By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
The ambition in many quarters in Israel is that now when the peace process is going nowhere and the Oslo Accords are falling apart, we should abandon the idea of a two-state solution and work towards one state with a Jewish majority. With the help of the high birth-rate among the ultra-Orthodox and anti-Semitism in Europe that brings more Jews to the Jewish state, Israel would be able to retain its Jewish majority.
Part of the ambition is that by giving Palestinians more economic incentives and perhaps some further social integration they’ll adjust to living in a Jewish state, at least as much as the many, though by no means all, of Israel’s Arab citizens seem to have done.
Palestinians who also have a one-state ambition: their return to all of Israel that they consider as their homeland and which Jews call the Land of Israel. They would be prepared to live with a Jewish minority in a Palestinian Muslim state.
Coupled with the ambition is the myth of a united Jerusalem that Jews like to describe as Israel’s eternal capital and Palestinians see it as their city.
The acts of terror offer a horrible illustration of what would become regular occurrences in the one-state. As hard as it may be to defend a border with enemies on the other side, it’s well-nigh impossible to live in a country where the enemy is your next-door neighbour.
That’s why Israeli politicians who mouth the “undivided Jerusalem” mantra now also want, ostensibly for security reasons, to seal off East Jerusalem and its Arab population from the largely Jewish side of the city thereby exploding the myth of one Jerusalem. They don’t seem to see or acknowledge the contradiction between their ideology and their security demands.
Jerusalem may have been formally united in the eyes of Israel, but in reality it’s not one city. All the terrorists in the capital and elsewhere in the land have come from Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem. So much for full integration.
Responsible and sensible politicians would read the signs and decide that as bad as they think it’s to have two states living side by side, the alternative is much worse. In a sane world, the present situation would prompt the leaders of Palestine and Israel to come together, hold their noses if necessary and agree on permanent borders also in Jerusalem, perhaps to start with under international supervision.
But the politicians in power on both sides do the very opposite. They hurl accusations at each other with the usual “arguments” and “proofs.” Israel is said to have asked the members of the so-called Quartet the task of which is to promote peace in the region not to come just now. What harm would they have done by being here and talking to both sides?
There’s no evidence that the Palestinians are more interested in international intervention beyond using its forums for grandstanding and flag waving accompanied by meaningless threats to take Israel to the International Criminal Court for killing terrorists before they can kill more Israelis or inflict further damage.
It’s not too difficult to describe the problems, even to point to possible solutions. But it seems impossible to make politicians act in the interest of their people instead of holding on to irrelevant and harmful ideologies.