“We did not return to the land of Israel after 2,000 years of longing to live under the government of Mahmoud Abbas. Whoever advocates for the idea of Jewish life in Israel under Palestinian rule is undermining our ability to sit in Tel Aviv.”
So says Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party in Israel, and economy minster in the current Israeli government.
Count us among those who undermine Israel’s ability to sit in Tel Aviv — a policy we readily embrace because, of course, it’s not true. Bennett’s words are utterly fallacious. Jews who choose to live anywhere in the world undermine nothing, provided only that they are welcomed and safe where they live.
It is, of course, questionable whether Jews would be as welcome and safe in Palestine as Arab citizens are in Israel. But if a peace agreement were signed between Israel and a Palestinian state, and if the agreement put an open, explicit end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, with realistic enforcement mechanisms, then why should Jews not be welcome in the Palestinian state? Why should Jews not live on the land of Israel, which, Palestinian political arrangements notwithstanding, a Palestinian state would be — on the land of Israel?
Prime Minister Netanyahu had it perfectly right when he said, contrary to Naftali Bennett, that there can be a Jewish minority in the Palestinian state, just as there is an Arab minority in the Jewish state.
This is called political pluralism.
This is called tolerance.
This is called democracy.
This is called live and let live.
This is called not uprooting Arabs from their homes, and not uprooting Jews from their homes.
This is called mutuality.
This is called self-determination.
This is called a practical solution to a thorny problem.
This is called recognition of Jews and of Israelis.
What, Mr. Bennett, is wrong with all that?
What exercises Bennett, so far as we can tell, is that for there to be Jewish significance to the Jewish presence in the land of Israel, Jews must enjoy sovereignty there. Well, they do enjoy sovereignty there, and, under a peace agreement with the Palestinians, they would still enjoy sovereignty there.
Of course, they would not enjoy sovereignty in those parts of the land of Israel that would become a Palestinian state. If that is what Bennett opposes, let him say so. It’s a legitimate political position (though, possibly, beyond the realm of viability in 2014). But to hide behind a racist objection to Jews living in Palestine as a smokescreen for defending a legitimate political position is unwise, undignified and wrong.
Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News