For years I thought that the only reasonable solution to the ongoing Arab war against the Jews was the two-state solution. A single state solution, we were told, would either undermine Israel as a democratic state or it would undermine Israel as a Jewish state. Israel could be Jewish, democratic, or with boundaries from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, but it could not be all three at once.
Those who insist upon this formulation - and I was one for years - are raising reasonable concerns, but there is one thing that proponents of the two-state solution seem never to take into account: the Arabs do not want it. For almost one hundred years the Palestinian-Arabs have absolutely refused to share the land and tell us on a daily basis that they will never accept Jewish sovereignty on a bit of "historic Palestine."
There must come a point when we understand that no means no.
There must come a time when we take them at their word. This being the case, Israel must act unilaterally because there is simply no other choice. This should not be considered a burden. It should be considered liberating. Most of my readers will know that Palestinian-Arab dictator Mahmoud Abbas is, yet again, threatening to quit. Well, I hope he does quit and I sincerely hope that after he does so Israel rips up the Oslo accords and henceforth refuses to acknowledge the PA, the PLO, Fatah, and Hamas. It is absolutely pointless in negotiating with, or cooperating with, any of these groups because they are dishonest, utterly corrupt, and filled with the spirit of malice toward the Jewish people.
The Jews in Israel should not have to live with such violent and toxic hatred in their midst, coming from the children of the people who forced us into second and third-class non-citizenship for thirteen hundred years. The Jews are no longer dhimmis in that part of the world - and are thus no longer required to ride mules, rather than horses - and the Arabs don't like it.
Well, I say, too bad.
The Land of Israel is the land of the Jewish people and has been for almost four thousand years, and that includes today's boundaries of Judea and Samaria. We are willing to share, but no one is going to tell me that Judea is Arab rather than Jewish.
This being the case, I have argued in recent years that Israel should declare its final borders, remove the IDF to behind those borders, and - as we say - toss the keys over the shoulder. I have usually been careful, however, not to advocate for the single-state solution. I am not Israeli and believe that it should entirely be up to the Israelis to make that determination.
I still believe so.
However, I am becoming less and less convinced that a single state that includes Judea and Samaria, and the eastern section of Jerusalem, cannot be both Jewish and democratic. What many on the hard-left would argue is that if Israel were to claim sovereignty over the ancient Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria then it is under an obligation to give the entire Arab population in those regions fulls rights to the franchise. They believe, of course, that doing so would threaten the Jewish character of the state, which is precisely what they want to begin with.
But this is false.
What I would recommend, if Israel were to extend its authority onto the entirety of Judea and Samaria, is offering qualified local Arabs a pathway to Israeli citizenship. Qualification would require that any particular family or individual under consideration would have no known violent history toward Jewish people and no known history of incitement of hatred toward Jews or Israel.
Those who are not qualified for citizenship, that is, individuals or families with a history of either violence or incitement to violence would be ejected from the country. This is neither non-democratic, nor illiberal. The Jews are among the most persecuted and oppressed people in the history of the world. The Romans decimated our numbers two thousand years ago and the Europeans and Arabs have kept those numbers artificially low ever since. This being the case it is only common sense, if not basic human decency, for the Jews of Israel to protect their children by removing the threats to them.
This is no more non-democratic than throwing a rapist in prison.
As for the rest of the local Arab population in the annexed Jewish regions I recommend a pathway to full citizenship. Like pretty much everyone else in Israel they would be required, if they wish citizenship, to give two or three years of community service. If after that period the individual has shown himself to be free of malice toward either Jews or Israel then that individual should be offered the franchise.
This broad plan - and, yes, obviously, the "devil would be in the details" - would keep Israel Jewish on traditional Jewish land while remaining a democratic country.
Democracy, it should be noted, is never a perfect system in implementation, nor is it a suicide pact. There are always restrictions, which is why Puerto Ricans are denied the right to vote in US national elections. They are under American sovereignty, but they do not have full rights to American citizenship, yet no one sane is claiming that the United States in a non-democratic country.
Israel is in a very tough spot, however. It has a hostile American president who is about to turn an enemy country, Iran, into a nuclear regional power that will rearrange relationships and alliances throughout the region as the Sunni Arab states race to get their own nuclear weaponry. Zionism is undermined because if Zionism means anything it means that no longer will non-Jews get to determine whether Jewish people live or die.
The significance of Obama's deal with Iran from a Jewish perspective is that Obama has basically handed Zionism over to the ayatollahs. In two years or ten years they will decide the fate of the Jewish people, simply because Barack Obama is handing them the car keys.
In the mean time, Israel should solidify its position by declaring its final borders as it plans, and perhaps implements, its response to the Iran deal.
Michael Lumish is a blogger at the Israel Thrives blog as well as a regular contributor/blogger at Times of Israel and Jews Down Under.