LETTER: Israel belongs to Israelis, but what kind of nation will it be?

In response to Mr. Thalhofer’s letter on the Matisyahu concert (“Israel belongs to Israelis,” March 14), it should be pointed out that there is significant resistance within Israel, aside from ultra-orthodox groups, to the militarized settlement of the West Bank by Israeli settlers, and even greater resistance among Jews who live outside of Israel.

The concern arises from demographic realities, should Israel unilaterally decree the absorption of the entire West Bank. That is, higher birth rates among Palestinians living in that region — their ancestral home — means that the Israeli Jews would find themselves eventually outnumbered. Even today, although Arabs within Israel are free to pursue

professions as doctors, politicians and judges, they do not have equal rights alongside their Jewish compatriots. An op-ed piece in the New York Times on March 19 by Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, eloquently makes this case: Israel may remain a Jewish nation or a democratic one, but not both, which is the same argument made years ago by President Jimmy Carter in Peace Not Apartheid (2006). A two-state solution, which they both endorse, would resolve this issue by creating a Palestinian nation, as hard as that goal now appears.

Israel does indeed belong to the Israelis: the only question is what kind of nation it will be, and where its borders will lie. Borders are not set by military conquest or occupation, or we should have to recognize that Russia’s borders now extend to the Crimean peninsula and eastern Ukraine. The bloody history of the Arab-Israeli conflict is filled with well documented atrocities on both sides, but a humane and permanent solution can only be found by looking to a future of reconciliation and self-determination for both peoples rather than a pointless revisitation of past horrors.

— Peter Dorman

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