The Current Discussion: Israel's real "existential question" is whether or not to disenfranchise its Arab minority, says Fareed Zakaria in his column this week. Is he right?
This particular issue - especially the description of Israel as a "Jewish state" - almost torpedoed the 2007 Annapolis conference. Palestinians adamantly refused to recognize the state established on Palestinian land as a Jewish state, because 20% of that state's citizens are non-Jewish Palestinian Arabs.
But former President George Bush would not budge, calling Israel a "Jewish state" as he spoke in favor of an independent Palestinian state (which he promised would be realized before his term was up.) While this was not the first time that a U.S. senior official has referred to Israel as a religious entity, Bush's insistence on the description despite Palestinian president Mahmood Abbas's demands that this term not be used reflected a total U.S. acceptance of the Israeli position. Calling Israel a Jewish state goes directly against the general U.S. principle of separating politics from religion and counters the democratic values that the U.S. is trying to export to the rest of the world, including the Arab region.