The creation of Palestine or the negation of Israel?

It’s well known that some Arab countries do not permit Jews to live in, or even visit them. Until recently the official Saudi Arabian website carried a notice that visas would not be granted to “Jewish people”.

This is of course in contrast to Israel, which permits people of any religious persuasion to visit and live there and guarantees access to holy places of at least three faiths. Indeed, Israel apparently gives special consideration to Muslims, having ceded de facto sovereignty over the sites most central to Judaism to them.

Saudi Arabia was created by Britain, the local colonial power, in 1927-1932. Nobody asked the Jews or the Jewish community in the pre-state settlement what they thought about its Judenrein [Jew-free] policy.

Now perhaps a new state is about to come into being, ruled by the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas — which, incidentally, refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This new state of Palestine will be born out of an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. And it is already clear that Israel will be required to put her imprimatur on a state that, like Saudi Arabia, will be officially Judenrein.

Not only will Palestine not accept Jews, any living there now will be forced to leave, one assumes, by the Israeli government and the Israeli army. And this will be considered entirely normal by the world, and even by many Israelis!

Moshe Arens, in Ha’aretz (of all places) writes:

The concept of removing all Jews from a certain region is surely repugnant to any person not prepared to deny somebody’s rights on the grounds of his ethnic or religious origin. It brings back the worst memories of the tragedy that befell the Jewish people in World War II. When it is applied to a part of the Land of Israel it is also contrary to the very foundations of Zionism, a movement based on the right of Jews to settle and live in their land, a right that has received international recognition…

It is generally agreed that Israel should not incorporate all of Judea and Samaria, with its large Arab population, within its borders. But does it necessarily follow that all areas not incorporated within Israel’s borders need to be cleared of all Jews? The Palestinian negotiators currently engaged in the phantom negotiations with Israel’s foreign minister are in any case not capable of making and carrying out any commitments.

But when and if serious Palestinian negotiators appear, it will have to be made clear to them that the continued presence of Jews on territory over which they will have sovereignty in the future, and the assurance of their safety, must be part of a durable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. An agreement that does not include such a provision will not be an agreement worthy of being called a peace agreement.

Another essential part of such an agreement, and I’m sure Arens would agree with me, is an unambiguous recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

The creation of Palestine — if it happens — will be a recognition that a Palestinian People exists and that they have a right of self-determination. It must not also be a negation of the rights of the Jewish People, either individually as human beings with human rights, or collectively as a people with a sovereign state.

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One Response to “The creation of Palestine or the negation of Israel?”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    It seems very unlikely that Israel will negotiate another withdrawal in the near future. If it does, then its leaders must be sent to an insane asylum. The urgency of the Bush Administration is not the reality on the ground.
    Another point is that while Arens is theoretically that Jews should have the right to live as a minority in an Arab state should it come into being, it is unlikely given the character that state is likely to have for any substantial number of Jews to want to do this.