Opinion

Is Peace In Israel Possible?

Elliot Resnick Chief editor of The Jewish Press

“Israel can either be Jewish or democratic.  It cannot be both,” said Secretary of State John Kerry last month.

In fact, it can.  The argument that it cannot is based on the premise that a democratic state must give all residents within its borders the right to vote.  But that plainly is not so.  The United States currently bars 11 million illegal immigrants in its midst from voting.  Does that make it non-democratic?  It also denies the franchise to six million prisoners who hold U.S. citizenship.  Does that make it non-democratic?

Democracy is a method of governance – nothing more.  Under it, members of a society determine their own fate.  But that society can be exclusive.  If I created a Resnick family club, for example, I would give all club members the right to vote – thus making it democratic – but I obviously would restrict membership to the Resnick family.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t exactly be a family club.

Japan operates on similar logic.  The country is widely celebrated as a modern democracy, and yet, Japan rarely grants citizenship – let alone the right to vote – to someone who isn’t ethnically Japanese.  Indeed, in 2005, former Japanese prime minister Taro Aso proudly stated that Japan is a nation of “one race, one civilization, one language, and one culture.”  I don’t remember any U.S. official reacting with horror to that statement.

So yes, Israel can quite easily be Jewish and democratic.  What it can’t be is stupid.  It can’t ignore what Jewish nationalist leader Rabbi Meir Kahane once called “that most fundamental law of political physics: Two nations, each claiming ownership, can never occupy the same space at the same time.”

The Arabs in Israel believe the Jews stole “Palestine” from them.  They want their land back – all of it, including Tel Aviv – and will not stop killing Jews until they triumph.  No amount of concessions or goodwill will convince them to abandon land they consider theirs – just like no sane person would yield a portion of his house to a trespasser.

Liberals who believe otherwise ignore the potency of national pride (perhaps because they themselves do not possess it).  The Bible does not.  When the ancient Israelites advanced toward the Land of Canaan 3,330 years ago, God ordered them to destroy the seven nations living in it or – at the very least – expel them.  Why?  One reason was spiritual.  God feared the Israelites would adopt these nations’ idolatrous beliefs and practices.  Another, more basic, reason, though, had to do with national security.  Essentially, the Canaanites, Hittites, Jebusites etc. – like the Arabs today – detested the Jews.  They believed Canaan was theirs and saw the Jews as interlopers.  And so, God explicitly warned the Israelites against making “a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you come, lest it be a snare in your midst” (Exodus 34:11-12).  Don Isaac Abarbanel, a 15th-century biblical commentator, explains:

“A treaty with them will not succeed since there is no doubt that they will always seek evil for Israel considering that the Israelites took their land from them.  And this is the meaning of the words ‘the land to which you come’ – i.e., since you, Israel, went into that land and took it from its inhabitants, and since they feel oppressed and robbed of it, how will they preserve a treaty of friendship?  Rather it will be the opposite; they will be ‘a snare in your midst’ – i.e., when war breaks out they will join your enemies and fight you.”

What then is the solution?  Are Israel and her Arab denizens destined to kill each other for all eternity?  As matters stand now, the answer is yes.  But for those of us who 1) believe God gave Israel to the Jews and 2) are willing to consider politically-incorrect ideas, at least two solutions present themselves.  One is for Israel to bomb its enemy into submission.  That’s how America ended WWII, and there’s no reason to believe Israel couldn’t utilize this strategy to similar effect.  Once the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza surrender unconditionally, Israel could then allow them to live in its midst with personal rights but no national ones – which is more than they had before Zionism came on the scene.

The second solution – which wouldn’t require killing tens of thousands of so-called innocent civilians – lies in separating the two populations.  The only question remaining is where each population would live.  Liberals believe Israel should establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and expel the 400,000 Jews who currently live there.  Israel’s far right-wing camp believes in doing the reverse: keeping the West Bank – which contains such biblical cities as Shechem, Hebron, and Bethlehem – and expelling the Arabs.  These Arabs can then create their own state on the east bank of the Jordan River or assimilate into Jordanian society, whose population is already 70 percent Palestinian.

This solution may sound “radical,” but population transfers have actually helped resolve conflicts in the past (e.g., Greece and Turkey, India and Pakistan).  Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, journalist John Gunther, and author Israel Zangwill (famous for his play “The Melting Pot”) all supported removing the Arabs from what was then Palestine – as did Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Under-Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, who spoke with Roosevelt about the matter in 1944, wrote in his diary that the president believed “Palestine should be for the Jews and no Arabs should be in it.”

Fully half of Israel’s Jewish population today favor transferring the Arabs out of Israel according to a recent Pew Research Center poll.  Amazingly, though, Israeli political parties are legally barred from advocating this solution.  MK Rabbi Meir Kahane – the “Donald Trump of Israel” – begged his fellow countrymen in the 1980s to adopt it, arguing that it would save Jewish and Arab lives.  His popularity grew immensely during the First Intifada, but Israel’s establishment branded him a “racist” (sound familiar?) and banned his party from running for office.  Two years later, in 1990, he was assassinated by a jihadist who is now serving a life sentence for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  Rabbi Kahane’s legacy lives on, however, and whenever a wave of Arab violence strikes Israel, one is liable to see fresh “Kahane was right” graffiti throughout the country.

It’s time to remove our heads from the sand.  The question isn’t “Jewish vs. democratic.”  It’s “Jewish vs. suicidal liberal.”  The Arabs in Israel dream of destroying her.  The sanest solution is for the two peoples to go their separate ways.  Let the Jews live in the Jewish state, and let the Palestinian Arabs live anywhere they wish in the Middle East’s 22 Arab states.