I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over the actions of the Florida legislature. Prompted by ZOA and other right wing Jewish groups, the legislature has recognized Israel’s right to rule over the entire West Bank and has called for uniting Israel and the territories “under one law for all people.”
This language, of course, is exactly and precisely the language used by the “one-state” advocates, those who call for a single Arab-Jewish state that will have an Arab majority and that will mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
The one-state crowd recently held a conference at Harvard University. Denounced virtually everywhere in the Jewish world, this conference was widely seen as the beginnings of a new campus strategy that will focus on creating a single state in Palestine with “equal rights for all.” The participants were the usual Israel haters, but the strategy is a clever one and must be handled carefully. Anti-Israel elements obviously see that it is wiser for them to talk about a political solution guaranteeing equality for all than it is to call openly for Israel’s destruction.
ZOA’s actions in Florida were a follow-up to a similar resolution passed last June by the South Carolina House of Representatives.
In reading the press reports, I am struck by three things.
First, the damage done is considerable. Whatever happens now, the Florida resolution will be endlessly quoted in the years to come by the one-state advocates.
Second, how in heaven’s name did the Jewish right-wingers get this wrong? They are claiming that they did not understand the implications of their words, but it is not as if these are new issues that have never before been discussed in the Jewish world. How foolish can you be?
And third, even now the advocates of the resolution do not seem to grasp the implications of their actions. The fumbling explanations that they have provided have only succeeded in making it worse. According to one ZOA official, “one law for all people” did not mean Israelis and Palestinians; the “all” referred to “all Israeli citizens.” In other words, certain American Jews are now asking state governments to proclaim that the Palestinians are to be ruled by Israel but will never enjoy equality under Israeli law. Does anyone really think that such statements are in Israel’s interests, or that they are consistent with America’s and Israel’s democratic ideals?
Resolutions such as those in Florida will only succeed in setting off a firestorm of criticism, inviting charges of discrimination against Palestinians, and undermining the position of Israel’s government, which supports a two-state solution. The way to support Israel and to counter the one-state campaign is embrace the two-state solution and enthusiastically advocate for it in every forum.