Isreali settlers wave their flags at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 13, 2018 as they celebrate Jerusalem Day. (Photo by MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel Was Right To Define Itself As A Jewish State

Dear Editor,

I must, with respect, differ from my friend Alan Dowty, who argued against defining Israel as a Jewish State. While I strongly disagree with much of the recently Knesset-passed Nation-State Bill, especially its denigration of the role of the Arabic language in Israel and its claim that a united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel — a provision that makes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict almost impossible — its emphasis on Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is much more defensible.

The failure of the Palestinians to explicitly accept Jewish self-determination raises serious questions as to their willingness to have a long-term peace agreement with Israel. I have attended numerous academic conferences with Arab colleagues from around the Arab world, and I have had long discussions with the top Palestinian leadership, and I have found that despite 70 years of Israel’s existence, the Arabs still tend to see Jews as a religious group rather than as an ethnic-national group.

Adding to the problem is the fact that under Islam, Judaism has a clearly second-class status. Thus the unwillingness of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jews raises major questions as to whether they indeed recognize the legitimacy of Israel, thus making peace much more difficult to achieve.

Sincerely, Robert Freedman

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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Israel Was Right To Define Itself As A Jewish State

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