Chana Rosenfelder is a wife, mother, and writer who moved from Toronto to Israel 31 years ago. She regularly blogs for Israel Hayom, a right wing Israeli daily owned by Sheldon Adelson. In a recent blog post, she asked a simple question: “If Canada has the right to exist, why doesn’t Israel?” If you want to know my answer, read on.
“No one questions the Canadian right to exist nor the Canadian-of-European-descent’s right to independence and security,” complained Ms. Rosenfelder. “Only Israel merits international attention in the form of scholarly articles, street demonstrations and media writeups.”
“As a religious Jew, I see the commonplace rejection of Israel’s right to exist, as well as the rejection of its national symbols, as a unique challenge posed to the Jewish people. We, unlike everyone else on earth, have to justify our existence.”
Rosenfelder understands that Canada, like Israel, has a settler colonial past as she explains clearly in her article entitled “On Canada’s right to exist, and ours”. So why should Israel, a settler colonial state, be challenged when Canada, another settler colonial state is not.
What state has an assured existence?
The answer is simple – no state, including Canada, has a permanent “right to exist”.
Canada and Israel do exist, of course. They are both members of the UN. They sign international treaties and are members of international fora.
States are born out of specific historical circumstances. Canada came into being 152 years ago, when 5 former British colonies joined together to form a Dominion. Israel came into existence 72 years ago.
But states also pass out of existence in changed circumstances.
The decrepit Russian Empire was overthrown in 1917, replaced by Lenin’s revolutionary Soviet Union. The Soviet Union in turn dissolved in 1990 with the collapse of communism. Yugoslavia was created in 1918 in the wake of WWI, but it dissolved 1992 into 8 smaller states.
The existence of any state is always conditional. States exist as long as they have sufficient internal and external support. When that support disappears (e.g. USSR, Yugoslavia, Rhodesia, Czechoslovakia), the state collapses to be replaced by another regime.
Ms. Rosenfelder, there is no guarantee that Canada will exist forever. Quebec might separate. Or Alberta. Or perhaps we will end up joining the USA. It will depend on a lot of things. Nobody knows.
Nor is there any guarantee that the State of Israel, which was born 71 years ago in highly contested circumstances, will exist forever. Today, it has great support among its Jewish citizens. But she knows it has very little among the 20% of its Palestinian citizens who are not Jewish, and none at all from the millions of Palestinians under Israeli military occupation or the refugees who are prevented from returning because Israel wants to preserve its nature as a “Jewish” state.
Of course, Israel continues to benefit from very strong support from the USA. But that cannot be taken for granted in the face of growing evidence that young American Jews don’t feel the same attachment to Israel as their parents did. And as repeated votes at the United Nations make clear, continued international support for Israel is also far from guaranteed.
Ms. Rosenfeld obviously hopes that the State of Israel will remain a Jewish State for a long time. As a proud Canadian, I hope Canada lasts a long time.
But neither Canada nor Israel have a permanent “right to exist”. If internal resistance to the State of Israel increases, and if external support from the USA and elsewhere decreases, it might well be replaced by a different regime.
But if the State of Israel disappears, what would become of Ms. Rosenfeld? Would SHE disappear? No – she would be come a citizen of whatever new state takes its place. (Unless, of course, she decides to return to Canada – if it still exists.)
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