Although it’s tempting to attack the demonstration against imposing sovereignty on Saturday night, it’s worthwhile to discuss the participants’ claim that it was a demonstration of Jewish-Arab partnership.
It’s important to say that there’s nothing wrong with such a partnership. In fact, it’s our fate to live in partnership in the Land of Israel, so the argument between the sides comes down to the nature of the partnership: The Jewish participants in the demonstration want to give up, or at least dilute, the component of Israel’s Jewish and Zionist identity in the context of that partnership, while those opposed to the demonstration want to preserve these components.
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To participants in the demonstration everything was clear: Mickey Gitzin welcomed the Jewish-Arab partnership that is being built, Chen Liberman wondered about the reason for the furious objection to Palestine Liberation Organization flags, and Yariv Oppenheimer was excited about the number of participants.
The absence of Israeli flags didn’t bother them. Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh glowed with happiness, and not by chance – this is precisely the partnership that he is longing for: A reduction of Jewish and Zionist identity to the level of a single Israeli flag at best, among a sea of Palestinian flags.
Most Israelis identify the Palestinian flag with terror and a desire to foil the Jewish state, apparently because they still draw a direct connection between the Palestine Authority and the PLO – a terror organization that was brought to Israel in the wake of the Oslo Accords.
The thought that Jews are also carrying these flags is worrisome, but enables us a glimpse at the nature of the hoped-for partnership. The fact that the demonstrators didn’t use the word “Palestinian” but preferred the word “Arab” – Jewish-Arab partnership – also indicates something about the naivete many of them share.
Incidentally, many Jews who lived in Muslim Arab countries could tell those same idealists about that life of “partnership.” About the status of the Jews as dhimmi, or inferior people, under Arab rule. Not that that bothered people like Shaqued Morag, the executive director of Peace Now, who decided to take the knee in memory of George Floyd, Eyad Hallaq and victims of the occupation. Everything tied up together in a shiny gift package, containing a mentality of surrender and inferiority.
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In the final analysis, beneath the desire for Jewish-Arab partnership hides the desire to reestablish Israel as a state of all its citizens. In other words, as a country that will be unable to function as a national home for the Jewish people, because the Jewish component will not be awarded a central status in it. When you scatter the fog of shouts, tweets, arguments and struggles, that’s the basic difference between the right wing and the type of left wing that filled the square with Palestinian flags.
The right wing simply says that it isn’t offering partnership with equal rights on the national level, but rather a shared life based on honesty and the understanding that Israel will forever be a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, in that order. Nor does the right wing feel a need to apologize for that, to lie or sugar-coat it: We have no intention of giving up our national rights and our self-determination. Like any minority living in Israel, Arab citizens are invited to be an integral part of this place, as long as they accept these definitions.
The left wing, on the other hand, has to ask itself whether it is really willing to give up the Zionist definition of Israel as a national home for the Jewish people. Have we really arrived at the historic moment in which Jews no longer need a place of refuge that offers them safety both in a physical sense and in terms of identity? I believe that the answer to that is far less pleasant than the atmosphere that prevailed in the square on Saturday night.