A portion of mankind... united among themselves by common sympathies which do not exist between them and any others – which make them cooperate with each other more willingly than with other people, desire to be under the same government, and desire that it should be government by themselves or a portion of themselves exclusively. – John Stuart Mill, On Representative Government
Yes, I know I have cited these excerpts before. Last March to be exact – see “The New York Times versus the Jews” and “Israel’s imperative: Jewish and democratic.” The difference is that then, I harnessed them to debunk far-left anti-Zionist calls for a one-state approach to the Israel- Palestinian conflict. Now it appears I have to invoke them to debunk rightwing proposals, which call for almost exactly the same thing.
End of times?
I realize this article will win me few new friends – and will in all likelihood lose me a fair number of old ones. However, the issues are so fateful and the ideas being bandied about to contend with them so lethally ludicrous, that the constraints of courtesy must be shed.
This is not a time for pussyfooting around the points of dispute. For some the proposals being raised by people I hold in high regard are so potentially disastrous, they must be removed forthwith from the agenda, before they have a chance to wreak the massive damage they are capable of.
One might be excused for believing we have arrived at the “End of times” when we see such far-reaching meeting of minds between rabid anti-Zionists on the radical Left and the fervent pro-Zionists on the hawkish Right.
When Omar Barghouti, who spearheads the anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions drive, and Tzipi Hotovely, one of the leading hardliners in the Likud, largely agree on the principle of one-state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, and differ only on the particulars of the characteristics that state should have, who can be blamed for believing the we have arrived at the era when “the wolf lives with the lamb, the leopard lies down with the goat.”
But this absurd situation is emerging before our very eyes – at an accelerated pace in recent weeks – when stalwart Zionists such as Hotovely, Yoram Ettinger, Caroline Glick and Uri Elitzur began to embrace a one-state future and the granting of citizenship to the Palestinian Arabs in Judea-Samaria.
So while I might have chosen a less abrasive title for the column, I really need to catch reader attention, even if this means incurring the ire of some of my (genuinely) esteemed colleagues.
Given the growing realization that the two-state approach has proved unfeasible in practice, and unacceptable in principle, the underlying rationale behind the growing acceptance of – or rather, resignation to – Palestinian inclusive “onestatism” appears to be rooted in three factors: (a) A dawning awareness that the status quo cannot be maintained indefinitely and some move toward a permanent resolution of the situation in Judea-Samaria is needed. Thus, Hotovely in an interview this week: “It makes no sense to leave this in the air for 45 years. [This] sends a message that we have no connection to these places.”
(b) A sense that the threat of international sanctions, particularly by the EU, is looming ever larger – first against the Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria and later against the rest of Israel. Thus, Hotovely warned that if there is no sign that the status quo will be changed, “we will pay the price through pressure and boycotts.”
(c) Adopting the optimistic demographic assessments spearheaded by the indefatigable Yoram Ettinger and based on studies by the American-Israel Demographic Research Group and Dr. Yakov Faitelson, which indicate that changes in prevailing trends ensure a Jewish majority between the Jordan and the Mediterranean for the foreseeable future.
Not merely demographic arithmetic
But even if one concedes the essential validity of these points, it does little to make the conclusions now being drawn by leading opponents of the two-state solution (TSS) to embrace a Palestinianinclusive one-state solution (PIOSS) any less catastrophic. For the problem is not merely one of “demographic arithmetic.”
One-staters – both on the Right and the Left – seem to miss the point when it comes to the essence of nationhood. A nation is more than a random amalgam of individuals, bound by no more than the accident of their current geographical location. As the opening excerpts from the works of leading liberal philosophers regarding the nature of nations, nationality and nationalism indicate, the most essential element of nationhood is a sense of fellow-feeling.
This is particularly true if one wishes to maintain democratic governance and free institutions. As John Stuart Mill cautions, without such fellow-feeling, “Free institutions are next to impossible... [and] the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist.”
Mill identifies the strongest components of this indispensable fellow-feeling as an “identity of political antecedents; the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections; collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past.”
Intolerable socioeconomic burden
Now take one given “incident in the past” – say the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
For Jewish Israelis this is a source of “pride” and “pleasure”; for the Arabs “humiliation” and “regret.”
Note this is not a marginal incident but a seminal event in the collective memory of the two groups. It is but one example of the dichotomous divide in antithetical attitudes that Jews and Arabs have in relation to a host of socio-cultural issues in the past and the present.
In light of such stark ethno-nationalist discordance, can anyone seriously propose a stable, functioning state, unless one group has overwhelming numerical dominance of the other? As the relative sizes of the discordant groups converge – even if the dominant one maintains its (dwindling) majority – the internal situation will become increasingly unmanageable, especially if there are large disparities in their socioeconomic conditions.
Once the Arab population of Judea- Samaria – or even a sizable portion thereof – is incorporated into Israel, massive resources will be required to address yawning gaps between the societies on either side of the 1967 Green Line in virtually every walk of life – in the status of women, law enforcement, welfare services, road safety, education and school curricula.
Economically, joining the two populations in common citizenship would catapult Israel backwards from the status of a developed nation to a “developing” one, jeopardizing its membership in the OECD, and, insensitive souls might claim, moving it from a post-modern society to a pre-modern one – with all the attendant repercussions for Jewish emigration (yerida).
So even if the most optimistic demographic prognoses are correct, providing the Arabs of Judea and Samaria with full citizenship would place an intolerable socioeconomic and cultural burden on the country which would make things untenable – even if a formal Jewish majority could be maintained.
Let me be clear. I commend Ettinger, Faitelson and their colleagues for their work, in persuasively showing that the demographic problem is less daunting and immediate than mainstream pundits would have us believe. However, their efforts, admirable as they are, do not imply that the demographic threat no longer exists, merely that there is time to deal with it in a measured manner.
Their findings do not make a PIOSS a viable political configuration that can sustain Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people for more than a few decades, at the outside.
Indeed, there are other figures that paint a far more ominous picture.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s Muslim population has almost doubled, as the proportion of the population, since independence – from just over 9 percent in 1949 to over 17% in 2011. The ratio of Jews to Muslims plunged from over 9 Jews to every Muslim to less than 4.5.
It should be recalled that this dismal decline was recorded despite the massive influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, without which the country’s demographic position would be perilous indeed.
Now if we were, as per the PIOSS advocates, to enfranchise the Arab population of Judea-Samaria, the percentage of Muslims in the overall population would climb to 30%-40%, depending on whose figures one cares to adopt. The ratio of Jews to Muslims would plummet to just over 2 or less.
Clearly the creation of such a large enfranchised minority – particularly if it is inherently adversarial to the majority – creates a whole new ball game, both domestically and abroad.
No hope for ‘Hatikva’?
The implications of these trends – even at a greatly decelerated pace – are as clear as they are calamitous for the future of the Jewish nation-state.
As long as the Jews comprise an overwhelming majority there is valid rationale for the existence of an entire range of elements that characterize the conduct of national and public life in the country, such as the Star of David on the flag; the menorah as the state emblem; the words of the national anthem that refer to the “yearning of the Jewish soul”; and the status of Hebrew as the dominant vehicle of communication among the citizens.
The same is true for “Judeo-centric” legislation such as the Law of Return granting any Jew immediate citizenship on immigrating to Israel.
However, as the non-Jewish proportion of the population rises, the justification for this is undermined. Indeed, it would be naïve to believe that this situation could be sustained. When non-Jewish minorities approach 30% and more, the logic for replacing “Hatikva” as the national anthem, in favor of a more inclusive composition, more representative of sentiments of other segments of the population, becomes difficult to resist.
A recent study published by the University of Haifa leaves little room for optimism. It found that a majority of Israeli Arabs would feel justified in launching an intifada as a means to improve their situation.
Now imagine how these findings would be impacted by more than doubling the enfranchised Arab population in the land. Indeed, Hotovely might well want to reconsider her statement that offering citizenship to Palestinian Authority Arabs would be “a small price to pay for ending the status quo which brings international criticism of Israel.”
The hard, cold truth
Sadly, even if their estimates are 100% correct, PIOSS advocates are “whistling the dark.” I have merely scratched the surface in cataloging the drawbacks of their perilous prescription. Indeed, the only thing more dangerous, delusional and disastrous than the Left’s TSS proposals, are the ones now being now bandied about by the Right.
The hard, cold truth is: To survive as the nation-state of the Jews, Israel must adequately address two imperatives: geographic and demographic.
While old school two-staters are willing to imperil Israel geographically to address the demographic imperative, budding one-staters are prepared to jeopardize it demographically to address the geographic imperative.
The only paradigm that addresses these imperatives simultaneously is one that entails a reduction of Arab presence west of the Jordan. The most plausible – arguably, the only – noncoercive manner to achieve this is by inducing economically incentivized emigration – as I have argued in numerous columns.
If Israel cannot produce leadership that understands this, and has the capacity to implement it, the days of the Zionist enterprise are numbered, and there is no hope of sustaining Israel as the nationstate of Jewish people beyond a few decades.
Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (www.strategic-israel.org)