The End of Israel?

Article excerpt

"Israel: The Alternative" by Tony Judt and "An Alternative Future: An Exchange," in The New York Review of Books (Oct. 23 and Nov. 24, 2003), 1755 Broadway, 5th ft., New York, N.Y. 10019-3780.

"The very idea of a 'Jewish state'--a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges and from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded--is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism."

With that argument, Judt, who is director of the Remarque Institute at New York University, has touched off a furor. Israel is the product of what he regards as an antiquated 19th-century notion, the nation-state based on "ethnoreligious self-definition." And its existence as a nation-state is complicated by demographic realities. Within five to eight years, Arabs will outnumber Jews inside the borders of the "Greater Israel" formed by lands Israel has occupied since the 1967 war. That leaves Israel with three choices, Judt argues. It can pull back to the 1967 borders and retain its Jewish majority and its democratic character. It can expel the Arabs from the occupied territories, with dire consequences. Or it can retain the territories and surrender its Jewish character.

Judt thinks it's too late for Israel to pull back. "There are too many settlements, too many Jewish settlers [more than a quarter-million], and too many Palestinians, and they all live together, albeit separated by barbed wire and pass laws. …


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