The Comprehensive Guide to
The Truth about the Jewish State
In 2007, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, stated that Israel would require that as part of a final status agreement with the Palestinians, Israel would be recognized as the Jewish state. Since then, successive Israeli governments have accepted this position.
Until the release of this booklet, not only has Abbas not recognized Israel as a Jewish state, he has provocatively declared that even in a thousand years he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
- What does it mean, to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?
At its core, the term “Jewish state” refers not only to the religion of the state, but also to the nationality of the people. For 4,000 years, the Jewish people have always been a nation, a civilization, and a community that has chosen to anchor several basic aspects into our identity, such as the Jewish faith and values as well as the Hebrew language. Throughout history, Israel has been the Jewish state. It’s true, at several points in our history we were not the masters of our own land, but even so, the Jews never left. For over 3,000 years there has always been a Jewish presence within the modern-day borders of the State of Israel. Israel is to the Jewish people what France is to the French people, Ireland is to the Irish and Japan is to the Japanese.
- But why the insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as such? Is this a new ploy to torpedo peace?
The claim for Israel as a Jewish State is as old as the Jewish people themselves. Even in modern history, this claim can’t be called new. We determined ourselves to be a Jewish state in our Declaration of Independence in May 1948. This was also based on international recognition of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947, which decided to partition the land of Israel, renamed by the Romans in the 2nd century to Palestine, into an Arab state and a Jewish state. Also, within the principle of reciprocity, just as we have accepted the right of the Palestinians for self-determination, they must also accept our right. This is more than just religious connotation, it is our identity, our history.
- Some say that it is anachronistic to characterize modern states based on religious lines?
As emphasized before, Judaism is not just a religion, but also the foundation of our nationality, ethnicity, values, tradition and way of life. Indeed, it stands at the basis of the very core of our identity. And by the way, there are many countries and nations around the world which are based on Christianity, such as Argentina, Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal, Poland, and England, not to mention Islamic states, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
- Will determining Israel as a Jewish state infringe upon the rights of the Arab-Israeli minority within Israel’s borders?
Absolutely not. Our democratic values and conduct, as laid down in the Declaration of Independence, affirm and guarantee full religious freedoms and rights to all Israeli citizens, regardless of who they are or where they came from. Just as Muslims, Christians and Jews live today in Christian or Muslim states, there is no exception in this instance, no reason why Muslims and Christians would not be able to live in a Jewish state, enjoying full rights and opportunities, as they have been since the reestablishment of the Israel as a modern state in 1948.
- Is the demand for Israel as a Jewish state based only on moral issues?
Certainly, moral issues play a prominent role, but this demand also has important strategic and political value. Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state will put an end to their claims over the land of Israel, not just over Judea and Samaria, but also their claims over the Galilee, the Negev, Haifa and Tel Aviv. Palestinian recognition should be made specifically in Arabic, so the curriculum the Palestinian and Arab children are taught will reflect this new state of affairs, the end of conflict, end of claims and real peace based on historic reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
- Even so, why a Jewish state, and not, for instance, one state for two peoples? Why can’t Palestinians and Israelis live side by side?
Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side, in peace and security, like any other neighboring states, separated by clear borders and mutual recognition. History proves that two peoples with a history of conflict must not be forced together within the artificial confines of one state, which will only lead to bloodshed and atrocities, seen in places such as Sudan, Bosnia, and Kashmir.
A bi-national state is now de-facto an obsolete term in international diplomacy. We see that all such states have ended in fiascos. Examples include the breakup of the USSR, the breakup of Yugoslavia and its return to its original member states, Czechoslovakia splitting into Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and Sudan splitting into Sudan and South Sudan. Forcing two different peoples, identities and cultures together just does not work. Even the Flemish and Walloons of Belgium, as well as the Catalonians in Spain, are considering separation. Bi-nationalism is a threat to Israel as a Jewish state.