Thursday, June 24, 2010

No future for a Jewish minority in Palestine

Jewish settler being evicted (Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Palestinians of the West Bank may be moving towards declaring their own state, but could Jews continue to live there? Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Amiel Ungar balefully concludes that remaining Jews would be condemning themselves to harassment and martyrdom. The treatment of Palestinian Christians, and Jews in Arab countries, sets a worrying precedent. But why would Israel ever allow a new hostile Arab state on its doorstep?

The fear of serious resistance to expulsion orders also accounts for the renewed interest in a solution that leaves many Jewish communities within a Palestinian state. It will require the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria to make a Hobbesian choice between principle and peril.

The principled and patriotic decision would be for the communities to remain in place. Jewish “sumud” (steadfastness) will demonstrate to the Arabs that Jews are not latter day Crusaders – an alien entity – but are motivated by their religious and historical link to the land of their forefathers.

The sages in the Talmud, perhaps observing a similar predicament in their era, opined that it is preferable for a Jew to live in the land of Israel even in a city with a non-Jewish majority than to live outside it in an ancient version of Borough Park in Brooklyn.

It is also a matter of simple reciprocity. If an Israeli state can be expected to host an Arab minority approaching 20 percent, then a neighboring Palestinian state can be expected to do the same for Jewish communities rather than emptying its territory of Jews.

Unfortunately, the issue of principle clashes seriously with the perilous reality on the ground.

There are no prospects whatsoever that would allow a Jewish minority in a Palestinian state to survive and prosper. Jews electing to remain will consign themselves to suffering and probably martyrdom.

And martyrdom in Judaism is a last resort, not the preferred option.

The benign treatment accorded British nationals in the Republic of Ireland once that country had attained its independence will not be revisited in a future Palestine. Observe the fate of Jewish communities throughout the Arab world, where even the minuscule remnants of the Yemenite Jewish community face persecution and mortal danger.

One can also extrapolate from the dwindling Arab Christian communities: persecution by the Muslim majority has made emigration the preferred option; Bethlehem, once a symbol of Arab Christianity, is effectively a Muslim town. If this is the treatment accorded people who share a similar culture and speak the same language, can Jews expect greater benevolence? A newly independent Palestine can be expected to honor Jewish minority rights at best on the level that newly independent Poland adhered to the provisions of the League of Nations minority treaty – i.e., it will ignore them totally. The Kingdom of Jordan imposes a death penalty on anyone convicted of selling land to Jews. In Israel, by contrast, when the chief Rabbi of Safed exhorted Jews not to sell houses to Arabs, the Israeli legal system came down upon him like a ton of bricks.

Read article in full


at the edge said...

"But why would Israel ever allow a new hostile Arab state on its doorstep?"

Because of dimwitted policemen as in the picture.

David Schraub said...

Presumably because the only democratic alternative is the abolishment of Israel as a Jewish state.

In any event, I think even from a principled angle Jewish settlers only have a right to live in areas of the West Bank that were public land when the settlement was built. Settlers who currently reside on private Palestinian land can and will be evicted as trespassers, and there is no particularly compelling principle why they should be exempt from the straightforward application of property law (there isn't a particularly compelling principle we they shouldn't be evicted right now from settlements which occupy private Palestinian land, for that matter). The settlers who do live on (formerly) public land should have the option to stay in their homes, so long as they accede to being part of a new Palestinian state.

bataween said...

Most of the settlements were built on Ottoman miri (public) land. Anyone who has been to the West Bank will know that it is arid Judean desert. The argument for an Arab Palestinian state has always been demographic - that if Israel annexed the WB - and under the San Remo treaty Jews have the perfectly legitimate right to close settlement West of the Jordan - it would be obliged to give the vote to the locals who would soon outnumber Jewish Israelis.However, recent surveys have chosen that the Palestinians wildly exaggerated their population statistics, and Jews are in a majority between the river and the sea. However, we don't know for how much longer.

David Schraub said...

That's all fine -- I honestly couldn't care less about the relative statistics. Israeli settlers on public land can stay. Israeli settlers on private land should be be evicted. If Israel wants to keep the land in perpetuity, it needs to give all residents therein equal democratic rights. If it doesn't want to do that, then another state has to be created.

bataween said...

You are mixing two different things here, David.There is the demographic argument - as you say, the residents need to be given democratic rights if Israel annexes the territory. But there is also the legitimacy argument - its not an argument we hear much of - but Israel is entitled according to the League of Nationas mandate for Palestine to settle the land.
(Jews owned land in the West Bank before 1948, but Israel has made no claims for it.)
In this case Israel forfeits the latter right in order to ensure that Israel remains a Jewish state - in theory.
This much even the Netanyahu govt is now willing to concede. But Israel cannot afford a hostile state which will start lobbing rockets at Israel, so the new state cannot ever be militarised. A barometer of the state's hostility is the way it treats its Christian and potentially Jewish minority, and here the signs are not good.

at the edge said...

We don't need a democratic alternative, David. Israel is not like any other "democratic" country. It's a JEWISH country, for Jews. Get it? And don't call Jews "settlers", just call them Jews. If you want to belong and speak like the Meretz party, or other leftists party, you're a minority , and also trying to destroy Israel. If you doubt that this country is for Jew and only Jews, read your bible.