Start with ISIS, now saying that in the land under its control in Iraq, one must be Muslim or be expelled or killed. This is totally unacceptable. Yet, does that differ in kind from the idea that the Jews have a God-given right to own their land in “Israel”? I will call that the new Zionism.
Zion, once simply the idea of a home for Jews in Palestine, was a popular idea in the years between World Wars I and II. When the second one ended, there were many displaced Jews with no place to live. The idea of Zion again arose, meaning at the time to settle some of them in Palestine. However, that area was in no sense vacant, when President Truman assumed he had the right to ship thousands of displaced Jews there. Within a year of their arrival, the Jews decided that they wanted Israel as a Jewish state, not just a state for Jews – a huge difference – and to achieve that, started a war to expel many Muslims, killing many thousands and deporting thousands, while taking half their land for itself.
That I call the new Zion.
I think of the Mideast problem now to be intolerant Jews vs. intolerant Muslims such as ISIS. Aren’t the extremists of both sides contemptible? And murderous? Both equally guilty of claiming a God-given right to land?
Separate states, one for Jews and one for Muslims living alongside each other, is no longer possible. A state needs clear boundaries – impossible with all the settlements in the West Bank, along with Gaza totally apart.
The United States should back and support the government of Israel while urging it to propose to the Palestinians that the land between the sea and the states of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt: Call it Israel if you wish, but insist it be secular – as it was before 1946, without religious preference. It could be a democracy much like that in the United States. That finally would end the serious problems of Israeli mistreatment in Gaza and in the occupied West Bank. It also would allow unfettered access of Christians, Jews and Muslims to their holy city of Jerusalem.
Victor J. Reilly