Thursday, October 02, 2008

One nation for two peoples?

Larry Derfner writes a column for the Jerusalem Post called ‘Rattling the Cage’. Overall I am not sure why he has a regular column but he does accurately represent the sentiments of a significant portion of the Israeli secular left. I feel strange writing Israeli left because in the context of the wider world, all Israeli political parties have their home on the political left - even the so-called rightwing parties have distinct leftward policies.

I read Derfner not because I believe he has any new jewels of political or social wisdom to dispense but because he is a writer in touch with his environment – the Israeli secular left. His most recent column has a few interesting admissions and one blinding error but I would suggest he penned the column before the investigation determined the Palestinian shepard boy died not at the hands of the ‘settlers’ but by the folly of his own making.
HOW MANY millions of words have been spoken and written against the Jewish militias of the West Bank? How many pledges have been made by politicians and law enforcement officials to crack down on them once and for all? How many times has an Israeli prime minister promised the Bush administration to remove the illegal outposts - the cutting edge of the movement - only to watch them keep growing in number, area and population?

In the face of this, though, people all over Israel and the rest of the world keep on thinking and talking about the chance of peace, of dividing the West Bank between the Palestinians and Israel. Do you think Livni can do it? What effect do you think Obama will have, or McCain?

I know that hope is a basic human need; I need it as much as anybody. But there comes a time when you can't fool yourself anymore, when you can't lie to yourself anymore, because reality has been going in the opposite direction for so long that you can no longer will yourself to believe. The time to stop lying to ourselves, I'm afraid, is way overdue for everyone here and in rest of the world who hopes for an end one day to Israeli rule over the Palestinians.

It's not going to happen. It would require kicking 50,000 to 100,000 of Israel's fiercest Jews out of their homes, which they built in some of the holiest places in the land; what government, what army, what police force is going to do that? Look at what's going on in the West Bank; is such a thing even conceivable?

Everyone talks about a Palestinian state, but in the real world of actions, not words, the land available for it keeps on shrinking. Everyone else talks; the settlers act. This, of course, is nothing new, either; the cliché "facts on the ground" was coined during the Begin era. Sharon's disengagement was the exception, the exception that proves the rule - and he removed only about 9,000 settlers, and relatively moderate ones, and from the Gaza Strip, not Judea and Samaria, and there ain't nobody like Sharon around anymore.
Derfner is right, Israelis living in the disputed territories are Israel’s fiercest Jews and committed Jews. They are the modern day heirs of the Maccabees who fought to the last man, woman and child. They will not go peacefully and their numbers only grow and grow. Take a good hard look at the pictures of these modern day Maccabees living in the Yesha and you will see these are predominantly young people who bred quickly and in earnest. This is not the movement full of just old men and women. These fierce Jews have the advantage as they would be fighting for their homes rather than some pie in the sky concept held out as a vague hope or the promise of peace. There is only one way to make them go, and that is, to kill them down to the very last man, woman and child.

Many would suggest just withdrawing from the territories and leave these fierce Jews to fend for themselves without the protection of the IDF but how long do you think Israelis watching from behind the 1949 Armistice Lines would sit still and silent watching images of the Palestinians slaughter those Jews for being Jews and say, ‘oh well, and so it goes’. Not going to happen.

So Israelis are left with three choices; expulsion and civil war, the creation of one bi-national state with Palestinians living as a minority within the Jewish homeland or transfer. Now for all the allegations of Israelis being colonists, it seems to me that they are the world’s most reluctant colonists. I’d claim Israelis are really the anti-thesis of colonists. There is nothing to suggest in the Jewish character that they want to colonize or rule over another people. In fact, just ruling over themselves presents more than a Herculean challenge. I believe it was Menachem Begin who suggested he was merely one Prime Minister in a nation literally full with millions of Prime Ministers.

Anyway, what makes Derfner’s column interesting is the suggestion the next big push from the Israeli secular left will be not for evicting Jews but the creation of a bi-national state within the Jewish homeland. Personally, I suspect it will be the hardest sell of it.

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