FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

On the Jewish State of Israel

by JOHN V. WHITBECK

 Paris. 

News reports continue to suggest that one of the primary roadblocks to any agreement in the current round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is the understandable Palestinian refusal to accept the Israeli demand that Palestine explicitly recognize Israel as a “Jewish State” – a legally and intellectually bizarre demand clearly intended to make any agreement impossible while facilitating Israel’s post-failure public relations campaign to assign to the occupied Palestinians responsibility for Israel’s latest success in producing failure.

Palestinian acceptance of this Israeli demand would constitute explicit Palestinian acquiescence in permanent second-class status for Palestinian citizens of Israel and in the liquidation of the rights of millions of Palestinian refugees, as well as implicit Palestinian acceptance that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was morally justified, which in turn would require conceding that Palestinians are sub-humans not entitled to fundamental human rights.

No Palestinian leadership could accept this demand and survive. Israelis know that. That is why the demand is being made.

While few anticipate that the current round of negotiations (which, according to Israeli press reports, Benjamin Netanyahu now wants to extend for a further year beyond their end-April deadline so as to kill more time while building more settlements) will produce anything, the State of Palestine could and should take constructive action now to disarm the “Jewish State” gambit, which the Israeli prime minister appears to view as his best hope for shifting blame, at least in Western eyes, to the Palestinians.

The State of Palestine could and should reiterate that Israel’s self-identification is a matter for Israelis (not Palestinians) to decide and then publicly announce that, should Israel choose to change its official name from “State of Israel” to “Jewish State of Israel”, the State of Palestine, while preferring democracy as a matter of principle and hoping that Israel will in the future become a fully democratic state, according equal rights, without any discrimination based on race or religion, to all its citizens, would persist in its efforts to end the Israeli occupation of the State of Palestine and would enter into any agreements which might subsequently be reached with the relabeled Jewish State of Israel.

Subject only to the one exception noted below, all states are free to determine and embellish their “official names” as they please.

There are four official “Islamic Republics”, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Some official names are eccentric, such as the Oriental Republic of Uruguay (so named because the country is located on the eastern side of the Uruguay River) and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (so named, relatively recently, because Simon Bolivar was Hugo Chavez’s personal hero).

Some official names are counterintuitive to the point of absurdity, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea … or, potentially, the “Jewish and Democratic State of Israel”.

Two official names suggest a status akin to family-owned businesses, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (the Hashemite ruling family of the Hejaz having been driven out of their ancestral fief by the all-conquering Al-Saud family from Nejd and subsequently accorded territorial consolation prizes by their former Western allies while the Al-Saud affixed their family name to Arabia).

In one case, a state’s official name has been imposed on it by the United Nations as a condition for UN membership and is rejected and not used by the state itself – the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, which prefers to call itself the “Republic of Macedonia” but whose right to use the name “Macedonia” is disputed by Greece.

By choice, the Republic of Moldova and the State of Palestine are listed in the UN’s alphabetical listings among the R’s and S’s, respectively, while the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is, involuntarily, listed among the F’s. If a relabeled Jewish State of Israel wished to emphasize its Jewish character by being listed among the J’s (as the State of Palestine has emphasized its state status by being listed among the S’s), its wish would presumably be granted.

If formalizing the status of Israel as a “Jewish State” were a genuine concern of the Israeli government or a deeply felt need of the Israeli people, and not simply a cynical gambit to achieve and excuse failure in negotiations, and if the Israeli government wished to proclaim this status officially to the world, the road is open and nothing is stopping Israel from achieving this on its own. However, Israel’s preferred self-identification and official name are not matters in which the State of Palestine has any role to play.

If the Israeli government does not dare to proclaim its state officially “Jewish” (and accept the concomitant risks of doing so), how can it demand that those whose country has been conquered and colonized, and whose people have been dispossessed and dispersed, to make the State of Israel possible do so on its behalf?

Whether or not the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has any hope (or fear) that the current round of negotiations will produce anything, it should make the artificiality of the Israeli government’s demand and the reasonableness of the Palestinian refusal to accept it emphatically clear, in terms that the international community, and particularly Western governments and peoples, can understand.

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

 

 

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who as advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Invisible Epidemic: Radiation and Rising Rates of Thyroid Cancer
Andre Vltchek
Europe is Built on Corpses and Plunder
Jack Smith
Obama Readies to Fight in Libya, Again
Robert Fantina
As Goes Iowa, So Goes the Nation?
Dean Baker
Market Turmoil, the Fed and the Presidential Election
John Grant
Israel Moves to Check Its Artists
John Wight
Who Was Cecil Rhodes?
David Macaray
Will There Ever Be Anyone Better Than Bernie Sanders?
Christopher Brauchli
Suffer Little Children: From Brazil to Flint
JP Sottile
Did Fox News Help the GOP Establishment Get Its Groove Back?
Binoy Kampmark
Legalizing Cruelties: the Australian High Court and Indefinite Offshore Detention
John Feffer
Wrestling With Iran
Rob Prince – Ibrahim Kazerooni
Syria Again
Louisa Willcox
Park Service Finally Stands Up for Grizzlies and Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail