Anyone who has read my many posts and columns on the Holy Land and the political struggle between Israel and Palestine knows I have reservations about the Israeli treatment of Palestinian Christians in particular and those who inhabit the West Bank in general.
I have consistently argued for the necessity of a two-state solution whereby the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza constitute an independent nation, one that is both self-governing and free to take its place among other nations in the world.
The state of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, along with the United States and the United Nations, are committed to seeking this solution. I applaud the pressure being put by the Obama Administration on both governments to pursue active negotiations — regardless of the dim prospects of a positive outcome.
It’s also been the clearly expressed position of the Holy See that the creation of a Palestinian state, existing side by side with Israel, is the only possible solution to an increasingly dangerous and explosive situation.
Now Rev. Raymond A. Schroth, S. J., an associate editor at America, argues for the so-called one-state solution in an article entitled, “Two Peoples, One State.”
As the eminent Israeli historian, Benny Morris, has shown in his “One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestinian Conflict”, an increasing number of political figures on the far Left have gotten behind the one-state option.
Rev. Schroth explains he was moved toward this position by the breakdown in the recent negotiations, saying, “It is time for new ideas.” That may be, but it’s never time for patently bad ideas when it comes to addressing the powder keg that is the relationship between Israel and Palestine.
How bad an idea is the one-state solution? Well, in the form expressed by Rev. Schroth it’s the worst possible option: Rev. Schroth asks Israelis to give up on their most precious belief, that of a Jewish state, built on the belief Jewish identity should exist in the region once inhabited by their Jewish forbears.
A nation state built around one religion might have worked in the unique, post-Holocaust context of the years after World War II; but today Israelis must ask, Has the idea of an ethnic state become an anachronism? Furthermore, a pre-historical promise to Abraham of a land for his descendants does not give any 21st-century ethnic or religious group a legal right in modern international law to a particular territory.
I’m surprised Rev. Schroth did not, upon rereading, erase this paragraph and start over: To premise the political future of Israel on its giving up Jewish identity is to enter the realm of pure impossibility. Even more, it creates the impression that Catholics are hostile to the state of Israel and its right to exist as it presently exists, a Jewish state.
It’s not the Jewishness of the state of Israel that stands in the way of the two-state solution, rather it’s a history of mutual distrust marked by war, violence, hatred, and now the threat of Islamic terrorism.
Rev. Schroth thinks the two parties can undergo a kind of accelerated social engineering and learn to live together.
A plan for a single-state solution might include the following: (1) With Belgium and Switzerland as models, a new constitution would set up either a binational state or one unified with a one-person-one-vote structure. (2) With its combined army and police forces, the more secure state of Israel-Palestine would join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (3) A law of return would apply in some way to both Jews and Arabs. (4) A new school curriculum would teach accurate history to both peoples. (5) A truth and reconciliation commission would be set up.
Nothing like a “truth and reconciliation commission” to set things right again between peoples that have been fighting for nearly a century. And I can’t think of a people more unlike Swiss than those who live in the region we know as the Holy Land.
When will the political Left realize that the world will not conform to its arm chair daydreams of how things should be?
How does Rev. Schroth address the demographic reality facing Israel if Jews and Palestinians were brought together as a state? Regarding the unmentioned fact that Palestinian electoral domination would be immediate and overwhelming, he only writes,
The Jews are a gifted, energetic people. Even if in the future they become a numerical minority in Israel-Palestine, they will still demonstrate leadership in the new Promised Land.
Only a political dilettante would write such a line, and I’m surprised to find this in America, regardless of my differences with its political viewpoint. It’s the equivalent of saying, “I know the Jews would become a political minority in their own country, but they are smart enough to figure out a way to have a voice.”
I would not be surprised if many Jews found that line of argument offensive.