At the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lies a clash of two narratives.
On the one hand, there is the stirring, fact-based Zionist narrative. On the other, there is the fabricated “Palestinian” narrative—which, as one senior PLO official openly admitted, “serves only tactical purposes,” one of which is to be “a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel.”
Although enormous international efforts have been invested in futile endeavors to portray these two narratives as reconcilable, the truth is that they are inherently and incontrovertibly mutually exclusive. Either one of them will prevail, absolutely and exclusively, or the other will.
It is becoming ever clearer with the passage of time that the reason for this unfortunate impasse is that Palestinian Arab enmity towards a Jewish state does not arise from anything the Jews do, but from what the Jews are.
This enmity, therefore, can only be dissipated if the Jews cease to be.
Successive Israeli governments, cowed by left-leaning civil society elites, have refused to articulate this “inconvenient truth” and refrained from formulating policy that takes it adequately into account.
Accordingly, they have perpetuated the myth that there is some fictional “middle ground” that, if found, would leave both sides not totally unaggrieved, but still satisfied enough to eschew violence.
The clash of two narratives
If the key issue is irreconcilable claims of sovereignty over a given geographical area, driven by mutually exclusive national narratives, which claim and which narrative should prevail?
Although there is seldom agreement among political scientists on issues relating to nations and nationalism, there is a consensus that a discernably unique identity is a crucial precondition for validating claims to national sovereignty and nationhood.
It is beyond dispute that Jews have a far stronger claim to a distinct national identity, and hence the right to sovereign nationhood, than most nations—particularly the Palestinian Arabs.
The Jews have a unique language, unique script, unique religion, unique history and heritage, unique calendar, unique customs, unique everything.
By contrast, Palestinian Arabs can point to nothing unique in any of these areas—not in language, not in religion, not in script, not in customs, not in anything.
Moreover, the Palestinian Arabs admit that they are part of a wider national grouping. Thus, Article 1 of the Palestinian National Covenant proclaims: “The Palestinian Arab people are … part of the Arab nation.” Article 12 baldly admits that a separate Palestinian identity is merely a temporary ruse to further wider Arab interests.
Thus, at an Arab League summit in 1987, convened in Amman, the late King Hussein of Jordan conceded that Palestinian identity was merely a response to Jewish national claims and was not driven by any authentic endogenic sentiment of uniqueness. He declared, “The appearance of the Palestinian national personality comes as an answer to Israel’s claim that Palestine is Jewish.”
From this, we are compelled to conclude that, if there were no Jewish claims to “Palestine,” there would be no Palestinian Arab claims. Therefore, these claims are merely a derivative of Jewish claims, without which they would not exist.
Clearly, if the Zionist claim has demonstrable validity over the irreconcilable, mutually exclusive counter-claim by the Palestinian Arabs, then the Zionist claim must prevail—exclusively and absolutely.
Expression of Jewish sovereignty
In a Jewish nation-state, Jewish people ought to comprise the sole and exclusive source of political sovereignty.
Non-Jewish residents should—as explicitly stated in Israel’s Declaration of Independence—enjoy full equality regarding individual civil rights, including the right to vote, but no collective national rights.
In a Jewish state, the national flag should bear the Star of David, not a crescent moon or cross; the state symbol should be the menorah, not an Arabian scimitar or a Crusader sword; the official day of rest—the Sabbath—should fall on Saturday, not Friday or Sunday; the national anthem should refer to the yearning of a Jewish soul, not a multicultural one of “all its citizens.”
In a Jewish state, there should be Judeo-centric legislation, enshrining the Law of Return for Jews in the Diaspora, but not the “right of return” for diasporic Palestinian Arabs.
Public life should be conducted, and the yearly calendar constructed, according to Jewish tradition and Zionist heritage. Hebrew, not Arabic or English, should be the hegemonic means of communication in commerce, academia and legal proceedings.
Any individual who actively rejects this should not continue to live within the frontiers of the country. There is absolutely nothing undemocratic about this. Indeed, it is a necessary precondition for sustainable democratic rule.
As John Stuart Mill reminded us: “Free institutions are next to impossible in a country … without fellow-feeling … [generated by] identity of political antecedents; the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections; collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past.”
Without this, he warns, “The united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist.”
More than a random amalgam
For those who might throw up their hands in a show of politically-correct horror, current events in the region ought to serve as a sobering reminder that a cohesive nation—and hence a stable nation-state—is more than a random amalgam of the inhabitants of a given territory, bound by nothing more than the accident of their geographic location.
Any doubts as to the continuing validity of this historic insight should swiftly be dispelled by the spectacle of gore and guts across the splintering Arab world in places such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. In these places, it is clear that “the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government” does not exist.
Of course, much has yet to be laid out regarding the “intellectual arsenal” that needs to be marshaled to preserve Israel as the nation-state of the Jews. But a clear idea of the superior Jewish claims to sovereignty, the expression of that sovereignty in the Jewish nation-state and the need for a muscular and adequately-funded public diplomacy offensive to promote and protect it, is an indispensable initial building block required to commence the assembly of such an “arsenal.”
Dr. Martin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team and a participant in the Israel Victory Initiative.