Only Jews Have To Cease Fire

Only Jews Have To Cease Fire


Leonard Zwelling

Gerard Baker makes this observation in The Wall Street Journal on March 12: “What do Jews have to do to be allowed to defend themselves?”

Bret Stephens makes similar arguments in The New York Times on March 13.


Wars are going on all over the world all the time. There’s a big one in Ukraine right now where an unprovoked aggressor nation, Russia, has invaded sovereign territory in Ukraine in an attempt to take it for Russia. Not only is the war in Ukraine a big one, but also it has been going on for far longer than the war in Gaza. It’s the latter that seems to have gotten the entire world into an uproar to stop it, but the Stephens piece explains why that cannot occur even if Senator Schumer and President Biden don’t get it.

So, let’s get a few facts straight. First, Jews have been living in the area of the world now known as Israel for thousands of years. There has never been a country called Palestine. It was an area under British control partitioned in 1947 and fought over ever since. Thus, what exactly is a Palestinian?

Usually, a Palestinian is an Arab who lived in or whose ancestors lived within the borders of what was once the British mandate of Palestine. However, a Jew born in Jerusalem in 1946 is technically “a Palestinian.” There are no citizens of Palestine right now.

While during the diaspora, Jews have had to make their homes all over the world, they were only occasionally welcomed and usually for a finite amount of time before the antisemitism started. Jews were an integral part of the intellectual and social worlds in Germany and Austria in the 1930s and we know how that turned out. The Holocaust made it clear that the Jews needed a homeland if they were ever going to be safe and why not return to the one they occupied three thousand years before?

The original partition of Palestine in 1947 allowed for a Jewish state (Israel) and an Arab state (Jordan). The ensuing war left the Arabs either fleeing Israel or staying and profiting. Then came the Six Day War (1967) and the Golan Heights was taken from Syria, the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, and the West Bank from Jordan. Wars have consequences. Israel won.

There are about 2 million Arab citizens of Israel. They have full voting rights and occupy many of the professional jobs in the country. This does not mean they are not treated inappropriately at times. They are. There are also other non-Jewish minorities in Israel proper including the Druze who serve with pride in the Israel Defense Force.

This bears on the crux of the problem. Israel was founded as a multi-ethnic, democratic, Jewish state on May 14, 1948. If Israel were to annex the West Bank and Gaza, the new, combined entity might stay a democratic state, but it would hardly be a Jewish one without creating millions of second-class citizens out of the Arabs in those areas, which a 2018 law in Israel kind of did to the non-Jews of Israel proper.

It is a challenge for Israel to be a democracy, a Jewish state, and occupy all the territory it captured in 1967. In fact, it’s impossible.

So, the Israeli Jews who still run the country need to decide which two out of three they want. If they want to be a democracy and a Jewish state, they cannot absorb another 3 million Arabs. Thus, the obvious solution is to forego some territory captured in 1967 to the Arabs in exchange for peace unless Israel deports all of the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza to Jordan. Ha! Not gonna happen.

Every time a proposal for an Arab state on the West Bank or Gaza has been made to Palestinian leadership (many, many times), it has been rejected. The same is true even now surrounding the proposed cease fire. If the world wants a cease fire in Gaza, Hamas should release all the hostages, surrender, and leave Gaza. Anything short of that will preclude the birth of Palestinian autonomy because, essentially, October 7 cannot be allowed to happen again and it will under a Hamas-led country next to Israel.

So, the Israeli Jews (and Druze) need to keep fighting until Hamas is eradicated from Gaza and all the hostages are returned. If Hamas will not release the hostages and vacate the premises, Israel will keep fighting to defend itself as Baker points out.

It’s a war. Citizens are caught in the crossfire, but it is the government of the citizens of Gaza that launched the attack on October 7 and that government was put in place by these same people. They are not innocent any more than any citizen who is caught in a war. Furthermore, we have no idea about the accuracy of the casualty numbers presented by Hamas. Baker estimates the true ratio of soldier to citizen deaths in Gaza is really 1:1.

The world wants Israel to quit defending itself. It cannot and it will not. If the UN wants an answer, get the hostages back and Hamas out. Anything less means Israel will keep fighting to defend itself and its citizens. Like any other country under attack, including Ukraine, Israel has no choice.

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