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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Two states: a North European parable

A short frontier runs across the Jutland peninsula, dividing the former Duchy of Schleswig between Germany and Denmark. The region's mixed population is not altogether neatly divided by the borderline; there are Danish-speaking people on the German side and German-speaking people on the Danish side.

The members of both of these minority communities enjoy full citizenship rights, and official recognition for their languages. Which is obviously as it should be.

Would anyone dispute that Denmark exists to provide the culturally distinct group of people called Danes with their own state? Would anyone argue that it has no right to be any more Danish than German? Isn't it clear that anyone who feels their identity is unacceptably compromised by living in a Danish state rather than a German one has only to cross the border and take up residence on the other side?

These are reflections prompted by a piece examining the small print accompanying some versions of the two-state solution. Palestine must have no Jews living in it because it is to be an Arab state; Israel must not be a Jewish state because it has Arabs living in it. Even though there is no shortage of Arab states, but (like Denmark) only one Israel for Jews to call their own.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it's because a lot of people persist in seeing Judaism as a 'faith'. This fits in with the British view of Christianity, but Judaism is not a faith: it's a people, with characteristics (bloody-mindedness being one), a tradition and a commonality.

Hard to grasp in this day and age, but think Tibetan and Armenian and you'll be more accurate than thinking Christianity without Jesus.

Mind you, some in the Church have followed the Jewish path by quarrelling about just about everything and seeming somewhat anarchic.

That's the price you pay for democracy, though.