Latest posts by Varda Epstein (see all)
In an interview with the JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency), on the 17th of December, two days before his current visit to Israel, Romanian President Traian Basescu, appeared to affirm his recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. At any rate, one might assume this to be the case upon reading this piece, Romanian president: Israel must be recognized as Jewish state, which appeared in the Jerusalem Post, on Tuesday. On closer examination, however, Basescu falls short of recognizing any particular territory as an entity that might properly be called,
“the Jewish state.”
Basescu instead offers something that falls way short of Israel’s expectations: recognition of the Israelis as a people, rather than recognition of Israel as the Jewish state. In his comments, Basescu compared Israelis and Israel as Romanians are to the Republic of Moldova. “Even in Europe, we fully support the idea that each person must assume his national belonging . . . we have the Republic of Moldova, which was part of Romania before World War II. But in Moldova, there are people who [consider] themselves as being Romanians as well as people who [consider] themselves as being Moldavian. We recognize the right of both to be what they want to be.”
In other words, Israelis may call themselves Israeli. As long as they don’t say that Israel belongs to them. Just as Romanians in Moldova may say they are Romanians as long as they do not say that the Republic of Moldova belongs to them. Basescu goes on to say that, “The same situation [applies to] our relations with Israel and we’ll always support the idea that if the Israelis want to be declared as a Jewish state, they must be recognized [as such].”
Basescu is carefully picking his way through the semantic minefield that is the Middle East. He is saying that Israelis may be considered as collectively belonging to a sovereign nation, as long as the nation remains stateless, i.e. without territory. In this way, the Romanian leader hopes to appease the Israelis by appearing to support recognition of Israel as the Jewish State, while never agreeing that any of the territory (Israel) claimed by the PA (Palestinian Authority) belongs to the Jews, for example, Israelis.
Unfortunately, this is where the comparison between Israel and the Republic of Moldova ends. Romanians in Moldova still have Romania. If you take Israel away from the Israelis, as is the stated aim of the PA, what will the Israelis have?