Although I am not a fan of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, I support his demand in these current peace talks — and that of a large majority (73%) of Israeli Jews — that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”

My reason for this is personal. The genealogy of my mother’s family can be found on the Internet; it dates back to the mid-1800s. I have a photo of my grandmother standing next to my greatgrandfather’s tombstone in Smilovichy, Belarus in 1920; the lettering is Hebrew, even the date. My father’s name, Rothberg, is Germanic, meaning Red Mountain, testifying to my family’s travels through Germany; my mother’s maiden name, Shapiro, has been traced to its presence in Speyer, Germany in 1084.

Recently, remains of a synagogue in Cologne, dating back 1700 years was unearthed in the main town square. All these populations, as well as those whose families passed through Spain and the Iberian peninsula or who settled in the Levant or in Middle Eastern countries, who are now called “Jews,” left or were driven out in the previous 1000+ years from the region we now call Israel and the surrounding area of Palestine; areas defined by the UN partition in 1947 and further defined by wars in 1948, 1952, 1967 and 1973. The point here is that I, and most “Jews,” have an ethnic identity (not to be confused with religion; one can convert to Judaism but not to the ethnicity) — Hebrews — which has its origins in that region and like Italians, Swedes, etc., have a right to a homeland.

Italy does not have to demand recognition as an “Italian” state because unlike the Palestinians, Switzerland and other European countries implicitly recognize Italy as an Italian state. The majority of Arabs in Palestine and other Arab countries do not recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jews/Hebrews and, therefore, I can support the demand that they explicitly do so and, in doing so, repudiate their position which has been, up to now, that the Jews/Hebrews are usurpers to be driven out.

It is necessary only because of the conflicts and rhetoric which have dominated the discourse, if we can call it that, in these 65 years. Mutual recognition must be the basis for a real peace.