The desire to exist and how legitimate this may be.
This week’s Economist once again provides me with a source of inspiration. It seems that it always has one article or another that gives me the desire to write a reply, a comment, or give my opinion. In fact, this is how I got the idea for the blog so I suppose it’s a good thing I give it some credit.
In it, there is a book review of a book written by two Israeli academics, in defense of Zionism. Now as I have mentioned before, I find it hard to take a side on the topic of the Arab-Israeli conflict, given to the many friends I have on both sides, and my positive experience whilst traveling in Israel. Nevertheless, I still have an opinion on the state of Israel and it’s existence. The Economist’s opening line (or near enough), is: “Is it really necessary, 60 years after Israel’s birth, to argue the Zionist case all over again?” And I have to ask myself the same question: is it?
The fact of the matter is, yes Europe did indeed mess up very badly. Not only did we have mandates over the African and Middle Eastern countries but we carved them up and divided them along artificial lines. During the Second World War the Jews were persecuted by Hitler and the Nazis and suffered from the Holocaust. Later, we tried to turn both camps against each other, as for example in 1956 during the Suez crisis. And finally, we changed our minds so often about who we backed that we gave them cause to doubt us. I will agree, Europe is at fault and has committed errors. But we are now several generations down the line and in my opinion these arguments are starting to lose their credibility.
The fact that a friend of mine’s grandfather may have been persecuted by one of my grandparents has nothing to do with our relationship today. I wasn’t there at the time, neither was my friend. We are friends we are not persecuting one another, or at war with each other, so why bring up this argument? The further down the line we go and the further away we will get from the past events so that none of the future generations will even have any reminiscence of what happened. And then what? How does one justify the existence of the state of Israel then?
Zionism and the necessity to create a Jewish state raises a few problems. I am not against the idea of the Jews having a place to live, a homeland. Nor am I against Israel. But what I do find problematic is creating a state in the name of, or under the banner of religion. For me, herein lies the fundamental problem of the state of Israel. Not that the Jews came and lived in Palestine, but in the fact that one cannot create a state based on religion. In no other country in the world do you find a state created by and for only one religion. Europe is not solely Christian and therefore for Christians only. Neither is Morocco or Egypt solely Muslim. How is it that Israel is only Jewish? It is not so much a question of race than a question of religion, and this is bound to cause problems.
The Jews, as any other people or religion, have the right to settle anywhere they like, this is not being called into question. But suddenly claiming a land that was previously inhabited by several races and religions for oneself is wrong. I disagree with this idea, and I disagree with continuing it, particularly considering the reasons I mentioned above. Granting the right of return to most people of Jewish origin is absolutely incredible! Just imagine how many people that makes. How many of those are going to fit into that tiny strip of land? Let alone without counting the Palestinian Territories. And how can one apply the right of return to oneself, whilst denying it to the Palestinians?
Herein lies what I believe to be Israel’s fundamental problem, difficulty, or hurdle however you may call it. Yet I would not go so far as to call it apartheid either.
Apologies for referencing wikipedia but it is hard to find an online reference that actually explains the Israeli right of return rather than debates it.