Thursday, May 24, 2018

Thoughts on the מצב – Situation in Israel

      Many have been discussing the situation with Israel and Palestine lately, and for a long time.  It is clear, with the way Gaza is, and with the continued building of settlements in the West Bank, that the “Two State Solution” will likely never come to fruition.  A solution is possible, but it will take huge amounts of work by many parties and likely be hugely unpopular at its outset.

By way of background, Israel has been the Jewish homeland for approximately 3,500 years.  Jews were exiled in 586 BCE by the Babylonians, and in 70 CE by the Romans. Yet there has not been a time in these 3,500 years, when there was not Jewish inhabitance of the Land.  There are many historical holy sites in Israel that are important to Jews, Muslims, Christians and a few smaller groups. Yet people do not always have access to these sites.

There are many wonderful things about Israel in addition to the historical sites.  Israel’s agricultural industry is unparalleled in the Middle East. Israel is also a hugely innovative country in the technological and medical arenas.  Vast numbers of jobs are created in all these fields, none of which are fully embraced in other countries in the Middle East, despite the potential to do so.

With a lot of work, Israel could truly be the gem of the Middle East, and I think we all hope and or pray that it really can be.

So, here is my proposed solution:

1.    Remove Binyamin Netanyahu from office and permanently ban him from public office.  He is dangerous to Israel and a huge part of the problem.

2.    Enact a change to Israel’s Constitution, designating Israel as a permanent SECULAR Jewish state. (From what I have seen in history, theocracies usually end up being run by right wing extremists.  The end result is always the removal of human rights.)  This means that in Israel, the Rabbanut (the Orthodox rabbinic leadership) must not be involved in the political process. These changes must be in perpetuity and irrevocable.

3.    Grant full citizenship to Jews, Palestinians, and other people who are indigenous to the full borders (not pre-1967) of Israel. This means that all these peoples have full and equal rights and protections under the law, even though Israel is designated a secular Jewish state.

4.    In this situation, Jews, Arabs and others will all be living side by side. This has the potential for strife, but if the IDF or the Mishtara (Israeli police) intervene, this may be seen as one sided.  So a multinational peace force is required to be deployed in Israel, for a period of time to ensure things go smoothly.  The UN has for decades, since they declared Israel’s statehood, voted in numerous resolutions against Israel. Instead of this, they need to be working to ensure the peace in the land.

5.    Since Jordan and Egypt, along with Syria and Lebanon to a lesser extent, have also been keeping Palestinians locked in, these countries should also be urged to open their borders to Palestinians who wish to live in these countries.  As a reminder, the Kingdom of Jordan was created, in part, as a Palestinian homeland in the Trans-Jordan, as part of the Balfour Resolution and the British Mandate, yet Jordan has never fully allowed Palestinians to settle there.

6.    The multinational forces, in addition to peace keeping duties, would need to be assigned to ensure full access by all, to all Holy sites in Israel.

I am sure that there are many more things that would need to be done to ensure the success of such a plan.  I also expect many people will argue or disagree with me on many or all of the points I have raised.  That is fine, as long as it leads to peaceful discourse.

I am not interested in fierce debates.  This is just a trial balloon to suggest a way forward, since nothing tried so far has worked.  To do anything like this will be extremely difficult, but I hope that visionary people in Israel, the rest of the Middle East and the UN can be found to make something like this happen.  Israel needs to be the Jewish home land she always has been, but she also needs to respect the rights for all citizens to live with equality and peace, and the ability to be secular, or choose the religion that they observe and follow.

© Rabbah Rona Matlow, MAJEd, MAJS, MEM 2018


  1. Rona, I love the creative energy here. All power to you. If you count everybody currently living from the Med to the Jordan, not including the Palestinian or Jewish Diasporas, it's 50/50 Jews/Palestinians. So must it be a Jewish State? "Secular" is a bit meaningless when you need to have a religious court convert you into this people. I think there are bi-national solutions that are close to what you are saying but will have better chance for less strife when both peoples are acknowledged and all people are equal under the law. Again, great job at getting the conversation going.

    1. That was Shai Gluskin that just made that comment.

    2. Thanks ShaI. I think it is important to keep it a Jewish state because there is no other. And without that clause, in a generation, due to high Muslim birthrates and declining birthrates among Jews, Israel would quickly become just Palestine .

      And then where would Jews be? We could hope and pray that we don't get kicked out or worse, but bear witness to what happened in 48. Most Jews were evicted from Muslim lands, with only Israel as a safe harbor. That needs to be preserved, but not at the expense of Israel being the theocracy it is now.