David Samel responds to Joel Kovel’s recent posts on the site.
What if Israel decided tomorrow that it would pull out all illegal settlers and allow the Palestinians to form their own state on the 1967 borders without any adjustments? This is of course unbelievably far-fetched, but what if it happened? Then we would still have Israel, a Jewish State with about 80% Jewish and 20% non-Jewish population. Would the 20% be full-fledged citizens? Of course not. To take just one area, education, Jewish and non-Jewish students are educated separately, with much more funding per pupil and many more resources devoted to the Jewish students. If that differential were eliminated, we would have separate but equal education, the kind declared unconstitutional in the US in 1954. So there would have to be vast improvement, the kind Israel has been unable to muster in 61 years, to achieve educational "parity" that has been unlawful here for nearly as long.
To take another area, Jews may not marry non-Jews in Israel. That sort of prohibition was outlawed in the US in 1967. Employment, housing, social status? Those areas have no pretense of equality either. Of course, Israel could try to minimize the differences between its Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, although its track record in that regard should not make anyone optimistic for even the slightest improvement. The situation is awful and getting worse. But even if things turned around dramatically, such officially sanctioned discrimination could never be eliminated entirely. Non-Jews would never feel equal to Jews in the Jewish State, even if Israel made enormous progress that is so unlikely as to be virtually impossible.
How can we American Jews, who rightfully demand equality in the land of our birth and country of our citizenship, and demand the same for other US minorities as well, defend or even tolerate a system in which others are denied that same basic equality? This is especially true where this discriminatory policy favors Jews and is maintained in the name of Jews everywhere. I think that one state, in which all citizens are truly equal, is inevitable. If it is, we should strive to achieve it sooner rather than later, and as peacefully as possible. I’m not opposed to the two-state solution; if it is more feasible as a short-term goal, the Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel are in a far graver position and need of immediate relief. But this two-state solution should be temporary, even if it takes an extended period to evolve. Eventually, the world should and will lose its patience with a Jewish State that officially discriminates against those who have inconvenient or unfortunate ethnicity.
Israel and its defenders have done a remarkable job in disguising the true nature of the conflict. It is not between Jews who want to live in peace and Arabs who cannot stomach their presence. It is between those who insist on Jewish domination and superiority over others, and those who insist on a resolution based on true equality. If Israeli Jews extend the hand of friendship, mutual respect and equality, I think it would be eagerly grasped. If Israeli Jews want to continue to live there, free to believe and worship as they please with some measure of peace and security and normalcy, they have no choice. Like all people, they deserve this result, but will never achieve it if they insist on eternal rule over others.
David Samel is a criminal defense attorney in New York City.