American Jews Stand Up for Two States: A Response to Dani Dayan

Last Friday, YESHA Council Head Dani Dayan wrote an op-ed in the New York Times proclaiming the end of the two-state solution because the settlers and settlements are "here to stay." We received hundreds and hundreds of responses from supporters - below is a selection of them:

"Israel was built on the sacrifices of generations of its pioneers -- and on the heroic vision of its leaders to agree with the international community on partition into two sovereign states in 1947. Now there are partners leading Palestinians in the West Bank who work for Palestinian freedom in the context of recognition of those two sovereign states. We must support Israeli and American actions to counter the self-destructiveness of the settler movement. The vision agreed to in 1947 of two states for two peoples must be asserted, the Occupation ended and a two state resolution achieved. " -- Stephen Stern, Washington DC

"The op-ed by Dani Dayan was shocking and illuminating. it was shocking because is ignored the issue of how the Israel can remain a democracy and at the same time occupy forever territory on which millions of Palestinian people live without giving them full rights of citizenship. It was illuminating because it exposed the self-delusion of people like him. What do they plan for the Palestiniansp if they do not give them rights of Israeli citizens? And what hapens to Israel's Jewish character if they do give them such rights? He simply ignores the demographic reality." -- Arnold Schuster, San Francisco CA

"Dani Dayan's op-ed of July 26 is a stark reminder of how mainstream settler mentality would subvert a two-state solution, the only possiblity for Israel to remain both democratic and a homeland for the Jewish people. The bullying tone of his piece is a realistic portrayal of settler policy of intimidation of local Palestinian communities and violent reprisals such as the terrifying 'price tag' which has targeted Palestinians and Israeli peace activists. World Jewry have a duty counter this 'might makes right' outlook." -- Dr. Anna Rubin, Ellicott City MD

"The ultimate result of the radical settler movement policies would be a state with an Arab majority without full citizenship or voting rights. In other words, Israel would cease to exist as a democratic Jewish state. This is not what Israel's founders fought for. Nor is it what the UN voted for when it created the modern state of Israel." -- Mr. and Mrs. Mark Price, Wynnewood PA

"That Dayan should think that Israel has some fundamental 'right' to the west bank is a poignantly clear demonstration of moral bankruptcy. The kind of future does he envisions, with the permanent occupation or annexation of the West Bank, and the permanent subjugation of an entire people, with their own legitimate claims to a portion of the land, is a fundamental betrayal of Jewish and democratic values. The Palestinians deserve a state, and the Israeli leadership must have the courage to move towards that goal.

"To invoke the Arab spring as yet another reason not to move to the 2-state solution is both a misreading of history, and an opportunistic self-serving statement. We don't know how the Arab spring will turn out, but that should not affect the need for two states. Somehow it's never quite the time to change the status quo. But in fact it is the time, and time is of the essence." -- Mr. Howard Chernick, Brooklyn NY

"Dear Mr. Dayan, It was with great amazement that I read your Op-ed piece in the NY Times. It seems that you are advocating keeping the entire West Bank (and possibly the Gaza Strip, although you did not say so), and it's inhabitants within the borders of the State of Israel. What happens when Jews are not the overwhelming majority in the Jewish State of Israel. If Israel is to remain a Jewish State how can this be the case if less than 75%, or so, of the population is Jewish? What happens if the Jewish population becomes less than 50% of the total. Do you create a new South Africa? Does Israel become an apartheid state? This cannot become the case. It is against everything that being Jewish means. We cannot create a two-tiered society of Jews and non-Jews, and treat the non-jews as second class citizens. Is this the world you envision?" -- Michael Rahimi, Mamaroneck NY

"Peace with your friends is assumed. It's peace with enemies which requires work. This attitude of intransigence does not help peace with either friends or enemies, does it?" -- Dr. John Day, Austin TX

"Re:Dani Dayan's Editorial: 'Israel's Settlers are Here to Stay'. Reading Dayan's op-ed statements sent a chill down me. In my view as an American Jew who has visited Israel a number of times and has relatives who live there, it represents a closed minded response to the question of two state solution and Israeli settlements that would result in a Jewish state with the majority of its residents being non-Jews; a state whose ethics (or more accurately lack of ethics) contradict Jewish beliefs and values of democracy and remembering that we also were strangers so we must treat others in our midst as unique individuals with equal rights to those we believe in for ourselves. I am pro-Israel and pro-peace and pro-ethical responsibilities and pro-realistic thinking for the future of Israel." -- Lane Gerber, Seattle WA

"Dani Dayan argues that the presence of Jewish settlers in the West Bank is an ""irreversible fact"" and that Israel's claim to the territories since 1967 is ""unassailable"" on moral grounds. By contrast, he speaks of Palestinian poverty as merely a ""disgrace"" that ""should""--in the passive voice--""be corrected."" Who will correct it, and how? If the right of Israelis to political autonomy and self-defense is a moral issue, why would it not also be so for Palestinians? Doesn't their disempowerment make their political status that much more of a moral issue? The right to self-determination could enable them to defeat poverty--but without freedom, democracy, and citizenship in a state, no one else can significantly improve their ""living conditions"" for them. The systematic obstruction of the way forward is not merely a disgrace; it is a moral disgrace." -- Tucker Lieberman, Waltham MA

"Dear editors, As American Jews, we are opposed to the continued settlements that destroy all opportunity for peace with justice for Israeli's and Palestinians. Human rights need to be protected everywhere. We support Israel's right to exist in security; that will only happen if peace and justice are achieved. As the Biblical prophets reminded us again and again: Justice, justice shall you seek." -- Steven and Linda Brion-Meisels, Cambridge MA

"What an outrageous and shortsighted opinion Dani Dayan has expressed. What is supposed to happen to the Palestinians who currently reside on the West Bank? Are they going to dematerialize or remain in limbo as second class citizens. How does Israel remain both Jewish and democratic in such a scenario? The two state solution is the only one which ensures both security and justice for Israel and the Palestinians." -- Dina Youngwirth, Marietta GA

"The settlement fanatacism expressed in that essay will lead inevitably to the destruction of Israel as a democratic nation and as a state worthy of international respect, and to fatally compromising the integrity of the United States should this nation--our nation--abandon its historic committment to a two-state solution of the tragic rivalry between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael." -- Martin Dyckman, Waynesville NC

"I'm deeply concerned that Israel is going to lose its Jewish democratic character if it preserves its settlements. This will further alienate its supporters and deepen its dangerous isolation. Furthermore, Dani Dayan's rosy picture of life for West Bank Palestinians is sharply at odds with B'tselem's documented accounts of settler-only roads, violence, political disenfranchisement, and "Price Tag" attacks. I think a Palestinian state would make Israel stronger, not weaker, but the settlements foreclose the idea of a Palestinian state. We need an approach to Torah that recognizes the rights of Palestinian Arabs to a state, and that embraces modern ideas of democracy and human rights. There is plenty of support for those concepts in Judaism." -- David Lobron, Newton MA

"If I were anti-Israel and determined to destroy it, I would actually be rooting for your movement, Mr. Dayan. I would be saying, "Go, settlers, go! Build! Build! Build!" Because nothing will destroy Israel as a Jewish Democratic State faster than making a two-state solution impossible." -- Dr. Chaim Julian, Bloomington IN

"Dayan's thinking and that of the settler movement is so destructive to the original Zionist dream of creating a Jewish majority democratic state in the ancient land that it should be rejected by the Israeli government which should redouble its efforts to sit down with the Palestinians with US and Quartet help and hammer out a final status agreement as soon as possible." -- Rabbi John Rosove, Sherman Oaks CA

"One has to concede Dani Dayan his honesty, refreshing when compared to the obfuscation of many other right wing politicians in Israel. But what parallel reality does he live in? Even putting aside his dubious rationale of how 'moral' his position is, does he really believe his proposal to be 'real-politik'? That simply declaring a Jewish state in the West Bank is doable? Really? In the face of Palestinian resistance? World opinion and action? Millions of dissenting Israelis? The unstated subtext of his piece, it seems to me -- that Israel can no longer afford to be a democratic state and that militarism and theocracy is the only way Zionism will survive -- is horrifying in its reductionism, but it is also out of touch, it seems to me, with what is politically and militarily possible." -- Carrie Braverman, El Dorado Hills CA

"Dayan's op-ed piece is a recipe for disaster for the continuation of Israel as a democracy and/or a Jewish state. The Palestinians of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem will reduce the Israeli Jews to a minority. Annexed into a single state as Dayan urges, would result in the end a Jewish state assuming Palestinians are given full citizenship (not likely if Dayan and the settlers have their way) or Israel becomes an apartheid undemocratic state. Either way it would be a betrayal of Israel's Declaration of Independence, international law, Israeli government policy supporting two states in its previous negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and Jewish values. It would also fly in the face of the policy of its greatest ally, the United States, and become a pariah nation internationally. To adopt Dayan's view would be to watch Israel commit national suicide as a Jewish democratic state." -- Howard Simonoff, Cherry Hill NJ

"Dani Dayan's contention that Israel'™s moral claim to the West Bank is "unassailable" ignores its moral obligation to the Palestinian majority that lives there. Israel's responsibility to provide political equality for millions of noncitizens living under its military rule easily trumps, by any imaginable human standard, any claim it might have to the land beneath their feet. Israel faces an inescapable dilemma, which Dayan simply sweeps under the rug. It can either make Palestinians full citizens of Israel, turning Jewish Israelis into a minority, an outcome neither wants. Or it can play its part in realizing Palestinians' democratic choice to become citizens in their own state living in peace beside Israel. Dayan suggests that the idea of offering financial incentives to settlers who will have to be relocated in a two-state scenario has failed. In fact, the Israeli government has never passed any West Bank compensation plan giving settlers living outside the settlement blocs a deadline by which to accept a buyout on favorable terms, as it successfully did with Sinai settlers in 1982 after the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. Following Dayan's broken compass would leave Israel with a captain who can neither see the iceberg looming up ahead nor change course to avoid it." -- Doni Remba, Westfield, NJ

"I love Israel. Israel's ongoing survival and continuing growth and development as a democratic state is very important to me. A two-state solution is the only real solution!" -- Ruth Chapman, Denver, CO

"Dayan's column ignores the legitimate desires and aspirations of the large majority of both Israelis and Palestinians. His arrogant dismissal of the two-state solution would be absurd if not for the tragic fact that Israel's Jewish democracy is indeed in danger. Supporters of the long-held dream of Zionism need to unite in opposition to this bleak vision." -- Eran Murkamel, La Jolla CA

"In my lifetime, I have seen the end of Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe and the creation of democratic governments, the end of apartheid and establishment of a multiracial democracy in South Africa and the end of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland. At one time, all of these achievements were thought to be impossible. I am saddened that Dani Dayan's vision for his country is that of continued occupation of the Palestinian people and land. Pursuit of this policy will not bring peace and in the role of occupier, Israel will endanger its own democratic society. I have faith that Israel will do better, that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are possible and that they will one day lead to Jewish and Palestinian states living in peace with one another." -- Daniel Kaplan, Wilmette IL

"As a long time supporter of Israel, this recent development is enormously concerning. A two state solution is the only credible answer to the dilemma which faces Israel. This position taken by Dani Dayan is most concerning. Let us demonstrate with our actions, not just our words, that a two state solution and compromise on both sides is required. Not intransigence." -- Mark Grossman, Palo Alto CA

"I had the misfortune to come across an intriguing article in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times titled, "Israel's Settlers Are Here to Stay" by Dani Dayan. Mr. Dayan's call for a one-state solution will only increase animosity towards Israel; a two-state solution will preserve Israel's democracy and security. To cite just one of many points Mr. Dayan unscrupulously states, let's address his insane rudimentary knowledge of Mid-East affairs. Mr. Dayan states that, "Giving up this land in the name of a hallowed two-state solution would mean rewarding those who've historically sought to destroy Israel, a manifestly immoral outcome."" While this statement, to a certain extent is true, Mr. Dayan forgets the unprecedented and paramount initiative the Arab League took in 2002. Full recognition of Israel in exchange for a complete withdrawal from the occupied territories, a two-state solution isn't immoral, it is morally right for peace in the Middle East. Mr. Dayan, ironically, isn't pro-Israel at all. By calling for a one-state solution, he is calling for the eradication of Israel as a Jewish state. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, by 2015 the population for both peoples will reach 6.3 million, however, by the year 2020 the population for Palestinians will be 7.2 million while the Israeli population would reach 6.8 million. Mr. Dayan stands alone in the international community, the global consensus has been two states for two people living side by side. Calling for a one-state solution is political suicide and we must advocate for two states. In the words of the former Israeli finance minister Pinchas Sapir, "If we keep holding the territories, in the end the territories will hold us." I hope Mr. Sapir's vision isn't seen in the future. The settlements in the West Bank are part of the problem and they are not part of the solution. " -- Billy Rizzo, New York NY

"Contrary to the opinion of Dani Dayan, published on July 25, 2012, Israel's security and existence depend upon a two-state solution to Israel's dispute with the people who live in the West Bank and Gaza. I empathize with Israel and I share concerns over the significant threats it faces. However, the continued expansion of the settlement activities in the West bank and other actions of Israel that discount and/or discriminate against a group of people increase, rather than decrease, the threats that Israel faces. These actions not only provide a basis for those who wish to see regime change in the region, but also provide a legitimate basis for such change. If the West Bank is annexed, the number of Jewish people living in Israel will no longer be a majority by 2015. And given Israel's democratic nature, the non-Jewish majority would then be free to, inter alia, vote away the Zionist nature of the state. To avoid this, Israel and its Jewish population would have to discriminate against non-Jewish people by providing them with less rights, but such action is not only inconsistent with Jewish values, but also would cause negative feelings about Israel and Jewish people to grow. It would be difficult to distinguish Jews in Israel from those anti-Semite people outside of Israel who wish to discriminate against Jews. The inevitable result of this would be calls for regime change in Israel.
It should be remembered that the underlying tension in the region is the result of the natives' loss of land to Jewish settlers many of whom were fleeing from atrocities in Europe and Russia between the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and the United Nations (UN) Partition in 1947. The violence started as Jewish settlers arrived without any viable plan to accommodate them. At the outset, the local Arabs objected to the settlements only to the extent that they prevented them from continuing to live and worship as they had. Unfortunately, the British, who were occupying force under a mandate given in 1920 by the League of Nations, failed to devise and enforce a plan that accommodated the settlers while respecting the livelihoods of the natives. And when the natives' lives and livelihoods were disrupted, violence between the native and the settlers resulted. Ultimately, the British withdrew from the region after losing control and sustaining losses. At the time the British withdrew, the UN had divided the land to create two states: Israel and Palestine. Unfortunately, insufficient measures were implemented and the resolution did not succeed, and the 1948 Arab -Israeli War resulted. Peace was never achieved and multiple wars and loss of life on both sides of the dispute have resulted. After nearly 65 years no settlement has been reached, and the land has not been divided to provide both a national home, Israel, to the Jewish people as well as a national home for the native people who lived in the region, Palestine. Currently 4.7 Million Palestinians are classified as refugees by the United Nations and there are about 2 Million Palestinians Arabs living under Israel's occupation in the West Bank.
The remedy is a two-state solution and only a two-state solution addresses all of the concerns and issues. The origin of this dispute is the native's loss land to the Jewish settlers. A two-state solution addresses that loss and that continuing problem. Another concern is regime change. If the West Bank is annexed, Israel will face high risk of regime change. In that circumstance, Israel will lose its Jewish majority by 2015 and regime change will occur through popular vote, or if Israel elects to discriminate, possibly through international calls for regime change. A two state solution avoids these risks. Another concern is maintaining Jewish values. A two state solution can brings peace between people and begin to repair the spiritual damage that has resulted over the years. This maintains the Jewish values of Ha Va'at Shalom Bein Adam Lahavero and Tikun Olam. In sum, a far better and wiser solution is to focus on a resolution that provides for the needs and respects both groups of people, seeks to repairs the damage done and one that is consistent with Jewish values that define Israel. This means a two-state solution. " -- Cliff Nelson, Harrison NY

"Dani Dayan does not speak for me, and I know many more American Jews who agree with me, not him." -- Annette Bork, Irvine CA

"So Dani Dayan thinks "everyone--Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Saudi Arabia--[are] content with the current situation..." Someone left out the Palestinians. And what is this ""improve[d]...current reality...[with] the settlements...[as] part of the solution"" to look like? Some years ago I read a description of such a reality--Swiss cheese, with either the Israeli settlers occupying the cheese and the Palestinians occupying the holes--or vice versa. Dayan thinks this is sustainable?" -- Arthur Lerman, Teaneck NJ

"Dani Dayan's "Israel's Settlers Are Here to stay", (NYT Op Ed July 26. 2012) goes beyond intransigence towards acceptance and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is a blatant distortion of fact. It is a defense of the indefensible, predicated on fear and oppression rather than fact and hope.
Dayan's anecdotal statistics, along with his myopic view of history should not require much to debunk his thoughts: Simply, Dayan's demographic projections are wrong: Palestinians are an increasing plurality of Israel's population, outpacing the growth of the Jewish population. The Palestinian presence and future growth cannot be wished away, as Dayan would prefer. Palestinian intifadas and many fringe military actions have demonstrated the enormous political and economic frustrations of Palestinians. Those frustrations and the methods of fighting against the Israeli State will also continue to escalate. The cost of "controlling" Palestinian uprisings, as Dayan believes is possible, will also grow. The cost is not just financial. It comes with a high loss of life and ongoing mental anguish and societal discomfort.
The ultimate cost of maintaining and attempting to legitimize the status quo would suggest the untimely disintegration of the State of Israel and perhaps the last opportunity - the last opportunity ever - to negotiate a lasting peace and maintain a Jewish and Democratic Israel." -- Peter Perlmutter, Lynnfield MA

"Dani Dayan's op-ed was both self-delusional and self-destructive. Self-delusional because contrary to his claims, few are really happy with the status quo - especially since it's demonstrably unstable. Self-destructive because if the settlers get their way and Israel continues on its current path, it will cease to be a majority Jewish, democratic state. " -- Katherine Falk, Oakland CA

"A response to Dani Dayan's "Israel's Settlers Are Here to Stay" With sweeping words, Mr. Dayan changes the historical facts and the political realities of the West Bank. He also disregards notions of a shared understanding of the world, judicial wisdom and democratic values. Through what may be called the spoils of war, Israel entered into an occupation of land west of the Jordan River that since 1948 had been deemed an area for a future Palestinian State. "The four-decade-long settlement endeavor" is not justified morally or politically by international law or common laws of human respectability. Nor does Dayan's defense of the settlement expansion recognize the political and emotional threat to a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, let along a legitimate two-state solution. This is the real peril to Israel's security from within and is dismantling Israel's very essence as a Democratic Jewish State upon which it was founded. Mr Dayan's notions of "inalienable rights and realpolitik" are social constructs--a fabrication and interpretation of the facts. The essence of the problem that must be faced and fathomed is that the land upon which an Israeli nation has been remarkably built in six decades was never a land without "other" people, who now also have dreams about a homeland. The right of self-determination and safety are concepts for which Jews should have incredible empathy and support. Neither the Israeli left nor the International Community is asking Israel to abandon its commitment to its homeland, but those homes built illegally in what many Orthodox Jews embrace as part of their religious "promised land" defy and disregard the political necessities for peace and compromise. The expansion of the settlements on lands that could create a continuous PalestinianState is a major factor preventing the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians. A two-state solution is an ideal and still a feasible alternative that immeasurably could promote Israel's security as a nation and as a democracy. The latter two nouns are not separate but integral to the survival and sustainability of the State of Israel. The settlements of Judea and Samaria are a fundamental problem and are, indeed, part and parcel to a viable solution." -- Eleanor Friedman, New York NY

"Most American Jews want the Palestinians to be able to live in their homeland and want peace in Israel. The Settlers are extremists who would keep Israel and Palestine at the center of warfare for generations to come. It makes me sick at heart, as a Jew, to see these opinions being treated as if they are reasonable, when they are violent words that promote a horrible injustice." -- Miriam Shakow, Narberth PA

"Dayan's point of view is bad in many ways quite aside from the way that it tramples on the rights of the Palestinians who live in the West Bank. If his view wins, the West Bank must eventually be absorbed into Israel, If that happens, Israel will end up with a majority of Palestinians in its population. This means either that Israel will lose its Jewish character or that Israel's democracy will be destroyed by the need to suppress political participation by its Palestinian residents." -- David Haas, Appleton WI

"Not surprisingly, Dayan made no mention of the destruction of Israel's founding democratic principles entailed by Israel asserting control over every aspect of the lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank without the Palestinians having the right to vote. Although a relative calm may prevail now in the West Bank, it is not likely to prevail forever, so even apart from the immorality of the settler's anti-democratic position, it can only lead to more violence and bloodshed. As one Israeli commentator expressed it, when calm prevails, then Israel ignores the plight of the Palestinians, and when violence erupts, Israel argues it has no partner for peace. Israel can only remain a Jewish and a democratic state, if the Palestinians can live in a state of their own.' -- Lisa Feiner, Brooklyn NY

"Many of us who love Israel fear that the it is driving itself toward a cliff. Dani Dayan and his ilk are pressing down on the accelerator. His course can only lead to one of several alternatives, none of them helpful to Israel: ethnic cleansing, apartheid, or a state which is no longer Jewish because the Jews are a minority. This is as serious a threat to Israel as a nuclear-armed Iran or international anti-Semitism. The world Jewish community, the American government, and all who want Israel to survive and thrive as a democratic, Jewish state must resist these noxious ideas." -- Martin Levine, Maplewood NJ

"The words "sadness" and "disappointment" barely begin to cover my reaction to Dani Dayan's op-ed (Israel's Settlers Are Here To Stay, July 26). The scenario that Dayan paints is not, as he suggests, one that benefits Israel. Rather, if Israel maintains its control over the West Bank, the democratic Jewish homeland that I know and love will cease to exist. As a lifelong Zionist, I worry greatly about Israel's continued survival, and I do all that I can to ensure it. I shudder to think that Dayan's vision for Israel might take hold. It will mean, plain and simple, the end of Israel." -- Talia Benamy, Brooklyn NY

"As a refugee from Nazi Germany I have been strong supporter for the survival of Israel as a haven for Jews persecuted anywhere and any time. A single state will either be undemocratic or not Jewish. A two-state solution is the only viable option." -- Lotte Meyerson, Asheville NC

"Dani Dayan's op-ed, "Israel's Settlers are Here to Stay" is one of the rare glimpses of honesty from a large portion of the settler movement, the reality buried under the doublespeak we often hear from the Netanyahu government and American peace rejectionists. The only aspect left unsaid is the messianic pretense of some - not all - settlers. To those who tell us that the settlement are not the problem, here we have it, clearly and unambiguously, that they are one of the largest roadblocks before any assurance that Israel can last as a Jewish and democratic state. Sometimes, the internal threats are at least as dangerous, and maybe even more so, than those from the outside." -- Mark Mulgay, Swampscott MA

"Dani Dayan demonstrates an appalling willful blindness when he asserts that the status quo in the occupied territories is "immeasurably better than any other feasible alternative." He cites the Israeli settlers' unwillingness to relocate as proof that there can be no territorial solution. Surely the Palestinians' unwillingness to remain second-class citizens, by the same logic, dooms the status quo. But he chooses not to see the Palestinians. It is fortunate that most Israelis, including many within the Israeli security and military establishment, have their eyes open to the larger reality: only a two-state solution can result in lasting peace in the region." -- Don Batchelder, West Orange NJ