Daniel Horowitz’s recent letter to the editor focused on Israel’s security and right to exist (In Mid-East debate, there is little common ground, 11/25/2008). It stated that a previous editorial was naive to call for Israeli and Palestinian supporters on campus to set aside their differences in order to engage in civil debate. He argued that giving Palestinian refugees the right to return goes against the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state by allowing non-Jewish settlers into the country. However, Israel will eventually either have to choose between being a democracy or a Jewish state. Occupying the West Bank and Gaza without giving these citizens their rights will undermine Israel’s policy, while allowing refugees and their families to return to their lands from 60 years ago will undermine Israel’s Jewish nationalism. The right for Israel to exist is similar to the Palestinians’ request for the right to return, because in many ways, Israel destroyed the state that Palestine was supposed to be.
There are several ways for the state of Israel to survive this conflict. The right to return is not necessarily a death sentence for Israel, as many polls have shown that Palestinians support the right to return but only a small minority want to return to their former lands. If you want Israel to continue to exist, then Hamas must acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, Israel must acknowledge its role in the refugee crisis and give Palestinians the right of return in some symbolic aspect.