I recently heard two young men, Danny Shaket and Ahmed Omeid, present their vision for an independent Palestinian state and a secure Israel living side by side by 2018. Danny is from Tel Aviv and Ahmed lives in Tulkarem near Jerusalem. They are traveling in the States with the One Voice Movement.
The audience was mainly enthusiastic young students in their twenties and I felt out of place. Not because of my age; there were other older people there who looked and spoke like the activists-formerly-known-as-peaceniks. The estrangement I felt was ideological; I don't think the plan is going to work.
One of the questions raised was, why not a one-state solution? Danny replied that as a Jew he felt Israel needed to retain its Jewish identity; it needed to remain a homeland for the Jews. "I'm not religious," he said, "To me the Bible is just another book and Moses was just another man. But we Jews need a place that is our own."
I don't think he was being honest. There are as many Jews in America as there are in Israel. We also have African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians. We've had more than our share of problems and failures, yet none of them are demanding a two-state solution for America. What do Jews in Tel Aviv need that Jews in Brooklyn are fine without?
Ahmed would never be able to say, at least publicly back in the West Bank, "I'm not religious. To me the Quran is just another book and Muhammad was just another man." Not if he wanted to keep his head.
And that's the problem no one is willing to talk about. I can just imagine the response I would have received had I brought it up today. The heart of the Muslim identity is Islam, the heart of Islam is Muhammad, and the spirit of Muhammad is the way he treated the Jews in Medina and Khaybar and the way the Quran instructs Muslims to relate to non-Muslims today.
The reason Jews in Israel want a two-solution while Jews in the West are happy with their one-state solution is that the Jews in Israel do not trust the Palestinians. They know what would happen to them as soon as the Palestinians became a majority.
Fine, you might say, so the answer is the two-state solution. The problem again is that does not correspond with the heart of the Prophet. Islam is not intended to surrender territory it once possessed. There is no way Palestinians can be faithful to the Prophet and wish the best for Israel. One or the other has to go.
During his presentation, Ahmed noted that he received much opposition from friends and family for his involvement with One Voice. "Loving your enemies is hard," he said. "It goes against patriotism and nationalism."
I would agree with the first part of his statement. It is hard to love one's enemies. But it doesn't necessarily go against patriotism, it goes against Islam. Again, there was no love demonstrated by Muhammad to the Jews in Medina, and he is the model for Muslims today.
There was one interesting moment in the presentation. Danny mentioned that he had met an Indian in Germany who was virulently anti-Israel. They agreed to give each other a book, and the Indian gave Danny a book by Norman Finkelstein. Danny said he had not found a book to give the Indian.
After the meeting I suggested Danny give him a copy of Son of Hamas, about which I wrote here.
A few weeks ago I exchanged a few emails with a Palestinian studying in the UAE. After I referred the same book to him, he told me that he had downloaded it and spent the entire night reading it nonstop. "That book has the answer," he told me.
I think he is correct. But Mosab Hassan Yousef had the courage to leave Muhammad completely behind. Only then could he truly love his enemy. Leaving Muhammad behind is a lot different than just stepping around him, as we all did in the meeting today.