Hillary Clinton’s opinion piece on Israel (Nov. 4, 2015) was a real disappointment. Her promise to “combat growing efforts to isolate Israel internationally and to undermine its future as a Jewish state” is illusory. Israel has a viable future only as a modern pluralistic civil society where all residents, Jewish or not, are equal citizens under the law. No matter if the formula ultimately is a single shared state, two states, or a confederation, with or without Jordan. There is no peace without uniform justice. In a modern democracy, government cannot favor one class of citizens over another. It is the refusal by Israel’s right-wing leadership to grapple honestly with this dilemma that feeds the country’s growing international isolation.
I am an American-Israeli who has lived in Israel for 35 years, actively working for reconciliation and equal justice for Israelis and Palestinians. Along with many well-known Israelis, including military and security experts, I have come to realize that the original idea of Israel as a “Jewish state” does not address reality – the reality that Israel has a long-subjugated twin (Palestine) waiting for equal justice, apart from the fact that a quarter of Israel’s own citizens are either Palestinian Muslims, Christians or Druze (20%) or are Jewish but not considered Jewish enough under Orthodox Jewish law (5%). To acknowledge that this is our situation today does not require consensus regarding the conflicting narratives from 1967, 1948, or earlier.
Clinton’s quest for political capital by reaffirming the unattainable fantasy of Israel as a Jewish state forever is a cynical, irresponsible choice. And it could backfire. Informed Americans, increasingly including American Jews, have begun to see that Israel’s survival depends now on its sane majority making common cause with their Palestinian counterparts in a genuine mutual effort to chart a shared, egalitarian future. Anything less is doomed from the outset. To paraphrase from Alice in Wonderland: First you pass the cake around, then you cut it up.
Abu Ghosh, Israel/Palestine