I would like to back up today and take a look at the broader picture, in terms of the situation in which Israel finds herself today. I am motivated to take this look now because of a couple of messages from my readers (and surprisingly, only a couple), the essence of which is that this is our land and we should just say so — perhaps annex now — and stop fooling around.
My observation is that, while this is ultimately desirable, it ain’t so simple.
The government of Israel has made some disastrous mistakes. The first was in 1967, when we acquired control of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and did not annex these areas (although ultimately we placed eastern Jerusalem and the Golan under civil law). In fact, the Arabs in Judea and Samaria were packed to leave. After all, that is what Jordan did to us in 1949 when they made the areas they acquired Judenrein. The Arabs expected it. But, no, big sports that we were, we said, stay…
Then jump to 1993, when we made the next disastrous mistake in signing on to Oslo, which committed us to negotiating a final status for the Palestinian Arabs living in Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. Actually this was one long series of disastrous mistakes, melded together:
What we did with this was to concede, at least in theory, some notion of the right of the Palestinian Arabs to live on part of our land — or to claim part as theirs. (That “final status” was not specifically a state, although this is the concept that evolved over time.)
What became ensconced then, as well, was the “land for peace” concept, which turned out to be a farce.
Incredibly, because they were thought to be the ones who had ultimate influence and could wage peace, the terrorists of the PLO were brought by the Rabin government from Tunis to Jericho and Gaza, and ultimately Ramallah.
And we cut the Arabs slack repeatedly. We did not hold them to their commitments, but just kept sailing along as if they had honored them. The issue of incitement serves as example. Arafat instituted incitement big-time: he was out to teach his people that we weren’t legitimate and actually were the lowest of the low, so that killing us was praiseworthy. Yet Oslo called for cessation of all incitement. Did we stop our cooperation with Arafat because he failed to honor this stipulation? Don’t be silly.
It’s as if we just had to keep going, no matter what.
Perhaps worst of all since 1993 is that we have had governments that essentially adopted the Palestinian Arab narrative, at least in some measure: the story of a suffering people with a long history in this land, displaced by the Jews, oppressed by the occupation, and longing for a state of their own. Put another way, we have had at least some leaders who were, in essence, advocating for our enemy.
Ach… were we kind people, so sensitive to our adversaries, so willing to make sacrifices to be “fair.” I call this galut (diaspora) mentality. Having been at the mercy of others for 2,000 years, we remain inordinately eager to please.
The other day I made the point that it is not a question of one narrative vs. another, but a question of invention versus fact. You could say that we failed to tell our narrative — but what we did, with bleeding hearts, is fail to expose the facts:
The Arabs spoke about the ’67 “borders” and there was no clear and immediate Israeli government retort — repeated as often as necessary — that the ’67 line was an armistice line and not meant to be permanent. By default, if nothing else, we left the impression that behind that line was where we most properly “belonged.” And the flip side of this was that everything on the other side of that line was “Palestinian.”
The Arabs spoke about “Arab East Jerusalem,” and we did not forcefully clarify the fact that part of Jerusalem had a predominantly Arab population only because Jordan had thrown out every Jew, when in fact this very area was actually the heart of Jewish heritage. We didn’t tell our history and make our claim clear.
The Arabs represent UNRWA as being a humanitarian agency that helps the disenfranchised “Palestinian refugees” live until they can “return” to Israel. Did we ever forcefully push the fact that UNRWA’s rules are different from the rules for all other refugees in the world, who are managed by UNHCR? Don’t be silly. Regularly do I find people shocked by the difference in the rules, yet this is something that every politically aware person in the West ought to be aware of. Who knows that a “Palestinian refugee” who has acquired US citizenship is still considered a “refugee” on the UNRWA books because he didn’t return to Israel, whence his grandfather had come in 1948?
And on and on and on…
Perhaps most significant of all is the fact that the PLO has never officially renounced its call to destroy Israel, and Fatah still embraces the concept of “armed resistance.” Coupled with this is the fact that when the Arabs speak about “occupation,” they are referring to everything from the river to the sea. According to this conceptualization, there is no place here where Jews belong.
The Arabs have been masters at promoting their vision. And so, unsurprisingly, the international community has bought it hook, line and sinker. Why shouldn’t they have? They were more than eager in any event, and they weren’t presented with a forceful and cogent alternative version of the situation. They saw that even some Israeli leaders were on board.
How many people know that the San Remo (properly: Sanremo) Conference and the Mandate for Palestine are enshrined in international law to this day and give us the right to this land? How many have even heard of San Remo and the Mandate? Who knows that Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 does not speak either of a Palestinian people or a Palestinian state — while it does speak about Israel’s right to secure borders?
The overriding concern is for “justice” for the poor beleaguered Palestinian people.
For a long time, a good part of the Israeli people — longing for peace and acceptance by neighbors — bought into the “two-state solution” and the constructs of Oslo. That, thank Heaven, has changed significantly. The people have been disabused of this notion as they have seen what concessions have brought us, and how we have suffered the onslaught of rockets from Gaza since we pulled out.
And so now people are demanding that we stop the train we’ve been on, before it brings us to disaster. And this is great. There is a difference in tone that is enormously important.
But others are saying that we must, quickly, reverse that train and bring it back to its starting gate And it is this that I think will take time.
Anyone who reads my material regularly knows that I am not in favor of concessions to the Arabs and most certainly not in favor of surrendering our land and establishing a state for them. I believe that tough stances are necessary, and that it is important — as I’ve just indicated — that the facts be exposed forcefully so that there will be a shift in perception, at least in some quarters. It’s time for us to take the offensive in a number of different ways.
I regret that we haven’t fought our wars to win, but have withdrawn prematurely for political reasons or to please the world. We shouldn’t have stopped in Lebanon when we did, and we should have been more forceful in Gaza last year. I believe, as well, that we should bomb Iran, because no one else in the world will do it, and it needs to be done.
However, I do not delude myself that we can simply stand against the world with impunity. Anti-Semitism is rampant and much of the world would gladly do us in without thinking twice, should they find the rationale.
I astound myself as I say this (because it is so counter-intuitive and so inherently obscene), but I believe the international community would level crippling sanctions against us more quickly than they have been willing to do against Iran. I believe the world would attempt to bring us to our knees were we to attempt now to annex all the land that is properly ours. Depriving the Palestinians of their “legitimate” rights? Acting like an “apartheid” nation? They’d come after us big time. Part of what we’re seeing is that the Arabs are battling us on the field of international law. There is an effort to delegitimize us.
And so there’s a process that we must entertain, and a stance we must assume that will allow us to grow stronger, step by step. Efforts must be made to turn the tables on the current situation.
That time will come…
It will come as we grow stronger inside ourselves and believe in the rightness of our stance, and act on our own behalf in a variety of spheres.
We’re not there yet. We have a great deal of work to do.
Part of what must be done is to change the perception many have of the “Palestinians” as the innocent, suffering underdogs deserving of much support. I am reminded of a speech this winter by Netanyahu advisor Ron Dermer, at the Jerusalem Conference. Expose the reality of the Palestinian Arab culture, he said, so that progressives and liberals can began to understand. Talk to the people who are feminists about their abuse of women, for example. Honor killings and all of that.
Lastly, I refer here to what Daniel Pipes said just days ago. He has a peace plan, he wrote: Israel defeats her enemies. That is the way to peace. I do believe that down the road this will come.
Finally, a word to the readers who I anticipate will write to me and tell me, for shame, for I must believe in the protection from Heaven that will keep us safe as we stand against the world.
I believe with certainty that we are here as a people, on this land, because the Almighty has protected us and brought us here. I believe there is a brit, a covenant, that keeps us in this respect. I believe in the miracles of our return, and of the wars we have fought and won. I do not believe that we will be banished from this land again.
But I also know that the covenant is with the people as a whole and not individuals. So I don’t imagine for a moment that every Jew here will be safe because the Almighty will keep him or her from harm if our enemies go after us. And so there are ways to go about what must be done.
We are in a process. We waited 2,000 years to return. Nowhere is it written that the final resolution must be immediate. Step by step we will achieve, undoing the errors of the past decades.