Maintaining a Jewish States Means Pursuing Peace

Yesterday, Chris Bowers of OpenLeft wrote a piece about the future of Israel. He presented two scenarios for what will become of the Jewish State.

1. An autonomous, Jewish majority Israel bordering an autonomous, Palestinian majority Palestine, with neither under occupation or threat of invasion. Essentially, a two-state solution. This is the outcome currently desired by 60-70% of both Palestinians and Israelis.

2. A single, democratic state with a Palestinian majority that encompasses all of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. This is not a commonly discussed outcome now, but it is more possible down the road than most people think.

Neither side is perfect. In the first case, both states, Israel and Palsestine, would take a huge economic hit. Palestine, first of all, would suffer a major loss of economic infrastructure that Israel has provided for the past sixty years. And Israel would be crippled by the lack of service professionals, an industry which is largely manned by Palestinian workers. But I think that Bowers is correct that, if this two-state solution was somehow brokered, both sides would generally live in peace.

The second scenario seems most likely. The Palestinian population has been growing steadily for decades and it has been estimated that Palestinians will become the majority in Israel by 2040 or 2050. Banning Arab political organizations from the upcoming elections was a shameful decision for the Israeli government that symbolizes the rising dominance of Palestinians in Israeli elections. Whether or not you are pro-Israel, everyone can agree that deliberately disenfranchising voters is undemocratic, autocratic, and cruel.

Operating under the assumption that a one-state, one-vote-one-person solution is imminent, what can Israel do to engender a moderate Palestinian population, rather than a Hamas-controlled political organization that will seek revenge and perpetuate the cycle of violence that has plagued the middle east for centuries?

  1. Ceasefire Now. As the death toll rises, more Palestinians are rushing to the anti-Israel cause. And much of the international community no longer supports Israel.
  2. Begin legitimate peace talks with Fatah in the West Bank. And give Fatah more than might feel comfortable. If they are seen as the political party that is getting results for Palestinians, then many will flock to support Fatah. The fault with this argument is that many Palestinians are critical of Fatah simply because they are open to diplomacy with Israel. For some, pursuing peace means surrender. But if the Palestinian population sees some tangible benefits of working with Israel, then they might begin to support the more moderate Fatah.

We must remember that Hamas is not a political organization, it is a racist, terrorist organization. Clearly, that does not justify the slaughter in Gaza. But it makes the prospects of meeting with Hamas leaders more complicated. Hamas becoming a leader in the region – which could be the result of the Gaza invasion due to increased fervor against the Jewish state – would be a devastating blow to the future of Jews in Israel.

Jeffrey Goldberg writes in a Times op-ed about the difficulties securing a lasting peace with Hamas. They center on the fact that Hamas does not seek a compromise peace, they are looking for the elimination of the Jewish state. One Hamas leader said,

Allah changed disobedient Jews into apes and pigs, it is true, but he specifically said these apes and pigs did not have the ability to reproduce,” Mr. Rayyan said. “So it is not literally true that Jews today are descended from pigs and apes, but it is true that some of the ancestors of Jews were transformed into pigs and apes, and it is true that Allah continually makes the Jews pay for their crimes in many different ways. They are a cursed people.

Goldberg also writes,

The moderate Arab states, Europe, the United States and, mainly, Israel, must help Hamas’s enemy, Fatah, prepare the West Bank for real freedom, and then hope that the people of Gaza, vast numbers of whom are unsympathetic to Hamas, see the West Bank as an alternative to the squalid vision of Hassan Nasrallah and Nizar Rayyan.

He’s absolutely right. If Israel can begin a legitimate peace process with Fatah, based on a permanent ceasefire and tangible benefits for both sides, then Hamas will fall further and further into irrelevance. If it continues to kill hundreds of civilians, on the other hand, the anti-Israel, anti-Jew position will only grow stronger and seriously threaten the future of Jews in Israel.

UPDATE: Bin Laden calls for outright holy war over Gaza.

Three Steps Forward

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