Tuesday, October 15, 2013

No Negotiations without Recognizing Jewish State

by Zalman Shoval

As the (justified, in my opinion) mini-storm over this issue of emigration from Israel erupted last week, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who is staying in Washington, decided to air his position on the diplomatic process. 

"My father didn't come to Haifa from the Budapest ghetto to get recognition from Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas]," Lapid told the Bloomberg news outlet.

Harsh words, Mr. Lapid. And yes, given our self-confidence, history and collective national identity, certainly we do not need anybody's recognition. But Mr. Lapid really should have been asking himself a different question: If things are really so clear, then why do Abbas and his clique still insist on refusing to recognize, even in idle chatter, the fact that Israel is the national state of the Jewish people?

In general, the Palestinians casually answer this question by saying that any definition of Israel as the "Jewish state" seemingly discriminates against its non-Jewish citizens. But the dishonesty inherent in this claim is obvious. No responsible figure in the Jewish community in Israel has ever or will ever propose denying Arab, law-abiding citizens their civil rights. And if a minority espousing such a position exists, indeed it is incapable of providing the evidence by virtue of Israel's identity as Jewish and democratic.

The real reason that Palestinians deny the national Jewish identity of Israel stems from Arab and Muslim unwillingness, in principle, to recognize the existence of a Jewish nation (distinct from the religion). If the Jews do not comprise a nation, then they are undeserving of their own nation state, they conclude.

They argue that while the Palestinians were forced, perhaps, into recognizing the fact of the Jewish state's practical existence, the Jews have no right to a state of their own, let alone in a region where the entire real estate is entirely dominated by Arabs and Muslims. In other words, Arab Muslims say they are ready to recognize the state of Israel, albeit reluctantly, as a temporary refuge for the Jews that live here, but they are not willing to recognize the permanence of this entity.

Also, delegitimizing Israel or recognizing the Holocaust exclusively as an argument for the establishment of the Jewish state while ignoring Jewish history and the Zionist enterprise -- whether out of good intentions or maliciously -- runs parallel with the Palestinian strategy of characterizing the Jewish state as a temporary, Crusader state.

In his accusations against opponents of the diplomatic process, Lapid has said that their intransigence stems from a "mental state" and "because they know nothing else." Certainly, whoever claims that Israel is largely to blame for the elusive peace deal with the Arabs rather than Palestinian intransigence, has apparently become sick with a certain "mental state," knowing nothing else. Too bad Lapid cannot recall his late father Tommy's comments -- almost entirely contrary to his own -- at the opening session of the Herzliya Conference at the Knesset, when he urged people to understand that the Arab world is not oriented toward peace with Israel.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Palestinians needed to recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish people, he did not do it to thwart peace talks. He said it to ensure that any peace achieved through negotiations is a lasting peace, not just a phase in the piecemeal destruction of Israel. Whoever actually wants to give peace a chance should, rather than speaking in phrases or seeking favor with some external party, stand behind Netanyahu's fundamental principle: Recognize and ye shall receive -- fail to recognize, end up with nothing.

Zalman Shoval

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=5975

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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