At the Heart of the Jewish State Issue – Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
From: Dailyalert.org, Mar. 12, 2014
Let’s first dismiss the claim that the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is an innovation on Netanyahu’s part whose purpose is to derail the peace process. There’s nothing new about it. The original 1947 UN partition resolution stated that the land was to be divided between an Arab state and one it designated as a “Jewish state.” If the Palestinians are now reversing their adamant rejection of partition by saying they will be satisfied by an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, there should be no problem accepting this term.
But the Palestinians can’t say the words “Jewish state” because to do so would force them to give up their historical narrative. The key principle of Palestinian nationalism is rejection of Zionism and the existence of Israel no matter where its borders are drawn. If Palestinians agree that a Jewish state has a right to exist, that means they are forever giving up their dreams of extinguishing it.
Palestinians claim that agreeing to Israel being a Jewish state would compromise the rights of Israel’s Arab minority. Yet they know very well that Israel’s basic laws hold that it is both a Jewish state and one in which ethnic and religious minorities have full rights. Israeli Arabs are equal before the law in Israel, and serve in its Knesset, government, and judiciary.
While some are mindlessly blaming Netanyahu for fighting a two-state solution he has already accepted, the Palestinians persist in laying down terms for peace that are unrealistic. Two little words would be enough to convince the world that the Palestinians are sincere about peace. The more the Palestinians explain why they cannot say them, the more obvious it becomes that peace is not their objective.