By Howard R. Zern
There are over 100 countries that imbed their predominant religion within their constitutions and laws. They are classified as religious states and include:
57 Islamic countries
40 Christian (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox)
1 Hindu and
The Palestinian Authority, while not a country, is classified as one of the 57 Islamic states, while Israel is classified as a Jewish state. No surprises here so far. However, the Palestinian Authority and most Islamic states refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. So the real question is why the hypocrisy?
After Israeli independence in 1948, the Islamic states refused to recognize Israel simply because they did not believe Israel would survive the invasion by their combined armies. These military invasions continued until the Yom Kippur War in 1973. It was at that time that the Arab countries, including the Palestinians, determined that Israel could not be defeated militarily by overwhelming force. This led to the Camp David Accords which precipitated a ‘cold’ peace with Egypt in 1979 and, in 1994, a peace treaty with Jordan.
In the other surrounding Arab countries and with the Palestinian Authority, the response was not peace, but terrorism including multiple hijackings, Munich, indiscriminate bombings, organized terrorism from the PLO stationed in Lebanon and regular (Palestinian) Hamas rocket and other terrorist attacks. Still Israel persisted, so the Palestinians and their allies resorted to an effective public relations campaign, including historical revisionism, to elicit sympathy among a war weary world all too willing to believe that Islamic terror within their own countries and many of the world’s problems would dissipate if Palestinian issues were addressed. Perhaps Canadian Education Minister Jason Kenney said it as well as anyone: “Israel faces a daily existential struggle for its survival and is a refuge for the Jewish people. … It is attacked daily and is targeted for elimination, precisely in part because it represents in the Middle East a kind of aberrant presence of Western civilization there … Our [Canadian] policy is, in part, predicated on actually taking Israel’s enemies at their word…. I don’t think we can approach the Middle East pretending or wishing away those, frankly, evil sentiments.”
Also within this framework of public relations and as a continued reason for refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, the Palestinians began insisting on a so-called ‘right of return.’ The reality is that this is merely an extension, or continuation of their view that Israel as a Jewish state simply does not have a right to exist and Israelis have no right to inhabit what many Arabs view as their land. Of course, in their narrative there is no mention that between 1948 and 1967 Jews were forcibly removed from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and other Arab countries, so much so that there were more Jews who were forced out than most Arabs who left the new State of Israel on the promise that they would return after Israel’s defeat, though some were displaced.
Sadly, the crux of this conflict is the failure of the Palestinians and the Islamic states to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and the failure to make such a statement in a non-equivocal and non-nuanced manner. While there are many other critical issues to resolve, the beginning of peace will come from the Palestinians (including Gaza) and the Islamic states when the democratic Jewish state of Israel is recognized by them as having the right to exist.
Regrettably, I do not believe the Palestinians or the Islamic states that do not recognize Israel are capable of overcoming their hatred and hypocrisy, and any lesser form of recognition is simply another tactic to their greater strategy of eliminating Israel and its people.
Howard R. Zern lives in West Hartford.