Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recalling A Begin Idea

A Begin opponent, blogging at Haaretz, recalls:
Under the plan, "If an Arab from Shehem (Nablus) wants to become a citizen of the state of Israel, he's entitled," the minister says. "We want a Jewish state with a large Arab minority. So what do we need to do? First of all, we're capable of keeping a Jewish majority. "Of course, if that majority were to break down, our situation would be a bitter one. We are not South Africa, nor Rhodesia," he declared. "The Jewish minority will not rule over Arabs.

The date is August 20, 1967. The minister is Menachem Begin. The minutes of the cabinet meeting are classified Top Secret and kept under wraps for 44 years. There is something fitting about the timing of the release of the transcripts, declassified in recent weeks at the request of former senior Begin aide Prof. Aryeh Naor for a book he is completing about the late prime minister.

...Admittedly, across the political spectrum, the citizenship concept is much easier to dismiss than to seriously consider, as are other alternatives, such as a Palestinian-Israeli confederation, possibly including Jordan as well. ...When Begin addressed the cabinet in 1967, he outlined the concept of a "bi-ethnic" state, allowing both Jews and Arabs to develop as culturally distinctive peoples, and ruled by the majority, rather than a bi-national state with power shared equally, regardless of the numerical majority or minority.

In contrast with a bi-national state, "We have never ruled out a bi-ethnic state, and the difference is crucial," Begin said. "Zionism, as I have known it, has never viewed the state as mono-ethnic."

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