It is one of the international community’s favorite adjectives to hurl at
Israel. Time and again, whenever the Jewish state takes some action of one sort
or another, a parade of world leaders turns to their lexicons and reaches for
this old, reliable term of censure with which to berate us.
regard for the facts, they inevitably seek to lay the blame at Israel’s doorstep
by invoking one particular slur.
It is the ‘P’ word, as in “provocative”
Just last week, this prejudicial profanity was
repeatedly flung at Israel in the wake of the Interior Ministry’s decision to
grant initial approval for 1,100 new housing units in the southern Jerusalem
neighborhood of Gilo.
Barely had the gavel come down on the ruling before
the leaders of the Free World rushed to outdo one another with their
condemnation and criticism.
Calling the move “counter-productive,” US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a news conference, “we have long urged
both sides to avoid any kind of action which could undermine trust, including,
and perhaps most particularly, in Jerusalem, any action that could be viewed as
provocative” – there’s that word – “by either side”.
Going a step
further, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the move “illegal” and
said, "This is a time when all parties should be striving to return to talks and
responding to the Quartet statement call to refrain from” – here it comes… –
It didn’t seem to matter one whit that the
approval of the Gilo proposal was just one small step in a lengthy bureaucratic
process and that the bulldozers won’t be starting work any time soon. The mere
idea of Jewish homes being built in Jerusalem appears to be sufficient to evoke
anger across the globe.
Clearly, both Clinton and Hague are suffering
from “selective provocation syndrome,” which is when one deems Israel’s actions
to be provocative while ignoring similar moves by the
Consider the following. According to data compiled by Peace
Now, since the government ended the building freeze on Jewish construction in
Judea and Samaria last October, there have been a grand total of just 2,598
It is this small number of new Jewish homes in the
territories that has the critics up in arms.
They claim that by expanding
Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, Israel is prejudicing the outcome of
any final-status negotiations.
And yet, when it comes to Palestinian
efforts to create facts on the ground, these very same critics inexplicably fall
Indeed, this past Sunday, the Palestinian Central Bureau of
Statistics (PCBS) released data indicating that the number of Palestinian homes
in Judea, Samaria and Gaza has soared by over 25% in the past four
This year alone, the Palestinians will build more housing units
than Israel did in all of last year, even though our population is more than
three times the size of theirs.
According to the PCBS, in 2011 the
Palestinians will finish a whopping 33,822 dwellings, or 13 times the number
currently being built by Jews in Judea and Samaria.
There is no doubt
that this feverish building activity by the Palestinians will have an enormous
impact on the ground, greatly expanding their presence in the “disputed”
So why, then, is this too not regarded as a “provocation”
that undermines peace efforts? Or is it only when Jews lay down cement that
construction suddenly becomes confrontational? I guess not all “provocations”
are created equal.
The fact is that it is neither logical nor fair to
expect Israel to freeze building in Judea and Samaria or anywhere else while the
Palestinians are busy at work.
If the Palestinians feel free to alter the
situation on the ground then there is no reason why Israel should not be able to
do the same.
The real provocation is not the expansion of a porch in
Ma’aleh Adumim, the addition of an attic in Efrat or even the erection of a
garden apartment in Gilo. It is when foreign leaders interfere in Israel’s
internal affairs and seek to dictate to the Jewish state where, when and what it
This one-sided stance reeks of hypocrisy, holding Israel to a
standard that is not applied to its foes.
There is a struggle going on
for control of this land and it is being fought in various ways, one of which is
through the use of cranes and dump-trucks.
Israel has the right and the
responsibility to deploy these instruments as it sees fit.
Clinton, Hague and the others complain all they wish. The rebuilding of the
Jewish homeland can and will continue.
The writer is Chairman of Shavei
Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that assists lost tribes
and hidden Jewish communities to return to the Jewish people.