The Palestinians refuse to acknowledge Israel as a “Jewish state.” Their argument is that if Israel is a “Jewish state,” it will necessarily discriminate against non-Jews. The problem with this debating point is that those who use it apply it only to Israel; none ever voices any concern about states based on Islam and discriminating in favor of Muslims.
There are four states whose very name contains a religious reference: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. But beyond those, in every Muslim-majority country the constitution asserts a special role for Islam. The Jordanian constitution says, “Islam is the religion of the State” and “No person shall ascend the Throne unless he is a Muslim.of Muslim parents.” The religion of the state is Islam in Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait.
Muslim states are not alone in their religious ties. The constitution of Denmark states that “The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the Established Church of Denmark, and, as such, it shall be supported by the State,” and “The King shall be a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.” Same for Norway. So the usual arguments against the acknowledgement of Israel as a Jewish state are hypocritical and specious. Every Arab state is far more Islamic than the “Jewish state” of Israel is Jewish.
When Arab political leaders say they will never acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, it is a reminder of their continuing refusal to make peace with the very idea that the Jews can have a state in what they view as the Dar al-Islam (“abode of Islam”).
(Elliott Abrams – Council on Foreign Relations)