Discover more from God's Spies by Thomas Neuburger
Moshe Dayan: 'What cause have we to complain about their hatred of us?'
A secular state is the only answer to war. What will it take to get there?
I want to point to the intersection of two ideas and see what thoughts they lead to.
Moshe Dayan and the creation of Israel
The first is this now-forgotten set of observations by Israeli Defense Minister (and Zionist “freedom fighter”) Moshe Dayan.
He has a strongly pro-Zionist past, a fighting past:
Haganah was “the main Zionist paramilitary organization that operated for the Yishuv in the British Mandate for Palestine. It was founded in 1920 to defend the Yishuv's presence in the region, and was formally disbanded in 1948, when it became the core force integrated into the Israel Defense Forces shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence.”
In other words, a fighting Zionist true-believer.
Dayan had very strong opinions about the defense of Israel and what it would take to achieve it. One thing it would take is an unblinking acknowledgement of what Israel had done to acquire the land for its own.
Dayan recognized what had been done to create the state of Israel. He understood, therefore, what it would take to defend it.
An Undoable Act
This theft of land is, in Arab eyes, an act that cannot be undone. It should be seen that way in Israeli eyes as well, because of its consequences.
In many ways, this is like Henry VIII’s theft of the wealth of the Catholic Church in England. Once taken and distributed, the act could not be undone, much like a murdered man cannot be brought back. In the time of Shakespeare, England was as Catholic as France; only the government and its dependents were Protestant. It took war to settle the dispute, several in fact.
So with this. It seems to me there must a war, or barring that, a return to the status quo ante, in which people in the occupied land are continuously tortured until they die or decide to leave.
There are only three ways this can go:
One side will win, with Israelis or Arabs driven out.
The torture regime will restart, each side afflicting the other as much as it can.
A single, secular state will be created.
A secular state — not the vaunted two-state solution — is the only humane solution. That solution, if you’re not a religionist, seems certainly fair. The other outcomes lead only to rights abuse and war.
But a secular state — often called a “one-state” solution — is also unacceptable to Zionists. For them, it’s “Greater Israel or bust.”
How to get past this problem? Consider the following.
Like the Abortion Battle
The battle for Palestine/Israel is like the US abortion fight in a single, crucial way. Until it’s completely won by one side or the other, the torture can last forever.
Americans seemed complacent, willing to see abortion limited in one cruel way after another, in one state and the next, so long as it was legal somewhere. They seemed content, in the aggregate, with a slowly eroding status quo.
My wife and I marveled at this, but it’s been true since the battle against Roe was first enjoined. The movement against the so-called ‘pro-lifers’ was small and ineffective; where we expected mass insurgency, we saw complaints and protests. There were victories, but it seemed that the most Americans were content to stand by, so long as the losses came in small enough doses that each one unremarkable compared to the last.
What the “pro-life” movement never should have done, was won completely.
Pro-choice people are now aflame with desire to reinstate Roe. We’ve seen this in the past few elections at the regional level. That new-found insurgence may, if the stars are aligned for the Democrats, re-elect Biden against a resurgent Trump.
To make the comparison clear, if the Right had not achieved total victory over abortion, had not repealed all of Roe, the pro-choice movement might never have grown this strong. Sad that is, but true.
The road to lasting peace
Is the same thing true of Israel/Palestine? If the only alternative to war is a secular state, perhaps the only way to get there is for world opinion, faced with a total war, to force it on both parties.
What will a painful “peace,” a return to the status quo ante where hundreds are murdered, slowly and by both sides, actually achieve? And what’s the cost of achieving it?
The hatred on both sides had already reached the youngest pre-October 7. It’s now metastatic. It will take 50 years to clear all of that out. And worse, the world may tolerate another half-century’s hate, since it’s tolerated the last.
In contrast, what would a “blowout battle” accomplish compared to its cost? Deaths will be horribly high. But faced with that, will the world finally force an end? Force a secular state, in which none have the upper hand?
I have no answers to this. But I strongly hope for peace, however achieved, and fear I’ll never see it.