[We need] to create a continuous stretch of new
settlements; to bolster Jerusalem and the surrounding hills, from the north,
east, south and west, by means of the establishment of townships, suburbs and
villages – Ma’aleh Adumin, Ofra, Gilo, Bet El, Givon – to ensure that the
capital and its flanks are secured, and underpinned by urban and rural
settlements. These settlements will be connected to the Coastal Plain and Jordan
Valley by new lateral axis roads; the settlements along the Jordan River are
intended to establish the Jordan River as [Israel’s] de facto security border;
however it is the settlements on the western slopes of the hills of Samaria and
Judea which will deliver us from the curse of Israel’s “narrow waist.” – Shimon
Peres, Tomorrow is Now, 1977.
I wish you all, the parents and the entire
tribe of settlers...restorers of the Jewish settlement in Hebron...
great blessing and joy in raising your son. Bringing your son into the covenant
of the Patriarch Abraham, in the city of Abraham after 40 years separation from
it, has special symbolic significance.
It bears testimony to our
continuous connection to this place, to which we have returned never to leave. –
Yigal Allon, January 29, 1969.
A person who, with intent that any area be
removed from the sovereignty of the state or placed under the sovereignty of a
foreign state, commits an act calculated to bring this about, is liable to life
imprisonment or the death penalty. – Section 97(b) of the current Penal Code in
Israel – under “Treason.”
There are ever-increasing signs that something
infuriating, insidious and immoral is beginning to surface in the political
debate in Israel – particularly in regard to policy on “settlements” and
“settlers.” Accordingly, I would ask you to keep these excerpts in mind while
reading the rest of this column.
Their full significance will become
clear in its final section.Orwellian conversion of vice into virtue
gathering momentum a new approach – one that is egregious and evil – is emerging
as the latest endeavor to breathe life into the rapidly expiring feasibility of
the so-called “two-state solution.” It involves a macabre attempt to transform
vice into virtue, and virtue into vice.
It not only grotesquely distorts
the founding ethos of Zionism, but totally inverts its essence and reverses the
thrust of its fundamental principles. It is an approach – or rather a syndrome –
that elevates surrender of homeland and abandonment of kin as the loftiest of
enlightened values, while denigrating any sign of assertive expression of Jewish
identity and solidarity as ethnocratic racism.
prescriptions are so manifestly Kafkaesque that its proponents are compelled to
resort to language strongly reminiscent of Orwellian Newspeak and slogans
virtually indistinguishable from the 1984-dystopian “War is Peace” and “Freedom
They thus portray capitulation as “victory” and designate
proposals that entail widespread destruction as “constructive.”
on these linguistic abominations later.Incompetent Right vs delusional
What is most disconcerting is that these dangerous delusions are being
promoted with increasing frequency, not by marginal fringe elements in Israeli
society but from within the very heart of the Israeli civil society
Ranged against this delirium of the Left is a hopelessly
incompetent, inarticulate, inept Right, seemingly unable to grasp the peril or
to formulate effective countermeasures to deal with it. Mired in outdated modes
of thought, it flounders artlessly in futile attempts to preserve and promote
its essentially valid principles and positions with obsolete tactics and
The misplaced complacency in the ranks of the
Right is based on two assumptions, both essentially correct; both totally
irrelevant. The first is that no agreement will be reached in the negotiations
with the Palestinians.
True, any such agreement is highly
The second is that there can be no coercive evacuation of
settlers from Judea-Samaria as there was in the 2005 Gaza disengagement, because
they are simply too many of them for this to be feasible – either physically or
politically. This assumption too is probably correct.
The chances of a
large-scale coercive eviction of Jewish residents are slim.
should be cold comfort to the Israeli Right – since the new “approach” I
referred to above makes both the lack of agreement with the Palestinians, and
the inability to forcibly remove significant numbers of Jews from their homes,
largely irrelevant to a future Israeli decision to withdraw from much – if not
all – of Judea-Samaria.
Perverse, pernicious proposals
two-state advocates, fearful that their long-championed idea may have been
overtaken by events and is descending into oblivion, are trying to revive it by
forgoing the need to address the two major obstacles that have prevented its
implementation to date: (a) the need to reach a negotiated agreement with the
Palestinians; and (b) the need to relocate the Jewish population in areas to be
transferred to Palestinian control.
With growing frequency, two new,
deeply disconcerting notions are being raised. The first is that of unilateral
Israeli withdrawal, irrespective of the results of any negotiations on a peace
settlement; the second is the abandonment of Jewish communities across the
pre-1967 Green Line.
True, these two egregious elements have not yet
coalesced into a coherent, comprehensive doctrine.
However, a rapidly
evolving process in this direction is already under way – and unless effective
and assertive action is taken to nip it in the bud, there is little doubt that
it will soon be aggressively advanced in the political discourse as a “strategic
imperative” for the nation.
Almost incredibly, these pernicious proposals
are being seriously promoted by mainstream establishment institutions as
practical policy prescriptions – despite the fact that they fly in the face of
reason and experience. Not only do they comprise a grave departure from the
spirit of Zionist endeavor, but they will – with demonstrably deterministic
certainty – portend catastrophe on a grand scale, human and political.
mega-south Lebanon or mega-Gaza?
In the forefront of this new “approach” is the
well-funded Institute of National Security Studies, which for some time has been
touting the destructive notion of “constructive unilateralism” that would almost
inevitably lead to the obliteration of virtually all Jewish endeavor and
enterprise across the Green Line. INSS has embraced the “idea” (for want of a
better word) of calling on Israel to a priori renounce any sovereign claims to
virtually all the territory in Judea-Samaria, irrespective of any progress
toward a mutually agreed resolution of the conflict with the
I was at pains earlier this year to underscore the
dangerous defects this ill-conceived concept entails and the calamitous
consequences any attempt to implement it will precipitate – see “The coming
canard: Constructive unilateralism” (April 19) and “Stupendously stupid or
surreptitiously sinister,” (April 25).
I will therefore spare readers the
details of previously elaborated criticism and merely point out that it would
result in one of two intolerable scenarios: (a) if the IDF remains in territory
over which Israel makes no sovereign claims – as unilateralist proponents
suggest – it would transform Judea-Samaria into a giant pre-2000 south Lebanon
on the fringes of Israel’s urban metropolis; or (b) if the IDF is forced to
evacuate, as it inevitably will be – despite the delusions of unilateralist
proponents – it would convert Judea-Samaria into a giant post-2005
Unilateral withdrawal and unilateral abandonment
willingness for unilateral withdrawal has now been coupled with the equally
sinister specter of unilateral abandonment.
In an INSS paper titled
“Jewish Enclaves in a Palestinian State” (April 8), by Gideon Biger and Gilead
Sher, we find the following admission: “… the evacuation of tens of thousands
from their homes and their settlements, including forcible evacuation of those
who refuse to leave at the behest of the government, is a difficult task for the
country, and could potentially result in bloodshed and civil war.” Accordingly,
we are told: “… there is a need to examine other, less conventional ideas that
could reduce the number of Israelis… who will need to be evacuated.”
are these “less conventional ideas”? Well, depending on the size of the Jewish
community, they will be left in place, surrounded by, or within, sovereign
Palestinian territory. The Jewish residents will, again depending on the size of
their community, either be part of an autonomous enclave or receive Palestinian
citizenship and “be under the full sovereignty of the Palestinian
Astonishingly (or perhaps not), very little is said about how the
physical safety of Jewish residents is to be secured, and one might be excused
for imputing cynical malevolence to the following excerpt: “Over time, some and
perhaps most of this population will choose to return to the borders of the
State of Israel of their own volition…” Of course, if the alternative is being
lynched, they may well “choose to return… of their own
volition.”Reinstating the ghetto
True, this possibility of creating
“enclaves” (read “ghettos”) and a new Jewish Diaspora under threat, is
envisioned as occurring under “conditions of a permanent- status
Originally, Israeli withdrawal and the demarcation of borders
was supposed to be determined by mutual agreement. But as no such agreement was
forthcoming, that has given way to willingness for unreciprocated Israeli
concessions. There is little reason to believe – or even, hope – that precisely
the same willingness will not emerge regarding the willingness for the creation
(read “abandonment”) of Jewish “enclaves” left to the tender mercies of some
future Palestinian regime.
Support for this grim foreboding was provided
this week by the Hartman Institute, in an article written by Prof. Alex Yakobson
titled “How to deflate the settlements as an issue” (Jerusalem Post, December
12) that features prominently on the homepage of the institute’s website. In
words eerily reminiscent of the previously cited INSS paper, Yakobson asks: “Let
us assume that they [the settlers] are now too numerous to be removed; does this
fact also give them the right to determine forever the political status of the
areas where they live?” His answer is unequivocal. Some imagined future
agreement “should recognize the right of those Jews who will find themselves on
the Palestinian side of the border to continue living there – not under some
extraterritorial regime, but as a minority under Palestinian sovereignty…”
Magnanimously, he proposes, “Nobody will have to be dragged from their homes,”
but warns menacingly “nobody will be able to prevent the IDF from withdrawing to
Israel’s recognized boundaries.” Feigning dispassionate detachment, he remarks:
“Many of the people in question will, no doubt, choose to move to Israel – but
this will be their choice.”
Some choice.Emaciating Zionism
not want to leave myself open to charges of misrepresenting the views expressed
in the INSS and Hartman papers. So subject to breaking news, I will devote next
week’s column to a detailed analysis of the true significance of these
harebrained – and hair-raising – proposals.
As I close, kindly glance
again at the opening excerpts, for they will help one to grasp how greatly this
new “approach” emaciates the spirit of Zionist endeavor.
The real sponsor
of the settlement project was not some wild-eyed, bearded rabbi or shrill
settler extremist, but central figures in the Labor Party such as Shimon Peres
and the iconic moderate Yigal Allon.
Zionism was always a territorial
enterprise, devoted to acquiring a secure homeland for the Jewish
Indeed, shorn of legal machinations and minutiae, even today the
Israeli legal system accords paramount importance to maintaining land under
Israeli sovereignty and deems attempts to extricate it from such sovereignty
treasonous, liable for the most severe punishment.
Yet this is precisely
what the “new approach” endorses.
The epitome of Zionism has always been
to bring Jews living under alien sovereignty to live under Jewish sovereignty,
not to abandon Jews living under Jewish sovereignty to live under alien
sovereignty. Yet this is precisely what the “new approach” endorses.
“If you will it, it is no dream” really become “If THEY will it, it is no
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