Be careful what you wish for

The Jewish Standard

by: Shammai Engelmayer

Editorial

Published: 18 May 2012

Memo to all those hardliners who believe that not getting serious with negotiations with the Palestinians will wear them down and, eventually, lead to a one-state solution, with Jerusalem permanently in control of all the Land of Israel:

Without a doubt, you will get your wish.

Be warned, however. What you will get will not be a Jewish state. At best, it will be a state run by Arabs and Jews, but more likely only by Arabs.

It is what the world is waiting to impose. It is what a small but growing minority of Jews seems to want. It even is what underlies the effort in some quarters to rewrite Israel’s national anthem, the Hatikvah, to make it more comfortable for Israel’s non-Jewish majority to sing. Suggested rewrites water down Jewish claims to the land and downplay two millennia of hopes and prayers for the sake of an unwarranted political correctness.

We understand — we really do — why there is such great reluctance to give up any territory on the other side of the Green Line. It is on that side of the line, on the west bank, that the hope of 2,000 years is truly fulfilled. When we prayed for a “restoration of Zion,” for a return to our homeland, our hearts and minds were focused on Hebron, where our forefathers lay buried; on Beit El, where Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven; of Shechem, where once the Tabernacle stood in all its glory; on the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, where the returning Israeilites conducted a covenant renewal ceremony; on Bethlehem, where Mother Rachel is buried along the way to Efrat, the better to keep an eye on her children. “Re’i Rachel, re’i, hem shavu li-g’vulam,” Look, Rachel, look and see; they have returned to their borders. Your children have returned home.

We understand — we really do.

We also understand demography and democracy.

At the rate things are going, sooner rather than later there will be more Arabs than Jews on the soil of our dreams. The world will not tolerate that Arab majority being turned into second-class citizens by a minority that for decade after decade shoved the Holocaust in everyone’s face and declared that only the Jews occupied the moral high ground.

To be sure, we do not believe for a moment that anyone in the Palestinian Authority actually wants a two-state solution, either. That is the real reason why negotiations with the Palestinians can go all the way, as they have in the past, with the Palestinians getting almost everything they asked for — including a chunk of Jerusalem — and they still will walk out in mock disgust, as indeed they have. The Palestinians understand only too well that time is on their side. Our side has not yet figured that out.

There is a way to avoid this disaster. If the peace process is to fail, the Arabs must be seen as the sole reason for that failure. Israel, meanwhile, must be seen as negotiating in good faith and with an open heart, interested as much in accommodating Arab aspirations as fulfilling Jewish dreams. It does not have to give away the store, but nor can it be seen as attempting to padlock all its shelves.

Some would argue that the world will see what it wants to see regardless of what actually there is to see. There is much truth in this, but it also is beside the point.

We long ago gave up our place on the moral high ground, but we must never abandon our morality.

See it in the paper

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