“Does Israel Have a Right to Exist?” is Not a Trick Question…But it Avoids the Real Question

January 25, 2019

3 min read

Adam Berkowitz

In a recent opinion piece in The Forward, Yusuff Manayyer related to a recent “Firing Line” interview in which Tamika Mallory, co-president of the 2019 Women’s March, was pressed by Margaret Hoover to answer the simple question, “Does Israel have the right to exist?”

Mallory stated that Palestinians are “native to the land.” She was asked whether the Jews were also native as well and answered that she understood that there are people who have “ideologies why the Jewish People feel this should be their land,” but she noted her preference for the Palestinian claim to the land since they are being ”brutally oppressed in this moment.”

She was then asked, “Do you feel Israel has the right to exist?”

Pressed with such a direct question, Mallory’s answer was blatantly evasive.

“I have said many times that I feel everyone has a right to exist,” she said. “I just don’t feel anyone has the right to exist at the disposal of another group.”

When pressed with the question again, Mallory repeated her answer, adding that “there are Jewish scholars who will sit here and say the same.”

At this point, Mallory refused to discuss the issue further.

In his opinion piece, Manayyer claimed that asking if Israel has a right to exist was a “trick question.”

“…states don’t exist because they have a “right” to,” he wrote. “They exist because certain groups of people amassed enough political and material power to make territorial claims and establish governments, sometimes with the consent of those already living there and, oftentimes, at their expense.”

“The question should not be ‘Does Israel have a right to exist?’ but rather, “Is the way in which Israel exists right?” he concluded. “And for us Palestinians at least, the answer is clearly no.”

It amazes me that in no uncertain terms, a purportedly Jewish media can publish a statement like that. The words may be slightly rearranged but it in no way changes their meaning. Mallory’s belief was clear to those who were willing to hear it. And shockingly, the editorial staff at The Forward missed it.

I would like to take the same liberty as Manayyer and rephrase the question in a more honest manner. The real question that should have been put to Mallory was “Do you think that killing every Jew in Israel is a fitting manner of solving the Palestinian problem?” I think it is a more accurate phrasing of the question since it merely clarifies the definition of ‘existence’. I think Mallory’s response would have been the same. The only real question is whether Mallory believes that Zionists, Jewish and non-Jewish in America, should suffer the same fate as Zionists in Israel.

It is astounding that Jews in America are unresponsive to the danger that is becoming clearer every day.

A mass shooting in a synagogue was quickly forgotten. The rise of the extreme right nationalists is concerning but the overwhelming anti-Zionism and the accompanying anti-Semitism on campuses is entirely overlooked. Shockingly, Jewish students are frequently leaders in BDS. Liberal Jews distance themselves from Zionism in the same manner the Enlightenment (the forerunner to the Reform Movement) distanced itself from Orthodox Jewry.

The secular Jews of pre-War Germany placed their faith in the mistaken belief that the Nazis hated the Jewish Torah, that their hatred was faith-based. It was not. Jews in America may believe that Mallory, Farrakhan, Linda Sarsour, and others hate Israel. They may believe their hatred is limited to politics. Mallory made her belief clear. She will never say that Israel has a right to exist, that Jews in Israel have the right to live. Farrakhan has said precisely that without any play on words to hide his true intent.

To be honest, as a Jew living in the Golan, I feel perfectly safe from Mallory. I feel safe from the Palestinians though people like Mallory and the new Palestinian politicians will do anything they can to ensure that Jewish blood is spilled. But thanks to the eternal covenant with God, Israel is here to stay and the Jews will continue to flourish in their Biblical homeland. The same cannot be said for the Jews in America.

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