The Jewish people has no right to exist

The establishment and continued existence of the State of Israel, can not be justified by an existence right for the Jewish people, because there is no such right. Peoples, in the sense of ethnic groups, can claim no existence right on ethical grounds, and it would be illogical and inconsistent.

The dissolution of the State of Israel should be assessed on rational grounds. The issue considered here, is its claimed function as guarantor of the existence of the Jewish people, and whether the state can derive existence rights from that function. It is irrelevant whether Israel does, in reality, guarantee the existence of the Jewish people. We simply do not know. Obviously a nation-state offers some protection to the titular nation it houses, but the State of Israel also exacerbates hostility to Jews elsewhere, which may outweigh that direct benefit.

International law does not confer a right to exist on any specific people, ethnic group or nation, or on peoples in general. There is instead a prohibition of genocide in international and national criminal law. Genocide is certainly directed at national and ethnic groups, but its prohibition does not create a ‘right to exist’ for those groups.

An existence right for peoples can not logically be a universal right. Classic universal rights, such as the right to life, apply to one single individual. Only in some exceptional cases, such as abortion to save the life of the mother, can they be internally inconsistent. A people or nation has by definition multiple membership, and its rights are more likely to be internally inconsistent. If an individual belongs to a people with an exclusive self-definition, then that individual can not belong to another people with an exclusive self-definition.

Persons who self-identify as a Jew, as a member of the Jewish people, exclude themselves from another people, certainly if both groups fix membership on the grounds of ancestry. A people can lose members through their re-definition. A well-publicised example is the list of Jewish Nobel Prize winners, often used to claim Jewish superiority. The list deprives various nations of ‘their’ Nobel Prize winners, by re-assigning them to the Jewish people. Equally, a Jew in France who ceases to identify as Jewish, and self-identifies as a member of a non-ethnic French nation, deprives the Jewish people of a member.

At group level, the existence of a people is often at the expense of smaller peoples, who lost their identity. The Dutch people and the Flemish people together destroyed the Brabantian people, and occupied their territory. Every Brabantian man or woman, who declares themselves to be Dutch or Flemish, is a collaborator in that destruction.

The linguistic substrate of the Dutch and Flemish peoples,
public domain image by Gruna_1


On the other hand, a people or nation can destroy a larger people or nation. The Flemish people destroys the Belgian nation by its very existence, even if it has not yet destroyed the Belgian state. Peoples can not therefore have therefore have a universal right to exist – not at the same time, and certainly not to their maximum possible extent all at the same time.

An absolutely universal existence right for peoples would also be impossible to implement. It would create an obligation to restore vanished peoples, and there are possibly millions of extinct ethnic groups. It might even create an obligation to establish peoples which do not yet exist, and their number is quasi-infinite.

Derived obligations are a major ethical objection, to a universal existence right for peoples. An existence right might in some circumstances compel membership of a people, a serious breach of individual autonomy. It can be compared to an existence right for religions: some small churches and sects have very few members. Compulsory continued membership, to save a church from disappearance, would prohibit religious conversion. Aside from denying formal freedom of religion, it would also deny the more fundamental freedom of conscience.

Compulsion derived from an existence right, would probably apply mainly to threatened peoples. Loss of the Jewish identity in Europe through assimilation, is considered a real threat by many European Jews. For that reason, individual Jews do suffer family and community pressure, about their choice of partner, their lifestyle, and the education of their children. A formal existence right for the Jewish people could result in a legal prohibition of mixed marriages, or compulsory Jewish education for the children of Jews. This type of derived compulsion is reason to reject the existence right itself.

It is therefore unnecessary to consider whether the State of Israel guarantees or implements a formal existence right of the Jewish people. There simply is no such right, there can be no such right, and there should be no such right. The claimed existence right of the State of Israel itself, must be assessed on other grounds.


3 thoughts on “The Jewish people has no right to exist

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