What is to be done?

Would the world, after the experience of the Holocaust, step in to stop a new wave of anti-semitism and persecution of the jews?

Any answer to the question should require an examination of how effective world opinion has been in a defense against the more than fifty (to be historical, maybe we should say one hundred) years of humiliation and persecution visited on another victimized people, the non-jewish palestinians.

This appalling and continuing world neglect would actually be the best argument for the continued need for a strong and independent jewish state, except that it hasn't worked. Jews aren't safe in Israel, certainly no safer than in 1948 or anytime after, and jews are now imperiled all over the world in a way not seen since 1945, largely because of a general tendency to confound the attitude of jews everywhere with the specific policies of the Israeli government, a confusion dangerously encouraged by so many jews themselves.

The strong jewish state is ironically a threat to itself and to jews everywhere.

What is to be done to help the jews and the palestinians in the Middle East? The people who seem not to be able to live with each other but not to be able to live apart from each other can realize what they want and need, if those wants and needs are separated from their respective fanaticisms, by constructing a single large, inclusive state which would comprise all of 1948 Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, or something close to all that, and call it Palestine, the Unholy Land, Abrahamland or whatever. It must however be a state where all residents enjoy full and equal freedoms and citizenship under a single, truly secular government, one which is recognized and jealously protected by its neighbors, and by the entire world, precisely for the safety of those neighbors and that world.

After the horrors of the most recent weeks, if not months, and those too easily imagined for the near and even distant future, this is certainly no more unrealistic or preposterous a proposal than any now being advanced.

It is a proposal which should be on the table now, and it surely will be there as all others are successivly rejected or, if effected, seen to be as calamitous as the jerry-rigged unstable status quo which repels us all now.

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Published on May 1, 2002 1:29 PM.

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