Commentary
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What began in September as hope for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine has fizzled. Palestinians will not negotiate while Israel builds settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, which in international law are occupied territory; Israel will not extend the “moratorium” on construction, during which Israel continued to build settlements and segregated highways and to demolish Palestinian homes.

The United States offered Israel concessions to renew the moratorium, but Mr. Netanyahu proposed a law demanding that all would-be Israeli citizens, including Israeli Arabs (20 percent of Israel’s population), swear allegiance to Israel specifically as a Jewish state—in effect, a forced commitment to beliefs they do not hold. Now Palestinians should consider alternatives. Should they unilaterally declare themselves a state and ask for U.S./U.N. recognition? Merge with Jordan? As the situation deteriorates, it is time for new ideas.

Hostility throughout the Arab world and within Israel mounts. Even if the West Bank and Gaza were to become a state, settlers already in place would refuse to budge. As Hanan Ashrawi, a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said to The Washington Post, “How can you have a two-state solution if you are eating up the land of the other state?”

Many Israelis, particularly in Tel Aviv, distracted by prosperity, seem not to realize that within a few years an Arab majority will emerge and “Greater Israel” (Israel, West Bank and Gaza) will not be Jewish. If Arabs are not given full citizenship rights, Israel will not be a democracy either.

In this context, Israel must choose. It must either: (a) dismantle the settlements and return to the 1967 borders; (b) try to remain in the occupied territory as a ruling minority, which is in effect apartheid; or (c) drive out the Arab population, which would be ethnic cleansing.

But Israelis might also consider an alternative, one with roots in history and recently developed by Jewish, American and Palestinian intellectuals: a one-state solution.

A nation state built around one religion might have worked in the unique, post-Holocaust context of the years after World War II; but today Israelis must ask, Has the idea of an ethnic state become an anachronism? Furthermore, a pre-historical promise to Abraham of a land for his descendants does not give any 21st-century ethnic or religious group a legal right in modern international law to a particular territory.

Once there was a “Christian Europe.” But today’s great Western cities—London, New York, Paris, Geneva—teem with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus: people of every land and color. Israel’s self-definition as a one-religion state sealed off by a 28-foot-high wall, a network of settlements and segregated highways, projects an image that is disturbing to many, including younger generations of American Jews alienated by Israel’s policies. Palestine has always had a multi-ethnic identity; and early Zionists, including Hannah Arendt and Martin Buber, saw Palestine as a spiritual center promoting Jewish culture, not as a nation state.

A plan for a single-state solution might include the following: (1) With Belgium and Switzerland as models, a new constitution would set up either a binational state or one unified with a one-person-one-vote structure. (2) With its combined army and police forces, the more secure state of Israel-Palestine would join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (3) A law of return would apply in some way to both Jews and Arabs. (4) A new school curriculum would teach accurate history to both peoples. (5) A truth and reconciliation commission would be set up.

Look at the map. Erase the lines setting off the West Bank and Gaza; imagine highways connecting the whole territory with Jerusalem, the shared capital. Every citizen has the same right to vote, the same access to water, land, education, marriage, health care, employment, property, and freedom of speech and religion. Walls disappear. Settlements may remain, but Palestinians will build beside them. An emerging leadership class will shepherd Israel-Palestine into a peaceful future. The Jews are a gifted, energetic people. Even if in the future they become a numerical minority in Israel-Palestine, they will still demonstrate leadership in the new Promised Land.

About 25 years ago, when I was swimming in the Dead Sea, two young men who saw my camera asked me to take their picture. As I wrote down their address to send them the shot, I couldn’t help asking, “Are you Israelis or Arabs?”

They replied: “What difference does it make? We are all brothers.” Where are they now?

To read this article in Spanish click here.

Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., is an associate editor of America.

Comments

2726068 | 11/26/2010 - 10:24pm
I applaud Raymond Schroth, S.J. for his humane and practical vision "Two Peoples, One State." The people living in the Holy Land had the natural right of self-determination after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.  Certainly the refugees have the right to return according to international law and exercise their right to self-determination now.  In the meantime, home demolitions, the military occupation, the checkpoints, the siege of Gaza etc. must cease immediately.  We cannot give aid of any kind to nations who are violating human rights or international law.  If needed, a U.N. Peace-keeping Force can keep order until details are worked out.
David Peters | 11/24/2010 - 12:44am

 Fr. Schroth betrays his ignorance and his biases in the first two paragraphs of this panegyric to deligitimization, and it goes downhill from there.  Where he does not twist facts, he misrepresents the reality of the situation. Truly a tribute to Jesuit integrity of scholarship. Of course, he will not speak of the time (early 20th Century) when the Society of Jesus checked for purity of blood (that relic of the Inquisition, Limpieza de Sangre) in its applicants to make sure there would be no former or descended Jews in their midst.


 To say that the new law requires all citizens to swear allegiance to Judaism as the state religion is a falsehood. The proposed law would require them to acknowledge the Jewish and Democratic nature of Israel. It would only apply to new citizens receiving citizenship, including Jews under the Law of Return. What about the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Countries, where Islam is enshrined as the national religion (insofar as Islam permits nations)? What about France, that expects all new citizens to become French, or Germany that is finally realizing that multiculturalism is a recipe for social conflict, or Belgium, that counters its own tendencies to divide by accusing Israel? I could continue, but beating this dead horse has lost its appeal. It seems that when it comes to the Jews, the issue is so unique that it must be condemned, out of hand.


 To criticize Israel for building a barrier to protect its citizens from terror attacks is akin to saying that Jews should not have the right to defend themselves. Of course, he conveniently forgets the long stretches of the Green Line that have no barrier (because terrorists would have to walk too far). Obviously, if Jews seek to not be killed, they should be forthrightly condemned for their effrontery.  By the way, the segregated highways apply to Israelis as opposed to Palestinians. Arab Israelis travel to Nablus constantly, to shop in the stores and malls. Those highways that were restricted had been used by terrorists to mount ambushes on Israeli vehicles (and they attacked Arab as well as Jewish Israelis).


 By the way, the demographic argument is skewed by Palestinian figures, which have consistently overestimated their population, in much the same manner as the UNRWA refugee rolls have never been cleared; the dead remain among the living and the émigrés have never left. Of course, it is much easier to ignore the rapidly declining numbers of Christians in the Palestinian Authority areas, because to ask why their population has dropped would involve acknowledging Muslim oppression, and, of course, a good Dhimmi cannot do that (ask Hanan Ashrawi).


 Even my lapsed Catholic, erstwhile altar-boy stepfather would have seen this for what it is: an Anti-Semitic screed masquerading as support for Palestinians. My Mother always said there were two groups of educated clergy in the world: Rabbis and Jesuits. Had she met this one, she would have qualified her opinion. (To be fair, I never told her about some Rabbis who would have demolished her illusion completely.)

Nadia Shkolnik | 11/15/2010 - 3:50pm

I felt very appalled by reading this article. Mr. Schroth absolutely ignores the fact that so many fellow Christians suffer from Muslim hate in Middle East: Christians are denied basic right to worship, constantly attacked, killed and churches are burnt.


Even in Israel, the majority of sacred Christian places are still kept in order only because it did not fail into hands of Palestinians. Palestinian terroristic organizations, such as Hamas,   see all non-Muslims as infidels fitted to be destroyed. We have to be thankful for Israelis that they kept the sacred places and kept fellow Christians safe.


By this article Mr. Schroth publicly voices his loud support for further growth of Christian suffering and destruction on Middle East. It is clear, that if Israel will fail into Palestinian hands, all the Christian sacred places will be destroyed and Christians would never have access to those places.  At the time when the entire world begins to realize that we are in grave danger form Militant Islamists, Mr. Schroth loudly supports terror against Christians and Jews. One begins to wonder what are his real goals?  

Peter Reichard | 11/12/2010 - 2:38pm
Let's get to the crux of the matter. It might be impossible for a serious Catholic to take a significantly different position from Fr. Schroth on Israel,  for two reasons.

Number 1: Christ called his followers to radical forgiveness. Laughing off the virtue of loving your friends, he said true human evolution lies in finding out how to love your enemies.

Number 2: St. Paul demanded that the first Christians embrace a universalism - a catholicism - that goes beyond tribal differences.

Therefore, a Catholic view of Israel is by nature one that says: Forgive each other and find a way share this thing you both value so much. Is that too naive? Yes, maybe so. But it is what it is. Take it or leave it. I think all he is saying, ahem, is give peace a chance.
 
As to the question many posters asked, why Israel should be held to a higher standard than what we would expect of violent, radical Islamists - well, I think the question answers itself.
Howard | 11/12/2010 - 1:22pm
Father Schroth:  You may be partially right about "solutions" for the Middle East in some future time.  Right now, Israel is surrounded by more than a dozen hostile states who define themselves as Arab or Moslem, or both. They don't recogtnize Israel's right to exist, and some openly call for its destruction.

When they stop identifying themselves as ethnic or religious entities, recognize Israel's right to exist, allow Jerws and Christians to live as citizens, earn a living, own property and build churches and synagogues, it will be appropriate to ask Israel to redefine itself.

Until then, it seems suspicious that you criticize only Isrel's right to exist as an "ethnic" state.
Reena Fettner | 11/12/2010 - 12:42pm
There are no state-mandated kosher laws in Israel.  In fact, not every restaurant in Israel is kosher.  Israel is a pluralistic, democratic society in which full rights of citizenship are granted to all its citizens, whether Jew, Christian, Moslem, or other.  This includes rights to vote, hold public office, freedom of speech, worship, redress of grievances through a judiciary not controlled by the gov't, etc.  It is the Moslem countries which display horrific violations of human rights, even to their own peoples, and who demand that their areas be ethnically cleansed of Jews, Christians, Kurds, Coptics, and all others.  (These people are deemed "dhimmis" or "infidels" who are lower life forms and deserving of persecution and even murder.) Arabs do not want Jews or others in their areas, which is the real reason why they object to Jewish settlements.  There is no reason why Jews should not build communities in disputed or even Arab areas and receive full rights of citizenship there, as Arab citizens in Israel have.  The focus on settlements is absurd, masking the fact that the Arabs have, themselves, made NO concessions for peace.  They want only the destruction of Israel and Jews. They do not want peace, as Israel does.  Israel has made numerous concessions  for peace, eg, giving back the whole Sinai, all of Gaza, offering Arafat almost everything he asked for at the Camp David talks in return for peace (which Arafat refused).  Israel's only "crime" is that it exists, which it has a right to. 
david singer | 11/12/2010 - 12:17am

This article is plagued with factual inaccuracies but contains one useful suggestion that could be the key to ending the conflict between Jews and Arabs:

The major inaccuracies are:

1.    The West Bank and East Jerusalem are not occupied territory in international law. The territory is “no man’s land” with both Arabs and Jews presently claiming sovereignty. Jews have the legal right to settle there under article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter. They were driven out by six invading Arab armies in 1948 and began to return to settle there again after the 1967 War. Arab attempts to deny such Jewish claim has been the major stumbling block to achieving the two state solution for the last 17 years.

2.    Jews only occupy about 10% of the West Bank. How can that be construed as eating up the other 90%? The Arabs were offered even more territory than the West Bank in 1947 by the UN and rejected that proposal. Of course the Arabs had 100% of the West Bank between 1948-1967 yet did not create a state there. Crying over spilt milk seems a little rich now.

3.    There is no demographic evidence to substantiate the claim that the Arabs will become a majority in Israel the West Bank and Gaza within a few years. Indeed there is evidence quite to the contrary.

4.    Israeli Arabs (20% of the current population) enjoy full citizenship rights and Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Go visit the shopping malls and travel on public transport, visit the Courts or the universities to see the way Jews and Arabs can live and work together.

5.    The author asks – “Has the idea of an ethnic State become an anachronism?” Just look at the 57 current member States of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference who comprise Islamic States and you can understand it is not an anachronism.

6.    The author says: “a pre-historical promise to Abraham of a land for his descendants does not give any 21st-century ethnic or religious group a legal right in modern international law to a particular territory.”  It does - and it did - when the League of Nations unanimously voted to create the Mandate for Palestine for the purposes of “reconstituting the Jewish National Home in Palestine”. This is a vested legal right in international law and has been specifically preserved by article 80 of the UN Charter.

7.    Israel’s definition as “a one-religion state” is no different to the similar definition by Jordan, Egypt Saudi Arabia and Syria which claim Islam as the official religion of their respective States.

The one useful suggestion made by the author - Merging the major part of the West Bank with Jordan –  makes sense. This solution will restore the status quo existing in 1967 and once again bestow Jordanian citizenship on the Arabs who live in the West Bank. No one - neither Jew nor Arab - will have to leave his current home under this proposal. This is the only possible solution that has any chance of success. The author’s suggestion of a one state solution is utter fantasy and pie in the sky and has no chance of success.
Daniel Doyle | 11/11/2010 - 11:21am
Minus power sharing specifics, it's hard to imagine.  Yet living in close proximity with those of different beliefs seems, strangely, to bring out the tolerant side in most of us.  Even many of the most ethnically hostile Americans living in the remote Heartland would soften within a generation if these communities were forced to move to a diverse urban area.  When people form their opinions through personal experience rather than indoctrination or narrow reporting, stereotypes aren't seen as the first and last truth.  The history of major cities has proven this. Of course, extremists can be found anywhere, but why let them dictate policy for the rest of a people.

At first blush, the end of Schroth's article seems to spin off into fantasyland.  Yet the alternatives he mentions earlier don't omen a very peaceful or promising future.  The proposal hardest to imagine - and by far the most unsung - may actually be the most realistic if anything resembling peace is ever to be achieved.  

This is easy for me to write from Brooklyn, four years removed from any time in the West Bank or Israel.  For sure, many lives from both camps would be lost in the early years of such a single state plan.  But it might prove the only way to one day turn crusading zealots into tolerant neighbors or leave them alone amongst the noise, unheralded.
Ayala Hartman | 11/11/2010 - 1:44am
Why is it that Israelis are the only ones being called upon to reconsider their position?  Many Middle-Eastern countries are only Islamic, and it is illegal for citizens not to be Muslim.  And what's wrong with asking would-be citizens to recognize the Jewish State as such?  It makes sense, as many who do not recognize it seek to destroy it.  No one is forcing them to convert to Judaism.  In fact, Jews consider it better for a non-Jew to remain a righteous non-Jew than to become a non-practicing Jew. 

As for being "distracted by prosperity", please, come live in Israel for a year or two, long enough to get a real look at things, and see how the vast majority of Israelis struggle to make the equivalent of just a few thousand dollars a month, with living costs not that much different from those in the U.S.  Does this have anything to do with the ludicrous centuries-old claim that Jews have all the money and care about nothing else?  Because no other basis for this statement is offered in the article.

Furthermore, what makes anyone think that handing over *any* land will advance the peace process in any way?  The majority of conceded land has historically been used to attack Israel within a short time of being transferred.  Does the author not know about the murder of Israeli Jews by Arabs that was one of the prompting reasons for Netanyahu's refusal of a moratorium extension?  Arabs in Israel, even non-Israelis, are safer from Jews than Jews are from Arabs.  This has been proven time and again. 

The author also fails to realize the fact that the Arab world wants to annihilate the Jewish people (not only Israel) and, in its own broadcasts and publications, is very open about this fact.  Israelis (read Jews, as usual) should take an active role in making peace with such people?  Why?  To give them a better position from which to attempt their ultimate goal? 

In conclusion, I would just like to add that anyone subscribing to the views espoused in this article about "occupied territory" needs a pretty serious lesson in history and political science.  There is freedom of speech, and there is biased, unresearched, dangerous drivel that passes for journalism. 

I don't see much research here. 
Martha Fleischer | 11/10/2010 - 8:11pm
Regarding Fr. Schroth's article, when Egyptians are attacking Christian Copts, when Iraqis are attacking Iraqi Catholics when Arab Christians are leaving Palestinian areas for the safety of Israel, when Hamas is bringing Sharia to Gaza, there is a conclusion to be drawn. Mr. Schott may be unaware that after the Jews/Israelis are consumed in his one country plan, it will then be the turn of Catholics.
Stephane Poirot | 11/10/2010 - 5:03pm
How can you justify stating that if Israel remains in the occupied territory as a ruling minority, which is in effect apartheid- from here did you derive such a biased definition of Apartheid? Please go back to your dictionary to find out how incorrect you are.
You also state that 'A nation state built around one religion might have worked in the unique, post-Holocaust context of the years after World War II', and 'Israel’s self-definition as a one-religion state sealed off by a 28-foot-high wall', but you fail to criticize her neighbours. the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (Hashemites are foreigners who have no right to Palestinian land, which was unilaterally taken from the inhabitants and given away by the British in 1923), the Arab Republic of Egypt (which means that the nation is exclusively Arab), the Islamic Republic of Iran (which is obviously exclusively Muslim), the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (also exclusively Arab), the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (exclusively Muslim), the Syrian Arab Republic (exclusively Arab) who by name and Sharia law, are built around one religion. For what reason do you claim the moral right to criticize Israel for being Jewish, and fail to criticize these other nation states?Your recommendation for a single-state solution was deemed impractical back in the late 1930s, so why think that resurrecting the Morrison-Grady Plan will succeed now?
The Jews were promised a National Homeland by the British, unfortunately, on land twice promised - but it was a land that they had inhabited, along with other tribes, for millenia. Over 70% of the land of Palestine was given to alien Hashemites, pushed from their home territoy by fellow Saudis, but you do not demand that this minority group of rulers give up their claim to their kingdom - and why not? When the Hashemite land grab was finalized, the British knew that the Hashemites would put into law the prohibition of land sales to Jews, and even the prohibition of residence by Jews (eventhought Jews had legally purchased land on the Eastern side of the Jordan River, and settled these communes - now that would fit the definition of Racism, if not Apartheid.
In 1946, the Arab Legion/Jordan, expelled Jews from the Old City of Jerusalem, and walled off the border with Israel, and expelled Jews form their legally acquired lands in placed like Atarot - acts which were not condemned by the World, or the church - acts of racism, against which you wrote not a word.
Fully agree with you, 'Erase the lines setting off the West Bank and Gaza; imagine highways connecting the whole territory with Jerusalem', a situation that existed right after the 1967 war, a united Jerusalem, and fre territories within a single nation of Israel. The Church bells rang clearly, the Muessins' calls were heard across the valley, and Muslim, Christian and Jew mingled in the Old Arab Market.
Give Jordan, east of the Jordan River, back to the Palestinians and let them negotiate new borders with Israel. That is the perfect solution, a step forward, rather than a step back into the miasma of falied grandiose schemes of a single state.

David Murrell | 11/10/2010 - 1:11pm
I try not to cast the phrase "anti-Semitic" uncaringly. But to advocate a one-state solution - whereby the recognized state of Israel were to merge with neighboring Arab states, and where "peace" would supposedly take place - is a form of anti-Semitism.

Mr. Schroth writes with one eye, utterly misunderstanding the Jewish problem in the Middle East. Muslim Arabs surrounding Israel are vehemently anti-Semitic. They would be intolerant of Jews worshiping within their midst. Historically Jews have  been persecuted by majority Arabs. To say that such persecution would not happen in a unified Arab-Jewish state - where Arabs dominate - is turning a willful blind eye. 

Further, Mr. Schroth ignores the lack of democracy in Arab-Muslim states.  Without democracy, and the rule of independent law, intolerance and anti-human rights flourish. This indeed would take place in an Arab-dominated Israel - much like it dominates in Iran, Egypt, Syria. With liberals like Mr. Schroth, they rarely write about anti-human rights in Middle East countries other than Israel.  This is because such states are Muslim-based - and as such remain outside the purview of liberal attention.

So, if left-wing lobbies and writers like Mr. Schroth focus on writing about whether or not a Jewish state is permitted to exist - the only Jewish state in the world - I would suggest that such a focus is a form of anti-Semitism. As a strong church-going Christian (but not a Catholic), I worry about anti-Semitism creeping back into our words and practices. This is becoming more so, unfortunately. 

I wil be praying for Mr. Schroth, and America magazine. William F. Buckley once said - in criticizing his conservative movement - that "once conservatives starting to talk about IQ and race, the conservative movement begins to witness a sharp decline in support". I would say the same thing to liberals. Once liberals begin to focus solely on Jews and Israel in a negative way, people will soon turn away. Take heed.  

David Murrell (PhD)
University of New Brunswick
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada   
Howard Cohn | 11/10/2010 - 10:41am
Pt. 2.  The U.N. resolution at the end of the British Mandate over the area, stated that there would be established a Jewish State and an Arab State. The Arabs refused, waged war and Egypt and Jordan occupied territories that were supposed to become the Arab State. When Israel was established, provisions were made for each of the major religions to have control of the religious aspects of their adherents lives, this was done.  

One forgets that Jordan was cut out of 78% of mandate territories and a large majority of their population is "Palestinian." A federation of the West Bank with Jordan should prove most beneficial for it's population but the government of Jordan does not want this. Egypt, does not want to rule Gaza.

His claim that Israel is a "... one religion state sealed off by a 28 foot wall..." is equally false.  The Land of Israel was always looked upon as the Homeland of the Jews. Jews always lived on the land but up until 1948, they lived there under the thumbs of whomever controlled the area.  In 1948 all of this changed.  In their Declaration of Independence, respect for other religions was stated.   Churches and mosques will be found in every area where their followers are living.  28 foot walls are found in a miniscule area of the separation lines.  They were constructed as barriers to prevent attacks on nearby Israeli areas.  Unfortunately, walls had to be built around the Tomb of Rachel because of the armed attacks against the Jewish worshippers.  Over 90% of the "walls" are barbed or razor wire fences.

Whether Israeli "settlers" would agree to live under Arab rule in areas surrendered by Israel is a decision that they would have to make.  What has been stated by officials of the P.A. is that no Israelis will be allowed to live in a future Palestinian State.  Talk about ethnic cleansing?  It is portrayed that a halt of building in certain areas is all that is holding up negotiations.  What happened in the 9 months when building did not take place?  What prevented the Arabs from finding the negotiating table?  Why are demands for concessions only coming from and demanded of one side?

Where does Mr. Schroth get the facts to back his statement that, "...younger generations of American Jews (are) alienated by Israeli policies."?  There is a certain, very vocal and well publicized percentage of young Jews who are anti-Israeli government policies, but generations?

Hopefully Mr Schroth will revisit his beliefs regarding the State of Israel and investigate the writings and facts of the other side of the issues.
John Welch | 11/10/2010 - 10:28am
There is a very simple problem with the Jewish Democratic State of Israel. And that is, it is located on someone else's country. The land belongs to the Muslims, Christians and Jews who are identified as Palestinians.  Any attempt to make a country for European Jews, regardless of the tragedy of the Holocaust, was and is predetermined to failure.
Howard Cohn | 11/10/2010 - 9:10am
Pt. 1.   I was directed to this article and was very disappointed upon reading it. Mr. Schroth may have great scholarship in many fields but Israel is not one of them.  This is illustrated by his question posed 25 years ago at the Dead Sea.  "Are you Israelis or Arabs?" An Arab with Israeli citizenship is an Israeli, just as an Ethiopian, American or Swede with citizenship is Israeli.
If the large number of nations that are to varied degrees anti-Israel followed "International Law," Israeli forces would be described as being in "disputed" not "occupied" territories. The borders between Israel and a future Arab State have never been established. There are Armistice Lines.  Under U.N. resolutions at the end of the "67 War, there would not be a return to pre-war lines except via DIRECT negotiations between the parties.  It was seen by the U.N. that adjustments would have to be made as to the location of these lines.
Highways were built and limited to vehicles with Israeli license plates due to the attacks on civilians from Arab villages and vehicles with Arab licenses.  An Israeli Arab or any other individual in a car with Israeli plates was allowed and did travel along these  "segregated" highways.
Laurie Harris | 11/10/2010 - 8:13am

As an American and a Jew, I am saddened at the suggestions in this article that suggest a lack of tolerance and understanding of the depth of the intransigence of the Muslims who have come to be known as Palestinians. It is frightening for Catholics to suggest delivering Jews into the hands of those who would destroy them. Mr. Schroth assumes the Arabs in the West Bank want to live with Israelis, when they want no such thing. They teach hatred of Israel (and Jews) in their schools, do not have a democratic government, and do not tolerate any opinion or way of life that is not in accordance with their definition of the Muslim way.

One statement does ring true, “Should they merge with Jordan?” Yes they should, except that Jordan expelled Palestinians and neither they nor any other Arab state has offered them a home. If other Arabs cannot be brothers, what makes them the natural brothers of the inhabitants of Israel? Israeli Arabs are regularly threatened by non-Israeli Arabs for their support of Israel.

Furthermore, a large percent of the Jews in Israel were kicked out of Arab countries after the creation of the State of Israel. They were stripped of all assets. Where is the sympathy for them and the compensation for their losses? Given Mr. Schroth’s disdain of countries built around religion, where is the indignation of the dozens of Muslim countries where Christians are denied rights in the name of Islam? When Mr. Schroth questions the need for ethnic states in the post-Holocaust world, he forgets the disintegration of Yugoslavia because Christians and Muslims could not live together in a much more tolerant Europe.

The inhabitants of Gaza wiped out all remnants of Israeli existence upon the exit of the Israelis in Gaza. Open the borders and tear down the fence with Israel, and they will wipe out Jewish presence in the State of Israel as fast as they can. Since the 1990s, when Israel has withdrawn from disputed territory it is subsequently assaulted from that very territory.

Sadly, the unmentioned player in the article is Iran, whose massive funding of Hamas and Hezbollah daily grows their dream of the destruction of the Jewish state. Iran is sometimes called not a state, but a cause. That cause is the destruction of Israel. If the Arab Mr. Schroth met at the Dead Sea was Mr. Ahmadinejad, I don’t think he would have gotten the same answer about all being brothers then or now. To suggest a path leading to the demise of our one democratic ally in the Middle East without considering the freedom this grants to Ahmadinejad to grow his demonic power is not in any American’s interest, whether they be Catholic or Jew.

Mark Horenstein | 11/10/2010 - 5:36am

Raymond Schroth asks Israel to abandon Judaism as its state religion. This suggestion is preposterous and presumes that no other countries have state religions.  Even a casual perusal of credible sources reveals that at least the following countries have formal state religions*:

Catholic: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Italy, Panama, Portugal, Spain

Protestant: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Liberia, Norway

Eastern Orthodox: Greece

Buddhism: Sri Lanka, Thailand

Hinduism: Nepal

Islam: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia,  Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates.

*Source: Study by Barro and McCleary, Harvard University, 2005
Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs | 11/10/2010 - 4:24am
Reading the article by Mr. Schroth leaves me feeling a bit afraid.  Afraid of how  historical distortions and myths can spread so easily and influence so many others who might rely on the words he writes to base their opinions.

Whether the Jews had a claim to the land before 1947 is really a non issue.  Unless one wants to redo history for EVERY country, Israel became a state with the sanction of the UN.  One could argue that the land should not have been given to the Jews...but, when the Ottomans lost the land through war and England won that land through war....England was free to give land THEY won in a war...to whomever England agreed to.  Unless we use the old cliche, that America has to give back the land to the Indians, then France has to give back Haiti, and England has to let go of the Faulkland Islands, his argument is worthless.  According to his theory - Every country that has EVER won land through war was MUST give back the land.  Ain't gonna happen!

If this is NOT expected of  every other country - what is the motivation of suggesting that Israel has to give back land she WON in a war?

She WON Jerusalem.  She WON Gaza.  She WON West Bank.  She does NOT occupy the land.  She won it and therefore, like every other  country that has won land..it IS hers!

On what grounds does Mr. Schroth suggest Israel needs to abide by a differnt set of laws that every other country lives by?  Who drew the bounderies for Russia, and all the Eastern European countries that have been revamaped in the last 50 years.  A map of Eastern Europe of 50 years ago is totally useless today.  Now, why would that be?

 How Asia looks today barely resembles 50 years ago.  Additionally - How come they speak French in Canada? Why do they speak Spanish in S. America?  Why do we speak English in America?   HHmmmmmmmmmm

There can only be one reason that Mr Schroth is so determined that Israel kill itself.... Shame on him!

If Mr. Schroth is as bigoted as he comes off to be, what a disgrace that he has a platform here to vent his bigotry.

Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs
Ron Polarik | 11/9/2010 - 11:16pm

Mr. Schroth, you have provided nothing more than the same Palestinian propaganda repeatedly regurgitated by Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO, replete with seething anti-Semitism.

You seem to think that Arab and Muslim dictatorships and Sha'ria totalitarianism are better than a true Western democracy with true human rights.

In Israel, there are over a million Arabs who are full citizens and entitled to the same rights and standards of living as the Jewish people. Nowhere in the Middle East are other religions respected and human rights observed as they are in Israel - the nation in which the Jewish people have lived continuously for 3,300 years.

There has never been a nation or state known as Palestine - it was always Israel. The Roman Emperor Hadrian leveled the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem and expelled many - but not all - Jews from their land, renaming Israel to Syria-Palestina in 163 CE. The Romans became the Roman Catholic Church and under Constantine, Jews were executed just for studying the Torah.

"Palestine" and the "Palestinians" is a myth created in 1964 by the terrorist PLO and their chairman, Yassir Arafat, totally hijacked the history of the Jews, replacing "Jew" with "Palestinian" and Israel with "Palestine from the River to the Sea."

What do 1.5 million Christians murdered in Sudan and Darfur have to do with Israel? Or the 45 million Hindus murdered in India and Pakistan?

NOTHING, except for the same genocidal mindset present in the Palestinians thanks to 45 years of unending Jew-hatred and incitement to violence by their leaders and people just like you.

There is no such thing as "peaceful Jewish coexistence" in a Pan-Arab nationalist world or a Muslim-dominated one. Got it?

Werner Cohn | 11/9/2010 - 9:12pm
Father Schroth's Commentary "Two Peoples, One State" (Nov. 15) has much to say for itself.  "We are all brothers," he quotes some anonymous Dead Sea swimmers, and this spirit of reconciliation is what Father Schroth counsels to one and all in Israel and Palestine.

But a closer reading of the piece disappoints.  He points to many faults on the part of the Jews, none - none that I could detect - on the part of the Arabs.  Moreover the solution that he counsels, the dismemberment of the Jewish state, is not one that is likely to find comprehension by Jews.

The reason is obvious to all who have taken a closer than journalistic look at the situation on the ground:  1)  multi-national entities of good will ("with Belgium and Switzerland as models") have not worked in the contemporary Middle East;  2) the very explicit hate propaganda directed against Jews by Hamas and others ("The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" are part of the Hamas charter), and the culture of violence even by Muslims against Muslims, do not offer Jews any hope whatever of living peacefully in an Arab-dominated state.

I have a great deal of respect for the Society of Jesus, and also for the profession of journalism, but neither of these affiliations, alone or in combination, suffices to provide standing for giving advice to the Jews of Israel.

Finally, I must say that Father Schroth is not attentive to history when he presumes to counsel either Muslims or Jews.  The Society of Jesus and the Catholic Church both have glorious accomplishments, without any doubt.  But they also have a bloody record with regard to non-Catholics, and it would have been gracious for Father Schroth to acknowledge this.  Abraham Lincoln had it right:  We cannot escape history.
jacob chachkes | 11/9/2010 - 9:07pm
The Vatican is a religous state. Should the Vatican be required to become one state with Italy? Why not? There are Protestants, Muslims, Jews, atheists, Roma, and more in Italy. Why should Italy and the Vatican not be a single state???
You also ignore the fact that Jews & Roman Catholics are infidels, and are to be converted or killed.  [There are so-called moderate Muslims, but read the Qr'an, if you haven't already.]

IMHO you are a dreamer. Perhaps you are hostile to Muslim Arabs, andor Jews. Perhaps you need to review history and the positions of the 'P.A.' which are the same as the P.L.O., which call for the elimination of the Zionist entity [Israel].

Perhaps you are unaware that the people of the west bank and Gaza are taught to hate jews [first] and all infidels, including Roman Catholics and any other non Muslim. Perhaps you have forgotten the way ALL non Muslim communities have been treated in the ArabMuslim world. How many Christian communities survive in that world? Do you wish to have not only the Israelis, but also the Roman Catholics eliminated or reduced to second class people as they were under the Ottoman Empire?

Recomend you think through the consequences of what you put forward.  Again, read the Q'ran and remember that to the Muslims, Allah spoke to Muhamed throught an angel and the Qr'an is the word of God, not to be questioned or interpreted or changed!
Henry Kaminer | 11/9/2010 - 6:11pm
I find it borders on arrogance for outside pundits to tell a sovereign nation how to restructure itself (or dissolve itself, as some suggest).  Israel's problems stem from the refusal of the large number of Arab states to tolerate its existence.  Only Egypt and Jordan have peace treaties and they have limited relations with Israel.  The Arabs who lived there, and the larger number who wandered into the area while Jewish immigrants drained swamps, planted trees, and built an economy, now claim to be a distinct People.  They want a country of their own.  So why can't Jews have a country of their own?  Jews who are religious, atheistic, or indifferent?  Historically Jews lived in this area fore over 3,000 years.  If the neighboring Arab states would stop fomenting violence by supporting Hamas and Hezbollah the local Arabs would soon negotiate a peace treaty with Israel and set up a two-state scenario.  Remember- Israel has retreated from huge areas it occupied after the 1967 war, and the Arabs, from these very areas, have continued to attack Israel.  With whom should Israel negotiate?  In Israel, Jews, Muslims, Druse, and Christians live in harmony.  This is NOT the case in all the other Arab countries and not even in the West Bank, where internal affairs are run completely by the local Arabs.  Hamas and Hezbollah say explicitly they want to destroy Israel and drive the Jews out.  They teach their Kindergarten children that Jews are demons and death by martyrdom is desireable.  What are we talking about here? 
Bryna Weiss | 11/9/2010 - 6:04pm
I guess I must have missed Mr. Schroth's condemnation of the many Palestinian Terrorist suicide attacks against innocent Israeli men, women and children.  And perhaps I also missed his strong reaction to the attack on Israel by the combined Arab countries around it.  Perhaps you could direct me to those articles.  And where is his mention of the fact that the fence Israel built has succeeded in almost completely eliminating terrorist attacks against it's citizens.  Show me where he talks about all the countries that have been the victims of attack, that won against their enemies and returned captured land to those attacking countries, as Israel has done in many instances.

Instead of trying to dictate to the only Democracy in the Middle East, I think Mr. Schroth might better serve his Catholic constituency with attention to the very serious and offensive problems within the Church.

Yours very truly,
Bryana Weiss
BERNARD TRACEY | 11/8/2010 - 6:46pm
What is the definition of a “Jewish State” ? Does it mean everyone has to eat kosher food ? If I were to convert to Judaism would I have the same, less, or more rights than a secular, ethnic Jew ? What rights would non-Jews have in a “Jewish State” ? To discuss the implications of a “Jewish State” without defining what is meant by a “Jewish State” is pointless.

If anyone considers the photo in the article inflammatory, I recommend Anna Baltzer’s brilliant book, “Witness In Palestine - A Jewish American Woman In The Occupied Territories”. The hundreds of pictures in the book show the brutality of the occupation. Those pictures are inflammatory.

A few weeks ago on CSPAN II, Gideon Levy, the noted and knowledgeable Haaretz journalist, said that he didn’t know what a “Jewish State” meant. If he doesn’t know, I don’t know. Levy did suggest that Netanyahu’s “Jewish State” demand was another ploy on Netanyahu’s part to delay peace efforts while Israel continues to colonize more Palestinian land in the West Bank.

Lisa Kaiser | 11/8/2010 - 1:20pm
Yes, what is wrong with one small corner of the world (a historically Jewsih part of the world where the 1st & 2d Temples were located) being designated as a Jewsih state.

As a Jew, I know that Fr. Schroth's proposed solution would be devastating for Jews.  We would quickly become a minority in our own land-surrounded by those who would wish to wipe all Jews from the face of the earth.

what we Jews know is that in the current situation, if israel possessed all the weapons there would be peace.  If the Arbas possessed all the weapons, there would be no Israel.  Israel is our homeland.  It is a place where Jews, Christians & Muslims are free to practice their faiths.  Make Israel an Arab nation, and that freedom would cease.

Fr. Schroth has no clear idea about how we Jews feel about our homeland. A one-state solution is unworkable for us.

Also, the photo posted with article is inflammatory. Is there a misunderstanding that Israel has to fight every day for its survival? That suicide bombers are a real threat? Israel is right to be mindful if its national security.
David Smith | 11/8/2010 - 11:03am
"People who live day-to-day that close to each other need each other, and practical recognition of that, realized in terms of commercial activity and dependable property, religious and other human rights, could make life a lot better for everyone."

People in the street, yes, people of good will.  But the people using the Palestinian cause for political profit are hardly people of good will.  If they were to disappear, people could live with people.  But they aren't going to disappear, most unfortunately.  Israel is under constant attack.
RONALD PATNODE | 11/8/2010 - 2:39am
Best solution that I have seen.  Thanks for offering some hope.
Charles Erlinger | 11/6/2010 - 2:00pm
I would say that the idea of an ethnic state is an anachronism, but, unfortunately, Israel is surrounded by states clinging to anachronistic premises.  Anachronisms have been known to persist for decades, even centuries, and not only in the context of nation states, but also in the context of many kinds of human institutions. There are lots of things the Israelis could do short of waiting for anachronistic tendencies to disappear, that would be persuasive to both Israeli citizens on the one hand, and Palistinians on the other, that peaceful and cooperative coexistence would improve all of their lives.  Coexistence in cooperative tension need not wait for the evaporation of anachronisms. People who live day-to-day that close to each other need each other, and practical recognition of that, realized in terms of commercial activity and dependable property, religious and other human rights, could make life a lot better for everyone.
David Smith | 11/6/2010 - 1:21am
Tim Rutten wrote:

"Let's go to the heart of the matter and ask why it should be so objectionable for one small corner of the earth to identify its political and social character as Jewish? How many nations are officially Muslim or have an established Christian church? Why is there no room for a single Jewish state? Why is it that a country where all are free to practice their faiths is uniquely among the nations of the world a stumbling block to peace?"

Indeed.  Apartheid?  Ethnic cleansing?  Any idea is worth listening to, but I hope the author's attitudes and proposals aren't coming into fashion in the West.  That would be tragic.
WILLIAM ATKINSON | 11/5/2010 - 3:11pm
Ray:   You failed to show, even in your title (two for two)  in reality, its two, two, two as yu forgot Religion,  Both States have religious political governments and laws and policies that are decided by religious leaders invoking religious ethics, morality, and governances.   As noted in all of history it is religious beliefs, bigotry, predjudice, and biases that divide the peoples of the world.   Even within the jesuits  society there is division among their members based on religious rivalry, and these divisions can be destroying of culture and life style practices.
Tim Rutten | 11/5/2010 - 2:21pm
The tone and substance of Mr. Brady's response quite tellingly illuminate what's wrong with Father Schroth's "thought experiment." Substitute the noun anti-Zionist for anti-Semitism and the implications are chillingly similar to those of the grotesque attempts by European Jesuit thinkers between the wars to delineate a morally permissible theological anti-Semitism from an illicit racial antipathy. In the crucial end, the distinction was tragically irrelevant. Let's go to the heart of the matter and ask why it should be so objectionable for one small corner of the earth to identify its political and social character as Jewish? How many nations are officially Muslim or have an established Christian church? Why is there no room for a single Jewish state? Why is it that a country where all are free to practice their faiths is uniquely among the nations of the world a stumbling block to peace? As a Catholic mindful of the history of our church's relationship with the Jewish people, I find indifference to these fundamental questions morally obtuse.   
Keyran Moran | 11/5/2010 - 12:11pm
Ray..
There is nothing wrong with your thought experiment except it seems to have no votes in Israel and just a few in the USA in JStreet. perhaps!

Bibi has made a fool of President Oboma and in a recent peace demonstation in Israel only a tenth of the normal number before Gaza showed up.

Between 80 to 90% of the electorate in February, 2009. in effect, supported the state terrorism.

I am now in Oslo, the home of the Accords, and have asked a number of Norwegians why they do not speak out against the slaughter of the innocents. They tell me that the country is split in two over Israel. And your magazine said nothing about Gaza and Benedict voted for Zionism in declaring the Moslems HOSTILE!

Bibi is a pol. He sees that there is no opposition to his terrorism and he receives hurrahs.

The first item in the agenda is to form an opposition. I propose that you and Benedict get together with Jimmy Carter and come out for a boycott of trade.

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