This article by Prof. Shlomo Avineri will certainly stimulate much dialogue. I did not think that requiring the Palestinians to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state was a necessary pre-condition to a continuation of negotiations. As several Israelis have said, we don’t need the Palestinians to confirm our Jewishness. However, as someone who has been involved in calling for a two-state solution for several decades now, and having had “friendships” and “civil relationships” with Palestinians in particular as well as Arabs in general, I have often walked away from these exchanges perplexed by the “other’s” inability to see Jews as more than a religion.
Rarely did I meet a Palestinian or Egyptian, Syria, Lebanese, etc. who acknowledged the peoplehood of the Jews. It is also true that there are Jews, Neturei Karta among them, who also say that the Jews are a religion, not a nation. In my first film, The Tribe, Leibele Wisefish, Neturei Karta’s Foreign Minister, said that Jews are only a religion.
I think that Prof Avineri took on a mighty task by confronting it head one. It seems to me that the dhimmi status of Jews and Christians, which gave them permission to practice one’s faith, enjoy communal autonomy and to be entitled to Muslim protection from outside aggression led to their being regarded in Islamic countries as a “religion” only. Avineri’s article is important. — Lilly
“We are a people, a response to Sari Nusseibeh: Answering one of the most moderate and enlightened of Palestinian intellectuals – but who still opposes the idea of a Jewish state.”