Two Nations are in Your Womb

“Two nations are in your womb; two peoples are to part from you…”

Like the matriarch Rivka (Rebecca), the UN back in 1947 had two nations in its womb:  a Jewish state, to be called Israel, and a Palestinian state. But unlike  human babies, nation states sometimes can take a lot longer in gestation. Such is the case with the Palestinian state.

Although it was always the intention of the UN that  there be two states between the river and the sea, only Israel was born in 1948. After decades of struggle, only now, it seems is the world really serious about seeing a Palestinian state emerge.

The birth pangs have been evident for some time:  the first and second intifadas, the attempted peace accords of Oslo, the election triumph of Hamas, the various wars in Lebanon and Gaza, calls for BDS against Israel, and now, with the current war, campus protests around the world and the lop-sided vote by the UN General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian representation from non-member observer status to full member status.

Israel must come to terms with the fact that the UN, which gave it birth, has always intended that there also be a Palestinian state. Ironically, like the Palestinians prior to 1947, Israel is fighting tooth and nail to prevent the emergence of its twin state.

Israel now has a choice. It can embrace its once and future sibling and negotiate borders and other aspects of their relationship, or it can resist Palestine’s birth and ultimately be dragged, kicking, and screaming, to witness the birth of its sibling. Hopefully, the Israeli electorate will get to decide which direction its government will take before the choice is made for them.

Either way, Palestine is about to be born. My prayer is that it will have an easy birth and that Israelis and Palestinians will live together in peace in their shared homeland, as the Torah says of Yisrael/Yaakov and Esav’s reconciliation: ‘Let us be on our way and I will go beside you.”

From the river to the sea, Israelis and Palestinians share one destiny.

About the Author
Anson Laytner is a happily retired liberal rabbi whose career focused on building positive interfaith and interethnic relations in the Seattle area. As a volunteer, Laytner is president of the Sino-Judaic Institute and has edited its journal, Points East, for the last 38 years. He is the author of six books, most recently “Choosing Life After Tragedy” and the novel "The Forgotten Commandment." Visit him as his website