Fred Maroun
A believer in peace and human dignity

A democratic and Jewish Israel is worth fighting for

The Knesset, Israel’s parliament (credit: James Emery / Wikimedia Commons).

The direction that Israeli voters seem to be taking in this election is exactly the direction that Israel’s enemies want them to take.

If the party of Itamar Ben-Gvir becomes the third largest party in the Knesset, as seems inevitable, and if he becomes a senior minister in the government, as seems likely, Israel would be taking a significant step away from being what its founders believed it must be: a democratic and Jewish state.

Israel would increasingly become a state where Israeli settlements deep in the West Bank are normalized. A state where animosity between Jewish and Arab citizens keeps growing. A state where the West Bank is essentially part of Israel while its Arab residents are not.

In other words, Israel would be moving further towards having to annex the West Bank and having to choose whether to remain democratic by granting West Bank Palestinians citizenship or to remain Jewish by not doing so.

It is a reality that many Israelis seem to try very hard to ignore, but they can’t have it both ways. And another reality is that a Jewish state that is either no longer democratic or no longer Jewish is a Jewish state that is no longer sustainable.

A non-democratic Israel would lose support from the West and particularly it would lose crucial support for the United States. One must be foolish to assume that this would not affect Israel’s ability to defend itself.

A non-Jewish Israel, on the other hand, would quickly become a second Lebanon where Jews are in a position similar to the Christians of Lebanon, having to appease extremists simply to survive.

I realize that many Israelis have come to the point of supporting Ben-Gvir and his party not out of ignorance of this situation but out of extreme frustration with the lack of progress with the Palestinians. Many Israelis told me personally that they supported a two-state solution when the Oslo Accords were negotiated but lost faith in it when the Palestinians rejected Israel’s offer in 2000 and started the second intifada. Many Israelis have also told me that they lost faith in “land for peace” when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and the Palestinians responded with rockets.

I understand the frustration, but an irrational reaction to that frustration is exactly what Israel’s enemies hope for. They want Israel to abandon the formula that has served it well so far: being both Jewish and democratic. They want Israel to become weak. They want to achieve through demographics what Arab armies and Arab terrorists have failed to achieve for over seven long decades: destroy the Jewish state.

If Israeli voters abandon what Israel’s founders believed was necessary for its survival, they would be handing their enemies exactly what they want, and on a silver platter too.

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to defend itself. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities co-exist in peace with each other, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere.
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