In response to the success of Wordle, there was an explosion of other games drawing on the format for different guessing games. Quordle required us to find four words at once, Nerdle challenged us to work out a math problem, and Worldle asked us to identify a country from its outline. I’ve been playing all of them regularly.
On Tuesday, Worldle asked people to identify the country in the image below. I saw the image and took a sharp inhale. It was the first time I immediately knew the answer. Despite my joy at identifying the country, I also recognized the statement that was being made. This is a map of Israel that excludes the Gaza Strip and the West Bank; it is Israel pre-1967. I wondered how people would be reacting. I imagined tweets attacking Worldle for separating Jerusalem from Israel, for excluding the Golan Heights, and for ignoring Israel’s borders.
I opened up Twitter, I searched for “Worldle,” and I braced myself for the results. What I found shocked me.
I did not see posts attacking Worldle for changing Israel’s borders; instead I found tweets attacking Worldle for recognizing Israel at all. Several posters wrote “Palestine” as the answer for all six attempts and then claimed that Worldle must be broken. To be clear, attacking Worldle for labeling this map as Israel is essentially attacking Worldle for acknowledging Israel’s right to exist, period. This map (with Israel’s pre-1967 borders) is the starting point for negotiations over a two-state solution and even the United Nations accepts that this is Israel.
I imagined that this rejection of Israel was a marginal, extreme view, and then I read about remarks from Amnesty International’s U.S. director, Paul O’Brien. On Wednesday, he spoke to Women’s National Democratic Club and said Israel “shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state.” He suggested that his gut informs him that the Jews of America don’t support Israel as a Jewish state and instead want it to exist as “a sanctuary that is a safe and sustainable place that the Jews, the Jewish people, can call home.”
We are entering into a dangerous moment, and we have to be aware about the way the “debate” appears to have shifted. Previously, we were talking about what the borders of Israel and a future Palestinian state would look like. Now it appears that the question has shifted from what shape Israel should be to whether Israel should even exist. It was disappointing to see the reaction from people on Twitter; it is scary to read the same sentiments from the leader of Amnesty International in the USA.
As a Jewish community, we can, and we should, debate some of Israel’s actions. We can, and we should, discuss what the future borders of the Jewish state should look like. And we can, and we should (in my opinion), argue for a two-state solution with Israel alongside Palestine as the best way for both peoples to be safe and secure. We cannot and we should not be required to debate, discuss, or argue about whether Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state.
As someone who believes in and is committed to a two-state solution (as are AIPAC and JStreet on either side of the political spectrum), it saddens me that the debate has shifted in this way. We need to get back to talking about how to lay the groundwork for two states, how to build trust between Israelis and Palestinians, how to work toward a peaceful solution that works for both peoples.
There are 27 countries with Islam as their official religion, 13 of which are officially Christian, and there is one country that is Jewish. And if that Jewish country is the one country that you believe should be wiped off the map, then perhaps it is worth asking yourself the question: Why this country and no others? Maybe this should be the Worldle test: If you look at that map and see only Palestine and attack Worldle for acknowledging Israel as a country, then in my opinion, there is nothing to debate or discuss, because you are advocating for Israel’s destruction and starting from an initial position that is unacceptable. And I would suggest that you might want to ask why you call for the destruction of just one country that happens to be the world’s only Jewish state.
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