You have to understand what Zionism is about. It is about creating and
maintaining a Jewish state. According to Zionism, that requires Jews
to be the dominant ethnic group. Most Israeli Jews are Zionists and
reject the idea of a binational state because Jewish dominance over it
cannot be ensured.
The sentiment is well described in this
by Daniel Gordis,
a Jewish Israeli rabbi and scholar, written shortly after Obama became
President of the United States:
If the United States could remove race as a barrier to its highest
office, ought not Israel do the same with ethnicity? Could Israel
ever elect an Israeli Arab as Prime Minister?
Like blacks in the US, Israel's Arabs obviously deserve a fairer
share of this society's bounty than they have received. Per capita
expenditures on infrastructure and education for Palestinian
Israelis (as they prefer to be called) are too low, and bias against
Israel's Arab citizens can still be felt in far too many facets of
Israeli society. There is much work to be done.
But the work to be done should not blind us to Israel's very
purpose. And Israel's purpose is fundamentally different from that
of the United States. If, in a century, shifting demographics led
Congress to become predominantly African-American, or Asian, or
Hispanic, that change would simply be further indication of the
flourishing of America's vision, a sign that the scourge of racism
had receded even further. It would be testament to the realization
of America's purpose, not its demise. Not so, however, in
Israel. For while Israel must absolutely strive to make race a
non-issue (even among Jews, as with Ethiopians, for example) and to
accord Israeli Arabs a significantly greater piece of the pie, we
ought to be honest: If Israel one day were to have a Knesset in
which a majority of the members were Arab, Israel will have failed
in its purpose.
In the US, a black man becoming president was considered a success for
racial equality. But in Israel, an Arab assuming the prime minister's
office is a terrifying prospect.
For an outsider, a binational state might seem like a good
solution. That is because multi-national states, or state-like
constructs, are everywhere. For example, the European Union, the
Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States all
encompass many different nations. But they all include complicated
power sharing arrangements and they aren't always frictionless (e.g
At the core of the issue is the so called demographic threat. The
possibility that higher Arab birth rates means that Jews become a
minority in Israel. In such a situation the state would have to
choose; either institutionalized Apartheid or risk losing its
"Jewishness" through democratic elections.
That's the issue John Kerry referred to when he said Israel can
either be Jewish or Democratic, it cannot be
meant that if Israel doesn't withdraw from the Occupied Palestinian
territories it would eventually have to choose between being Jewish or
also reject the idea of a binational state but for other reasons. I
don't know what those reasons are. There is nothing equivalent to
Zionism among Palestinians and there is no demographic threat they
worry about (settlements are a threat to the territorial integrity but
not the demography). My guess is that proposals of binational states
are seen as capitulations -- the Palestinian nation is subsumed into
the Jewish Israeli one.