Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie is the President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism.
- 2.The Jewish Problem - From anti-Judaism to anti-SemitismWed Aug 27, 2014
Thu,Aug 28,2014 2 Elul 5774
American Jews don’t realize it yet, but they will be spending much more of their time responding to what I refer to as the “Glick-Abbas proposal” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Abbas in question is not Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, but his son, Tareq, a 48-year-old Palestinian businessman from Ramallah. In an interview in the New York Times on March 18, the younger Abbas said that he has given up on his father’s dream of a two-state solution.
Believing that Israeli intransigence makes it impossible for the negotiations to succeed, he wants a single state in which Jews and Arabs would all be citizens with equal rights. “If you don’t want to give me independence, at least give me civil rights,” Mr. Abbas said. And the article includes polling data to show that a third of Palestinians agree with him, with growing support among the young.
A similar proposal has been put forward by Caroline B. Glick, a senior contributing editor of this newspaper, in her new book, “The Israeli One-State Plan.” Glick writes a combative column for the Post, and is well-known to the American Jewish community for her take-no-prisoners approach. She regularly attacks Israeli and American leftists with unrestrained delight, displaying an almost gleeful contempt for everything connected to the Obama Administration.
Glick and Abbas the Younger did not coordinate their proposals, and neither would be happy to be included in the company of the other. Still, the ideas they put forward are largely the same: They both want a single, democratic state for Israelis and Palestinians. And the support they express is a reminder of how serious the one-state idea could become, on both sides of the political divide.
For Jews, Glick’s ideas will be the focus of attention. While she has been promoting a single state for years, her book is her first effort to set out a comprehensive proposal. I am pleased that she wrote the book, even though I hardly ever agree with anything that she writes. Her conclusions don’t make sense, but along the way she has some interesting things to say.
The Glick book is important, in particular, because it demolishes the validity of much rightwing thinking on foreign policy. The leader of “mainstream Likud” in the Netanyahu government is Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. In a lengthy interview recently with Israeli TV’s “Meet the Press,” Yaalon proclaimed that there is no solution to the conflict with the Palestinians and that Israel must be prepared to live with current realities for the indefinite future.
Wrong, says Glick. She asserts that the current situation is not tenable over the long term, and both Arabs and Jews have the right to expect to be governed by a democratic, civilian government. She calls for democracy, civil rights, and a multicultural society.
And what of Netanyahu’s view that the goal is a two-state solution but settlement building must continue? Illogical, says Glick. Why are Jews building there if Judea and Samaria are to be part of a Palestinian state? And if the land doesn’t belong to Israel, why should Jewish needs—including security requirements—trump the Palestinians’ national rights? On all of this, Tareq Abbas would surely agree.
After defining the problems of the current situation, Glick offers a solution. Apply Israeli law to the West Bank, she proposes, and offer Israeli citizenship to West Bank residents. After all, she claims, Jews have stronger claims to the land than do the Palestinians.
But it is at this point that the Glick proposal falls apart, and that Glick and Abbas part ways. Abbas and other Palestinians assume that the large Arab minority will soon grow into a near-majority, leading to a bi-national reality. But Glick assumes the opposite. Relying on rightwing demographers more concerned with politics than with science, she argues that there are not 2.3-2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank; there are only 1.6 million. Therefore, the Jews need not worry. A Jewish majority is assured.
On one level, Glick’s presentation has more integrity than we often hear from the right. She lays out with impressive clarity the contradictions of current rightwing thinking, and she demonstrates a willingness to live with a large Arab minority in a democratic Jewish state. In a world of rightwing double-speak, that is something. But her demographics are straight out of never-never land, and her politics are totally divorced from reality. She assumes that a policy of annexation would be gradually accepted, or at least not actively rejected, by both the Arab world and the West, and that most Israelis support the one-state concept; yet there is not a smidgen of evidence for either proposition.
That is why so many of us hope that, somehow, John Kerry will succeed, or some other route will befound to a two-state solution. Because Glick is right about this: The current reality is untenable. And if two states are not the answer, then she and Abbas may end up with the single state that she champions.
The problem is that it will not be, as she hopes, a multicultural society dominated by Jews. It will be an arena where two peoples, deeply divided by religion, culture and history, live out a bi-national nightmare.