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Yom Haatzmaut, Arguments and Celebrations

Recently Secretary of State John Kerry created an uproar when he spoke about the dangers of Israel’s continued rule over the West Bank and the potential of it becoming an apartheid state. While I bristled at his words, I recall the words of then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who said in 2010. “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic. If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.” Or perhaps the Torah is more compelling: “There shall be one law for the citizen and for the stranger who dwells among you.” (Exodus 12:49) The word apartheid is of course charged and the Secretary of State should be far more diplomatic in his choice of laden words, yet the dangers facing Israel are real and the worries are great.

Israel was founded as both a democratic and Jewish state. In order to continue to affirm both of these principles it must, for its own sake, end its rule over Palestinians living in the West Bank. That it has tried countless times, and as even President Bill Clinton revealed, offered Palestinians control over the precious Temple Mount, is beside the point. I recognize that Palestinian and Arab leaders bear more responsibility than Israeli leaders for pushing away the hand of peace. Still Israel will be unable to hold on to its two founding principles the longer this situation continues.

It would have been better if it was an Israeli leader who reminded us of this truth, or perhaps a Jewish leader, but here again the debate narrows....

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