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Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2003/ 7 Kislev 5763

Richard Z. Chesnoff

Richard Z. Chesnoff
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A shared Holy Land is bum idea: Palestinians would soon overwhelm Israel |
Recent rumblings that a binational Palestinian-Israeli state may be the answer to the Mideast mess are just dangerous nonsense. The idea sounds good: Both sides stop fighting, form one state of two peoples and three faiths and share the rule of a multicultural, multireligous Holy Land. Then everyone lives happily ever after. Problem is, they won't.

With the possible exception of Switzerland, multinational countries are flops. I'm not talking about melting pots like the United States, but lands where sectors of the population want their own national and/or religious identity.

Sharing control over the character of a nation is a guarantee of bloodshed down the road. Just consider Cyprus, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Northern Ireland, to name a few. How much more so in the Holy Land.

The Palestinians, whose own nationalism is relatively recent, are the primary rejectionists of the Jewish state. At best, it's because they realize Israel is too strong to defeat - for now. That's where the binational idea comes in. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Then, with time and a soaring birthrate, you outnumber 'em and defeat 'em.

What's fascinating is that the idea is being broached by three distinct groups:

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Some Palestinians are suggesting it for the same reason they always have suggested it: It's a sure way, ultimately, to eradicate the Jewish state.

Israeli left-wingers warn that it's going to happen unless Israel makes rapid concessions to the Palestinians and withdraws from Gaza and almost all the West Bank. At current rates, they warn, the Arab population of the areas Israel controls will outnumber the Jewish population by 2013.

A bloc of right-wing Israelis is calling for a binational state to include the West Bank and Gaza and granting Israeli citizenship to all Palestinians who want it. It would mean dismantling Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, and it would preclude the formation of a Palestinian state.

Proponents of this idea argue that a system of cantons would limit Palestinian electoral power so that the Jews always would be in political control. That's just another formula for bloodshed.

The best answer: End the terrorism and negotiate a deal for two separate states. If you can't beat 'em, make peace with 'em.

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JWR contributor and veteran journalist Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News And World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Demoracies. A two-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, recently updated, is Pack of Thieves: How Hitler & Europe Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History. (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )

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