WHILE YOU STAND ON ONE LEG: A “two-state solution” sounds fair to American ears – the Jews and Arabs have been fighting over Palestine forever, so end this by splitting it. We have to convince them that splitting it is not fair, that it divides only the Jewish fifth of Palestine, that Jews having all of that fifth, to which they’re historically and legally entitled, still leaves Palestinian Arabs with four-fifths, and that for a defensible and meaningful Jewish homeland state, the Jews absolutely have to have the land of Israel in its entirety.
A “Two-State Solution” Sounds Appealingly Fair, But An Israeli State in the Entirety of the Land of Israel Is Fairer
What could sound fairer to American ears than a seemingly equitable solution to the long Arab-Jewish Palestine conflict than dividing it in a “two-state solution” between its Arabs and its Jews?
Indeed, such a “two-state solution” is endorsed by the U.N. (UNSC 2334); is “consensus policy within the Democratic Party” (former Amb. Shapiro, Times of Israel, 5/17/20: “a two-state solution on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps”); and is the announced policy of the American Jewish Reform and Conservative movements in their open letter last year to President Trump, calling for borders that “hew precisely” to “the 1967 borders” save for any agreed “territorial adjustments” thereto.
But it’s incumbent upon us, American Jews who agree with most Israelis that such a “two-state solution” would render Israel, the Jewish state, defenseless and meaningless to make the case to our fellow Americans that what’s actually fair is Israeli sovereignty in the entirety of the land of Israel, Palestine west of the Jordan River, including Judea-Samaria and historic Jerusalem.
Exposing the Arab Claim as “What’s Mine is Mine, What’s Yours is Divisible”
We have to begin by acknowledging that our adversaries have done well in framing the fight as over a Palestine “from the River to the Sea” and themselves as “THE Palestinians.” We have to contest both of these frames.
In laying foundations after World War I for the future of what had been the Turkish Ottoman Empire for four hundred years, one of the League of Nations’ Mandates, the Palestine Mandate with its Palestine Jewish national home and close settlement of Jews on the land, embraced what are today Israel and Jordan. The Mandate allowed the Mandatory, Britain, an option to withhold from its provisions the portion of its territory east of the Jordan River, which Britain did in crating Transjordan. There was no such provision for severing from the Mandate its territory west of the River. That severance from the Mandate of 78% of its territory as Arab Jordan, initially named Transjordan, constituted a 4:1 partition of Palestine between Arabs and Jews.
Not only is Jordan descended from the Palestine Mandate, 78% of it, but the majority of Jordan’s population today is Palestinian Arab – i.e., descended from Arabs who’d lived in the Palestine Mandate, including the part that became Israel. Western Palestine’s population in 1948, when Israel became independent, was less than two million people, a good third of them Jews. (There’d have been very many more Jews, but for the Turks, Germans and British.) Palestine’s Jews of that time, as well as its Arabs, were deemed and called “Palestinian.” The subsequent appropriation by the Arabs of “Palestinian” as exclusively theirs – a significant accomplishment in making themselves “THE Palestinians” in a fight over “Palestine” – is partly our fault for not just acquiescing but joining in calling them that. We can and should stop.
But wait, our adversaries point out. Palestinian Arabs aren’t in charge of Palestinian Arab-majority Jordan, still ruled by British-enthroned Hashemite Arab kings. The solution to that is to be found in Palestinian Arab-majority Jordan, by making it, e.g., a constitutional monarchy making Jordan “Democratic & Arab,” not by dividing the remaining Jewish 22% of the Palestine Mandate once again between Arabs and Jews.
Historically and Legally, the Land of Israel is Ours
I used to cringe when I’d read in the newspapers that the reason Jews reject the Palestinian Arab “right of return” is that it would make Israel no longer “Jewish.” I could just see Christian Americans reading this shaking their heads and saying, “well, if it’s not rightly the Jews’ land, that’s just too bad for the Jews.”
But it, the land of Israel in its entirety, rightly is the Jews’ land, historically and legally, and we have to get that across to Americans. Today’s state of Israel is the land of Israel’s next native state after Roman-destroyed Jewish Judaea, every ruler in between for eighteen hundred years having been a foreign empire invader, and mostly non-Arab at that. Palestinian Arabs have not ruled Jerusalem, Judea-Samaria or other areas of the land of Israel for one day in history.
An article in Israel Hayom this week (“A Mystery for Tisha B’Av,” 7/29/20) is sub-titled, “If consensus is reached on the location of an ancient synagogue built beneath the Temple Mount, it could prove that Jews have been praying at the Western Wall for 1,000 years.” It mentioned that in 1099 “the Jews took the lead in defending Jerusalem and were the last to fall.” I have a direct quotation of this, and of the Jews having held off the Crusaders in Haifa alone for a month, in my book, Israel 3000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3000 Year Presence in Palestine, in which I argue that historian Parkes was right that the continuous tenacious homeland-claiming presence of the Jewish Yishuv all through the post-biblical centuries wrote our time’s Zionists’ “real title deeds.”
And the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate, adopted along with other League treaties by the successor United Nations, is still there with its western Palestine Jewish national home.
We Have To Have It, the Land of Israel, Including Judea-Samaria and Historic Jerusalem
We can’t rest on arguing that the entirety of the land of Israel, western Palestine, is historically and legally ours. For a defensible, meaningful homeland Jewish state, we have to have the land of Israel, including the defensible hill country of Judea-Samaria and the core of the core, as Bibi put it to the UN, the site of the Temples and original City of David, historic Jerusalem. This one-fifth – four-fifths division of the Palestine Mandate between, respectively, Jews and Arabs, is as far as we can go in partitioning Palestine.