Question of the day

by Yaniv Reich on November 8, 2009

J Street, the new Jewish lobbying group in the US, claims it is “pro-Israel, pro-peace.” Put aside for a moment definitional issues about what “pro-Israel” means exactly (Is it pro-Jewish ethnocracy? Is it democracy for all Israeli citizens?). Also put aside what “pro-peace” means in the context of a two-state agenda that can only be implemented by systematically excluding many Palestinians from basic rights to property and citizenship. Finally, put aside any paranoid thoughts you might have about this or that scenario for peace.

I would like to pose the following hypothetical question:

If you had to choose either pro-Israel or pro-peace, assuming it could only be one, which one would it be? Would you choose an ethnically exclusive, semi-theocratic state that is fully democratic only for the majority ethnic group? Or would you consider abandoning this idea if it could bring true, lasting peace with all your neighbors?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elan November 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I think that “true, lasting peace with all your neighbors” is what most people would say if it could somehow be guaranteed. The problem is that many people feel (and not without understandable reasons) that their security would necessarily be jeopardized by a less ethnically exclusive, more fully democratic state. In other words, the response to the question seems to depend largely on how hypothetical we are really being.

2 Yaniv Reich November 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Elan,

You might be right, but I am not certain of it. I do not think the majority of Israelis of American Jews, for example, would accept a binational state for Jews and Arabs in Israel/Palestine, even if it brought peace and security. Their argument would be something along the lines of: “Jews have a right to national self-determination.”

Now, this might stem from an inability to abstract away from their fears and prejudices in order to answer the hypothetical question. But its not clear to me that’s necessarily the case. I think you take the notion of peace a little too much for granted in the Jewish mindset. Israelis talk rather frequently about not wanting “peace at any cost”.

But hey, that’s why I posed the question. I hope readers continue the conversation.

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