Trump and Netanyahu stand at podiums
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at a joint news conference with President Donald Trump at the White House, Feb. 15, 2017, in which Trump expressed ambivalence toward the two-state solution. (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-Alex Wong)

I propose a new path to the two-state solution

As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I am writing in response to Marty Wasserman’s letter to the editor of March 17, headlined “Never retreat.”

It described Jews who believe “Israel’s highest national interest, next to repairing their relationship with the Creator, is to take possession of their entire homeland and populate it everywhere with Jews.”

Not only is this a rationale for mass expulsion, and in the heat of war far worse, but sadly and ironically, it contradicts and leaves out very important moral and spiritual aspects of Judaism itself: Hillel’s comment “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow,” and the duty of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

In my view, Israel’s highest national interest is survival. And if Israel wants to survive long-term in a Muslim part of a more and more nuclearized world and be truly Jewish, it must sincerely, empathetically and persistently work toward a two-nation solution, with loving-kindness toward Palestinians, who by and large want the same things Jews want.

It simply cannot be both Jewish and — let’s be honest — an occupier state for decade after decade. On the other hand, Israel cannot expel tens of thousands Palestinians and not risk another Shoah or spark a third world war.

One way toward this is what I call the Sons and Daughters of Abraham Peace Plan. This depends on the majority support of American Jews, and what better place to begin that process than here in the Bay Area.

It would require, among other things, Arab recognition of and trade and diplomatic normalization with Israel; and United Nations recognition of a state of Palestine to be established as a multi-party democracy, demilitarized for 10 to 15 years but possessing a police force; and no second-class citizenship or persecution in either nation of religious and ethnic minorities.

An international fund would be established to compensate Israelis and Palestinians who can present evidence they had been forced and/or pressured to leave behind their homes and businesses in their respective countries of origin.

Those same and other oil-rich countries would fund this, along with the resettlement of West Bank Israelis back to Israel. Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, the United States and elsewhere would have automatic Palestinian citizenship if they chose to return to the new state of Palestine, or full citizenship in their current country of residence if that country is signatory to this plan.

Regarding Jerusalem, one option would be for Jerusalem to become an international city under U.N. auspices, run democratically with strong neighborhood government in recognition of its different religious/ethnic quarters. Israel and Palestine would have their national capitals elsewhere.

A second option would be for West Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital and East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine, with plebiscites held in quarters with a large percent of one religion to decide which nation they’d prefer to be in. Religious sites would continue to have shared control, as is done currently.

The plan would include the exchange of small yet equal parcels of land from Israel and the West Bank to make Israel’s border more defensible while creating a Palestinian road between the West Bank and Gaza.

American, NATO and/or U.N. troops would be stationed on both sides of Israeli/Palestinian borders until both nations agree they’re no longer necessary, with U.N., NATO and U.S. treaties guaranteeing the security of both nations and funding a heavily electrified, monitored border.

As part of those treaties, Israel, the U.S. and the U.N. could deploy troops next to and west of the Jordan River if increased Jordanian or introduced troops from other countries are ever deployed east of the Jordan River. If any cross-border incursions are attempted or occur, the country of origin will have a set amount of time to arrest, try and imprison those involved and tighten their side of border. If it does not do so, this nation will be embargoed by the other parties to the agreement, including the United Nations.

If this plan is agreed to by the United States and the U.N. General Assembly, but first and foremost by an Israeli and Palestinian plebiscite, then any groups advocating violence in opposition to this plan are to be banned and its members arrested and imprisoned.

Disputes involving borders, reparations, water rights, etc. will be mediated by special U.N. commission. This commission will determine when and how signatory nations that violate the agreement will be sanctioned, punished and — if need be — embargoed.

Tom Kahan
Tom Kahan

Tom Kahan is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area who attended religious school at Temple Sinai and lives in Oakland. He owns Futur-Tek, which gives 5 percent of its profits to socially and environmentally responsible causes.