeli Arabs have come to prefer to be called “Palestinian citizens of Israel.” They reject the description “Israeli” because for them there is no legitimate country called ‘Israel.’ They define themselves as members of the ‘Palestinian people,’ which has created itself entirely in opposition to the idea of Israel. Palestinian Arabs (inside and outside of Israel) believe an invented version of history in which a flourishing ‘Palestinian’ society was usurped by Zionist colonialists, culminating in a mass expulsion (the nakba). Here is a more accurate historical account.

In any event, these ‘Palestinians’ long for the day that the usurpers will be eliminated, the ‘refugees’ will ‘return’ (a discussion of the ‘refugees’ is here) and the beautiful pre-Zionist ‘Palestine’, which never existed, will be re-established. Some, who have adopted the Islamist ideology of Hamas — there is an “Islamic movement in Israel” which represents this ideology among the Arab population of Israel — believe that the Jews should be entirely driven out of the land, even killed.

As citizens of Israel these ‘Palestinians’ enjoy the highest standard of living of any Arabs in the Middle East, as well as more personal and political freedom. But they will not feel fulfilled in a political/ideological sense until the Jewish regime is replaced by an Arab or even Islamic one.

So what’s a few rocket attacks if they will help end Zionism and bring the millennium?

Visit Fresno Zionism.

The Road to Serfdom

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

“I am Hashem your G-d Who took you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2).

Values always come on a ladder. They have no significance if they are not set out in the proper order of preference; what is more important, what comes first, is the foundation for all the rest.

The first commandment of the Ten Commandments is the starting point and the foundation for the entire structure of values that follows. There is a G-d who redeemed us from slavery. We serve Him and Him only. Throughout history, despots who desired to rule the entire world have found themselves in serious conflict with the Nation of Israel. From Pharaoh to Ahashverosh, from Hitler to Stalin – these despots concluded that they must destroy the Jews simply because the Jews cannot be enslaved: They already have a King, “I am Hashem, your G-d.”

Many values are held aloft in our world: Equality, liberty, liberalism and more. They are all fine and good. But usually, they are not founded on the first of the Ten Commandments. “My Nile River is mine and I created myself,” said Pharaoh according to the Midrash, just one example of a king who thought he was a god. The more that a leader puts himself at the focal point, the more he diminishes G-d and attempts to “replace” Him, the more that slavery takes root until the entire state becomes one large concentration camp: a “house of bondage.”

The danger of enslavement has greatly increased in modern times. The state’s ability to control and revoke its citizen’s liberty is very enticing to a regime that has no G-d. The excuse will always – always – be security. “We must revoke your liberty so that we can protect you.”

Do we really need to be biometrically marked like animals just to counter the plague of forged identity cards? Is there no technological solution better than a simple photograph that can easily be removed and replaced? Of course there is. Smart chips are already in place in all sorts of identity cards, and they are extremely difficult to forge. But the prime motivation for the Orwellian biometric law is the abrogation of liberty; to entice us all into a house of bondage – in the name of security, of course.

Wherever G-d has been completely removed from the picture – in atheist or communist regimes – human life and honor have no value at all. In China they raise people in locked farms so that they can sell their organs for transplants or horror shows, like the one that recently featured in Israel.

So when you hear someone talking about lofty values, be sure to check his entire message. Who is his G-d? Who works for whom? Does he work for G-d, or vice versa?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/moshe-feiglin/the-road-to-serfdom/2013/02/06/

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