THOUSANDS OF Jews, and other supporters of Israel, gathered yesterday along the Parkway to salute the Jewish state on its 60th birthday. To them, Israel's right to exist is unquestioned.

To some others, it is not.

It's been 60 years of war and turmoil, during which surrounded Israelis made a parched parcel of desert bloom, fought off all comers, revived a dead language (Hebrew) and launched an innovative, technological economy that has made it the strongest state in the Mideast. In its murderous neighborhood, Israel is the only democracy that promises and protects minority rights. This is not the story often told by the media.

Thursday morning I listened to a report on NPR from the BBC, which is believed - by many knowledgeable Jews and others - to be pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist, anti-Israeli, call it what you will. This report, which came from Jerusalem, was notable in at least two respects - three, actually.

First, the only people interviewed were Palestinians. Second, it reported Palestinian frustration with the U.S.-backed two-state solution, which calls for Israeli and Palestinian states to peacefully co-exist side by side. A growing notion, BBC reported, was a "single, bi-national state."

BBC quoted a Palestinian author who said that Israelis would have to do what the Afrikaaners did in South Africa and Protestants did in Northern Ireland: share power. The South Africa reference must have pleased Jimmy Carter, who disingenuously applied the toxic "apartheid" label to Israel. (For the record, 24 percent of Israeli citizens are Arabs, who vote. In addition to Arab members of Israel's parliament, one of Israel's 12 Supreme Court justices is an Arab. Sound like apartheid to you?)

The final notable aspect of the BBC report was the absence of any explanation of what a "bi-national state" would mean.

"The end of Israel," explains La Salle University international-relations expert Ed Turzanski. "Palestinians look at demographics" and understand that if they shared a state with Jews, they would soon outnumber them and could "use the ballot box to get what they couldn't have gotten through bombs and bullets."

A "one-state" solution supposes that Jews and Arabs, who can't get along when apart, will magically turn harmonious after a shotgun wedding. This is a delusion to rope in the gullible.

A "one-state" solution would undo what the United Nations attempted in 1947 when it divided the British-run mandate called Palestine (no nation called Palestine has ever existed) into two halves - one for Arabs, one for Jews. At that moment, there was a Palestinian state.

The Jews took their portion (half of which was desert), and built a nation. Five Arab nations attacked Israel, and built a catastrophe for the Palestinians by trying to kill the infant in its crib. They tried again and failed in '56, in '67, in '73. They're still at it, but today's weapons are suicide bombers, rocket attacks and propaganda.

The question, actually raised on the political and academic fringe, is this: Does Israel have a right to exist, as a Jewish state?

Does anyone question the "right" to exist of the world's more than three dozen countries with a Muslim majority of 60 percent or more? Or 42 Roman Catholic nations? Or 60 more of various Christian denominations? Or the dozen that are Buddhist?

Isn't the world big enough to allow a Jewish majority in only ONE country - where Jews have continuously lived since 1,000 years before the birth of Christ?

If you think not, why not? *

E-mail stubyko@phillynews.com or call 215-854-5977. For recent columns: