Israel has a right to exist, say all but terrorists, and likewise Palestine. But, In what form? this NYT Opinionator piece asks. I have a thought on that.
On Questioning the Jewish State
By JOSEPH LEVINE
My view is that one really ought to question Israel’s right to exist and that doing so does not manifest anti-Semitism. The first step in questioning the principle, however, is to figure out what it means…The key to the interpretation is found in the crucial four words that are often tacked on to the phrase “Israel’s right to exist”—namely, “…as a Jewish state.”Ah, but what does that mean? What would be the alternative? And if not an alternative, then what?
I request that we keep it civil below. Anti-Semitism, Muslim bashing, and unsupported allegations of such are equally unacceptable here under house rules, and are to be HRed. Serious practitioners have been banned by the management. The Diarist stipulates the existence of various kinds of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian troublemakers in advance, and such facts are not to be brought up as accusations against commenters. If you can't abide by these courtesies, please stay out of it here. Go write your own Diary.
On the other hand, ten Jews, eleven opinions, for sure, and anybody else with anything that would help, or at least not make things worse. ^_^
I posted a comment on the NYT site beginning:
The Jewish Question remains as tangled a contention today as it has been for centuries, even millennia. Passions run high on more than two sides, and it is extremely difficult to discuss the issues with due regard for the rights and, as one says, the legitimate aspirations of all concerned. It is impossible to do it to the satisfaction of all concerned, but fortunately that is not required in order to consider possible solutions.
Joseph Levine is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he teaches and writes on philosophy of mind, metaphysics and political philosophy. He is the author of Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness.Here is the core of Levine's argument:
I will focus on the question of whether a people’s right to self-determination entails their right to a state of their own…let’s grant that Jews are a people. Well, if they are, and if with the status of a people comes the right to self-determination, why wouldn’t they have a right to live under a Jewish state in their homeland? The simple answer is because many non-Jews (rightfully) live there too.…I contend that insofar as the principle that all peoples have the right to self-determination entails the right to a state of their own, it can apply to peoples only in the civic sense.…But if the people who “own” the state in question are an ethnic sub-group of the citizenry, even if the vast majority, it constitutes a serious problem indeed, and this is precisely the situation of Israel as the Jewish state. Far from being a natural expression of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, it is in fact a violation of the right to self-determination of its non-Jewish (mainly Palestinian) citizens. It is a violation of a people’s right to self-determination to exclude them…I conclude, then, that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic, a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic.A good theoretical point, as is the continuation on the self-inflicted harm that this does to Israel, but can it be politically relevant? We have an officially Jewish state, among the officially Christian and Muslim and other religiously and ideologically defined countries of the world, and it isn't going to give itself up.
So what do we do?
I continued in response:
Neither a single Jewish nor a Muslim theocracy would be a solution in Israel/Palestine. Let us put them right out of our minds. What about two democratic theocracies, one under its current hybrid of Jewish and secular law, one under a hybrid of Shari'a and secular law, like Egypt today, side by side. That would be only a little better in the short term, even with a peace treaty between them, but I do not see that anything better has been proposed or would be considered seriously by the parties. (I omit discussion of the proposed Christian theocracy with its capital in Jerusalem, beloved of the Armageddonists whose intermediate goal is to provoke war and genocide in the region.)Armageddon—Now that's some serious anti-Semitism. Kill all the Muslims and almost all the Jews, and force the remnant to convert to Christianity.
We could then look forward to an evolution comparable to officially Catholic Eire (the Irish Republic) and mostly Protestant Ulster (Northern Ireland as a constituent of the United Kingdom). But as in Ireland, I see no way forward until outside money from the US as well as from Arab countries and Iran is taken out of the equation. Can a continuation of the Arab Spring help?
I'm not the one making that up.
There wasn't room in the NYT comment boxes for an exploration of the Arab Spring. Will democratization, women's rights, and improving economies result in less demonization of Jews in Muslim countries? How long will it take? Can it result in less support for terrorists? What would it take to undemonize Muslims in Israel? What is the Diarist smoking?
Do you have an idea for a better outcome, or a practical way to get to it? This is not a question about the last election in Israel, or the current makeup of the Knesset or the Cabinet, or about Hamas's position vs. the Palestinian Authority, or about anybody's current policies or lack thereof. It is a question about our goals in this process, particularly about what kinds of society a two-state I/P settlement might create there and in the region, and where we might go from there.
Theoretical and practical contributions on the desirability or otherwise of Jewish and Muslim states, as well as Christian countries and so on, are also on topic, particularly if any remedy can be suggested. Not mere rants, if possible.