Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Israel, a safe haven for the Jewish people or a one state solution?

An overture is coming, if it receives concurrences, from the Presbytery of San Francisco, which asks the 2014 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to recommend a reconsideration of their policy of a two state solution for the Palestinian Territories and the State of Israel.* The overture is “On Reviewing General Assembly Policy Regarding the Two-State Solution in Israel Palestine” and included in the text is this directive:

Makes a recommendation about whether the General Assembly should continue to call for a two-state solution in Israel Palestine, or take a neutral stance that seeks not to determine for Israelis and Palestinians what the right “solution” should be.”

The idea of a one state solution has been pushed, in subtle ways, by several Presbyterian organizations including the Israel/Palestine Mission Network. Often the IPMN links to The Electronic Intifada whose editor and founder Ali Abunimah proposes a one state solution and has written a book, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Also Noushin Framke who was the communication director for IPMN and is now an advisor, writing on Ecclesio.com, stated in her article, “Ye Shall Share the Land,”" it is time for all the people to share the land with equal rights and liberties.” This was after she opined that if Israel remained a Jewish State it could not be a democracy.

Recently there have been several articles published by various well known and/or extreme publications insisting that a one state solution for the Israel & Palestine problem is inevitable. The subject has become a hot topic on the internet. But rather than link to those articles as IPMN has done I am linking to an article with a great deal of substance concerning the fear that many Jews have that there will soon be no place for the Jewish community in Europe. The reason I am linking to the article is because the problem of anti-Semitism in Europe is the original reason why the Jewish people needed a state of their own. (We forget to easily.)

Alongside the main reason for exploring the subject of anti-Semitism in Europe is the history that the article provides of the state of the Jewish people in Europe after World War II. And, also, one learns of the seeds that were planted or were already there which have now grown into virulent weeds sending fear into the Jewish communities of Europe. The article, “You Only Live Twice: Vibrant Jewish communities were reborn in Europe after the Holocaust. Is there a future for them in the 21st Century?

The author, Michel Gurfinkiel begins with the story of the head of a Jewish community, Samuel Sandler, who registered his synagogue as a national landmark because he believed that in twenty or thirty years the community would be gone. This is the same person who experienced the murder of his son, a Rabbi, in the French city of Toulouse. The murderer was a Muslim extremist. Gurfinkiel goes on to write of the anti-Semitism that many Jews in Europe are experiencing:
“A large-scale survey commissioned by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) tells a tale of widespread and persistent anti-Semitism. Although the full study is not due to be released until October, the salient facts have been summarized by EU officials and by researchers like Dov Maimon, a French-born Israeli scholar at the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem. Among the findings: more than one in four Jews report experiencing anti-Semitic harassment at least once in the twelve months preceding the survey; one in three have experienced such harassment over the past five years; just under one in ten have experienced a physical attack or threat in the same period; and between two-fifths and one-half in France, Belgium, and Hungary have considered emigrating because they feel unsafe.”

He then writes of the 'Golden Age” in post war Europe. Israel was looked on with favor by most Europeans at the time, and there was a general desire to protect and rebuild the Jewish communities that were left. Many of the Jews exiled from Arab lands also found a home in Europe. But now, Israel is seen as a problem and society in Europe has changed.

Gurfinkiel works through the many contributing factors toward anti-Semitism in Europe, including: the financial woes of Europe; the increased Muslim population whose background often includes Middle Eastern anti-Semitism; a widening secular culture with new demands to be rid of circumcision and ritual slaughter of animals as well as the wearing of clothing that is symbolic of religion. (This troubling shift also affects other ethnic and religious groups.) The author reminds his readers of the parallels to the 1930s and 40s:
“Even worse scenarios may be contemplated. Real life is often circular: the farther you travel in one direction, the closer you come to those traveling in the opposite direction. What about a nightmare fusion, at some point in the future, of an anti-Semitic Left, an anti-Semitic Right, and an anti-Semitic Islam? In the case of France, there are ominous precedents: many Frenchmen who started out as fierce anti-German patriots in the late-19th century ended as pro-German activists or collaborationists in the 1930s and early 40s.”

This combination of left, right and anti-Semitic Islam is more than a nightmare, in some places it is a reality. But the point that I am making by directing the reader to this article is that the Jewish people at least need to know that if they need to, if they must, there is a Jewish State that will be a safe haven. If there is a one state solution it means that it will be an Arab majority state and a Jewish state will be no more. It is a long hard journey toward a two state solution but it is the only solution that will preserve the safety of the Jewish people.

*The overture can be seen by clinking on the link REPORT 10   Bills Overtures and Session Records at http://www.presbyteryofsf.org/presbytery-meetings/september-2013-packet/ You will need to scroll through several pages and also understand that the overture accusing Israel of apartheid did not pass but the divestment one did. The overture I am writing about is the last one.

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