Barkan settlement 311.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
One of the crucial challenges facing Israel in its current negotiations with the
Palestinians is remembering that we are not merely negotiating with them but
also with ourselves.
The question is not what they and the international
community will allow, but what we as a Jewish people want to put forth as a core
aspect of our policy. The failure to understand this has led to undermining the
strength of Zionism within Israeli society and to the kindling of Israel’s
delegitimization also within the Jewish community around the world.
state it more clearly, if Zionism means a willingness to occupy another
and where the holiness of the land takes precedence over the moral
our people, then many will want to shed the Zionist ideal, leading to a
Zionist identification. In the world, even among our most loyal friends,
occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank is viewed as contrary to
international law, antithetical to Israel as a democratic state and in
opposition to Jewish values, which are rooted in the equal treatment of
human beings created in the image of God.
Ending the occupation and
maintaining a morally defensible position until which time that we are
bring it to a close while preserving our legitimate security needs are
critical significance to Israelis who care about Zionism and Jews around
world who want to maintain a strong and viable relationship with the
Zionism will not be strengthened through educating Israelis and Jews
history, but by ensuring that it is the expression of moral
THE MORAL requirements vis a vis the occupation are clear: An
occupation is legitimate only if it is the result of a just war, if
constant efforts are made to bring it to an end without compromising
national security interests and if one refrains from non-security
actions which complicate efforts to bring the occupation to an end.
occupation of the West Bank, which emanated out of the 1967 war of
clearly meets these standards, so long as we make a constant and genuine
to bring it to an end under the conditions outlined above.
The fact that
the prime minister and the vast majority of Israelis – Likud, Kadima,
supporters alike – support a two-state solution if the outcome is peace,
important step in fulfilling these criteria. Israelis have accepted that
occupation must come to an end, and while peace requires two sides, it
policy to do everything in our power to fulfill our responsibility.
is the context within which we must assess the issue of the settlement
freeze. Any settlement expansion with the exception of those in the
Jerusalem, the Etzion bloc, Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel, undermines the
authenticity of our commitment to bring the occupation to an end and is
simply immoral. Why continue to expand in areas from which one is
withdraw? Continued expansion there is legitimately interpreted as
giving lie to
one’s commitment to bringing the occupation to an end.
It is important
that we recognize that the issue is not whether the Palestinians will
temporary suspension in the settlement freeze and will remain at the
table. At issue is what we Israelis and we Jews want as the policy of
country. The US and the international community may succeed in keeping
Palestinians in the discussion.
However, if we continue to make
settlement expansion outside of the settlement blocs an Israeli issue,
be undermining within our own community the strength of Zionism and the
relationship of world Jewry to the State of Israel.
It is time for a
conceptual shift in focus. The future of Israel and Zionism requires
understand that, very often, our greatest enemy lies within, and that
vitality and legitimacy of Israel and Zionism will depend on the moral
of the policies that we adopt. The issue is not effective public
morally defensible policies. When Israelis and Jews around the world can
around the shared commitment to a Jewish state which embodies the most
aspirations, Israel will be truly strong.
Peace requires two sides to
agree. However, the transforming of Israel into a Jewish aspirational
inspiring Jews worldwide to a higher sense of purpose and moral voice is
dependent on us alone.The writer is president of the Shalom
Institute in Jerusalem.