Photo: Gali Tibbon
Sari Nusseibeh
Photo: Gali Tibbon
Netanyahu at UN
Photo: MCT
Abbas welcomed back in Ramallah
Photo: EPA

Palestinian intellectual argues against Jewish state concept

President of Al-Quds University lists 'hazardous' implications of recognition of Israel as Jewish state which he says Israelis themselves won't accept

If Israelis only knew the implications of the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state they would withdraw it immediately, Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh claimed Sunday.


In an op-ed titled "Why Israel can't be a 'Jewish State'" published in Al-Jazeera's website, Nusseibeh lists a number of reasons which contradict the Israeli demand and urges Israelis to choose between a democratic state and a Jewish state.


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According to Nusseibeh, the Palestinians have repeatedly recognized the State of Israel as Jewish in the 1993 Oslo Accords. He also claims that that the demand for a Jewish State was not part of the Balfour Declaration or the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897.


"Today, however, demands for a 'Jewish State' from Israeli politicians are growing without giving thought to what this might mean," he writes. "The idea is logically and morally problematic because of its legal, religious, historical and social implications."


Abbas returns to Ramallah from New York (Photo: Reuters)
Abbas returns to Ramallah from New York (Photo: Reuters)

Nusseibeh then goes on to explain those implications, which he says most Israelis will not accept.


First, he says, "The term 'Jewish' can be applied both to the ancient race of Israelites and their descendants, as well as to those who believe in and practice the religion of Judaism. These generally overlap, but not always. For example, some ethnic Jews are atheists."


"Second, a modern nation-state being defined by one ethnicity or one religion is problematic in itself. The modern nation-state as such is a temporal and civic institution, and no state in the world is - or can be in practice - ethnically or religiously homogenous."


"Third, recognition of Israel as a 'Jewish state' implies that Israel is, or should be, either a theocracy (if we take the word 'Jewish' to apply to the religion of Judaism) or an apartheid state (if we take the word 'Jewish' to apply to the ethnicity of Jews), or both, and in all of these cases, Israel is then no longer a democracy."


Nusseibeh's fourth reason relates to statistics showing that 20% of Israel's population are Arab. "Recognizing Israel as a 'Jewish State' makes one-fifth of the population automatically strangers in their own native land." This, he says, opens the door to reducing them to second-class citizens or even stripping them of their rights.


Democracy or Judaism

Nusseibeh also explains the problem of defining Jerusalem as the Jewish state's united capital while it is considered holy for three religions, which effectively puts Judaism higher than Christianity and Islam. He quotes biblical sources and finally urges Israeli leaders and citizens to choose between a democratic state or a Jewish state.


"So, rather than demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a 'Jewish State' we offer the suggestion that Israeli leaders ask instead that Palestinians recognize Israel (proper) as a civil, democratic, and pluralistic state whose official religion is Judaism and whose majority is Jewish.


"This is a reasonable demand, and it may allay the fears of Jewish Israelis about becoming a minority in Israel, and at the same time not arouse fears among Palestinians and Arabs about being ethnically cleansed in Palestine."




פרסום ראשון: 10.02.11, 11:36
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