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Israel Is The `Jewish State’: Why It Matters
Tue, 03/25/2014
Special To The Jewish Week

The importance of the issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish State by the PLO lies primarily in the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to agree to that recognition. 

Israel, whether or not it gains the agreement of the Palestinians, has been and will always be a Jewish state despite the hatred and refusal of President Abbas and his cohorts to recognize and accept that reality.  Israel was born and rose as a phoenix from the charred remains of Jewish people, driven by the dreams and the tears of thousands of years of longing of the patriarchs, prophets, dreamers and fighters for a return to Zion.  The Jewish identity of Israel lies in the DNA of the Jewish People which, under the leadership of David Ben Gurion and the heroes among the several hundred thousand Jews who framed Israel's Declaration of Independence in 1948 and fought off the atavistic attack of the Arab armies whose objective was to destroy the new State and drive its occupants into the sea.

The Declaration, issued at Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, proclaimed  "the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL."  It also stated: 

"The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world.

Exiled from Palestine, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their national freedom."

"…THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open to the immigration of Jews from all countries of their dispersion; will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."

"…In the midst of wanton aggression, we yet call upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the State, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in its bodies and institutions - provisional or permanent.

We offer peace and unity to all the neighboring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all."

The Jewish essence of the State of Israel lies in its history and the struggles and the principles embodied in its governance, – that all Jews (and only Jews) of any origin will always have the right of citizenship; that the laws, court decisions, and the conduct of its population are based on the principles and teachings of the Ten Commandments, the Torah, Talmud, and the learning and struggles which preserve the essence of Jewish identity and are designed to assure that the Jewish identity will always inhere the governance and conduct of the nation, while preserving the freedom and political equality of all its citizens, of whatever origin.

So, one may ask, if Jewishness is so firmly instilled in Israel, why must it demand such recognition from the Palestinians?  The answer lies simply in the outspoken refusal of the Palestinians to recognize and accept the obvious truth.  It reflects a failure of sincerity to fulfill a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict, a contumacy that betrays a hatred that may never disappear and contains the seeds of future wars.  In short, without that recognition, Israel cannot believe in the sincerity of an Arab world that continues to practice the incitement of hatred of Israel and of Jews.

Making peace is not like a business deal, like buying a horse, a car or a house.  There must be trust that you can live together.  Without that trust, there should be no deal.

Kenneth Bialkin is an attorney and longtime national Jewish leader.

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