Wednesday, November 25, 2009


From JCPA Jerusalem Viewpoints No. 507 21 Heshvan 5764 / 16 November 2003, by Dore Gold and Jeff Helmreich:


[Execuyive Summary only. Follow the link to the full paper.]

A new critique of Israel proposes its elimination and replacement with a bi-national Palestinian-Jewish state. Israel's new detractors doubt the legitimacy of Jewish statehood, though they say nothing about the validity of dozens of new states that have emerged in the last half century, many of which lack any firmly rooted national identity. The new attack on Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state is particularly ironic since Jewish nationhood preceded the emergence of most modern nation-states by thousands of years.

The new critics of Jewish statehood neglect the fact that Israel's communal expression - like that of many communal states around the world - in no way infringes the rights of minority citizens, who enjoy full equality under the law and the political system. They also ignore that this form of national expression is not unique; indeed, most states identify in some formal way with the religious or cultural heritage of their predominant communities. Yet only Israel is singled out for criticism.

Israel is the only state created in the last century whose legitimacy was recognized by both the League of Nations and the United Nations. The League of Nations Mandate did not create the rights of the Jewish people to a national home in Palestine, but rather recognized a pre-existing right - for the links of the Jewish people to their historic land were well-known and accepted by world leaders in the previous century.

By 1864, a clear-cut Jewish majority emerged in Jerusalem - more than half a century before the arrival of the British Empire and the League of Nations Mandate. During the years that the Jewish presence in Eretz Israel was restored, a huge Arab population influx transpired as Arab immigrants sought to take advantage of higher wages and economic opportunities that resulted from Jewish settlement in the land. President Roosevelt concluded in 1939 that "Arab immigration into Palestine since 1921 has vastly exceeded the total Jewish immigration during the whole period."

Israel's new detractors seek to delegitimize Jewish national rights by arguing that their assertion was an extension of European imperialism. In fact, Jewish underground movements waged an anti-colonial war in the 1940s against continuing British rule. Israel was an anti-imperialist force when it first emerged, while the Arab states were aligned with the imperial powers, their armies trained and supplied by the French and British Empires.

There was no active movement to form a unique Palestinian state prior to 1967. In 1956, Ahmad Shuqairy, who would found the PLO eight years later, told the UN Security Council: "it is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria." In the early 1960s, many Palestinians looked to Egypt's Abdul Nasser as their leader as much as to any Palestinian. Given the historical background, it is impossible to argue that the Palestinians have a claim to the Land of Israel superior to that of the Jews, as Israel's detractors contend.

The new assault on Israel is partly based on ignorance of Jewish history in today's highly secularized world. But it also emanates from a new anti-Semitic wave reflected in a public opinion poll by the European Commission showing Israel as the country most regarded by Europeans as a threat to world peace. The president of the European Commission, Roman Prodi - alluding to the anti-Semitic underpinnings that led to the poll's results - said, "to the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical."
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