Renouncing Israel on Principle

A few years ago I was asked to give a presentation at my alma mater on the 1948 Israeli massacre of Palestinians in Deir Yassin. Despite a nasty cold on the day of the talk, I grabbed a page of horrifying statistics and a handful of tissues and headed off to criticize Israel, wondering how many Zionists would come out and complain this time.

It turned out that I had only one dissenter (from an admittedly small audience), an old professor of mine whose intellect and pedagogical style I had admired as a student (and still admire as a professional). I took three classes with this professor, finding all three valuable and interesting. I knew at the time that he was Jewish, just as he knew that I was Arab, but we transcended assumed political differences through a mutual passion for literature. I am still indebted to him for having written me a generous letter of recommendation for graduate school.

When my old professor turned up for the presentation, I had a feeling that he wouldn’t like what I was about to say despite the fact that I carefully avoided polemics and prepared a factual account of Israel’s early war crimes, referencing standard historiography. I struggled not to cringe when he raised his hand immediately after I finished speaking. A minute later we were arguing vocally with one another. I was mildly enjoying the opportunity to have at it with a former mentor and authority figure, but disturbed by the vitriol of his reaction to what I conceptualized as a tepid presentation. I’ve certainly said worse things about Israel on other occasions.

We soon reassumed our composure and attempted to think through our discrepant viewpoints. As audience members and the event organizer, another former professor of mine, interjected their commentaries I could see my antagonist growing progressively agitated.

“You don’t believe in the right of Israel to exist,” he suddenly declared. I was taken aback not by the intimation of the declaration, but by the fact that nowhere in my prepared comments or in our argument did such a topic arise.

“I don’t think anybody here has heard me say anything about destroying Israel, professor,” I responded coolly. He wouldn’t drop the subject, though, bringing it up over and again, each time impelling me to affirm Israel’s right to exist. Each time, I ignored him or flatly refused. He left the event shaking, inconsolable despite the doting of the event organizer.

There are lots of reasons why I declined my former professor’s demand that I recognize Israel. The first reason is practical: I never advocated for its destruction, and so it seemed peculiar to be asked to affirm its existence. Nobody has ever asked me to affirm another nation-state’s existence, a demand that I would in any case likewise decline. Like anybody who values humanity above capital and hierarchy, I believe it is people and not national institutions that require our empathy and attention. Besides, I was unhappy with the congenital violence implicitly ascribed to me while Israel’s entrenched violence, which I had spend 45 minutes illuminating, once again benefitted from an uncritical perception as normative.

The other reasons for my reluctance to acquiesce to my former professor’s peculiar demand are philosophical and political. It is remarkably brazen for a nation founded on the destruction of Palestine and now embroiled in vicious forms of ethnic cleansing to ask the victims of its malevolence for recognition. It is also a rhetorical trick that scarcely conceals some propitious imperatives: the legitimization of Israel as a Jewish-majority state; the whitewashing of Israel’s ugly past; tacitly absolving Israel of its immoral behavior; the privileging of Israel’s needs at the expense of basic recognition of Palestinian needs.

I have no desire to encourage these imperatives. Even if I did have the desire, I don’t have the authority: it is not up to me or to any other individual to relinquish Palestine under the pressure of a spuriously humanistic insistence by Zionists that their perfidy be excused because it will somehow make me a more respectful and responsible person.

Many people, anyway, have written in more detail about the insidiousness underlying affirmations of Israel’s “right to exist,” a phrase so ambiguous it should invoke any thinking person’s suspicion. Rather than limiting my discussion to philosophical, political, and practical factors, I’d like to mention a worthy psychological reason to refuse the demand that anybody who wants to enter into a conversation about the Israel-Palestine conflict must first proclaim devotion to Israel’s existence: principle.

Indeed, I would suggest refusing to acquiesce on principle. Zionists hold nearly all the power in the Israel-Palestine conflict and much of the power in the culture wars the conflict inspires. They have more funds, better access to corporate media, and the backing of the American military. The Palestinians, however, hold one form of power that doesn’t require money, media sympathy, or weaponry: the legitimacy that Zionists so desperately want us to confer to Israel. It is a small power, one without a material apparatus, but it is power, nevertheless, one I am unwilling to relinquish, one I have no moral obligation to relinquish. Zionists already took Palestine. Now they’re trying to appropriate our right to resist, too.

I am happy, eager even, to affirm the right of Jewish people to live in peace and security, wherever that may be, a right that all humans deserve in no particular order of worthiness. But I won’t celebrate Israel’s bloody founding and its goal of retaining a juridical ethnocentrism. Ultimately, when Zionists demand that you affirm Israel’s right to exist, what they are really asking for is your validation. Don’t give it to them. Until Israel treats the Palestinians equally and humanely, it won’t have earned the right to a celebrated existence.

16 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Tycho Sierra said on April 20th, 2009 at 2:23pm #

    i enjoyed this essay and believe you made a really important point about this constant demand that we (those in support of an independent RECOGNIZED Palestine) assert the right of Israel to exist as preface to making any demands of it whatsoever. Thinking back on the 1980s when i was getting arrested twice a week to draw attention to the US-driven bloodshed in Latin America, nobody ever question whether my criticism of American policy meant i didn’t believe the US had the right to be a state (then and now, i’d like to answer ‘it doesn’t’ but pragmatism is 9/10s of the political spectrum, n’est-ce pas?) Anyway, i am so sick of seeing the mighty Israeli military slaughtering people because – so they claim – those people refuse to say the magic sentence. It’s actually pretty pathetic, being so obsessed by the need to have people who don’t respect you affirm your existence.

    i live in eastern europe now and have been trying to crack the psychological stuff a bit around israeli behavior and (il)logic. It’s damn hard! i commend you for taking on this specific point of contention, something we all should think about when talking about racism, equality and JUSTICE.

  2. Ismail Zayid said on April 20th, 2009 at 5:01pm #

    The question of thr recognition of the state of Israel should be answered by the question: ” Which Israel is one required to recognise?”. Israel, from the day of its inception to this day, refuses to define its borders. Israel is the only state in the world that has no defined borders.
    David Ben Gurion stated, on May 14, 1948, when Israel was created on Palestinian land: ” We have created state in the western part of our country.” He later stated in his diaries, published in 1954 by Bar Zohar, after having conquered 78% of historic Palestine: ” The status quo will not do. We have created a dynamic state bent upon expansion.” . Israel’s current leaders maintain the same expansionist policies.

    So, let the questioner state which Israel is to be recognised, and the question becomes easier to answer.

  3. Ali said on April 20th, 2009 at 5:36pm #

    Nice article. Thank you.

  4. john andrews said on April 20th, 2009 at 9:40pm #

    Well said Steven.

    A substantial part of the perfidy attached to this subject is the blending of the word Israel with zionist fascism. Israel has as much right to exist as any other country that has been established through violent suppression of its natives by foreign settlers – like the United Staes, or Australia. But if we accept that we must also accept the right of those natives to claim their historical rights and re-take their country from their oppressors – like India or South Africa.

    Israel may enjoy its existence, for now – but it will only be because of the support of the biggest military machine on Earth. It will never be because of any moral right.

  5. Laser said on April 20th, 2009 at 10:25pm #

    I think Isreal can get along quite well without “recogition” by Steven Salaita.

    Arab spying on friendly countries has a rich past. Interesting is what they were doing in the 1940a.

    While Hadassah and the Hebrew University were assisting the British, Palestinian Arabs led by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin el-Husseini, were fighting a guerrilla war against the British and Jews. In late 1941, as a refugee in Berlin, the Mufti used radio broadcasts to urge Arabs to become fifth columns in the lands where they lived and to commit sabotage and to murder Allied troops and Jews.

    His spies provided the Nazis with information about British troop movements. His reports also described successful acts of sabotage in the Middle East by many of his agents. They cut water pipes and fuel and telephone lines, and destroyed bridges and blew up railroads. He organized an Axis-Arab Legion, the Arabisches Freiheitskorps, who wore German uniforms with “Free Arabia,” patches. They were part of the German army, and were responsible for protecting the Nazi communication system in Macedonia and for hunting down American and British paratroopers who landed in Yugoslavia.

    Once the partition of Palestine was approved by the United Nations on November 29, 1947, the violence against the Jews intensified. The equivalent of a Red Cross medical convoy comprising non-combatants — including doctors, nurses and university faculty and students — was ambushed by Arabs in the Sheikh Jarrah section of Jerusalem.

    Although The British High Commissioner and the British Secretary of State personally gave their assurances that these convoys would be protected by British troops and police, seventy-eight Jews were murdered by the Arabs.

    The attack, which lasted seven hours, began at 9:30 a.m. and took place less than 600 feet from the British military post. The British watched from the sidelines. Jewish appeals for help were ignored until mid-afternoon. But by then the Jews had either been burned alive in buses or shot. There were 28 survivors, only eight had no injuries.

    Among the dead were the founders of the new faculty of medicine, a physicist, a philologist, a cancer researcher, the head of the university’s department of psychology, and an authority on Jewish law. A doctor who waited four years to marry the nurse he loved was killed when he went to say good bye to his patients before leaving on his honeymoon.

    One victim, a doctor, treated the Arab peasants in the village of Isawiyeh on Mount Scopus two weeks prior to the attack. Yet Arabs claimed that the ambush was a heroic act, and the British had no business intervening even at the last-minute: They did not want a single Jewish passenger to remain alive.

    Thousands of furious Jews attended the funeral and lined the streets of the procession. British indifference was responsible for this loss of life. Official Arab response was that they had heard that Jewish gangs were assembled near Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University.

    R.M. Graves, the British appointed Chairman of the Jerusalem Municipal Commission, said “…the Arabs do not realize that the killing of doctors, nurses and university teachers was a dastardly outrage.”

    Despite this sad and bloody piece of history, Hadassah has endured through hundreds of terrorist attacks and always has been there for the health of Jews and Arabs in the region.

    And the Arabs who are treated there get the best medical card\e in the Middle East, despite their terrorist leanings, affiliations and crimes.

  6. mary said on April 20th, 2009 at 11:32pm #

    Laser arrives here like an Exocet missile on a brand new article about Israel. The identical post (with the addition of his/her first sentence) has been put on an earlier article on this site about Steve Rosen suing AIPAC
    following my comment about Rep Jane Harman and her murky dealings with AIPAC.

    Such speed of action and devotion to duty on behalf of the entity must surely be rewarded!

    As John Andrews says, well said Steven and thanks for the article..

  7. Steven Salaita said on April 21st, 2009 at 12:37pm #

    Laser says: “I think Isreal can get along quite well without “recogition” by Steven Salaita.”

    That’s good for Israel, because it’s gonna have to–from Steven Salaita and the majority of the world’s population.

  8. John S. Hatch said on April 21st, 2009 at 1:09pm #

    The fact is, Israel cannot ‘get along well without recognition’ by people of goodwill. Israel is going the way of other blighted nations such as South Africa. Evil only prevails for so long. That’s as true as evolution, or the laws of physics.

  9. ES said on April 21st, 2009 at 3:26pm #

    This is on fire. Love that extra bit.

  10. kalidas said on April 21st, 2009 at 7:00pm #

    The old S.A. or the new one?

  11. lichen said on April 21st, 2009 at 8:48pm #

    Yes, it is pathogenically false for people to claim that Israel or the usa posses ‘rights’ that are not covered by international law, un resolutions, treaties those countries have signed onto, and the pure democratic will of the citizens. It is such disgusting arrogance, and no, I wont play into the zionist propaganda and dialog-shutdown by claiming that israel has a ‘right to exist.’

  12. Subhuti said on April 23rd, 2009 at 4:42am #

    The issue of whether Israel has a right to exist is moot. Many Israelis say that the Jews need ” a place of their own.” However, if the goal is survival of the group, wouldn’t it make more sense to not have “all the eggs in one basket”? Why is it that ethnic groups get into trouble in their host country, and particularly the Jews (of which group I was born from all Eastern European grandparents). Looking at the current situation in the USA, we see a large proportion of the people behind the financial crisis are Jewish. Such as the present and past heads of the Federal Reserve Bank, which after more than 70 years, we now learn is not of the people, by the people and for the people, but in reality a privately owned unauditable bank that essentially controls the USA money supply. The rise in antisemitism must surely be influenced by this factor, and the whole history of Rothschild banksterism surely affects the general public’s image of the Jews.

    The solution to the problem of Jews wanting to feel safe, is to stop acting like they are the only victims of injustice in the world, and to be good responsible citizens. If there were only Jonas Salks, Albert Einsteins and Louis Brandeises, there would surely be a lot less antisemitism.

    But as far as the issue of Israel’s right to exist is concerned, a lot of younger Israelis I have talked with, say that Zionism has failed because they feel no safer now than the Jews did after WWII. So what good is the State of Israel to the Jews, if the only way they can feel “safe”, is by holding every one else in contempt. A guaranteed losing proposition.

  13. Deadbeat said on April 23rd, 2009 at 10:27am #

    The solution to the problem of Jews wanting to feel safe, is to stop acting like they are the only victims of injustice in the world, and to be good responsible citizens.

    The use of “victimization” by Zionists is an extremely effective rhetorical device as it has enabled them to broaden and strengthen their base among Jews. It also has “sucked up the oxygen” for those who really ARE oppressed. By elevating Jewish oppression with likewise elevation of Jewish “success”, many reactionary Jews (ne0-conservatives) have been on the forefront of the 30 year rollback of Affirmative Action and other progressive programmatic gains that has aided minority groups. This rollback of social programs has now come to haunt the majority as the economy is now ill-equipped to deal with the current Capitalist crisis.

    It is unfortunate that the “Left” embraced this aspect of the Zionist narrative to essentially ignore how the co-option of victimization has essentially demobilized it and the Left’s failure to challenge the ever growing entanglements of Zionism with Capitalism and their grip upon the U.S. political economy. Failing to deal with Zionism influence upon the U.S. political economy IMO best summarizes why the Left is in such a state of disarray today.

    Unfortunately left-wing preachers and apologists like Noam Chomsky has been very effective diverting activists attention to other issue (primarily international issue over domestic) and mis-educating them using similar tactics as the people in power. How ironic that Chomsky can write a book called “Manufacturing Consent” and then proceed to engage in a similar tactics among well-meaning activists.

  14. mebosa ritchie said on April 23rd, 2009 at 3:48pm #

    This is long but REALLY worth reading

    Jews on the moon

    The Jews settled the moon in 2053, just about five years after the end of the Islamic Wars of the 40’s, where the Middle East, and Israel, of course, had been obliterated by nuclear weapons.
    The two million Jews remaining throughout the rest of the world – less than 100,000 total in all the Islamic countries – banded together and purchased the dark side of the moon, which no other companies or people wished to colonize.
    Great transports were arranged via the 62,000-mile space elevator and the Space Shuttle and every Jew on Earth – including anyone who claimed any Jewish heritage whatsoever – left to go to a place where no one could blame them for anything.
    The Earth rejoiced – happily rid of all Jews. There were huge parties throughout all of Sweden and the rest of Europe, Africa, Asia South America, and North America. (Now known as the Northern Alliance of Islamic States after the United States was taken over peacefully in the elections of 2040 by a predominantly Muslim Congress and President, who immediately passed amendments making Islam the main religion of the United States and the world.)
    After the last Jew entered the elevator, (a David Goldstein, 62, formerly of New York), the Earth was officially declared Judenrein, by Hans Ibn Hitler, a great, great-grandson of Hitler who had been raised in Brazil and hidden by Nazis until this precious moment.
    It was not an easy move for the Jews but, in some ways, it was no different than all their moves of previous eras. Some former Israelis, (still alive because they were out of Israel when the bombs dropped), claimed that the moon was easier to deal with because there were no Extremist Muslims. Of course, this precipitated a huge argument with some Jews, who felt not having the Radical Muslims nearby was not enough challenge.
    Other Jews argued that taming a wilderness with no atmosphere, plant or animal life and freezing temperatures was enough challenge.
    And yet other Jews argued that arguing was counterproductive. It came as no surprise to anyone that for the two million Jews, there were eventually one million synagogues. (With the other million Jew not joining.)
    It was also no surprise that within just three years, the Jews had created a controlled environment that allowed for fantastic plant and animal growth and production. The transports, which had been called the Arks, had also carried two of each animal and plant (remember, Noah), and through the ingenuity of the Jews and cloning, there were now many new species which sped up production of food (cows with six udders, chickens with four legs and so forth.)
    The population had rapidly increased and, due to the amazing collection of scientific and medical minds, most diseases and even ageing had been reduced to nil.
    There was even a ministry of communication with Earth consisting of the remains of Hollywood producers and moviemakers, who sent back to Earth portraits of life on the moon. Of course, it had been decided when the Jews first got to the moon – based on six-thousand-year history of people being jealous of Jewish accomplishment – that all news coverage of the moon’s population would be ‘movie-ized’ to show only horrible things. The film industry, led by Jordan Spielberg, went to great lengths to fabricate news clips to show Jews barely surviving in the harsh lunar habitat. Artists and engineers labored to cover over the vast environmental successes with illusionary domes showing massive areas of wasteland – just in case anyone from Earth ever sent a spaceship with cameras to see what was going on.
    But no one ever did, and the years passed rapidly. One decade, then another. Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, brises, all celebrated under the artificial world that the Jews had created – not only had it not been that bad, but by the end of the century, some Jewish authors were calling the moon colony – ‘Eden 2’.
    Of course other Jews disagreed. In fact, much time was spent on disagreeing. There were even contests for arguing but, in general, there was peace. Anyone who threatened the peace was forced to officiate at a contest with people arguing about why that person was wrong. The contests would go on for days, (sometimes weeks) until the troublemaker begged for forgiveness. (Many penalties on the moon were similar to this, and were extremely effective.)
    Back on Earth, life disintegrated without the Jews. There was a return to Middle Ages thought – only the current religion du jour was valid – all others were kept legislated into poverty until a war erupted and the positions changed for a few years.
    Another amazing anomaly appeared when there were no longer any Jews on Earth – anti-Semitism actually increased to monumental proportions! Famous orators explained this simply by saying; ‘I don’t have to have a gun to be afraid of having my brains blown out.’
    Additionally, without the presence of the Jew, the world developed incredible evil that had no release. (Previous evil had always focused on the Jews;) One Rabbi on the moon actually said G-d spoke to him and said that he, G-d was about to destroy the Earth because everyone on the Earth was evil. The Rabbi begged him to reconsider, and bargained that if there were 1,000 good people left on Earth, G-d should spare the planet. G-d then told the Rabbi, ‘Hey, I was through this before with Abraham and Noah and I already know the answer because I’m G-d.’
    People laughed at the Rabbi, but then, one day, while all the lunar citizens were going about their business, an enormous series of explosions was seen on the Earth. Everyone on the moon stared at the distant fireballs that seemed to engulf the blue planet that was once their home.
    Although there had been great anger at being forced to leave the Earth, the true spirit of Judaism was always present on the moon, and no one had wished ill on to their former home. As in the tradition of the Seder (when the wine is spilled because the Egyptians perished and we do not rejoice fully when even an enemy has died) when the Jews saw what was happening, they began to weep and pray, and watch what was to be the final news broadcast from Earth.
    The horror of the apocalypse was videotaped by cameras until all electricity was ionized by the new electron bombs. Entire countries were wiped away in the blink of an ion exploding. And then came the final transmission from the nation that had started the entire mess – it was a desperate headline screamed by a hundred dying newscasters. Their rant continued until it was just blackness. What were they saying? As the Jews watched, some gasped, others cried, and a few even laughed. For the last words of the disappearing civilization were a condemnation. ‘The Jews have caused all our problems – they left us here to face the mess they made.’ ‘If the Jews hadn’t taken all the best scientists and engineers, we could have defeated our enemies.’ ‘Our enemies are the Jews! Kill all the Jews.’
    It took a little while, but the electronics experts pieced together what had happened on Earth during its last days Anti-Semitism, which had grown stronger and stronger since the Jews had left, had reached its pinnacle, and all the countries of the world had decided to launch a massive attack on the moon.
    The attack had been coordinated by the United Nations and, although all the missiles had been launched properly, there was some sort of glitch in the targeting system, resulting in all the weapons colliding in the upper atmosphere and showering the Earth with a deadly rain of nuclear fire, electronic destruction and a generally bad day. The mistake triggered the military response of all the nations – (who all had nuclear weapons by then -plus a few other horrid toys) and the result was truly an Armageddon.
    The Jews on the moon went into a period of deep mourning. The Orthodox rent their clothing and there were mass counseling sessions.
    And then, about one week after the BIG DAY, as it was now called, a presence was detected heading towards the moon. Had one of the missiles escaped? Were the Jews doomed after all? The leaders checked with the defence experts – no, this was not a missile, it was an old-style spacecraft, like the ones used in the early seventies. As it approached, the laser defence was trained on the craft.. Debates raged as to whether the craft should be destroyed or allowed to get close enough to communicate with.
    A message from the ship came just in time. It said, ‘We are the last representatives from Earth – two from each country and we come in peace.’ Some Jews rejoiced that there were survivors, others demanded isolation or death of the approaching group.
    The Rabbi who had had the vision of earth’s destruction told the leaders that G-d wanted them to have a chance, so they were allowed to circle the moon. When told they could have a section of land to themselves to farm and repopulate, the Earthlings were upset. They told the Jews that they should be allowed to live with the Jews and have all the same privileges – because, after all, in Judaism, the stranger is given the same rights and privileges as the citizen.
    Upon hearing this, the leaders went to the Rabbi with the visions, and he offered to guide the visitors to their new home. The leaders allowed him to give the instructions for landing. Of course, not trusting the Rabbi, the commander of the ship didn’t listen to his advice and instead crashed into a lunar crater.
    And so we have the final days of the history of the planet Earth, which have been generously shared with us by the Jewish colony of the 453rd Solar System of the M Galaxy. Although the Earth is currently uninhabitable, the head engineer of the Jewish colony on Mars tells us that Venus will be fully colonized by the year 2120, and with continuous replanting, Earth will once again be ready for Jews returning from other planets in the year 2136.
    An interesting side note – inside the wreckage of the rocket with the survivors from Earth was a specially marked package that had survived which included the following words: ‘Once there was a great planet named the Earth. And there were many peoples on this planet, and they all existed peacefully with each other, except for the Jews. Wherever there were Jews, there was trouble. Jews brought dirt and death and hatred and strife. They were finally banished from our planet, only to take with them many great inventors and scientists and doctors, leaving Earth with nothing. We have decided to destroy the remnants of the Jews, and since the first attempt failed, we are the last chance for Earth. Whoever shall find this will know the truth – It was all the Jews’ fault.
    This panel has been saved and is on display at the Earth Memorial Museum at Rivka Crater, NW, for all travelers who wish to see the remains of a civilization that did not understand the words – ‘he who blesses the Jews, is himself blessed, he who curses the Jews, is himself cursed.’ Shalom.

  15. Dirar Ibrahim said on April 25th, 2009 at 1:11am #

    What a load of self glorifying BULLSHIT!!! The Jews are not the source of all evil… no one besides Hitler said so… The Jews lived in peace with the Arabs for a thousand years the only problem I have with Jews is when they came from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century and grew their population from 3% to 30% then were given 65% of the land and like any other colonial power which came out of Europe began a systematic ethnic cleansing of the land they claimed. And through wars (which they claim were all in self -defense) stole the rest of historic Palestine. They are one of very few countries left who have not signed the Geneva Convention. Who built their Country on land acquired through conquest.
    They are a nation who deny building permits to Christians as well as Muslims, in an attempt to have them flee their land due to crumbling homes and then demolish the homes of these people who build or repair without permits (which are only given to a token few who are not Jewish immigrants). They are the only country in the world who outlaws political parties that are not of their religion… This country is founded on values which are the definition of FACISM.
    My problem is not the right of Israel to exist but their right to exist without the indigenous population on which their country was built. My parents escaped Israeli aggression in 1948 only to be forced out again in 1967. When people can live in Israel with ALL legal rights of Jews regardless of their religion, then and only then will the Jews live in Peace.

  16. mebosa ritchie said on April 26th, 2009 at 3:03pm #

    As strange as it may sound, despite dozens of years of Israeli “peace” with states such as Egypt and Jordan, Arab societies in the Middle East didn’t quite bother with the following question: What’s Israel all about?

    Many people never bothered to find out what is this Israel and who comprises it; besides, peace with it was perceived as a matter for the kingdom and governments. The kind of peace that is irrelevant for the masses. It was seen as a sort of financial agreement between the ruler and some kind of dark and imaginary kingdom, a shadowy fortress whose outrageous existence can only be seen on television channels.

    This is also why it’s so easy to hate it, as it is easy to hate anonymous terms or people.
    However, the new position of the Israeli government, which demands recognition of both parts of the “two-state” slogan, is placing a mirror before Arab societies for the first time. This is an important development that must be insisted on at any price.

    The need to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or as the Jewish people’s state will force the Arabs to make a decision, look at Israel, and understand what it’s all about. Is there a Jewish people? Most Arab community leaders would say: Not at all, just like Mahmoud Abbas or Saeb Erekat believe; at most, there is a Jewish religion, and perhaps Jewish culture. However, in order to get their own state, they will have to recognize this people, its identity, and its national movement – that is, Zionism. They will have to start to truly take interest in it, in reality and not in the world of illusions.

    These are tasks that were never required of the society around us, and therefore we had a cold and sterile peace, vis-à-vis the regime only, along with a limited economic elite made up of those who enjoyed personal perks as result of the peace.
    In the Arab online community at least, the first discussion since Israel’s establishment is taking place at this time on the question of whether Israel exists, and whether it should exist –as a Jewish state no less. This is what the slogan “two states for two peoples” is all about. Yes, the Jewish people is also a nation, and the Arabs will have to accept it, without the compromises of the failed Oslo Accord. For that reason, Israel must insist at any price on both sides of the equation, as Prime Minister Netanyahu is wisely doing at this time.
    Placing a mirror in front of someone is a moral thing to do. In my view, this is the only way for the Arabs to understand that they have not approached Israel properly to this day, assuming they looked at it at all.
    If such demand is made, and they rejected it to this day, what does it say about them? That they’re racist? Unwilling to recognize the other? Living in an imaginary reality? They claimed that Israel is imaginary, but perhaps they are the ones who are imaginary and unrealistic? After all, up until now they claimed that Israel is the racist one, yet by rejecting the existence of a Jewish people they are in fact being exposed as racist. It’s not easy for them.
    The new formula requires them to see Israel in a realistic light. It has a right to exist, it is home to 7.5 million people, and it has an economy, life, culture, and existence. This isn’t easy for those who grew up with blatant anti-Semitic norms or with cold disregard for this Israel. The mirror placed before them teaches them about themselves.
    They are not looking at Israel now, but rather, at themselves. And they don’t like what they see. Yet they have no choice: Without this, there would be no Palestinian state and no agreement.
    It’s about time that after more than 60 years, the educational process of peace with the Arab world is underway. It will be long and difficult, as real educational processes tend to be, but there is no escaping it. There are no shortcuts here; it’s unavoidable.