Hooray! I Have Found A Home in the Israeli Political World! by Rabbi Asher Lopatin

October 14, 2009

If you have read this blog, you know that all of us, rabbis and Maharat, think out of the box and sometimes unpredictably. You may have seen my views of the One State solution, one democratic, Jewish and Palestinian State allowing all self declared Jews to return and Palestinians to return. You may have also seen my desire for separation of church and state in the Jewish state of the future – in Israel. Feel free to dismiss me as naïve, foolish, crazy, irresponsible, etc. However, the last laugh is on those who mock me: I can say will full confidence that I am in the tradition of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism. And… as a follower of Jabotinsky, I feel at home in the party of Menecham Begin, his heir, Herut and Likud. Yes, I see myself as part of Likud.

Huh? A One Stater in Likud? Well, let’s look briefly at the principles of Revisionist Zionism:
1) Jews returning in the millions to the homeland. Jabotinsky hoped European Jews in the 1930’s would fill up both sides of the Jordan with Jews; in the 21st century, we have to look to Africa and Asia – and still not give up hope in America – to bring in those huge numbers so that Jews remain a majority culture in our land.
2) The right of Jews to live in their homeland – even more important the getting the State. Herut opposed partition in 1947, giving up our rights to our land, as we should oppose partition in 2009. In the 21st century, our priority should not be demographics or a homogeneous state; no, our priority must remain a solution where Jews can live in Tel Aviv or Hebron, or Gaza or Shechem or Modiin. Everywhere! Palestinians can by homes or start communities in these places as well. Anyone who has any suggestion that gives up Jews returning to Gush Katif should be rejected as compromising the essential rights and dreams of the Jewish people.
3) Liberalism in terms of freedom of the individual: open and free markets, capitalism rather than socialism.
4) Being strong and demonstrating strength: Any solution in the 21st century needs to involve the army – the IDF – not tolerating any pocket of terrorism or fiefdom outside the control of the One State – no Gazas controlled by rogue, terrorist regimes.
5) When you look at the writings of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, he has different attitudes towards the indigenous Arabs. Everywhere he wants them to know that the Jews are staying. However, in some places he writes that once the Jews are established in their land, they can allow the Arabs to be full participants – including voting – in a liberal democracy. Yes, Jabotinsky understood that if the Jews are strong and confident, they have nothing to fear from Arabs/Palestinians getting the vote.
6) It is clear that while Jabotinsky wanted a Jewish state – designated for the Jews and filled with Jewish culture – he did not want a state with rabbinic control. He had European democracies in mind, where the look and feel is Christian, but the power resides in the government of the people, not the church leaders.
I am planning to move to Israel because I believe that God wants us to live in the Holy Land and God wants us to build a moral and ethical state where Judaism can flourish and have an impact. With the vision of Jabotinsky I hope we can all gain the strength to build communities anywhere in the land and that that land should be a full democracy which will allow Judaism to flourish in all its diversity and creativity, taking the best from cultures dwelling alongside of us, including Palestinian, Arab culture. Likud – here I come!

Rabbi Asher Lopatin

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What Netanyahu Should Have Proposed, by Rabbi Asher Lopatin

June 15, 2009

OK. It’s time to take off the gloves and start getting truly radical. My proposal for the Jewish state, Medinat Yisrael, may be hated or loved by the Right and the Left – but it is at least a new direction and gets away from the Two State dogma that threatens to destroy the safety of the Jewish State and the dreams and aspirations of the Palestinians. Here it is:

One Democratic Jewish and Palestinian State:

Where Jews can settle everywhere in the Homeland, in Eretz Yisrael, and Arabs can settle everywhere in what they consider their Homeland.

Note re. Demographic challenges: The most effective way for Israel to increase its Jewish population ratio in the short and long term is by:  letting in potentially millions of Africans, Asians and South Americans who self-identify as Jewish, even if they cannot prove their Jewish descent, and work on converting them to normative Judaism, if they wish, when they get to Israel; educating Arab women and men, which has been shown my many studies to be effective in significantly lowering birth rates;  enabling the conversions of hundreds of thousands of FSU Israelis who are not currently halachically Jewish, and wish to become halachik Jews.

Five Pillars of the One Democratic Jewish and Palestinian Democratic State from the Jordan to the Mediterranean :

1)      All citizens – Jews, Muslims, Christians and others – can live anywhere in the land.  Jews will return to live all over Jerusalem – Muslim quarter, Christian quarter, Silwan, City of David – and all over the promised land: in the ancient Israelite cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, and Shechem, and all over Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.   Just as in America restrictive covenants are illegal, so, too in the One State: Jews and Palestinians can acquire property anywhere in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Gaza, West Bank, etc.  Property rights will be respected, and returning refugees will be accommodated through new housing in or close to their original housing.  All Jewish settlements that are legal by current Israeli law will remain, with compensation where necessary.

2)      New constitution – needing a super-majority to change –  establishing a full democracy, with full separation of church/synagogue/mosque and state, with both a Jewish Bill of Rights and a Palestinian Bill of Rights guaranteeing that the state can be both a Jewish state and a Palestinian state

3)      Law of Return for Jews; Law of Return for Palestinians

4)      The IDF and internal police and security services will stationed everywhere in the One State – there will be no “no go” areas; and these forces will be slowly integrated, at a pace consistent with the security needs of the new state.

5)      Demographic issues will be negotiated with at least three possible solutions: increasing Israel’s Jewish population radically by admitting millions of Jewish identifiers from Africa, Asia and South America before the One State is implemented; returning Palestinians based on an equal admission of Jewish identifiers – perhaps limited to a certain time period; allowing for a natural growth of Jewish or Muslim – or other – populations, while the constitution guarantees that the One State remains compatible as a Jewish state as well as a Palestinian state, perhaps guaranteeing a majority representation for a certain number of years.

Crazy?  Maybe.  But let’s start with some simple first steps:

An immediate, indefinite moratorium on Arab house demolitions in Jerusalem to allow natural Arab growth,  in exchange for official U.S. recognition of the right to build for natural Jewish growth in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.  This is just the first step for Jews accepting Arabs and Arabs accepting Jews.

This is the beginning of the New Era.

Step two is more radical, has downsides, but might be necessary: Immediate return of Gilad Shalit; release of Palestinian prisoners; U.S. commuting Jonathan Pollard and sending him to Israel.  This is step two of the New Era.

This is an era celebrating integration, tolerance, life and growth.   Rather than the old era of separation, hate, demeaning one another, intolerance.

Step three is a radical, but incremental experiment:  The return of several thousand Jews to the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City where they were driven out in 1948 and to Hevron, where they were driven out in 1929, but at the same time, the return of several thousand Arabs to the areas in Old Qatamon and Baqqa which they evacuated in 1948.  These populations will return as close as possible to  their old houses, but no one will be thrown out of the houses occupied since the previous populations left.

The IDF and the Israeli police forces will be stationed everywhere to guarantee the safety of Jews and Arabs.

Now, let’s talk!

Asher Lopatin