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April 28, 2009
Two separate states; two separate peoples
On the eve of Israel's 61st anniversary, preceded first by Memorial Day, the country remembers its citizen soldiers who sacrificed their lives to make it possible. This is followed immediately by Independence Day celebrations (in Judaism, joy and sorrow are linked). Guy Bechor, writing in Y Net News, an online version of one of Israel's largest papers, makes certain demands and asks hard questions of Israel's Arab/Muslim enemies--and by extension all those who criticize and question the existence of a Jewish state.
Agreeing with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's basic formulation of "two states for two peoples," Bechor argues that denying Israel is the land of the Jewish people is bigotry, and the Arabs, Muslims and others who cannot accept this are basically racist and must face the ugly facts about themselves before there can be any movement towards real peace.
The need to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or as the Jewish people's state will force the Arabs to make a decision, look at Israel, and understand what it's all about. Is there a Jewish people? Most Arab community leaders would say: Not at all, just like Mahmoud Abbas or Saeb Erekat believe; at most, there is a Jewish religion, and perhaps Jewish culture. However, in order to get their own state, they will have to recognize this people, its identity, and its national movement - that is, Zionism. They will have to start to truly take interest in it, in reality and not in the world of illusions.
This is what the slogan "two states for two peoples" is all about. Yes, the Jewish people is also a nation, and the Arabs will have to accept it, without the compromises of the failed Oslo Accord. For that reason, Israel must insist at any price on both sides of the equation, as Prime Minister Netanyahu is wisely doing at this time.
Netanyahu is finally forcing those Muslims, who claim to seek peace but want still yet another land of their own (there are 22 Muslim and/or Arab countries) while refusing Jews the same right, they should make some solid moves toward that goal instead of making airy--and easily breakable--promises. If they are unable to do so minimally they don't want peace, they don't want their own state.
Their response, as Israel celebrates its independence, will be instructive.