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Under the title ” The Jewish Identity of the Israeli State: Challenges and Implications”, al-Zaytouna Centre held a small discussion panel on Saturday 30/5/2009, with participation of a select of relevant research and media experts.

At the beginning, Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh the Manager of al-Zaytouna Centre, welcomed the participants pointing out that the aim of this discussion is to entrench into the various aspects of the Jewish Identity of the Israeli state, and the extent to which it is seriously so adopted; methods to deal with it; and to tackle the reasons why this issue recently gained all this focus and attention within the political context and even as a part of the settlement track; trying also to foresee the possible projections and limitations of the future developments of this issue.

While consenting that the issue itself is not new, the participants had different views regarding the reasons that brought it recently into the lights. Among the reasons mentioned were: the increased political influence of the Israeli right-wing parties; the implications of the two Intifadas on many -if not all- aspects of the Israeli society; the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon; the Israeli feeling that Israel is losing some of its political and military influence; the prevailing of fear and concern within the Israeli society specifically regarding their future and fate and any possible dissociation, added to the deep concerns regarding the higher Palestinian demographics and the demographic challenge of the Arabs within Israel who are now acting and reacting more visibly within the Israeli society. Also, of the reasons mentioned was the Israeli sense that the resistance is advancing in all military, civil and public domains of engagement, locally, regionally and internationally, that it could no more be neglected, marginalized nor eliminated. Similarly, there is the Israeli concern regarding the increased activities of the refugees calling and working for their right of return.

The participants considered that Israel bluntly opened up the issue at this specific period, because of the weak positions of the Palestinian negotiating parties and their giving up of many Palestinian rights; thus according to the participants: of the main implications of the Jewish Identity of an Israeli state, would be the targeting of the Palestinians and Arabs in Israel through direct and indirect transfer plans.

The participants also warned of the dangers of acknowledging such an Identity on behalf of the Palestinian negotiator, because that will push consequent acknowledgments of other issues, and relinquishments by some Arab parties and countries, that will eventually surrender the Palestinian issue as a cause, eliminate the resistance, and give up the right of return.

At the end, the participants proposed some ideas to confront the Israeli idea of “Jewish state”. These included: calling for a suspension of negotiations and adopting the resistance; achieving a Palestinian national reconciliation on the basis of the National Palestinian Conciliation Document; and establishing means to support the Palestinian and Arabs in Israel, since they are the primary targets.