September 1, 2014

Thoughts on the Future of Israel

I was driving home from Geneva, New York, today and heard an episode of the radio program “Democracy Now!” a public radio program I had never heard before. Today’s program featured an interview with long-time Jewish leader Henry Siegman, a critic of Israel’s policies regarding Palestinian. (The interview can be seen or read here.)

Flag of Israel
Siegman offered much to think about, but what I found most interesting were his thoughts on the future of Israel. Siegman argued that Israel’s present government has no real interest in a two-state solution—it wants all of Palestine. He asserted that Israeli settlements make that outcome nearly inevitable. Only two developments can derail that inevitability.

First, the U.S. could cut off financial and moral support for Israel. Our “special relationship,” he said, is based on common values, but, as things now stand, we are complicit in the “oppression and permanent disenfranchisement of an entire people.” At some point, America could say enough is enough and tell Israel that it is on its own. Of course, Israel cannot survive without American aid.

As much as I would like to see the U.S. cut Israel loose (or demand the complete dismantlement of all Jewish settlements intended to create facts on the ground), I am not going to hold my breath waiting for this to happen. The Israel lobby, after all, is even more powerful that the NRA. It owns Congress.

Siegman’s second possibility is a lot more interesting. Let the Palestinians surrender. Let them declare that Israel has won and can have all of Palestine. Then begin a civil-rights campaign demanding equal treatment by the Israeli government. (Siegman cautions that this move must be sincere, and the campaign must be non-violent.) Israelis will not stand for a democratic state that is no longer a Jewish one and will be forced to carve out a state for the Palestinians. (Or, better still, in my opinion, will be forced to dismantle the thinly disguised theocracy for a secular state.)

One more thought (this is my own): It is often said that Israel is our staunchest ally in the Middle East. Alas, Israel is also the reason we need such an ally.


  1. I once heard it described as "If Israel will not accede to the Two State Solution *soon* [heard it 10 years ago, maybe?], it will have to face up to the One State Solution".

    Two into One into Two? Who knows?

    Have you heard about the brouhaha w the Episcopal Chaplain at Yale? Some are calling for his ouster, based upon his letter to the NYT (briefly, "If Anti-Semitism is becoming a problem in Europe, it can best be solved if Jews pressure Israel re [Gaza, etc]"). Some see it as blaming the victims (of Anti-Semitism) . . . which it is, but if it's descriptive, not prescriptive? Practically speaking, Israel's policies produce Anti-Semitism. Rightly or wrongly.

    Anyway, expect to hear more about this one (the Episcopal Chaplain at Yale)

  2. Thanks for this information. I had not known about the Rev. Bruce M. Shipman’s letter, but I have now learned more about it and the reaction to the letter. Shipman has a point. Israel’s behavior may not completely explain recent antisemitism, but it surely isn’t helping.,


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