By Paul Sterne:
Admin AjaxRecently, 16 heads of the Israeli Joint Chiefs of Staff, Shin Bet and Mossad placed an ad in the New York Times declaring their support for a Two State solution in Palestine. Their argument was that the One State solution supported by the current government would end in the failure. They reasoned that, based on current birth rates, Jews would be a minority in the Single State by 2020. In a democracy, assuming that Israel remains a democracy, the non-Jewish majority will eventually rule and the Jews would again be a minority, sojourners in a foreign land. The Zionists who fought and bargained for a Jewish homeland will have failed.
These 16 wise men are probably right. Given the current structure of the Israeli polity, Greater Israel as One State is doomed to fade into non-Jewishness. Secular Israelis are not having enough babies, so there will a shortage of good soldiers and workers. Too many ambitious Israelis are emigrating to find better jobs, so the economy will weaken. And Israel is failing to attract Jewish immigrants from the diaspora, especially the 6,800,000 American Jews who could tip the demographic scale.
In my humble opinion, neither the One State or Two State solution will ensure the survival of a Jewish homeland in Palestine where Jews will be free from anti-Semitism and ultimately persecution, if not exile and/or genocide. I think the only way a Jewish homeland can survive is to either attract more American Jews as immigrants or for Israelis to become American Jews.
In both scenarios, the path to success is blocked by the current role and structure of the Chief Rabbinate. The Chief Rabbinate does not need to abolished, just expanded. The number of chief rabbis needs to be increased to include a broader spectrum of Jewish denominations, especially Reform, Conservative and Hassidic Jews. The exclusionary power of the Chief Rabbinate needs to be diluted through inclusion to embrace the majority of the world’s Jews.
Once Reform and Conservative Jews are recognized by the expanded Chief Rabbinate as real practicing Jews, not just secular Israelis with the right of return, more American Jews will emigrant to Israel. I could foresee a tsunami of rich American Jews retiring to Israel, instead of Florida. This increase in population, wealth and brainpower could result in a Golden Age for the Jewish homeland.
If the Chief Rabbinate cannot be reformed from within, then the best chance for the survival of a Jewish homeland is for Israel to become the 51st State. As part of the United States, Israel’s security would be guaranteed and Jerusalem protected and accessible as a world heritage site. The rules for becoming a State are not crystal clear in the US Constitution but the likely path would be for Israel to become an American territory by treaty and then petition for statehood. To become a State, the Territory of Israel would have to adopt a constitution that is consistent with the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So clearly, the Chief Rabbinate would have to be separated from secular government.
Orthodox Jews need not be frightened to give up the power they have through the Chief Rabbinate, because it is illusionary power. The United States is a proof point that separation of church and state is very good for religion. A faith-based system based on mutual respect, the free exchange of ideas and the protection of belief from oppression causes faith to blossom and thrive.
— Article first published in The Ground Report