Friday, May 6, 2011

Israel's Future

Dear Friend,
Yes, 20-25% of Israeli citizens are what are called "Palestinian Israelis". Second class, but living in Israel. They were original inhabitants of the land and were given permission to become citizens of the land. Suspected by Israelis of siding with Palestinians; suspected by Palestinians of siding with Israelis. Not a comfortable existence.

It is not often that the issue is spelled out simply and clearly. But Ahmed Moor is one of those persons.He gives his assessment of what is happening in Israel and where the future is leading. This article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle a few days ago. Thanks to the Palestinian Center for making it available.

From time to time, the Palestine Center distributes articles it believes will enhance understanding of the Palestinian political reality. The following article by Ahmed Moor was published by the San Francisco Chronicle on 4 May 2011.

"Israel's Future"
By Ahmed Moor

In an April 27 op-ed, Rabbi Doug Kahn accurately quoted me as having written that "ending the occupation doesn't mean anything if it doesn't mean upending the Jewish State itself." He did not take the line out of context, nor did he misrepresent what I intended to say; democracy in Palestine/Israel and the realization of full human and political rights there for Palestinians means the end of Jewish privilege in my birth country.

The conversation around the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is wrapped in a myth: That the Palestinians will one day have a viable state of their own in the West Bank and Gaza. The reality is that there will be no viable Palestinian state, ever. There are three main reasons for that:

First, the process of ethnic cleansing that created Israel and made my grandparents refugees in 1948 has not stopped. Israel continues to ethnically cleanse the West Bank and East Jerusalem of Palestinians to implant Jews in their place. There are now more than 500,000 Jewish colonists living in the midst of 3.5 million Palestinians. No one is going to remove these settlers from the lands their state has stolen for them.

Second, Israel relies on Palestinian water to survive. The Jewish state controls the mountain and coastal aquifers that sit under Palestinian land. Relinquishing control of those resources is not an option for any Israeli leader.

Finally, the Jordan Valley is too strategically important from a military perspective for Israel to withdraw from it. Israeli army regulars will always have a presence there. The Jordan Valley sits in the West Bank, which means that the Israeli army will always be in the West Bank.

There are more realities that bear on the question of whether the Jewish state will continue to exist.

Twenty-five percent of Israelis (not counting refugees like me in the Occupied Territories who don't have an Israeli passport or citizenship) are not Jewish. America is more Christian than Israel is Jewish. There are fewer African Americans proportionally in America than there are Palestinians in Israel. And all of those non-Jewish Israelis are having more children than the Jewish ones are.

In Israel, they call this the "demographic problem." I don't know how they propose to solve their demographic problem.

Today, there is numerical parity between Jews and Palestinians in the Holy Land. And since we Palestinians do not accept the argument that it was necessary to ethnically cleanse Palestine to establish a Jewish state, we are inconveniently calling for our rights.

The late Tony Judt described the Jewish state as an anachronism. Perhaps if Israel had been established in 1848 the indigenous population -- the Palestinians -- would have faded from view. But history had a different plan for the world's last colony.

Many of us in Palestine/Israel, including many non-Zionist Jews, are working toward real democracy in the country. I am confident that we will succeed in creating a race-blind society. Perhaps Rabbi Kahn will help us achieve our humanist goal.

Ahmed Moor is a graduate student in public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

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