On February 23, 2014, the Associated Press issued a news article written by Dan Perry entitled, "Israeli demand sparks 'Jewish state' debate. Essentially, the thrust of the article was that many Jews believe and demand that Israel declare itself to be a Jewish state by law because Judaism is not just a religion, not just a nationality, and not just an identity because it is all three of these things simultaneously. However, this position raises many complicated philosophical and practical issues. For example, should a religion be a state and conversely, should a state have a religion? On the practical side of the coin, what does declaring Israel to be a Jewish state say to the Palestinian people about their status in Israel, especially the ones who happen to be its citizens?
While the subject article delves into the examination of these issues in some detail, it fails to include an examination of this matter from an American's point of view and it also tiptoes around issues such as fairness from a Palestinian's point of view. This essay is an attempt to rectify these shortcomings.
The United States is a nation created by people seeking a better life and who fled the Old World to escape religious persecution. For this reason, it is nation where church and state are separate. The Founders understood that a constitution is a contract between citizens created exclusive of God, while religion is a relationship between God people. Therefore, the basis of law in America is reason and justice to the exclusion of religious dogma. Jesus endorsed these governing principles when He said render onto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render onto God that which is God's. He said this not only to avoid being charged with treason by the Romans, but also because Christ wanted people to come to Him willingly and without compulsion; not because of some manmade law.
The simple truth of the matter is that a hallmark of a religious state is tyranny. This is true because government officials rule with God's blessing instead of by the consent of those they govern. The adage; power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is operative here. What is more absolute than rulers who rule on behalf of God? To see the truth in this, we only have to look to the Spanish Inquisition where people were tortured and put to death because they offended those in position of authority. The fact that people in Europe fled their homelands to seek freedom of religion in the New World is further validation that the religious states of the Old World were the embodiment of tyranny and oppression.
Therefore, Americans should be wary of religious states. Furthermore, we should be opposed to new ones being established, especially when it involves usurping the territory of a weaker and unwilling group of people. Unfortunately, Israel falls into this latter category. Granted, the holocaust and the end of WWII created a situation where Jews deserved special considerations, but how do we justify forcing the Palestinians to pay this price? Indeed, how just is it to force them to continue to pay this price?
The subject article pointed out that many Palestinians oppose Israeli demands for them to embrace the concept of Israel being a Jewish state because it would mean Palestinian refugees would have to give up their dreams of returning to their "lost properties". This is a curious choice of words because it implies that the Palestinians played some role in losing them which is not the case at all. The truth is that the Jews were mandated part of Palestine by the United Nations following the close of WWII and in keeping with this United Nations mandate, the Palestinians were forced from the homes and the land they occupied for centuries. Complicating this equation is that Israel, through the years, has expanded its occupation of Palestinian lands through war and annexation.
The nation of Israel, throughout its existence has claimed a "right of return' to Israel for Jews throughout the world. If this is a fundamental and recognized right for a Jew, then in all fairness, it should also be a fundamental and recognized right for a Palestinian. The point being that if Israel declares itself to be a Jewish State, then the Palestinians, indeed, will have been denied their 'right of return' ensuing that they will be a second class citizens forever. In other words, If Israel declares itself to be a Jewish State, in order for a Palestinian to be equal to a Jew in their eyes and the eyes of everyone else in the world he will have to fight for this right. What this means is that unless Palestine defeats Israel or Israel wipes out the Palestinians, the wars of terror in the Middle East and throughout the world will go on forever.