Shimon Peres and Menachem Begin chat at the inaugural session of the 10th Knesset in 1981.
(photo credit: GPO)
ISRAEL FACES the most dangerous crisis in its history. Though the Arabs are incapable of defeating it in the battlefield, it is susceptible to a grave risk. Despite its prosperous economy, it can cease from existing as a Jewish and democratic state. And although the best minds are working in the country in every field of research and enterprise, it can find itself nearing its end in the year of its 70th anniversary. Israel is exposed to the risk of becoming a non-Jewish state, a binational one. Due to more than two decades of incapacity to materialize the two-state solution, there are many voices across the country that advocate the idea of one state on the entire territory of the mandatory Palestine; most of them, hawkish rightwing intellectuals and politicians, believe that there is a great need to apply the Israeli sovereignty on the West bank, without giving any political and civil rights for the Palestinians living there; only a tiny minority thinks that they are entitled to be given an Israeli passport and ID cards, hereby accepting the idea of a state with huge Arab minority. In many ways and in either case, a binational Israel would mark the end of Zionism.The historic Israeli Right (which did not label itself as such), headed by the late Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, insisted that liberalism, Zionism and democratic values are reconcilable. Jabotinsky wanted a Jewish majority in Eretz Israel as a precondition to national independence; he supported a situation in which the Jews will constitute a clear majority between the Jordan River and the sea. The Jews, he argued, would provide full equality to the Arabs residing in the country. He dared to contemplate upon a future in which the prime minister would be a Jew and his deputy an Arab. In effect, as much as Jabotinsky wanted to see the Jews ruling the entire historic Palestine, he refused to agree to any idea of a binational state (unlike some people on the Left, e.g. the Marxists in Hashomer Hatzair and the Communists, who advocated the idea of one, binational state; Jabotinsky was for a true Jewish state).