|Five foundations of Israel's 'right to exist'
Published: 12 February 2006
Briefing Number 167
Summary: Israel has a
‘right to exist’ as a country. But what does
this mean? This Briefing describes five foundations of
this right – a national right,
a moral right, a humanitarian
right, a territorial right and
a legal right.
Many religious Jews and Christians view Israel’s
existence in religious terms. But Israel’s right
to exist does not need to be based on a religious framework.
Its rights are as valid for non-believers as they are
for people of religious faith.
Israel’s national ‘right to exist’
• The Jews are a nation, comprising many races and ethnic
groups. The nation is bound together by history, going back
thousands of years.
• The Jews have a single identity as Jews, but many ways
of expressing that identity – as religious or non-religious
Jews, as secular or cultural Jews, and so forth.
• Nations have a right of self-determination –
to express their identity by existing as a country. Today, over
200 nations exist in the world.
• The Jews also have that right – to live as a
nation. The movement to sustain Jewish nationhood is called
‘Zionism’. And the nation is Israel. Israel fulfils
the Jewish people’s national ‘right to exist’.
Israel’s moral right to exist
• The Jews are morally entitled to be treated equally
to other nations.
• Some Jews – anti-Zionists – deny that the
Jews have a national right to exist. However, the vast majority
of the Jewish people support the Zionist idea, and the right
of the Jewish people to exist as a nation.
• To deny the Jews the right to exist as a nation, while
hundreds of other nations enjoy that right, is immoral and unjust.
It treats Jews unequally and is discriminatory.
• As is the case with any other country, Israel’s
leaders and its people have strengths and weaknesses. But those
who criticise its policies do not have the moral right to deny
its right to exist.
Israel’s humanitarian right to exist
• Through its national existence, Israel has achieved
many humanitarian purposes.
• Israel has served as a sanctuary for millions of Jewish
refugees and Jews experiencing persecution. And it continues
to do so.
• Israel also helps to make the world a better place
through its medicine, its science and technology, and its disaster
• These humanitarian achievements provide a further foundation
for Israel’s right to exist.
Israel’s territorial ‘right to exist’
• Why exist in the land of Israel? Why not exist somewhere
• The Jewish people have maintained an unbroken physical
presence and connection with the land of Israel for over 3000
• The Jews have never existed as a nation anywhere else
in the world.
• A Jewish nation has thrived on two previous occasions
in the land of Israel. The Jewish nation’s deep roots
in the land are expressed through Jewish culture and have been
demonstrated overwhelmingly by archaeological evidence.
• Upon declaring independence in 1948, Israel declared
its wish to live in peace with the Arabs, not at their expense.
• And in recent years Israeli leaders have again highlighted
their desire for territorial coexistence with the Palestinians.
• Israel has a right to exist as a nation in the land
of Israel, not elsewhere.
Israel’s legal ‘right to exist’
• The UN voted in favour of the creation of Israel by
adopting the UN partition plan in November 1947.
• Israel is a member of the United Nations, recognised
by over 200 nations in the world.
• Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan
recognise Israel’s legal right to exist as a nation, in
peace and in security.
• Israel’s ‘right to exist’ is thus
recognised under international law.
Related Briefings (available on the Beyond Images homepage)
Israel and the Jews: the 3500 year connection
Ten Essential points about Israel