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Israeli historian: Accepting Israel as a Jewish state means recognising Palestinian defeat

The award-winning Israeli historian and scholar on Fascism, Zeev Sternhell, has said that calling for the Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state is like asking them to recognise their own cultural and historical defeat.

In an interview published on Sunday with the Italian newspaper l'Unità, Sternhell argued that Israel practices "ethnic discrimination" on a daily basis and that Apartheid already exists in the country. He called on the international community to hold Israel to account and to demand that it dismantle most of the settlements, "or be an outcast".

Sternhell, who previously headed the department of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said that what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been asking the Palestinian President to do-recognise Israel as a Jewish state-means that Palestinians would have to admit to defeat and recognise their own historical land as the exclusive property of the Jews.

He explained that this means the Palestinians would "have to deny their national identity" and accept a cultural and historical defeat.

Regarding the concept of peace, he noted that the majority of Israelis are not ready or able to support a just peace deal with the Palestinians. What is being reinforced in all parts of Israeli society today is the belief that the only accepted peace is the unconditional surrender of the Palestinians.

However, Sternhell stressed that a peace based on justice has to recognise the rights of all, not only to respect the rights of the stronger side.

The historian also said that the Israeli state is preoccupied with carrying out the Zionist Revisionist project of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, making sure that Israel is the land of the "chosen people", rather than serving to "guarantee democracy, equality, human rights, or even a decent life for all".

He added that the state exists to ensure Jewish dominance over the land of Israel and to make sure that no other political entity is established there.

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