Friday, January 2, 2009

"Separation Between Church And State"

It's all been said. It's pointless and it'll kill people. It is incredibly disheartening. The only ray of light for me is it has drawn attention to J Street, a "pro-Israel, pro-Peace" lobby group seeking to displace AIPAC as the voice of Israel in America (and, according to a writer at Commentary Magazine, is therefore "anti-Israel"). J Street, which has the backing from the sorts of people as to make it at least seem credible, looks like a glimpse at a future in which there will be hope for the Peace Process.

My personal belief, as an Israeli who loves Israelis (no matter how hard they make it for people to like them), who also loves human beings and think they shouldn't have to die--come to after a long time of personal struggle--is that the Jewish-Muslim conflict in the Middle East (not just Israel-Palestine but Israel-Syria, Israel-Lebanon, Israel-Iran, and the upcoming Israel-Iraq which this current war is starting) will only be abated when the concept of "separation between Church and State" becomes the way--both in Israel, and in all of the Arab countries. Note: Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have secular leadership, and they have peace with Israel. Of course, they don't have peace with their own people b/c they have no democracy.

Can Democracy coexist with separation between church and state in the Middle East? It could, one day, but we can't force it. Turkey, for instance, is an example of divorcing Islamism and state--they did it voluntarily, for purposes of stability. It still is a hotly debated political issue. But it hasn't rent their society apart the way that it threatens to rip Egypt apart.

So if you had a bunch of secular republics that were built on the principle of representation, and representing everyone--not just a "democracy" that turns into leadership by whichever mob wins elections--they could come together.

What would this mean? It would mean no "Jewish" state in the Middle East.

Major sticking point of the Camp David and subsequent accords? Right of Return for Palestinians. Why can't we grant the Right of Return? It's not economic--if such an accord were granted, the international community would trip over itself from excitement to bankroll that peace process. No question. Maybe it's a security issue. But most of all, it'd a demographic issue.

If the Palestinians return to Israel, Israel will no longer be majority Jewish. And then it would be forced to choose between Democracy and between "The Jewish State." B/c the only reason it can be a Democracy and a Jewish State is because Jews are the majority. Granted, the Jewish population is shrinking, and they make it incredibly easy for Jews to immigrate and incredibly difficult for Arabs or other Muslims to immigrate. But add in several million Palestinians returning to Israel? No question. No more Jewish majority--and therefore, no more Jewish state.

Would it become a Muslim state? Probably not. Because Jews would still be a significant voting bloc. What it would become, most likely, is a secular state.

Right now, no one wants that. the Palestinians say they want an Islamic State, the Jews want a Jewish State. So they're fighting over a two-state solution with an impossible number of conflicting demands.

You want an answer to this crisis? A one state, pluralistic, representative Democracy--built along the lines of Turkey, perhaps--that would allow Palestinians and Jews some measure of equal power. And nobody wants that. So it's not going to happen.

Is there another route? Maybe. It is less implausable, but still well into the "impossible" column. If Israel decided to ignore Gaza completely--let humanitarian aid in, keep it separated from Israel, let Egypt do what Egypt wants to do--and then negotiate a separate peace with Fatah in the West Bank--including a full scale withdrawal from the West Bank.

The West Bank is much more moderate; the West Bank has not taken any military actions against Israel. It can clearly be worked with. Abbas may not want a separate peace, and Israelis might not want to withdraw from the West Bank if Gaza is still firing on them.

This is basically a three state solution--but that makes sense, because our current reality is basically three states (Gaza, Israel, West Bank). In fact, the West Bank and Gaza are basically at a state of war--whereas Israel and the West Bank are not. So let's create a separate peace between the West Bank and Israel.

What happens after that? Well, the West Bank sees economic growth. It becomes a prosperous partner to Israel. Hamas-run Gaza probably remains a place of strife and chaos. Eventually, they'll want to know why they're being shut out. People in Palestine will turn on Hamas. They will lack the traction. Because Hamas only gains in popularity when Israel attacks. If Israel refuses to let Hamas bait it, and demonstrates that it can come to peace with a Palestinian neighbor, Hamas' legitimacy will vanish.

But what am I talking about. Looking at Israeli politicians, it's clear that that's not happening.

No comments: