PostScript: A win-lose situation
Annexationists and unilateralists have become the new political divide in the country, both alternatives short-sighted about the long-term implications of what they are proposing.
Israel border police stand guard in Hebron Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters
There are situations – the best – called win-win, where both sides get something
they want out of a deal. Then there is the win-lose situation where you think
you have won, but in fact are destined to pay a heavy price, sort of like
winning second prize in a lottery that sends you a resort in Albania for a
In recent weeks, and in some way thanks to my own unwitting
contribution, those in favor of continuing Israel’s hold over the territories
have been in a state of jubilation: We have won, they proclaim.
Dayan, the gentlemanly, soft-spoken, chairman of the Yesha settlers’ council,
had an op-ed piece in The New York Times this week saying the clock can’t be
turned back, that Israeli settlement in the West Bank is an established,
irreversible fact and that a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian
problem is an exercise in futility.
And in a letter to this paper, Nadia
Matar and Yehudit Katsover, the vocal and uncompromising co-chairwomen of Women
in Green, crowed that the Land of Israel supporters have won, citing no less an
authority than myself and a column I wrote (“OK, you’ve won; now what?” Post-
Script, July 13) in which I naively thought I had dealt with the problems of
annexing the West Bank, not ceding it.
“Hirsh Goodman is right,”
proclaims their opening sentence, something I never thought I would live to see
from any right-winger, let alone the co-chairs of the Women in Green (which I
initially took for a Muslim organization) generally considered to be on the
far-right fringe of things.
These are folks who usually roast me for my
cowardly, defeatist and neo-post-Zionist views, whatever that may mean, in
talkbacks and blogs.
Unfortunately, it works out, I am “right” for all
the wrong reasons, and as is so usual in these things, the ladies in green only
read that part of the piece that suited them, the first part of the title, and
not the question that follows: “Now what?”
And in his argument in the Times,
Dayan does exactly the same, claiming that a two-state solution is futile, but
failing to deal with the implications of what this means for the future of
Israel as a democratic, Jewish state.
Somehow, the more strident these
people are about annexation, the more obtuse they are about the consequences,
just like finding the one sentence out of 300 that supports their view while
ignoring the rest, something very convenient, but dangerous as
Democracy for the Arabs in the West Bank is the absolute last thing
on the minds of annexationists and only a hypocrite would claim otherwise. It
would make things so much clearer if they had the guts to say “we’ve won” for
Eretz Yisrael, but we may have “lost” for Israel as a truly democratic country
and understand the consequences, instead of stating half the argument and
quoting out of context to “prove” a point.
To continue to call for the
annexation of the territories without dealing with the consequences is worse
than disingenuous: It’s cowardly. Face up to the consequences of your
Smart and honest annexationists, instead of hiding, could openly
say, with some plausibility, that just as Israel imposed martial law on parts of
the Arab Galilee after the 1948 war as a “temporary” measure, so now West Bank
Arabs will have to live under a very benign Israeli military occupation as a
“temporary measure” until things get worked, whenever that may be.
meantime, “real” democracy will flourish in Israel, which means using the
weaknesses of the system to continue stacking the Supreme Court, Knesset and
military leadership with “our” type of folks, accelerate the expansion of
settlements and fight any attempt to remove even the most remote and unnecessary
of outposts, as if they were Israel’s last stand.
Then, while democracy
in Israel takes its course, and military rule continues for the Palestinians in
the West Bank, as the Jews multiply and the Arabs leave, miracles may happen and
we will all live happily ever after, even if it means a war or two along the
way. After all, it is all in God’s hands as we well know.
and unilateralists have become the new political divide in the country, both
alternatives short-sighted about the long-term implications of what they are
proposing. The unilateralists want to move Israel’s future out of God’s hands
and into the hands of Israelis themselves to decide their own future without
Divine intervention. They want a Jewish, democratic Israel and are prepared to
unilaterally give up territory for this.
They don’t say peace is dead,
but don’t believe it can happen right now. They see unilateralism, an Israel
essentially west of the security barrier and a military presence on the Jordan
River, as answering Israel’s security and democratic needs, shedding the
Palestinians from the national budget and removing the contentious land issue
from the Israeli political debate. When peace knocks on consolidated Israel’s
door, they say, they’ll be happy to answer. In the meantime the occupation which
is eating Israel from within has to end.
How refreshing it would be if
politicians would just say what they mean, those who believe in democracy with
borders and those who now propagate borders without peace. How refreshing it
would be to hear something constructive and positive from the annexationists,
instead of them attacking everyone else in the world as anti- Semites or
post-Zionists and pounding on relentlessly how Barack Obama is bad for the
As for the unilateralists, all one can say is that one knows where
these begin, but not where they end. Throw a pebble in a pond, as it is said,
and not even a thousand geniuses can stop the ripples. Who gets to draw Israel’s
unilateral borders? Another committee that creates camels instead of horses?
Israel’s situation with the Palestinians can only be resolved through
Any other way either destroys democratic Israel from within,
or makes this into a society living by the gun behind circled
Both prospects are pretty miserable and a little too easy. What a
pity they seem to be the only two alternatives Israeli voters will be offered
when elections finally come this time round and then, who knows, maybe a miracle
will happen and finally the country will get a leader.
The writer is a
senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel