By Ted Belman
Ami Isseroff in his article Is there an alternative to the two state solution? counts me among “extremist Jews” for advocating a Jewish one-state solution.
[..] Faced with the prospect of losing the West Bank, some extremist Jews (not all Zionist, perhaps) have also taken up the cause of the “one state solution”. This would involve annexing the West Bank to Israel.
To prepare for his attack he misrepresents and distorts our views.
The people who tell us that every Arab Palestinian is a potential suicide bomber, and that the most moderate among them wish to exterminate the Jews, want us to welcome them into our state and our society. Arabs can’t be peace partners, but they can, according to the Jewish one-state advocates, be partners in building a Jewish state.
We say no such thing and advocate no such thing. Quite the contrary. We say the moderates have no power and are therefore irrelevant so long as the leadership is in power either by virtue of the ballot box or by virtue of the gun. We propose to remove the leadership so that moderates can come to the fore.
Isseroff suggests the proposal rests on on three ideas:
Ignoring Gaza – The proposal to annex the West Bank assumes that the Arabs of Gaza – well over a million persons, can simply be ignored. This is not realistic. Those people will not evaporate. Gaza is not mentioned.
I ask Isseroff to support his view that “those people (Gazans) can’t be ignored”. Why not? He doesn’t say. Israel has washed its hands of Gaza.
- Apartheid State – In this state, Israeli “democracy and law” would supposedly be extended to the West Bank, but the Arabs of the West Bank would not immediately be given citizenship. If the Arabs are not given citizenship, then of course, Israeli democracy and law are not extended to the West Bank. A democracy in which some people cannot vote is not a democracy by modern standards, and by Israeli law, everyone who lives in the country can become a citizen and vote. According to the scheme, representatives would somehow be elected from the West Bank on a district basis. This is a charming idea. One wonders if each West Bank district will be apportioned representatives on the basis that 1 Arab = 3/5 of a person, as was done for African slaves in the original United State constitution. Even if the Israeli supreme court would be forced to accept such a plan, it is hard to imagine that any civilized country in the world would do so. It is hard to imagine that in this situation there would not be a huge Intifadah. This time the perpetrators would be able to cross into Israel with no problems and no controls. Hundreds of bombings and shootings would take place.
Could anyone, indeed, blame a people who are thus disenfranchised? They would certainly get the vote — sooner rather than later.
It is not hard to imagine that “with time” these Palestinian Arabs will grow to be “loyal citizens”
of Israel. Of course, their concept of Israel will be different from that of the Jews somewhat. They will vote to abolish the Jewish Law of Return. They will vote to make the official language Arabic, and perhaps to put a crescent and a green stripe on the flag. They will vote to change the national anthem to “Biladi” (“My Homeland”). These are the sort of things that loyal Arab citizens of Israel would like to do, so we can assume that the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank would back the same ideas. The state could be either a state of the Jewish people or democratic, but even if there is only a large Arab minority, it could not be both. Of course, provided that they observed Muslim strictures, Jews would be allowed to practice their religion. It would be a “Jewish” and “democratic” state in the same way as Syria or Egypt or Iran are “Jewish” and “democratic.”
In order to characterize our proposal as creating an “Apartheid State” thus joining our enemies, he once again distorts our position. Why must the Arabs immediately “be given citizenship” as he suggests? I had earlier advised him that the one state proposal would be preceded by a change in Israeli laws setting conditions for citizenship. Every country has them. In Switzerland for instance one must wait 12 years before receiving citizenship. In all countries, you must be a citizen to vote. Since non-citizens can’t vote in all countries, does that make such countries apartheid states? Obviously not but that doesn’t stop Isseroff from this ridiculous allegation. All citizens will be equal. Isseroff is setting up a straw man in order to bring him down.
Then he resorts to scare tactics and talks about another intifadah and the Arabs exercising their vote to denude Israel of its Jewishness. There are now 250,000 Arabs in Jerusalem but they aren’t blowing things up. In fact Arabs are moving to live in Israel preferring it to “Palestine”. Furthermore the constitution would be amended to make Israel a Jewish state and requiring a super majority to change it. Finally Hebrew would be the only official language. This is necessary to avoid a movement to a bi-national state.
Demography – The scheme tells us, referring to the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) studies, that “Israel and the West Bank have been demographically stable since 1967 and with proper governmental initiatives its Jewish majority will grow.” [..]
The AIDRG group makes two major claims about demographics that are at variance with “accepted wisdom” and published statistics.
The issue is not whether they “are at variance” but whether they are correct. I will leave it to AIDRG to deal with his figures and arguments on demography.
Isseroff is oh so noble when he says
As I would not want to live as part of a disenfranchised minority – or majority – in an Arab state,
I do not think that it is fair to wish that fate on the Arabs of the West Bank, nor would I be
willing to abide by such an arrangement for long.
As I have said, loyal Arabs will be enfranchised in time. Disloyal Arabs will be expelled.
Moral considerations aside, even the most gung-ho Jewish “patriot” who has no regard at all for the wishes or rights of the Palestinian Arabs, has to understand that a Jewish one-state solution that incorporates the West Bank in Israel would be the end of Zionism.
Obviously, if we believed this to be true, we wouldn’t be recommending it. Unfortunately Isseroff devotes his energies to discrediting something without understanding it. At a minimum I would expect him to study a one-state solution carefully before coming to conclusions. If only he were so critical of the idea of retreating to the Auschwitz borders.