From the pogroms to the Holocaust to the ongoing attacks by Arabs, Palestinians, and Muslims today, Jewish people have been oppressed, persecuted, and murdered for being Jewish. Whether regarded as members of a race, a religion, or a culture, Jews have been subject to a kind and degree of vitriol and violence unmatched by any other group in history. Yet, despite the relentless assaults against them, Jews have managed to survive and even to thrive.
One of the ways in which Jews have persisted against all odds is by establishing and maintaining the state of Israel, which was founded in 1948, three years after the Holocaust. Whatever the other justifications for its founding, Israel was to be a home and a safe haven for Jews: a nation in which they could live, think, produce, and prosper.
And Israel became just that.
The Virtue of Israel
The Israelis converted deserts and swamps into centers for science, technology, engineering, and agriculture. They created desalination and water purification systems, pharmaceutical plants, biomedical devices and therapies, and myriad other life-serving values. In so doing, the Israelis raised the standard of living not only for themselves, but also for virtually everyone on the planet. From flash drives to pill cameras to bacteria-resistant textiles to cherry tomatoes, Israelis have rained life-serving values on the world.1
How have Israelis done this? Most fundamentally, they’ve done it by means of reason—by observing reality, conceptualizing their observations, hypothesizing, experimenting, and employing the principles of logic. And what has made their exercise of reason possible? Israelis have been able to think rationally and act accordingly because they have established and maintained a government and a legal system dedicated substantially to the protection of individual rights.
Although Israel is not perfect in this respect (no country today is), its government protects its citizens’ and residents’ rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Israel is a parliamentary republic with elected officials; an independent judiciary; freedom of conscience and speech; and equality before the law for all people, regardless of race, religion, philosophy, gender, or sexual orientation. In these respects, relative to other countries in the Middle East, Israel is a beacon of reason, freedom, and civility.
And Israel’s respect for individual rights is no accident. The aim of protecting rights was built into the very fabric of the state from its beginning. Israel’s founding document, its Declaration of Independence, articulates this purpose explicitly:
THE STATE OF ISRAEL . . . will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions. . . .
WE APPEAL . . . to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.2
Such principles and aims were set forth not only in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, but also in speeches by its primary founder and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. In Israel, Ben-Gurion explained,
there will be non-Jews as well [as Jews]—and all of them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception; that is: the state will be their state as well. . . . The attitude of the Jewish State to its Arab citizens will be an important factor—though not the only one—in building good neighborly relations with the Arab States. If the Arab citizen will feel at home in our state, and if his status will not be in the least different from that of the Jew, and perhaps better than the status of the Arab in an Arab state, and if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social, and cultural level of the Jewish community, then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge to a Semitic, Jewish–Arab alliance, will be built.3
Such are the basic ideas on which Israel was founded. Although collectivist and socialist elements were present in Israel’s system from the start (and still are today), the state was founded most fundamentally on the idea that the government is to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants.”
Since its founding, Israel has further codified these ideas in its laws and policies. This is why not only Jews and men, but also Arabs, Muslims, Christians, atheists, and women are free to think, to speak their minds, to pursue their values, to start businesses, to vote in elections, and to run for political office. Whatever its imperfections, Israel is essentially a rights-respecting nation.
If the protection of individual rights is the moral purpose of government (and it is)—if the requirements of human life constitute the standard of moral value (they do)—and if the use of reason to live and prosper is the essence of moral virtue (it is), then Israel is a morally good nation.4
This is a large part of the reason that Arab and Muslim states and jihadist groups relentlessly attack Israel—just as it is the primary reason they attack America and Western nations in general. But, in the case of Israel, an additional motive is driving their aggression: Israel was founded by Jews as a safe haven for Jews—and Arabs and Muslims (by and large) harbor a special hatred for Jews. Why this is so is a subject for another day. But, as we will see, hatred of Jews—including eagerness to murder them—is rampant among Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East and northern Africa. And it is a fundamental motivating factor in their aggression against Israel.5
A Brief Recounting of Arab and Muslim Aggression Against Israel
On May 14, 1948, the British mandate over Palestine expired; the United Nations partition plan, which divided Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state, went into effect; and Israel declared its independence. The next day, five surrounding Arab and Muslim states—Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq—attacked Israel from the south, the east, and the north in a concerted effort to destroy the nation and kill its Jewish population.
In the ensuing nineteen-month war, 6,373 Israelis—1 percent of the Israeli population at the time—died fighting for their lives and their independence.6 Even so, Israel won the war, and the Israelis began the process of building their rights-respecting nation as planned.
But the Arab and Muslim states in the region regarded this as unacceptable. The “problem” was, as they would announce repeatedly in the decades to come: Israel still existed.
Israel and the Jews, according to these Arab and Muslim aggressors, must be destroyed. As King Saud of Saudi Arabia put it in 1954: “Israel to the Arab world is like a cancer to the human body, and the only way of remedy is to uproot it, just like a cancer.” Given Israel’s recently demonstrated military capabilities, this could prove difficult and costly. But no matter, said King Saud: “The Arab nations should sacrifice up to 10 million of their 50 million people, if necessary, to wipe out Israel.”7
Egyptian Minister of State Anwar Sadat agreed and explained the origin of the jihad against the Jews: “Our war against the Jews is an old battle which Mohammed began . . . it is our duty to fight the Jews in the name of Allah and in the name of our religion, and it is our duty to finish the war which Mohammed began.”8
During the 1950s and 1960s, Arab and Muslim terrorists—supported by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Arab and Muslim nations—regularly attacked and murdered Israelis, who retaliated but insufficiently to end the assault.
In 1959, anti-Israeli forces formed Fatah (named after a chapter in the Koran, meaning “Conquest”), whose central purpose was to engage in guerrilla warfare toward the destruction of Israel and “liberation” of Palestine. In 1964, kindred forces formed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), whose stated goal was the destruction of Israel via “holy war (al-jihad) until complete and final victory has been attained.”9
During the next few years, Arab and Muslim nations, along with Fatah and the PLO, amassed weapons, trained soldiers, and looked forward to the day they could overrun Israel and kill the Jews. In 1967, they felt they were ready. “The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified,” said Iraqi President Abdul Rahman Arif, in May of that year. “This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear—to wipe Israel off the face of the map.”10 Syrian Defense Minister Hafez al-Assad declared, “Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. . . . the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.”11
In June 1967, the nations of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria—with help from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, and others—launched another full-fledged war against Israel. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser succinctly stated the goal of the assault: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel.”12
Israel again successfully defended itself, this time defeating all of the attacking nations in a mere six days (hence the “Six-Day War”) and capturing land from the aggressors, including the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan.
Because Israel seized these territories from aggressors in the process of defending itself against their aggression, Israel was fully within its rights to annex the territories—and should have done so. Unfortunately, Israel chose not to annex the territories. Instead, it opted to maintain a military presence in the areas with the aim of keeping the aggressors at bay and establishing some semblance of security for Israel.13
But security for Israel was not to be had this way, and the Arab and Muslim states immediately made this abundantly clear.
In August 1967, leaders of eight Arab and Muslim nations—Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, and Sudan—held a summit in which they agreed on and vowed to uphold the famous three “Nos”: “No peace with Israel. No recognition of Israel. No negotiations with Israel.”14
During the next few years, these nations sponsored countless terrorist attacks against Israel in hopes that this might chip away at the “problem” that was Israel’s existence. But terrorism wasn’t getting the job done.
Israel continued to exist.
So, in October 1973, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and other Arab and Muslim states launched yet another full-fledged war against Israel. Libyan President Mu‘ammar Gadhafi explained the objective: “The battle with Israel must be such that, after it, Israel will cease to exist.”15
But Israel again defeated the aggressors, who, of course, were becoming increasingly frustrated by the Israelis’ efficacy and fortitude. So they resumed the tactic of terrorism and redoubled their guerrilla efforts.
Throughout the 1970s, Arab and Muslim terrorists supported by Arab and Muslim states relentlessly attacked and murdered Israelis in various acts of terrorism—from blowing up a school bus full of Israeli children, to throwing a hand grenade into an Israeli family’s car, to opening fire on Israelis at an airport, to taking Israeli Olympic athletes hostage and murdering them, to opening fire on Israelis in a hotel lobby, to blowing up a cafe full of Israelis, and so on.16 It was all in the daily news.
As grim as the situation was during the 1970s, in 1979 there was a surprising and welcome turn of events. Egypt agreed to cease aggression against Israel in exchange for the oil-rich Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had seized from Egypt during the Six-Day War. Israel and Egypt have maintained peace ever since—demonstrating that all a nation need do to enjoy peace with Israel is refrain from attacking it.
But the other Arab and Muslim states and their terrorist proxies persisted in attacking Israel and murdering Israelis—because . . . Israel still existed.
The PLO was increasingly active during this time, and its leaders were unequivocal about its aim. As PLO representative Rafiq Najshah explained in 1980:
There has been no change whatsoever in the fundamental strategy of the PLO, which is based on the total liberation of Palestine and the destruction of the occupying country. . . . On no accounts will the Palestinians accept part of Palestine and call it the Palestinian state, while forfeiting the remaining areas which are called the State of Israel.17
During the 1980s, in addition to increased attacks by the PLO, various new terrorist groups formed and joined the assault against Israel. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (aka Islamic Jihad) formed in 1981, explicitly for the purpose of destroying Israel. Hezbollah (i.e., “Party of Allah”) formed in 1985, explicitly for the purpose of destroying Israel. And Hamas (aka Islamic Resistance Movement) formed in 1987, explicitly for the purpose of destroying Israel. Consequently, attacks against the tiny Jewish state multiplied.
Also in the 1980s, the newly formed Islamic theocracy in Iran joined the effort to destroy Israel. Ayatollah Khomeini pledged his allegiance with the Arabs:
Oh brothers! Let us not regard this holy and sacrificial war as a war between the Arabs and Israel. Let us regard it as a war of Moslems together against Jews and their leaders. It is the responsibility of all the Islamic governments with their peoples, with all their forces, and potential, to aid and support Fedayeen (guerrillas) on the lines of fire.18
In addition to funding, arming, and training Hezbollah, Iran would soon fund and arm Hamas and other terrorist groups dedicated to destroying Israel.
Attacks against the Jewish state continued to multiply.
Although the situation was looking increasingly grim for Israel, in 1994 there was another welcome turn of events: Jordan agreed to sign a peace treaty with Israel—in exchange for a promise from the United States to forgive Jordan’s debts.19 Israel and Jordan have maintained peace ever since—again demonstrating that all a nation need do to enjoy peace with Israel is refrain from attacking it.
But the other Arab and Muslim states and their proxies continued attacking Israel.
Throughout the 1990s and into the year 2000, Israelis engaged in numerous meetings and “negotiations” toward a so-called “two-state solution,” in which (somehow) the Israelis would have their own sovereign state, the Palestinians would have their own sovereign state, and the two would live side by side in harmony, while the surrounding Arab and Muslim states would leave Israel alone. This “compromise” was supposed to satisfy the Arabs’, Palestinians’, and Muslims’ “desire” for peaceful relations with Israel.
But there was one problem: They had no such desire. Our desire, explained PLO chairman Yasser Arafat in 1996, is “to eliminate the State of Israel.”20
In 2000, overlooking this glaring impediment to any reasonable compromise, the Israelis agreed to give the Palestinians 95 percent of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip in exchange for peace. The Palestinians rejected the offer and continued attacking Israel. PLO spokesman Bassam Abu Sharif reiterated the Palestinian position: “The struggle against the Zionist enemy is not a matter of borders but relates to the mere existence of the Zionist entity.”21
You might see a pattern here. This pattern continued throughout the 2000s and into the 2010s.
In 2012, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal explained the unchanged and overarching Arab-Palestinian-Muslim position in a speech in Gaza:
Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concessions on an inch of the land. We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.22
The liberation of Palestine—all of Palestine—is a duty, a right, a goal, and a purpose. It is the responsibility of the Palestinian people, as well as of the Arab and Islamic nation.23
And on and on it goes.
None of the stated intentions mentioned above is anything less than crystal clear. All are unequivocal. And none of the vicious attacks mentioned above is an isolated incident. All are parts of a concerted effort to destroy Israel.
We can see this goal not only from individual heads of state and heads of groups, not only from the actions such states and groups have repeatedly taken against Israel, but also in the very charters of the two current Palestinian governments: the Palestinian Authority, also known as Fatah, which controls the West Bank; and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
The Fatah Constitution calls for “Complete liberation of Palestine and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence”; and it specifies that “Armed public revolution is the inevitable method to liberating Palestine” and that “this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished.”24
Given that mission statement, it should come as no surprise that Palestinians in the West Bank today regularly attack Israelis with knives, ram them with cars, hack at them with axes, and fire at them with guns. Nor should it come as any surprise that Mahmoud Abbas, current president of the (allegedly secular) Palestinian Authority, recently announced, “we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem [from the Jews]”:
We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every Martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.25
The founding covenant of Hamas is equally unequivocal: “Peaceful solutions” to the problem that is Israel “are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. . . . There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad”:
[Hamas] aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”26
Given such a charter, it should come as no surprise that since the Palestinians elected Hamas into power in Gaza in 2006, the Palestinians have launched more than ten thousand rocket attacks on Israel, built a vast network of tunnels from Gaza into Israel for use in abducting and killing Israelis, produced and aired children’s television shows encouraging children to kill Jews, and regularly announced that they aim to exterminate all the Jews in Israel. “Our doctrine in fighting you [Jews],” said a Palestinian cleric recently on Hamas TV in Gaza, “is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive.”27
We could go on. The history of this Arab and Muslim assault on Israel involves many more details, and Arab and Muslim leaders have made many more statements to the effect that they want to destroy Israel and kill Jews. But the foregoing is sufficient to indicate the nature of the problem for our present purpose.
Radio talk show host Dennis Prager sums up the situation this way:
If tomorrow Israel laid down its arms and announced, “We will fight no more,” what would happen? And if the Arab countries around Israel laid down their arms and announced, “We will fight no more,” what would happen? In the first case, there would be an immediate destruction of the state of Israel and mass murder of its Jewish population. In the second case, there would be peace the next day.28
No honest person can dispute this fact.
So, what must be done to stop this assault and establish lasting security for Israel and its people? Israelis and their supporters must do essentially four things:
- Understand that compromising with people, groups, and nations that want to kill Israelis leads inevitably to attacks against Israel and the murders of Israelis. (See above.)
- Understand and articulate the secular, observation-based case for Israel’s right to exist—and to exist where it is.
- Advocate—and, in the case of Israelis, enact—a one-state solution, in which Israel annexes Palestinian-controlled territories as necessary to ensure the safety and security of Israel and its citizens and residents.
- Advocate—and, in the case of Israelis, enact—a policy of summarily eliminating individuals, groups, and regimes who attack or threaten Israelis.
The first of these requirements is clear from the brief history provided above. We’ll consider the other three in turn.
The Secular Case for Israel’s Right to Exist
Many Israelis and supporters of Israel claim that Israel’s right to exist derives from the biblical story in which God grants the land in question to Abraham, or from the Jewish people’s cultural heritage or ancestral roots in the region. But if we want to defend Israel’s right to exist, we must acknowledge that such claims are untenable.
To prove that Israel’s right to exist comes from God, one would first have to prove that God exists. This cannot be done. There is no evidence for God’s existence. To believe in God, or to believe in rights granted by God, one must believe by means of faith—by accepting ideas in the absence of evidence supporting them. (If one accepts ideas on the basis of evidence, one is accepting them on reason, not faith.) This is why Judaism (like Christianity and Islam) upholds faith as a primary virtue. It is the only way to believe in a being for which no evidence exists. This is also why faith-based nations and groups have constantly warred with one another throughout history. Once people accept faith as a means of knowledge—and faith in their particular “God” as the source of the “real” truth—they are impervious to reason in the areas they have cordoned off to faith. Why permit reason to challenge truths you already “know” by means of faith?
If Israelis and supporters of Israel want to believe in God, that is their prerogative. But to claim that Israelis’ rights come from God—to rest Israel’s right to exist on faith rather than on reason—is to concede that Israel has no rational argument in support of its existence. In addition to making this concession, the claim that rights come from God also grants legitimacy to claims made by Arabs and Muslims to the effect that they have a right to the territory now called Israel because their faith in their God tells them so. If faith is a means of knowledge, how can they be wrong?29
The claim that Israel’s right to exist is based on the Jewish people’s cultural heritage or ancestral roots in the region is equally problematic. The North Koreans and Iranians have cultural heritage and ancestral roots in the geographic areas of their respective states, yet we know that their current states are entirely illegitimate. Why? Because rights don’t derive from cultural heritage or ancestral roots. They derive from something universal in the nature of man.
Nor does Israel’s right to exist come from the League of Nations or the United Nations or so-called “international law.” Would Israel lose its right to exist if the UN or the “international community” decided so? The idea is absurd.
Where, then, does Israel’s right to exist come from? It comes from observation and logic.
As the American philosopher Ayn Rand showed, rights are recognitions of factual requirements of human life in a social context. Rand laid out the essential observations and integrations that give rise to the principle of rights in her essays “The Objectivist Ethics,” “Man’s Rights,” “Collectivized ‘Rights,’” and “The Nature of Government.”30 And everyone interested in the source and nature of rights would do well to read those essays. But the essence of the matter for our purpose here is as follows:
We can observe that human beings survive and prosper most fundamentally by means of reason. We live and thrive by perceiving reality; integrating our perceptions into concepts, generalizations, and principles; checking our ideas for contradictions and correcting any we discover; thinking and planning with respect to the massive context of knowledge we acquire thereby; and acting accordingly to achieve and maintain the values on which our lives depend.
In short, we live by acting in accordance with our rational judgment.
What can stop us from acting in accordance with our judgment? Other people, groups, and governments can. And the only way they can do it is by means of physical force (including indirect force, such as fraud or extortion).
If someone points a gun at your head and tells you to get on the train, or to shut up, or not to draw Muhammad, or not to lend money at interest, or not to engage in sex with your lover, or whatever, you cannot act in accordance with your judgment. You must do as he says, or die.
Likewise for lesser degrees of force. If police enforcing Islamic law tell a woman that she must wear a head scarf or go to jail, or if they tell a reporter that he must refrain from criticizing the government or be lashed or locked up or the like, then the person in question cannot act on his or her judgment. To the degree that force is used against a person, it precludes him from employing his basic means of living: the judgment of his mind. Such degrees of force might not kill a person, but they do stop him from living fully as a human being. A human life is a life guided by the judgment of one’s own mind.
Because as human beings we survive and thrive by acting in accordance with our judgment, and because the use of physical force against us precludes us from doing so, we need a principle to guide our choices, actions, and policies such that we leave each other free from (initiatory) physical force. That principle is the principle of rights: the observation-based truth that each individual has a moral (i.e., life-based) prerogative to act in accordance with his own judgment—so long as he does not violate the same rights of others.
There is a great deal more to the secular, objective foundation for rights, but the foregoing indicates the general idea. And what this principle means in practice is that no one—including groups, gangs, and governments—has a moral right to initiate physical force against anyone. As Ayn Rand put it, “In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.”31 Everyone morally must leave others free to act on their own judgment. And the beauty of this observation-based conception of rights is that when people recognize and embrace it, they are able to live together in a social context as civilized beings rather than as rights-violating savages or warring tribes.
The further beauty of this conception of rights is that because it is a matter not of revelation or faith, but of observation and logic, everyone who chooses to observe reality and think can understand it and see that it is true.
This makes a huge difference. If we can prove that we have rights to be free from physical force (and we can), then we can prove that a legitimate government is one that protects and does not violate such rights. That means: We can prove which governments and states are legitimate and which are not. Understanding and embracing this conception of rights enables us to see, among other things, why certain states—such as Israel—have a right to exist, and other states do not.
A government that protects and does not violate rights is fully legitimate. A government that substantially approximates this ideal (as Israel does) is substantially legitimate. A government that fails to approximate this ideal is illegitimate. And a government that violates rights in severe ways—such as by jailing or killing people for holding “objectionable” ideas or voicing their opinions or being Jewish—is illegitimate in the extreme.
This same principle applies when people seek to form a government or a state. If they aim to form a state specifically and explicitly for the purpose of protecting and not violating rights, they have a right to form such a state—providing that they form it in a region in which no rights-respecting state already exists.32
This is what the Israelis did: They formed a state substantially dedicated to the protection of individual rights; they formed it in a region in which no rights-respecting state already existed; and they substantially followed through on the aim of protecting individual rights. This is why Israel is a legitimate state. This is why it has a moral right to exist—and to exist exactly where it is. And this is why the Palestinians have no right to any of the territories “occupied” or controlled by Israel.
The Palestinians do not have a right to a state in that area—or any area—because, as an organized group seeking to establish a state, they have made manifestly clear, in both word and deed, that they have no intention of establishing a state to protect individual rights. On the contrary, their intentions are to violate rights—which is what they have been doing as a matter of course for decades.
In addition to violating the rights of Israelis, Palestinians violate the rights of other Palestinians whom they oppress, jail, or murder. For instance, under the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) in the West Bank, and under Hamas in the Gaza Strip, activists and journalists who criticize the Palestinian governments are thrown in jail or killed for “extending their tongues” against Palestinian leadership; gay Palestinians are arrested and tortured for being gay; and girls and women are regularly raped and murdered in “honor killings,” which are the lay of the land in all Islamic cultures, and which the Palestinian police largely ignore.33
And then there is the fact, as indicated above, that the very charters of the institutions that govern the Palestinians are declarations of intent to murder. Far from being charters for the founding of a civilized, rights-respecting state, they are declarations of war against civilized, rights-respecting society.
Properly understood, the right to form and maintain a state derives from the intention and practice of protecting and not violating rights—and the principle of rights, in turn, derives from the observable requirements of human life.
If rights came from faith or God or cultural heritage or ancestral roots, then the question of who has a right to form a state and where would be rationally unanswerable. If religious Israelis and religious supporters of Israel want to maintain belief in the idea that Israel’s right to exist comes from those alleged sources, fine. But anyone who earnestly wants to defend Israel’s right to exist must recognize the superiority of rights claims that can be proven over those that cannot.
Armed with this objective, demonstrably true conception of Israel’s right to exist in the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, Israelis can confidently and righteously proceed to do what must be done to secure Israel and protect its people.
The One-State Solution
The long-standing, widely accepted “solution” to the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” is a so-called “two-state solution” in which the Israelis and the Palestinians somehow live side by side peacefully in their own separate states—while the surrounding Arab and Muslim states and gangs leave Israel alone. This “solution” has been touted and pushed for decades by U.S. and Israeli administrations. But in light of the foregoing and other relevant facts, the notion that such a “solution” can result in security for Israel is absurd.
Especially absurd is the notion that the West Bank, which is in the geographic heart of Israel, can remain a Palestinian-controlled territory and not pose a threat to Israel. With the West Bank under Palestinian rule, Israel’s avowed enemies are in a perfect position to attack and attack and attack—“no matter how long it takes”—until they “kill all the Jews” and “demolish Israel.”
The viable solution to this relentless, decades-long assault on Israelis is for Israel to annex the West Bank and to establish and maintain a single, sovereign, rights-respecting nation, governed exclusively by Israeli law, spanning from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
Caroline Glick, a Jerusalem Post columnist and once an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has laid out just such a plan in her book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.
Glick surveys the relevant history of the region and the many failed attempts at a two-state solution. She then lays out her plan, which she calls “the Israeli one-state solution,” and shows how, if enacted, it would resolve the major problems at hand and enable everyone in Israel and the West Bank—including Arabs and Palestinians who choose to respect rights and abide by Israeli law—to live and thrive.
Under Glick’s plan, Israel would “apply its laws to Judea and Samaria” (aka the West Bank); grant permanent residency to all people, including Palestinians and Arabs, currently living there; and “govern the areas as normal parts of Israel.”
The military government will be dissolved, as it was in the Golan Heights in 1981, when Israel applied Israeli law to that area.
The Palestinian Authority will be dissolved. Its security forces will be disbanded and disarmed, and the Israeli military and police will assume full security responsibility for the whole of the country. Israel will place reasonable limits on eligibility for citizenship. For instance, past or current membership in terrorist organizations, and past or current incitement to violence against Israel, should disqualify an individual from acquiring citizenship.
The PLO will no longer be the representative of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. Like their fellow Israeli Arabs and Jews, if they apply for and receive citizenship, the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria will be duly represented by legislators in the Knesset [Israel’s parliament] whom they elect. And all of them will be represented in their local governments by officials they will elect.34
As for the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew completely in 2005, and which is now controlled by Hamas, Glick advocates leaving that as “a self-governed Palestinian territory.”35 It is important to add, however, that because Gaza is “governed” by Hamas, it poses a clear and present threat, which Israel should eliminate as soon as possible by destroying Hamas and its supporters (see below). Once Hamas has been eliminated, Israel might see fit to annex Gaza as well. That would likely be best for Israel, and it would certainly be good for Palestinians in the region who want to live in a free society.
In regard to the alleged demographic threat posed by large numbers of Palestinians becoming permanent residents and possibly citizens of Israel, Glick argues convincingly, “even if all the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria are granted Israeli citizenship, Jews would still remain a two-thirds majority of the citizens of Israel.”36 She disputes the oft-cited data from a 1997 Palestinian Authority-sponsored census, which she argues “inflated the number of Palestinians by 50 percent” and “lied about demographic trends in birthrates and immigration and so inflated the assessments of future growth.”37 And she provides much data in support of her position.
Although Glick does not focus on this point, it is important to emphasize here that Arabs and Palestinians, like all people, have free will and the capacity to think. Thus, they can choose to acknowledge the profoundly life-serving nature of Israel’s rights-protecting government; they can choose to observe the profoundly life-loving nature of the Israeli people; and they can choose to champion and defend Israel rather than resent and attack it. Many Arabs and Palestinians currently living in Israel have done so, and there is reason to expect that many more would if given the opportunity to enjoy living under Israel’s rights-protecting laws. Undoubtedly some would not. Some would choose to engage in jihad against Israelis, and they would have to be dealt with accordingly. But Israel’s police and defense forces are quite capable of dealing with such problems as they arise.
Glick addresses many other concerns regarding the one-state plan—including the likely responses of various groups and nations to Israel’s implementation of such a plan—and she does so compellingly. As she notes, however, this problem has no easy solutions. The alternatives are not difficult versus easy, but impossible versus viable. Glick’s plan is viable.
Although Glick mistakenly embraces the idea that Israel’s right to exist derives from a mixture of Jewish ancestral roots, the League of Nations, the UN, and “international law,” her one-state plan is clearly the right way to proceed, and everyone concerned with Israel’s future would do well to read her excellent book.38
Summary Elimination of Aggressors and their Supporters
Finally, in order to secure Israel and ensure the safety of its people, Israel must embrace a black-and-white, no-holds-barred policy regarding attacks against Israelis. Whatever the military means of implementing such a policy—and those means are matters for military experts and generals to decide—the policy itself should be clear and concise:
- Attacks and threats against Israelis are forbidden.
- In the event of an attack, Israel’s defense forces will destroy not only the proximate source of the attack, but also any parties—whether individuals, groups, or regimes—known to have supported or aided in the attack.
- All collateral damage—including deaths of innocents—resulting from Israel’s use of retaliatory force is exclusively the responsibility of those who initiated force and thus necessitated retaliatory force.
Israelis have shown time and again that they can defend themselves against attacks. But they have not embraced a policy fully consistent with their absolute right to exist—and not to be attacked. It is high time they did. A policy consistent with that right is a policy of zero tolerance for aggression against Israelis, immediate elimination of threats when they arise, and refusal to accept unearned guilt for deaths necessitated by the aggressors.
Israelis owe it to themselves, to their families, and to their loved ones in general to adopt such a policy. Israelis are good, reason-embracing, value-producing, rights-respecting, life-loving people, and they deserve the freedom to be.
As for other Westerners and supporters of Israel, we must recognize and embrace all of these truths as well; we must encourage the Israelis to defend themselves fully and righteously; and we must demand that our respective governments stand with Israel unwaveringly.
Israel has a moral right to exist and to defend Israelis against those who attack or threaten to attack them. The source of this right is not faith, or “God,” or ancestral roots. Nor is it the League of Nations, or the UN, or “international law.” Rather, the source of this right is the fact that the Israeli people have established and maintained an essentially rights-respecting society in an area where no such society previously existed. The source of Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself is observation and logic.
Ayn Rand famously wrote that the question “to be or not to be” is the question “to think or not to think.”39 The truth of this principle is nowhere clearer than in the case of Israel.