It is perhaps somberly appropriate to address this issue of settlers remaining in a future Palestinian state one week after a state investigation committee made its final report on the failed resettlement of the Jewish expellees from the Gaza Strip. Five years from the announcement by Ariel Sharon’s agitprop that there was a solution for every settler, most of the expellees are still in limbo.
If this was the best the government could do for the 9,000 former residents of Gaza and Northern Samaria, it is hard to expect a superior performance if such a tragedy is revisited on a population that is twentyfold larger. Once the Israeli peace camp could expect international largesse to resettle the expellees, but the current global financial crisis and the prevailing winds of austerity dash such optimism. The fear of serious resistance to expulsion orders also accounts for the renewed interest in a solution that leaves many Jewish communities within a Palestinian state. It will require the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria to make a Hobbesian choice between principle and peril.
The principled and patriotic decision would be for the communities to remain in place. Jewish “sumud” (steadfastness) will demonstrate to the Arabs that Jews are not latter day Crusaders – an alien entity – but are motivated by their religious and historical link to the land of their forefathers.
The sages in the Talmud, perhaps observing a similar predicament in their era, opined that it is preferable for a Jew to live in the land of Israel even in a city with a non-Jewish majority than to live outside it in an ancient version of Borough Park in Brooklyn.
It is also a matter of simple reciprocity. If an Israeli state can be expected to host an Arab minority approaching 20 percent, then a neighboring Palestinian state can be expected to do the same for Jewish communities rather than emptying its territory of Jews.
UNFORTUNATELY, THE issue of principle clashes seriously with the perilous reality on the ground.
There are no prospects whatsoever that would allow a Jewish minority in a Palestinian state to survive and prosper. Jews electing to remain will consign themselves to suffering and probably martyrdom.
And martyrdom in Judaism is a last resort, not the preferred option.
The benign treatment accorded British nationals in the Republic of Ireland once that country had attained its independence will not be revisited in a future Palestine. Observe the fate of Jewish communities throughout the Arab world, where even the minuscule remnants of the Yemenite Jewish community face persecution and mortal danger.
One can also extrapolate from the dwindling Arab Christian communities: persecution by the Muslim majority has made emigration the preferred option; Bethlehem, once a symbol of Arab Christianity, is effectively a Muslim town. If this is the treatment accorded people who share a similar culture and speak the same language, can Jews expect greater benevolence? A newly independent Palestine can be expected to honor Jewish minority rights at best on the level that newly independent Poland adhered to the provisions of the League of Nations minority treaty – i.e., it will ignore them totally. The Kingdom of Jordan imposes a death penalty on anyone convicted of selling land to Jews. In Israel, by contrast, when the chief Rabbi of Safed exhorted Jews not to sell houses to Arabs, the Israeli legal system came down upon him like a ton of bricks.
One may not even have to resort to pogroms.
Dominating the remaining Jewish communities will be mega-mosques with
mammoth loudspeakers that will regale the Jews 24/7 with
decibelsplitting calls to prayer. Perhaps the new neighbors will be
toxic and noxious factories. If the Jews fail to get the message, we
will move on to boycotts, violence against property escalating to
violence against individuals, followed by abduction, detention and
murder. For form’s sake, a Palestinian leader may even issue an
intermittent denunciation (preferably in English), but the perpetrators
will receive an encouraging wink and a reward. The international
community will not lift a finger for fear of endangering the “peace
process.” The voices of progressivism will intone that the settlers
brought it on themselves.
Perhaps a Palestinian state may tolerate a supine Jewish minority that
will dutifully appear at anti- Zionist demonstrations. The Jewish
residents of Judea and Samaria however will not abjure their Zionist
beliefs to make this scenario a reality, while the Arabs will not
countenance the presence of a Jewish Ahmed Tibi assertive of Jewish
This inevitable scenario could be deterred if the Palestinian state
feared a crushing military reaction from Israel or violent retribution
from the Jewish populace in Israel that would transpose the situation
into the Greco-Turkish case of the 1920s or India and Pakistan in 1947,
namely a mutual expulsion of minorities. But this eventuality would be
thwarted by Israel’s human rights cartel and legal establishment, while
military conquest will only bring us back to square one in the conflict
and perhaps exacerbate it further.
The writer is a foreign policy
columnist and commentator for Makor Rishon newspaper and a contributing editor to
The Jerusalem Report. This article
was first published in www.bitterlemons.org and is reprinted with