I believe

US President Donald Trump, despite his pre-election pro-Israel bluster, has proven to be as much of a disciple to the “50 years haven’t gone by” philosophy as his successors.

October 12, 2017 22:18
4 minute read.
I believe

A general view shows where a Palestinian terrorist killed three Israeli guards and wounded a fourth before being killed himself in Har Adar yesterday.. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)


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It was a prime example of how you can’t pigeonhole Israelis.

Veteran hip hop stalwarts Hadag Nahash were performing on a breezy evening this week during an outdoor hol hamoed concert at the Shamir Lake in Ma’aleh Adumim.

Irony number one occurred when the rabble-rousers outspoken about Israeli society were introduced to the stage by the city’s staunchly Likud mayor, Benny Kashriel.

Kashriel made it a point to thank the event’s sponsors, including Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, prompting ironic moment number two. Instead of the boos and catcalls her name would usually evoke at an Israeli cultural event, Regev received polite applause. (Alright, that one was only quasi-ironic, granting that Ma’aleh Adumim is a Likud stronghold.) Once the band started playing, hundreds of mostly young fans from the settlement of some 40,000 residents outside of Jerusalem immediately crowded the stage area, gyrating and fist-waving as Sha’anan Streett and his funky band rapped couplets like: “I believe that our part in not reaching peace is significant, and just as big as that of all the neighboring countries” from their 2010 hit “I Believe.”

It sounds better in Hebrew rhyme, where the indignation and the urgency is emphasized, and the gyrations and fist-waving become almost involuntary responses.

The third irony, of course, is that the audience, enthusiastically singing along to that song and other “socially aware” lyrics by the band, like their signature “Sticker Song,” is perceived around the world as an obstacle to peace.

Based on their statements and actions, the view of the US State Department and of the Palestinian Authority and of the UN and EU, is that the last 50 years haven’t taken place. There are no irreversible facts on the ground since Israel took over the West Bank in 1967 and Ma’aleh Adumim – not to mention Gilo and East Talpiot – is no different than an illegal outpost of caravans in the Shomron.

A day after last month’s deadly shooting in Har Adar, Ido Aharoni, Israel’s former consul general in New York, and a resident of that community over the Green Line, wrote a salient column in The Jerusalem Post about the effects of the attack. I proudly posted a link to the column on social media, touting Aharoni’s “personal account from his Israeli town.”

Among the overwhelmingly favorable replies was one that pointed out: “Har Adar is not in Israel. It is in the occupied West Bank, or Palestine.”

That point – that the community of mostly secular, mostly liberal Israelis was not part of Israel – was apparently far more important than the fact that two of those ‘Israelis’ – including an Israeli Muslim – had just been gunned down by a Palestinian, their bodies freshly buried in the ground.

A callous viewpoint like that reflects the position that the world has adopted – 50 years of demographic and geographic changes don’t mean anything when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

More than a PA-Hamas reconciliation, more than the Right’s intransigence, that’s probably the single most thorny obstacle in trying to claw our way out of the morass.

US President Donald Trump, despite his pre-election pro-Israel bluster, has proven to be as much of a disciple to the “50 years haven’t gone by” philosophy as his successors. His recent statements saying that he wouldn’t consider moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem until all efforts to negotiate are exhausted is exactly the self-defeating route that has contributed to the current stalemate.

Just as Israel must be willing and able to cut out painful parts of the Land of Israel when the timing is right and there is a partner on the other side to deal with, the rest of the world needs to internalize that there is no turning back on post-1967 Jerusalem neighborhoods, large settlement blocs and the new Israel that has emerged.

The sooner the penny drops that places like Har Adar, Ma’aleh Adumim and Gilo are integral parts of Israel, with diverse populations that can cheer both Hadag Nahash and Miri Regev, the sooner it will be possible to look to the future instead of dwelling on the past.

There’s no better evidence of that new Israel than those gyrating and fist-waving youth this week. They were too intent on enjoying themselves to give a second thought about why their parents brought them to live in a “settlement,” of their role in the mired peace process or whether they were legitimately Israeli.

They might not even have been paying attention to Hadag Nahash’s lyrics, which raised alarms over internal racism, rampant consumerism and lack of leadership. But I believe that they were – especially the cautionary words emanating from Streett’s voice that bounced off of the surrounding Judean hills that are as relevant there as they are in Tel Aviv or Ramallah: “I also believe that we’re running in circles, and there’s no chance that another war will help.”

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