Four percent of the country’s residents [i.e. the settlers] cannot decide that
they are the only ones who know what’s right... It’s hard not to respect those
who are willing to risk their lives and future for the sake of a goal they
believe in, yet it becomes a whole different story when they risk the lives and
future of others.
– Yair Lapid, “Do the settlers care about us?” October 2, 2010
... there is room for well-considered, controlled unilateral actions. Such
actions, which are not dependent on the standing of negotiations, can mitigate
the conflict by creating an evolving reality of two states. They should take
place along with consistent efforts to negotiate a permanent arrangement, or at
least diplomatic agreements that would ultimately result in a permanent
– Gilead Sher, “Unilateral withdrawal, by consent,” June 27,
You would think that following Israel’s ruinous unilateral withdrawals from
Lebanon and Gaza, unilateralism would be dead in the water... the political Left
is impatient. The same people who once sold us Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas
as peace partners are now telling us that peace is impossible yet the existing
situation is unacceptable, and therefore the unilateral route is the only
remaining course of action for Israel... There is a groundswell of “elite”
(read: Leftist) opinion building in favor of unilateral withdrawal in the West
Bank. I sense that Prime Minister Netanyahu is being pulled in this direction...
– David Weinberg, “The return of unilateralism,” May 30, 2013
I have a strong
premonition of dire things to come. For there are increasingly frequent signs of
the ominous nature of the emerging realities that soon will be upon us – signs
clearly visible to all but those who refuse to acknowledge them, and realities
which if left unchecked will – with almost deterministic certainty – herald the
end of the era of Jewish sovereignty in our time.
Retreat as a
The three preceding citations aptly illustrate the
reasons for my concern and the sense of impending doom that accompanies
For they clearly mark out the major lines, along which the thrust of
a new domestic effort is being mounted to compress Israel back into its
precariously vulnerable pre-1967 frontiers, and to reinstate the validity of the
policy of unreciprocated withdrawal, despite the debacle of the
It is important to note the metamorphosis that has taken
place in the rationale of the two-state doctrine. For in contrast to the not
too- distant past, withdrawal from the territories across the 1967 Green Line is
now no longer presented – as least not, primarily – as a measure designed to
attain a peace accord with the Palestinians. Rather, it is portrayed as a
desired value in, and of, itself. Today, territorial retreat is being promoted
as a standalone moral imperative which must be aspired to, no matter what the
peace negotiations with the Palestinians achieve. Or don’t.
1984 is now
Unilateralists employ two ruses to disguise the true nature of their endeavor –
one involving semantic cosmetics, the other substantive camouflage.
attempt to mask their push for unrequited concessions with misleading, almost
Orwellian rhetoric, virtually indistinguishable from the Newspeak slogans in the
dystopian realities of 1984, such as “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery” and
“Ignorance is strength.”
This is no exaggeration. For what more fitting
epithet could there be to characterize the unilateralists’ bizarre practice of
designating their call for complete capitulation as “constructive” (see my “The
coming canard: ‘Constructive unilateralism,’” April 19). This could be plausibly
construed as prescribing a macabre maxim that could have come directly from the
manuals of the Orwellian Ministry of Truth: “Surrender is
Together, with this semantic sleight of hand, they continue to
insist that their preferred avenue is a negotiated settlement with the
Palestinians. But this too is little more than superficial posturing that lacks
After all, why would the Palestinians feel the need to
negotiate when they are being “threatened” with being given virtually everything
that they could get via those negotiations anyway – courtesy of “constructive
Unless of course one is contemplating offering even more
munificent concessions in such negotiations, such as the right of return, east
Jerusalem and the Golan, as per the demands of the Arab Peace
(From hereon, I will denote the advocates of this bizarre
doctrine by the acronym CUPs – Constructive unilateralism proponents.)
events will unfold
It is against this ideo-political backdrop that the grim
scenario I envisage will unfold.
As the growing specter of international
economic, and other, sanctions looms ever-larger and more menacing, public
concern will be harnessed to fan the flames of resentment toward the designated
cause of these potential punitive measures against the country – the continued
Jewish presence across the 1967 Green Line.
post-/anti-Zionist elements will continue their support for the BDS (Boycott,
Divestment, Sanctions) movement, establishment CUPs will not publicly call for
such steps against Israel. Privately, however, they may well let it be known
that they feel that tangible threats thereof might have a valuable role to
They will write articles and give interviews in the mainstream
media, warning that such penalties are imminent, thereby signaling to foreign
governments that such action is, in their eyes, understandable, even,
As such threats become more credibly conveyed
and are seen to be more tangibly imminent, they will be brandished domestically
by CUPs, and increasingly portrayed as an unwarranted and avoidable punishment
brought down on the general public by a handful of recalcitrant, radical
Then, a well-orchestrated campaign to discredit the residents
of the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria will begin. They will be
portrayed as the source of economic burden and physical danger to the rest of
the population living within the pre-1967 frontiers – as reflected in the
foregoing Lapid excerpt – and as the sole impediment to a peace accord with the
Although some non-adversarial appeals will be made for “our
brothers across the Green Line” to return home, and expressions of
understanding, empathy, even identification as to their suffering may be
articulated, this will do little to dilute the venom that will be directed at
them. The deep-seated, primal distaste for the settlers will soon engender
defamatory and demagogic diatribes against them that will range from the
distortive, through the deceptive, to the downright deceitful.
conferences, carefully crafted polls
In parallel, a drive will be launched – in
fact, in large part has already been launched – to accustom the public to the
notion of “constructive unilateralism” and to persuade it of its acceptability,
Conferences will be staged with compliant,
high-profile participants to impart “intellectual depth” to this shallow,
capricious concept; opinion polls will be conducted, with questions carefully
crafted to elicit responses that can be portrayed as reflecting widespread
public endorsement; opinion pieces will be published/posted and prime time
interviews granted in mainstream media channels – at home and abroad – with
sympathetic editorial policies, to build up pressure on politicians and
Soon a “95% Us vs 4% Them” theme will increasingly
dominate the public discourse, and a “Pre-1967 Israelis vs Trans-Green Line
Settlers” schism will purposely be widened and systematically
With growing frequency and aggressiveness, elected leaders
will find themselves publicly confronted with trenchant, but disingenuous,
questions of the kind: “Why should 95% of the population pay the price for, and
bear the burden of, the ideological intransigence of a 5% minority.”
as in the past, the elected leaders will not withstand the pressure.No
Recently, pro-settler/anti-withdrawal advocates have
pooh-poohed the idea of imminent Israeli withdrawal from
They claim that given the precedent of the disengagement,
and of other forced evacuation episodes, no government could countenance the
involuntary evacuation of tens – much less hundreds – of thousands of Jews from
their homes, and hence withdrawal is not a feasible prospect.
right – and they are wrong! It is unlikely that any Israeli government could or
would undertake a massive forced evacuation of Jews. But this does not discount
the possibility of unilateral withdrawal.
For what was once unthinkable
is no longer so.
Under relentless pressure generated by CUPs, their media
cohorts, and supportive foreign governments and ministers, the harassed
politicians will do the following:
• Announce that Israel has no claims to
sovereignty beyond the security barrier – or thereabout.
• Instruct the
IDF to prepare for a unilateral withdrawal to that prescribed line within, say,
six to nine months.
• Inform the residents of the Jewish communities
across the Green Line that the IDF will withdraw in six to nine months, in which
time they will have to decide: Either accept a modest relocation compensation
package or remain where they are, to live under the rule of whatever regime will
assume power in the region.
Unthinkable today, government policy tomorrow
Unthinkable? I beg to differ.
Sever Plocker, a very well-connected
journalist, recently (May 20) wrote: “Sources close to the prime minister...
speak of his growing willingness to take a dramatic unilateral step for the
Palestinians in case the proposal for temporary borders and an interim agreement
does not reach the implementation stage.”
Strongly corroborating the
concern expressed by David Weinberg in the introductory except, Plocker
continues: “According to the sources, Bibi is closer than ever to reaching a
decision on a unilateral withdrawal near the separation fence, without getting
anything in return from the Palestinian Authority. He is prepared for a
‘historic act that would surpass the disengagement from Gaza.’”
The history of
recent decades is replete with incidents in which the once-taboo has become the
accepted policy of the day.
Who, in the 1980s, would have believed that
the rugged, hawkish Palmahnik Yitzhak Rabin would embrace and sanitize the
arch–terrorist Arafat; who, in the 1990s, would have believed that former
right-wing Likudniks like Ehud Olmert would offer to divide Jerusalem; who, in
2000, would have believed that the super-hawk Ariel Sharon would coercively
evacuate Gaza, or that Netanyahu would embrace the idea of a Palestinian
Time and time again, Israeli leaders have buckled under pressure –
perceived or genuine.
Time and time again, they have reneged on electoral
pledges and embraced the dovish concessions they previously
There is little reason to believe – or even to hope – that they
will not do so again – especially if confronted with the seeming choice of
giving the welfare of a 95% majority precedence over the “ideological excesses”
of a 4% minority.Grotesque inversion of Zionist ethos
This of course would be a calamitous decision and in all
probability, would precipitate a process that, within several decades, culminate
in end of the era of Jewish sovereignty.
It would comprise a grotesque
inversion of the Zionist ethos, which in essence involves bringing Jews living
under alien sovereignty to live under Jewish sovereignty – not abandoning Jews
to live under, not only alien, but in all likelihood inimical
It would create an insufferable security situation
converting Netanya to Sderot-by-the sea...
Proponents of the move would
soon find – as with the Oslo debacle – that the euphoria would be rapidly
replaced by horror and despair.
But even the more nationalistic elements
in the population would begin to drift away with a growing sense of alienation
from the country and its fate. Dispirited, despondent and disgusted, people who
were prepared to risk and sacrifice much to be a participant in a valiant
stirring struggle, but not “patsies” in a patently foolhardy failure of spirit,
would seek fulfillment elsewhere...Forewarned is forearmed
scenario is a tangible possibility.
But forewarned is
Help prevent it materializing. Raise you voice in protest.
Withdraw support from any elected incumbent who does not actively and
effectively oppose its implementation. Help fund countervailing conferences and
conduct contradictory surveys.
It is not that much is at
Everything is at stake! Please help me to prove my prediction
wrong.Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.net) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.