[Note: I originally wrote this piece several years ago. It is still relevant. And somewhat prescient.]
ARGUMENT FOR ISRAELI UNILATERALISM
The benefit of Oslo has never been more doubtful than at present. The second intifada has effectively destroyed the premise upon which concessions were made, violence has increased, and the promise of peace is further from realization than it was when the accords were signed; discussions with the Arabs will not yield either a just resolution or a sustainable peace.
Opinions regarding Israel have often tended towards one-sidedness, and are often based on a lack of adequate knowledge. But there is also a swelling anti-Israel bias - whether this comes from the typical emotionalized support for the perceived underdog, anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, or a conflation of all three, is largely moot. Condemnatory views already influence in the world's relations with Israel, and have had disastrous effects.
Until and unless the situation is resolved, this bias will continue, will grow, will fester, and will cause ever greater damage.
Talks have failed; there is no partner on the other side. The resolution of issues must be decided upon unilaterally, and now is the time to do so.
There are four areas of concern: Yesha, the border, Jerusalem, and Europe.
There is scant justification for holding Gaza. It is already economically unviable and overpopulated beyond any hope of a functional future - a cesspool. Withdraw, and give it back to the Mitzrayim. They'll ruin it further. Let them. It is of little value, but if kept it will be a liability.
As for the "West Bank"... It is the wishy-washy 'yes it's ours no it's theirs' that grates.
Many passionately believe that Shomron is eternally part of the land of Israel, irrespective of international opinion or internationally acknowledged frontiers. In many cases, the "settlers" are reclaiming what was lost to the Hashemite interlopers in 1948 (a land seizure which the Arabs did not condemn, though it contravened international law).
But leaving it in limbo, neither Israeli nor independently Arab, represents a practical mistake and a moral failure.
It is now no longer a matter of right or wrong, but instead a matter of strategic objectives. Holding on to all of Shomron has become indefensible.
The issue is this: It is quite impossible to live among Arabs, and extending citizenship to the Arabs who live in Shomron would be disastrous. Turning all of Shomron into Israeli territory, without dealing with the problem presented by the resident Arabs, would threaten the very existence of Israel by creating an Arab majority in Israel.
Israel must remain a Jewish state.
There must never be a bi-national state.
So either seize and expel (very problematic), or give up some Arab occupied parts of Shomron as a bitterly yielded concession - diplomatic and strategic expedience must in this case outweigh other dimensions.
[---Those of us who believe it is right to hold onto ALL of Shomron will make it a very bitterly yielded concession indeed - an indisputably, very evident to everybody, agonizing amputation.---]
The Israeli government (and military) must establish the parameters of such a retreat, but deciding what to give up must involve the Israeli people, including especially the settlers themselves.
Deciding which settlements to abandon and which to strengthen in this process can only be done by those who are fully vested in the nation of Israel; necessarily this must exclude the Americans and Europeans, and ignore the Arab world.
Retreating will not bring peace with the Arabs, and it will most certainly be necessary to engage them again militarily in Shomron in the future.
The majority of Arabs will not concede that Jews have a right to exist in the land given to Abraham, nor will the Arab world ever relinquish its hopes for the utter destruction of Jews and the state of Israel. Once Israeli control is relaxed in yielded territories, Arab powerholders will encourage both the gravitation of pan-Arab and Islamist extremists and terrorists to the territories and infiltration across the frontier.
Furthermore, an Israeli withdrawal followed by a closed border will very likely lead to economic disaster for the resident Arabs in Shomron, which will not contribute to stability.
But what a partial divestment of territory will most definitely do is maintain a Jewish majority in a safer Israel.
Objection to the fence is founded on the Arab nationalist and Islamic extremist claim to all of 'Palestine' from the river to the sea; a fence would serve to legitimize the border - to Arab Nationalists and Islamists, no border can ever be legitimate, irrespective of where that fence is.
It follows that negotiation will neither determine a just border, nor a defensible one. Wherefore the decision about the border must be unilateral.
Demands by the outside world (including the U.S.) that negotiations should determine the border should be resisted; any negotiation about the border would be a grievous error.
There are many precedents for imposed borders, even comparatively recently. European borders have been determined primarily by wars and imperialistic heavy-handedness - the Russian, Polish, and German borders were drawn by the victors after WWII, for instance. Going back just a few years more, there are the borders of most Asian countries, and all of Africa and the Arab Middle East - NONE decided upon through bipartite negotiation.
There is no point (and much danger) in permitting the other side to determine the boundaries. They already did that in 1948, and it took nineteen years to regain Jerusalem and Kfar Etzion. There are several such areas that can not be conceded, yet any "equal" negotiation will inevitably touch upon them.
Ergo diplomacy has to be irrelevant in determining the final line of the frontier.
[---By the same logic, the Golan has to be kept, irrespective of any future negotiations.---]
The fence is also part of the issue of the border; shrill rhetoric has only emphasized what was already a verity; the anti-terror fence has prevented attacks, and gaps in the fence have been liabilities.
The fence is both the first step towards a secure border and one of the most important components thereof.
The main point from which should not be deviated is Israeli control over Jerusalem and a broad defensive perimeter around the city. This is absolutely non-negotiable - what happened to Jerusalem in 1948 must not happen again.
Jerusalem divided will be Jerusalem destroyed.
Israel without Jerusalem (all of Jerusalem!) is not Israel.
The world takes for granted that Jerusalem is a legitimate bone of contention - and would happily divide the city, as if both sides are equally right and equally wrong, and as if compromise is always morally right and can satisfy both sides.
One cannot compromise if it creates a worse situation; compromise is permissible only if both sides are just and compromise presents a better solution to a problem. Which, in this case, is not possible.
Some things cannot be divided. When two women both claimed a child as theirs, Solomon's decision demonstrated that compromise was impossible, division would be unjust, and only one side was right.
Just so, Jerusalem cannot be divided.
There can be no compromise.
Jerusalem must remain whole, Jerusalem must remain Israeli.
Regarding the European situation, there is cause for pessimism.
Europeans historically tend to blame Jews for the flaws and failures of societies, pestilence, external threats, national rivalries, wars, and friabilities in the traditional (Christian) dominance. During turbulent times that tendency increases to a certainty.
It is anomalous that Europe has been so quiescent for forty years. Lately that quiescence has lifted, and Europe is becoming more tense, even if not (yet) more turbulent.
In the current climate, even long established communities are again perceived as outsiders, whose otherness is held against them, and whose dissonance invites discrimination. But while substantial Jewish communities remain in Europe, Europeans will continue to assert that they aren't anti-Semitic (after all, why else would 'those people' stay?).
There are more minorities in European countries now than there were a generation ago, and the more recently arrived minority groups illustrate, for many 'native' Europeans, that minorities are by definition 'outsiders', who should be grateful for any tolerance, and neither disagree with nor contradict the majority.
Even though many of Europe's modern minorities are Muslims or third-worlders, their presence is seen as either somehow Jewish (the Jew is the eternal outsider, ergo the outsider is quintessentially a Jew), or the result of an entirely unreasonable tolerance forced upon Europe in expatiation for past inhumanity.
Because Jews are considered as being in opposition to Muslims, who are 'clearly not European'(!), and Jews and Muslims together appear to represent a balanced set or matched pair, Jews are perceived as being just as much outsiders as Muslims; hence many Europeans believe that the conflict exemplifies the non-Europeanness of the respective parties and their imperfect grasp of civilization, equitability, fairplay, and compromise.
Anti-Semitism is back and European 'tolerance' has lessened significantly in the past few years. European antisemitism is no longer limited to one class or group, but has diversified and now pervades all educational and economic classes. There is a deeply rooted tendency in Europe to blame the Jews for their own victimization, and to judge Jews by a different set of standards than any other group, including other Europeans and even Muslims.
The present generation's rejection of continued guilt over the holocaust also fuels further antisemitism, the sense being, on the one hand, that Europeans have been so tolerant for fifty years that they're virtually blameless (and now have a huge credit balance of virtue), and on the other hand, that since they're going to be blamed anyway there is scant point in trying to repress it - it must, somehow, be both natural and inevitable, a perfectly normal and acceptable point of view.
In all of Western Europe, Muslims already vastly outnumber Jews; due to migration patterns and differing birthrates that situation will only get worse.
[---For example: Netherlands: 44,000 Jews and part-Jews (settlement of several centuries) versus 920,000 Muslims (immigration over four decades). France: 750,000 Jews, 5 million Muslims. Germany: 200,000 Jews, 3.5 million Muslims.---]
Many Europeans deny that their 'nuanced criticism of Israel' is anti-Semitic, and standardly whitewash other manifestations of anti-Semitism as either fringe utterances or the regrettable cultural expressions of the 'as-yet-imperfectly-assimilated', blaming Muslims for the majority of actual anti-Semitic incidents (while nevertheless maintaining that Jews are themselves to blame).
Holding Muslims responsible, however, does not erase the problem and does not exculpate; and in that it is used as an excuse to discriminate against Muslims, exacerbates the problem.
[---To put it differently: Europeans no longer have to dirty their own hands by beating up the Jews, they can now safely leave that to the Muslim immigrants - and there are indications that this is already current. Additionally, Greta Duisenberg and her fellow travelers on the political left in the Netherlands are perhaps an example of a hardening of attitudes. Would anti-Israel action be so frequent, brazen, and well supported if it did not seem that there was tacit societal approval? And how else should one interpret the support for Greta Duisenberg from so many public figures than as tacit societal approval? Traditional Dutch tolerance is lending itself to the intolerant.---]
Actual discrimination at present is somewhat minor and casual, but will not remain so, especially if the European view of Israel remains unfavourable.
Anti-Semitic acts have increased steadily for half a decade; if, as seems likely, the Muslim minorities are absorbed into mainstream society without their anti-Semitism being addressed, their biases will also be part of the picture - they will become Europeans, and they will remain anti-Semites. Their intolerances and hatreds will become even more part of the European picture than they already are at present.
[---The perception among many Europeans that Jews are a minority that has reached parity with the host population (rather than being a part of the host population) also complicates matters, both as regards their position within society in general, and as a minority compared to other minorities. Surely they have much reason to be grateful? Their dissent seems ungracious, un-European even, and disagreeably wrong.---]
Advertising a Jewish identity in modern-day Europe is an invitation to be insulted, spat on, or beaten up. There have been numerous incidents (in 'tolerant' Holland, nota bene) where Jews have had to move due to abuse and vandalism from neighborhood youths. The approach of local authorities to the problem has largely been to bagatellize the situation and to request that kippot and 'Jewish' garb not be worn, and mezzuzot be taken down.
And, at this point, surely no-one is ignorant of the increase of neo-Nazis in Europe? Or the presence of extremists in politics?
A SOLUTION TO THE EUROPEAN PROBLEM
Immigration of Jewish Europeans to the US and Israel would remove them from danger while simultaneously weakening assertions that there is no real problem.
I realize that proposing mass emigration is tantamount to putting all of one's eggs in one basket. But the European basket is damaged, and now may be the time to abandon it.
Can the U.S. and Israel absorb a million Jews?
The vast majority of European Jews are as literate and as educated as other west-European urbanites, and will therefore be more acceptable than many other recent arrivals. Unlike many European immigrants in recent years, however, they will not be mere economic migrants, but will come precisely because of the nature of our societies.
One immediate benefit will be that, unlike many other Europeans, they will not be viewing us with so jaundiced an eye, nor will they be so stridently critical.
Many are already mentally prepared for such a move, being already familiar with much of our societies, and, more than most Europeans, having friends and relatives in our countries. They are, perhaps more than any other group, primed to adapt.
They will be absorbed. And our societies will be the better for it.
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Afterthought: Please note that I have not used the terms ‘Palestine’ and ‘Palestinian’ in referring to Israel's problems with the Arabs. The reason is that Palestine is a Roman political term, designating an imprecise geographic area for which other names are more appropriate, and the term 'Palestinian' correctly used must refer to all residents of the holy land PRIOR to the reestablishment of the state of Israel, and the rejection by the Arabs of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181.
Many Palestinian Arabs, and most Palestinian Jews, became citizens of Israel. It is correct to refer to these people as Israelis – they have ceased to be Palestinian.
Since the Arabs did not create a state called ‘Palestine’ after the United Nations called for partition of the British ruled Palestine Mandate territory in 1947, there can in fact be no such thing as a ‘Palestinian’ in the political sense. More to the point, these alleged Arab Palestinians are Syrians, Jordanians, Bedouin, and Egyptians.
Also, while several decades ago some arguably may have been refugees, it is patently ridiculous to call them that now. They are Arabs, native speakers of Arabic, living in Arab lands, where they have relatives, where the majority of them were born, and where they have lived all their lives. How then are they refugees?
The condition of these people is due to a refusal by the Arab aggressors of 1948 to acknowledge that is was their actions that caused these people to flee, and their continued opposition to any resolution other than the complete destruction of Israel which has prevented any addressing of the situation.
The apartheid of the Arab world, which enforces separate status and inferior opportunities on these "Palestinians", if it existed in the civilized world, would be roundly condemned.
It is time that the Arabs cease discriminating against their kin. It is also time that the United Nations stop playing along with politically motivated social engineering.
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One last point: The holy land is of concern to more than just the Jews, allegedly having great importance also to Christians and Muslims.
The views of the Christian world regarding the holy land have to be disregarded; the Christian countries are not the front line, they have their own agenda, and their input in 1948 proved ill considered and inept. Jerusalem was divided because of Christians; that alone argues for rejecting their involvement a second time. Their subsequent contributions have added considerable dis-clarity all round.
As for the Muslim world, the less said the better.
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