Sunday, March 22, 2015

"There Can Be No Democratic Jewish State Unless There Is Also a Palestinian State"

As I mentioned recently, here is something President Obama said to Jeffrey Goldberg about a year ago:
What I’ve said to him [Netanyahu] privately is the same thing that I say publicly, which is the situation will not improve or resolve itself. This is not a situation where you wait and the problem goes away. There are going to be more Palestinians, not fewer Palestinians, as time goes on. There are going to be more Arab-Israelis, not fewer Arab-Israelis, as time goes on...

I have not yet heard, however, a persuasive vision of how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with its neighbors in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Nobody has presented me a credible scenario.
For those who don't understand what he was talking about (i.e., Rep. Steve King), Dana Milbank makes it all perfectly and profoundly clear.
...for abandoning the idea of a Palestinian state will destroy the Jewish state just as surely, if not as swiftly, as an Iranian nuclear bomb.

This is a matter not of ideology but of arithmetic. Without a Palestinian state, Israel can be either a Jewish state or a democracy but not both. If it annexes the Palestinian territories and remains democratic, it will be split roughly evenly between Jews and Arabs; if it annexes the territories and suppresses the rights of Arabs, it ceases to be democratic...

...in the end there can be no democratic Jewish state unless there is also a Palestinian state.
This is the reality Netanyahu (and his supporters) want to deny. Its also why his fear-mongering on election day about Arab-Israelis voting is of such great concern.

Those who want Israel to survive as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with their neighbors have no choice but to work towards developing a two-state solution. That is exactly what President Obama will continue to do.

7 comments:

  1. There is a reason the Conservative movement in the US favors Netanyahu....his "all or nothing" views are the same as theirs. Compromise is a dirty word. Fear is a tool, not something to be calmed. Ideology is paramount. I feel as bad for Israel as I do for the US - both being led down a path that does not end well.

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  2. If it annexes the Palestinian territories and remains democratic, it will be split roughly evenly between Jews and Arabs

    Strictly as a matter of math, this is not the case. Israel proper has 6,200,000 Jews and 1,700,000 Arabs; the West Bank has 500,000 Jews and 2,100,000 Arabs. Combining these two areas (Israel has no interest in annexing the Gaza Strip) would give a population of 6,700,000 Jews and 3,800,000 Arabs, making the Arabs 36% of the total, which is a large minority but by no means "split evenly". It used to be said that the higher Arab birth rate would eventually turn them into a majority, but the Arab birth rate in Israel and the West Bank has declined just as birth rates have done throughout the Middle East (and the world). I'm not sure, but I think the Palestinian birth rate may now be lower than the Jewish one. And Israel still gets waves of Jewish immigration now and then.

    In fact, the long-range Israeli strategy is pretty clear. The continual grind of resource extraction, settlement-building, and general harassment directed at West Bank Arabs is intended to create incentives for "self-deportation", to use a Romneyism. Politicians of whatever party make noises about giving up the West Bank in some future negotiated settlement, but a glance at the map will show why no serious Israeli leader could do this. The purpose of such talk is to buy time for the slow transfer of population and ongoing building of settlements will absorb the West Bank into Israel. What governments say they are doing and what they are actually doing are not always the same.

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    1. Here are the numbers Milbank uses:

      There are roughly 4.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and another 1.4 million living inside Israel . That puts them in rough parity with Jews, who number just over 6 million.

      What would the long-range Israeli strategy be for Gaza?

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    2. My guess is, for the foreseeable future leaving Gaza as it is now would be the least-bad option from the Israeli viewpoint. Unlike with the West Bank, annexing or re-occupying Gaza would bring Israel nothing of any value. It's true that Gaza is a source of occasional terrorist attacks, but these are not an existential threat to Israel, and re-establishing direct Israeli rule over Gaza would not prevent them and might even make them worse. There's no imaginable reason why Israel would ever want to take over Gaza again, and as far as I know, no serious Israeli politician, not even the most right-wing ones, favors doing so.

      So, the demographics of Gaza are irrelevant to the future of the Israel/West Bank area. It's an error to treat Gaza and the West Bank as somehow equivalent just because they both happened to be included within the arbitrary borders of the long-vanished Palestine mandate (as did Jordan, don't forget).

      The reason Israel did keep control of Gaza in the years after 1967 is that while Egypt was an actively hostile state, Gaza did represent a strategic threat. That's no longer the situation. Egypt, like most other Arab states, has lost interest in trying to destroy Israel and recognizes that Islamic extremism, not Israel, is the biggest threat to the Arab world.

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  3. You overlook the possibility of further ethnic cleansing. And, yes, that is perfectly compatible with strictly Jewish democracy in Israel, the Jewish homeland in Palestine.

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    1. I am perhaps taking you too literally, but ethnic cleansing is itself an undemocratic act.

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  4. "This is a matter not of ideology but of arithmetic. Without a Palestinian state, Israel can be either a Jewish state or a democracy but not both. If it annexes the Palestinian territories and remains democratic, it will be split roughly evenly between Jews and Arabs; if it annexes the territories and suppresses the rights of Arabs, it ceases to be democratic..."

    Thank You! The HUGE difference between America's growing Minorities becoming eventual Majorities and Israel's Minority population becoming a Majority population is that a Large( being politically correct LOL) Percentage of Israel's Minority HATE Israel's guts, where Most of America's Minorities are Beggging to pledge LOYALTY to America!

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