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Annexation: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

israelpolicyforum.org

As I write this, it’s not clear at all whether Israel’s new government—despite the date of July 1st set for it in its coalition agreement—will indeed go ahead with the annexation plan of some thirty percent of the West Bank, including all settlements blocks and the Jordan Valley. Contrary to common belief and perception, Netanyahu himself might not be so keen on executing this plan, without a clear mandate from Trump. Also, now that the most ardent political rightwing party supporting such a move isn’t in his government, but in the opposition, he may hesitate to take all the blame himself on such a problematic, historical step. And he will, therefore, possibly, continue to maintain the status quo, ‘managing the situation,’ in which he’s so good at and have done so for so long. It worked well for him until now, so why change it? Let’s examine.

The Good: As someone who not only has opposed to the annexation throughout his life, following the Six-Day War, but also has protested and detested vehemently the settlement endeavor, how can I now find any good in it? Well, let me tell you. Simply because this said annexation, for all intends and purposes, is a fait accompli. It’s a done deal, for quite some years now. There’s no conceivable Palestinian state to be found, unfortunately, and no two-state solution either. It is dead. And not from today. In actuality, there’s only a ‘One-State’ solution. Only Israel and Netanyahu are keeping it under wrap and disguise. There’s no going back. It’s much better for the Palestinian leadership to understand and accept this—which I believe most Palestinian people know and accept—and go from there. They should insist on sharing responsibility to the old/new Israel-Palestine State, with equal rights to all its citizens.

The Bad: There’s no way that Israel, and Israel’s citizens, will accept the above solution. As it will mean—sooner or later—the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Alternately therefore, it will mean Israel will continue to control the West Bank in its entirety, will continue to harass and terrorize the Palestinian people, and mostly but clearly: It means an Apartheid-like state. Which is not only bad but disastrous internationally for Israel. A state, a country that was established and built on the ashes of the Holocaust, and generation and centuries of pogroms, persecutions, and denial of basic human rights to Jews not only in Europe, but throughout the world. To do so, inflict the same on another people, on the Palestinians presently, will mean not only the end of Israel as a democratic nation, not only would open a wide chasm with Jews in America and Europe, but will pull the rug from under the entire Zionist dream and endeavor.

The Ugly: As detailed here in a previous blogpost – ‘The Battle That Never Ended” (March 25, 2018), and was published also in Moment Magazine online – before the short and decisive Six-Day War was over, a group of respected Palestinian leaders and elders (and remember, the Palestinian people didn’t initiate, nor participated in that war), wrote a letter to the Israeli government proposing basically the principles of a Two-State solution, with full recognition of Israel by the Palestinians. To this day, they’re still waiting for a response. The reason they didn’t receive a response yet, and the reason why—despite numerous attempts, by some leaders in Israel and abroad—there was never a chance they would get a response, is because Israel never really intended on pulling back from the West Bank. The settlement movement enjoyed the support of all Israeli governments, and except President Bush the father, the support of all American administrations. And the support, until lately (now that it’s too late), of the vast majority of American Jews. Some European countries, who had read correctly the sign on the wall, never really did anything meaningful except shouting “wolf!”

But now that the “wolf” is here, these countries are shouting it yet again. It won’t help. The ugly reality is that Israel has brought upon itself the conundrum it finds itself in. It never meant to withdraw. The occupation—and therefore the annexation—started the day after the Six-day War, and never ceased to exist and prosper. Nothing can change that situation now. The last chance, the last leader who had the power to reverse course—and apparently realized his own and Israel’s grave mistakes in their obsession with “facts on the ground”—was Ariel Sharon. But like Sadat, Rabin, and Arafat (though unlike them he wasn’t assassinated) he paid for it with his life, though in somewhat different circumstances. We, Israelis and Jews, are now stuck with it.

One Final Word: We live in a time of grave global pandemic, the coronavirus. In Israeli hospitals, Palestinian and Israeli Arab doctors and nurses played a significant role in taking care, regardless of their race, ethnicity or religion, of the sick and the dying. Their contribution, and ability to work side by side with Israeli doctors and nurses, might signal the way to go. The future of coexistence, under one state to come, might be here to stay.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

Good Politician; Bad Leader

telegraph.co.uk

telegraph.co.uk

There was a leader in the land once, who had a vision: a vision of peace. He was a soldier and a general, who had reached the highest position in the army and in the government, though in essence he was just a simple man, with simple tastes. He fought for his country’s independence, and commanded the troops that secured the country’s triumph and survival. But when the moment arrived to stand up and deliver peace, he did just that. He didn’t like his enemy one bit; most probably hated him and despised him. But he knew that peace you make with your enemies, not your friends, and therefore had pushed all these feelings of animosity aside, realizing what his people needed the most: peace and security. Like Moses many years before him, Rabin had his faults and his bad moments, and some wrong moves here and there. But mostly he had a vision. And because he always kept his eyes open and centered on that vision, he knew where to lead his people. He was willing to sacrifice himself for that vision, and indeed paid for it dearly with his life. And at least in that regard, again like Moses before him, Rabin did not reach the Promised Land.

His life was cut short not only by the assassin’s bullet, but by the enemies of peace as well, men who were walking among his own people. One of these men, a politician rival who inflamed some of the rhetoric that had brought about the tragic event of Rabin’s murder – calling him a “traitor” in Jerusalem’s public square, in front of a wildly cheering crowd – was Netanyahu. A man who eventually, and shortly thereafter, had succeeded in replacing the dead, visionary man as the leader of the state of Israel. He did that under all sorts of backroom maneuvers, forming and reforming parties and alliances. And yet as a politician, he succeeded like no other – almost – both in Israel and abroad. Currently, he is second only to the legendary first Israeli leader, Ben-Guroin in the length of his service (and rule) as Prime Minister. His people are fairly prosper and secure under his leadership, and because of that they lack, maybe, the necessary vision as well, or the will to fight for it. A long term vision, I’m talking about, for themselves and for their beloved country.

The Jewish people, as the recent holiday of Passover testified so well, and as the magnificent television five-part program by Simon Schama so pointedly described in his documentary “The Story of the Jews,” knew many ups and downs throughout their long history. They also lived and prospered in the Land of Israel at ancient times, and in other lands as well, and were pogromed and killed there – culminating in the Holocaust, which we had just observed yesterday – and had been pushed out before from the Holy Land and other lands. The best way to ensure that this will not happen again is by a visionary, long view of the goals of the Jewish people and their country. The shortest way for its demise and repeated past mistakes and disasters, a vicious and bloody circle indeed, is by relying on short term goals. As if just getting by, even if successfully so, is sufficient enough. Which is what Netanyahu is so good at, and the reason he is regarded, even by his own people, as “Mister Status Quo.” He is a good politician, the proof is in the pudding, but a bad leader.

A great leader needs a clear vision and true courage to implement it. If not, he is a mere politician, even if a good one. So good that in the previous government he was able to be the head of state with a minority party; and in this government he had formed an alliance with a party made of far-right extremists. Yet he is too short-sighted, and too afraid. And in that sense, the people themselves – the more determined people, the religious fanatic settlers’ camp, who indeed have a clear vision ahead of them – are leading the charge and not him. His latest decision to cancel further peace talks with Abbas and the Palestinians due to the tentative unity agreement reached in Gaza between Fatah and Hamas is nothing but a fig leaf, designed to disguise the naked truth of what is already a great missed opportunity for him to bring peace to his people; an opportunity actually not of his own making and work, but of other people’s concern and urgency. And yet, he is too afraid still. Moses and Rabin were not afraid. Or rather, they mustered the courage to overcome their fear, and in the process became true leaders of their people. If their lives were cut short as result of that – history and their people will always remember them and sing their praise. Which will never happen with the short-sighted, cowardly leaders, no matter how long they hold on to the reins of power. Their power is a false one, because it leads nowhere.

* Published originally on “The Times of Israel.” Israel.”

** “Leave a comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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