Avrum Burg’s support for the one-state solution

In an ideal world, there would be no national borders, no attempts by nations to keep out illegal immigrants and an egalitarian distribution of resources between all humanbeings. However, it doesn’t happen that way. It doesn’t even happen in democratic countries, where elected governments pursue their own political and economic agendas with limited concern for the interests of those who voted for the opposition parties. Ultimately, wherever you go, it is the strong who dictate the agenda. That’s true not only in government, but also in all human and animal interactions.

Any Jew with any sense of history understands that the return to Zion after two thousand years of wandering was primarily brought about because Jews were sick and tired of living as a minority, whose wellbeing was dependent upon the goodwill of the indigenous population and its rulers. The events of the late 19th century in Eastern Europe, anti-semitism even in an enlightened country like France as was highlighted by the Dreyfus Trial and, of course, first and foremost, the Holocaust convinced most Jews that we needed to control our own fate (to the degree that that can be true of any of us!)

In an ideal world, there would be a secular state in the Middle East extending from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean – why not also include Jordan, the whole Middle East and, indeed, the entire the world? – in which Jews and Palestinians and all religious, ethnic, racial and tribal groups would live together, side by side in peace. However, we shall have to wait for the Messiah for that to happen!

For the meantime, the establishment of one state between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean would inevitably result in the Jews becoming a minority in their own land. Given Islam’s political and religious agenda, it is not too difficult to see what would become of us. One need only look at the decimation of Christian communities in Arab lands and the persecution of the Copts in Egypt to understand the picture.

There is not one secular state in the entire Middle East and it is wishful thinking to imagine that a state comprised of Jews and Muslims, each with their own religious and political agendas, would be capable of establishing one.

Of course, people will refer us to the Golden Age in Spain, forgetting the fact that Maimonides fled that country for Egypt, because of the forced conversion of Jews to Islam under pain of death.

Therefore, while I respect Avrum Burg’s dream, I don’t think it is based in reality but in wishful thinking.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.