Can Israel be a Jewish State’? Global Public Square Blogs
Negotiations between Israel and the PLO have been stalled for many reasons, but a central issue is the Palestinian refusal to acknowledge Israel as a “Jewish state.”
The whole idea behind the partition of the Palestine Mandate in 1947 was, in the words of U.N. General Assembly resolution 181, the creation of an “Arab state” and a “Jewish state.” The Arab rejection of Israel as a Jewish state is in fact at the heart of the Middle East conflict. It is based on the widespread refusal to accept Israel as a permanent presence in the region, but is usually couched in more acceptable terminology — indeed, the language of “rights.”
As one news story put it, “Palestinian negotiators have recognized Israel’s right to exist, but not as a Jewish state, which officials say would prejudice the right of return for refugees and violate the rights of Israel’s non-Jewish residents.”
In other words, the argument is that if Israel is a “Jewish state” it will certainly, unavoidably, necessarily discriminate against non-Jews. The problem with this debating point is that those who use it apply it only to Israel; none ever voices any concern about states based on Islam and discriminating in favor of Muslims.
There are actually four states whose very name contains a religious reference: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. But beyond those, in every Muslim-majority country the constitution asserts a special role for Islam. The Jordanian constitution says “Islam is the religion of the State” and of course “No person shall ascend the Throne unless he is a Moslem…of Moslem parents.” No converts!
But Jordan has a Christian minority that is five to eight percent of the population (Eastern Orthodox, Circassian, Melkite, and other sects).
Egypt is about ten or even fifteen percent Christian (Copts), but its current provisional constitution states that “Islam is the religion of the state….Principles of Islamic law (Shari’a) are the principal source of legislation.” Moreover, this is unlikely to change: presidential candidate Mohammad ElBaradei, viewed as a Westernized moderate, recently released his version of a new Egyptian constitution that similarly holds “Islam shall be the religion of the state….Sharia shall be the main source of legislation.”
The constitution of Malaysia states that “Islam is the religion of the Federation,” even though the country is only about sixty percent Muslim. It is roughly twenty percent Buddhist, ten percent Christian, and six percent Hindu, among other religions.
Read the rest of this short and very worthwhile opinion piece at the link above.