If Gideon Levy wills it, it is a nightmare

Gideon Levy may be the most hated man in Israel, or the most heroic, but the controversial Haaretz columnist has a dream. Recently, he expressed his enthusiasm for turning Israel into ‘one just state for two peoples.’

One state for two peoples? It has already existed for a while now. More than two peoples live in it – Jews and Arabs; ultra-Orthodox Jews; religious Zionist and secular Jews; Jews of Middle-Eastern descent and Jews of European descent; settlers and Palestinians. (…) This, though, is how an imaginary, just state would appear: It would grant everyone the right to vote, and have a democratic constitution that would protect the rights of all communities and minorities – including an immigration policy like that of all other nations.
Such a state would have a legislature that would reflect the mosaic of the country, and an elected government formed by a coalition of the communities and the two peoples’ representatives. Yes, a Jewish prime minister with an Arab deputy, or vice versa.

Levy’s Utopian ‘state of all its citizens’ will replace Zionism with ‘something infinitely more just and sustainable.’ In his dream, the lion will lie down with the lamb and all threats will dissipate. Foreign aid will flood into this cross-confessional nirvana.

One can assume that ‘an immigration policy like all other nations’ will not privilege Jews over Arabs. Very quickly, Arabs would become a majority, Hatikva would cease to be the national anthem, and the Jews will be forced to give up their national state.

Levy’s solution has already been tried. It has failed. Lebanon was a mosaic state, but following a bloody civil war, it is little more than a precarious collection of quarreling sects on the edge of another precipice. The Maronite Christians have become a beleaguered minority, prefiguring what will happen to the Jews of Israel. Who said the definition of insanity is proposing the same solution but expecting different results every time?

Gideon Levy’s dream is the triumph of hope over experience. The 650,000 Jews who sought a haven in Israel and now form a 52 percent Jewish majority – some 300,000 others went to the West – did not escape violence and repression in Arab states in order to find themselves once more under Arab-Muslim dominion.

Been there for 14 centuries, done that, got the blood-stained T-shirt.

To all intents and purposes, the Arab world is now judenrein. The fewer the Jews in the Arab world, the greater the Jew-hatred.

Israel is far from perfect, but no Arab state is remotely comparable. In Israel, minorities enjoy equal status before the law, strenuous strides are being taken to fight social discrimination and prejudice. By contrast, the Arab world’ s record for tolerance and pluralism is disastrous.

In the wake of the Jews, Copts, Assyrians and Chaldeans are streaming out. The fiercely bigoted Muslim Brotherhood parties have become important players across the Arab world, but they promise only a bleak future of subjugation for women and non-Muslims under Shar’ia law.

Ultimately, Gideon’s dream is doomed, because it is based on the lie of Jewish-Muslim coexistence. On a visit to Morocco two years ago, Gideon was excited to witness proof of such coexistence: the Jewish cemetery in Fez is beautifully kept and the synagogue restored, he wrote at the time.

But with 90 percent of the Jews of Morocco gone, the Muslims are coexisting with dead Jews and empty Jewish buildings (which have their uses as tourist attractions). Before the French arrived in 1912, coexistence meant intimidation, constant humiliation by classification as second-class dhimmi citizens, pogroms and coercion by the Muslim majority. The cemetery in Fez contains the grave of Solika, the 19th century martyr, who chose to die a Jewess, rather than convert to Islam. It is her bitter legacy that Gideon Levy needs to confront.

Anyone but Gideon Levy can see that coexistence between a dwindling 3,000 Jews (where there were once 300,000) and the Muslim majority, has been a dismal failure.

It is a truism that those who share Gideon Levy’s ill-conceived dream tend to be leftist Ashkenazim who only have contempt and condescension for ‘Jews of Middle Eastern descent.’ The great mass of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in Israel, chastened by their suffering in the Arab world, support ‘right-wing’ parties – they are therefore deemed an’ obstacle’ to peace.

The Ashkenazi dreamers on the Left, blinded by wishful thinking, deaf to the din of inter-Arab strife unleashed by the Arab Spring, unruffled by ruthless regional power-politics, refuse to take seriously the Mizrahi experience of insecurity and oppression in the Arab world. Zionism did not create Arab anti-Semitism – it was a response to it. Among other things, it vindicates Israel as a Jewish homeland and a Zionist state.

Dream on, Gideon Levy, dream on – but don’t inflict your nightmare on us.

About the Author
Lyn Julius is a journalist and co-founder of Harif, an association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa in the UK. She is the author of 'Uprooted: How 3,000 years of Jewish Civilisation in the Arab world vanished overnight.' (Vallentine Mitchell)