Federation CEO Steve Silberfarb On Palestine Statehood

Thursday’s vote at the United Nations to upgrade the Palestinians’ statehood status came 65 years to the day that the U.N. voted to partition Palestine into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state. We know what happened — the Jews accepted partition, withstood a ferocious assault by the Arab world and built a state. Meanwhile the Palestinian Arabs repeated the fight and lose formula, sought to replace Israel and in doing so denied themselves a state and a future. Basically, had the Palestinian Arabs and rest of the Arab world accepted partition 65 years ago, they wouldn’t be in the position today of having to petition the U.N. for special recognition now to say nothing of the wars, refugees and suffering.
Most Israelis support the idea of two states for two peoples and most American Jews agree. The U.S. and most countries agree. Now the United Nations agrees (again!) and confers this upgraded status on the Palestinians. But what prevents a real Palestinian state from developing isn’t its international status or lack of support for Palestinian statehood, rather something closer to home. The existence of a Palestinian state is contingent on Palestinians’ willingness to accept, once and for all time, a Jewish state and to agree to live in peace and mutual recognition within mutually acceptable borders. Because if Palestinians want to destroy Israel more than they want a state of their own alongside Israel, dreams of a Palestinian state will continue to be elusive, U.N. status notwithstanding.
So let’s move on from the U.N. sideshow and and take Palestinian statehood where it belongs, to the negotiating table. There, Israelis and Palestinians will have to confront and accept the reality of each other’s national aspirations, come to terms with painful compromises and move forward to bring peace and security to the Holy Land.
This guest post was written by Steve Silberfarb, CEO of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)