Palestinian state now could endanger Israel

Larry Levin, CEO and Publisher of the Jewish Light. 

By Larry Levin, Publisher/CEO

My colleague Bob Cohn and I have many discussions about Israel and the Middle East, and we have the interesting opportunity to express our synthesized thoughts about issues through the editorials of the Light (which also are vetted through an editorial committee).

But once in a while we have distinct opinions on critical matters, such that it’s important to get our individual points of view out there so that the issues are considered and debated from different points of view.

On many foreign affair issues, it would be fair to say that Bob stands a bit to the right of me and me to the left of him, though neither of us drifts particularly far from the center on issues concerning Israel. Though we consider it part of our mission to provide a wide range of viewpoints in the Light on Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian and other Middle Eastern issues, it’s infrequent that either of us deviates more than a few ticks from the center.

And that’s once again the case on today’s issue, with one notable exception – we’ve changed places.


The issue at hand is whether or not the United Nations should recognize a Palestinian state as a member of the organization. Bob has in the past, and again today, advocated that such a move could lead to constructive evolution in the process toward peace in the region.

I’m not buying it.

The premise of Bob’s position is sound. Once the Palestinian faction is granted a state, its leaders will be expected to act like a sovereign, and will receive the benefits – economic development, infrastructure assistance, technical consulting, a place at the table among the brotherhood of nations – if they comply with externally imposed conditions.

It’s not that I think this isn’t possible. It’s just that I think – and saying this is pretty hysterical given Bob’s vast advantage over me in knowledge and expertise on Middle East affairs – that it’s naïve.

And it’s naïve not because we haven’t seen terrorism evolve into sovereign stability. We have, and both the African National Congress as to South Africa and Irish Republican Army as to Northern Ireland serve as good examples.

It’s naïve because here, there’s little reason to think that without an agreement, the violence toward Israel we see today will dissipate over time.

The reason it’s unlikely to dissipate is because so much of the violence toward Israel is not about civil rights, or humane treatment, or 1967 lines.

It’s because of the seething hatred by a big chunk of Palestinian leadership and its supporters in the Middle East toward a Jewish State. And therein lies the difference from the South African and Northern Ireland examples.

It was not the goal of the ANC to kill all white people and dismantle South Africa. It was not the goal of the IRA to kill all Protestants and eliminate Ireland.

It is most definitely the goal of some of the partners in the Palestinian coalition to destroy Israel as a Jewish State, and to kill as many Jews as possible in the process.

It’s in the Hamas charter. It’s been recited so many times by Palestinian leaders that there’s no denying it.

Palestinian suicide bombers are rewarded financially and treated as martyred heroes for killing Jews on the street.

And when you add to that the utter contempt that Palestinian friend nations in the Middle East and Africa express toward Israel in the United Nations – echoed recently by the International Criminal Court’s decision to take up preliminary review of Israel’s actions in last summer’s Operation Protective Edge – there is little question that any continued desire to destroy Israel would receive ongoing support at the UN.

Look, I’m a two-stater through and through, and I think there is a play. The play is for Mahmoud Abbas to firmly denounce its collaboration with Hamas, recognize Israel, agree to demilitarization, accept joint security and go to the United Nations with a request for West Bank statehood.

And Abbas could also say that he will recognize expansion of that West Bank-based sovereign if and when whoever rules Gaza will sign on to the same rules. This would gain support from Egypt and its current regime, which finds Hamas a loathsome offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood that caused so much strife at the outset of Arab Spring.

Other nations might even follow, given the angst that Arab countries have started to express about the ongoing terrorism of ISIS and other Islamist extremist movements in the region. Who would have thought even a couple years ago that Qatar would expel Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal? The Saudi-Egyptian axis, though maybe not what Westerners see as the most enlightened leadership, is coalescing around its opposition to terrorism that threatens its own interests.

Such a move by Abbas could get me to sign on to Bob’s position. But unless and until there’s a Palestinian leadership entity that can demonstrate it has no beef with the continued existence, safety and security of its neighboring nation Israel, and will agree with Israel about how to implement and enforce such an agreement, I just can’t get on board with acceptance of statehood.

So for now, Bob and I will maintain a respectful difference of opinion. And we’ll continue to have one issue on which I’ll be able to call him an unabashed leftist.

And that’s how we have fun here at the Light!