Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit published a column this morning (Thursday) under the title: “I’m guilty”.
“The truth? I’m guilty. I’m the stupid and silly person who put the demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in the center of the public discourse. Don’t level accusations at Bibi [Netanyahu]. Don’t accuse any of the other champions of the cause for initiating it. Blame me: I’m the runaway offender.
I’m the criminal. I’m the irretrievable nationalist who believes deeply in a Jewish and democratic state,” Shavit writes.
The Haaretz writer recounts in the article that when he read the full text of the Oslo accords in September 1993 he was shocked and dismayed, as while Israel recognized the Palestinian nation and its legitimate rights, the Palestine Liberation Organization did not recognize the Jewish nation with its rights.
“In Basel [in the first Zionist congress] Hertzl started the Jewish state. In Lake Success [in 1947] the UN recognized the Jewish state, and in Oslo the Jewish state was forgotten.”
According to Shavit, the Israeli-Arab conflict is not a territorial one but an existential identity conflict, and that the only path to peace is a true partition and mutual recognition: two states for two peoples.
Shavit notes that his position that a solution to the conflict must include a recognition of the right to existence of a Jewish-democratic state has become the official policy of Israel.
Today this position has also been adopted by President Barack Obama, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and many others in the international community.
“Only when every Palestinian child in Dahaysha and Balata knows that there’s a Jewish nation that also has rights in this land will peace be possible.
Does the idea of a Jewish-democratic state perpetuate the occupation? On the contrary. Only when every boy in Ofakim and every girl in Migdal Haemek will understand that the partition of the land is necessary in order to guarantee the success of the Zionist endeavor, will the end of the occupation begin.
Is the idea of a Jewish state anti-democratic? On the contrary. In this fanatical and violent Middle East, only a Jewish state can be democratic, and only a democratic state can be Jewish.
“Israel must recognize the full and equal rights of all its citizens, but the world must recognize Israel’s right to be the home of a small, threatened, and persecuted nation.
Dear friends and colleagues, don’t speak ill of the Balfour declaration, the UN partition plan, the declaration of independence, or the right to exist of the Jewish state, the state of Israel,” Shavit writes further.
Former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon wrote in response to the article: “Ari Shavit is correct in his column.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict didn’t begin in 1967 and won’t end with the borders of 1967. Since the dawn of Zionism, there was not one Palestinian leadership, including the current one, that was willing to recognize our right to a Jewish national home in any borders, or too recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
“This is how the Palestinian Authority educates its young generation: to see Tel Aviv, Ashkelon and Netanya as settlements that must be liberated. This is the heart and the root of the conflict.”
Yaalon reminisced: “I too, upon learning the details of the Oslo accords, following its implementation, and seeing the PA textbooks, understood that the accords don’t signify a willingness by the PA to move to end the conflict but rather the opposite, a desire to continue the conflict from a more favorable position. Only when this point is internalized is the conflict understood.
And then it’s clear that it won’t be resolved anytime soon.
“Until then we can and must do a lot in interacting with the Palestinians for the welfare of both sides, but with no illusions or self-deception.”