The government of Israel, with all due respect, does not represent the Jewish people but rather the citizens of the State of Israel who elected it. Israel is a sovereign state, which is still considered to be a democracy. In other words, it is a state for all of its citizens. Therefore it must not demand of the Palestinians to recognize it as a Jewish state, because in that way it would be declaring that any citizen whose mother is not Jewish or who did not convert with our strict Orthodox rabbis is a second-rate citizen, and his rights as a human being and a citizen are not ensured.
The Jews are a people but not a nation, they are a religious ethnic group or as respected a tribe as may be. The Jewish citizens of Britain, including the Orthodox among them, are British, and that is what is written in their passports and in the British population registry.
The Palestinians are not required to recognize the state of Israel. After all, they have already done so in the Oslo agreement – in spite of the fact that Israel has yet to recognize the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own based on the Green Line borders.
No, the government of Israel demands much more: the Palestinians must now recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”.
Does the USA demand to be recognized as a “Christian” or “Anglo-Saxon state”? Did Stalin demand that the US recognize the Soviet Union as a “Communist state”? Does Poland demand to be recognized as a “Catholic state”, or Pakistan as an “Islamic state”? Is there any precedent at all for a state to demand the recognition of its domestic regime?
The demand is ridiculous per se. But this can easily be shown by analysis ad absurdum.
What is a “Jewish state”? That has never been spelled out. Is it a state with a majority of Jewish citizens? Is it “the state of the Jewish people” – meaning the Jews from Brooklyn, Paris and Moscow? Is it “a state belonging to the Jewish religion” – and if so, does it belong to secular Jews as well? Or perhaps it belongs only to Jews under the Law of Return – i.e. those with a Jewish mother who have not converted to another religion?
These questions have not been decided. Are the Palestinians required to recognize something that is the subject of debate in Israel itself?
Olmert & Co. know this, of course. They are not posing this demand in order to get it accepted. They pose it in order that it not be accepted. By this ploy they hope to avoid any obligation to start meaningful negotiations.