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Six Days & Fifty Years

Ready to Embark

This Monday evening, June 5th, we at the Mosaic Law Congregation of Sacramento, and its KOH Library and Cultural Center, will be commemorating—with a special program and an excellent film—the 50-year anniversary to the Six-Day War of 1967. A war in which I fought as a young soldier, both at the Egyptian front and at the Syrian front (see the picture above of young paratroopers about to embark on a plane; I’m second from the left). I will take an active role in the program by recalling my experience during that war (to hear my story you’ll have to come to the event itself). I’m mentioning this upfront because many of you, who have been following my political writings here, and events throughout our community, and know my political views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, may raise an eyebrow or two, to say the least, in wondering how someone with my opinions and inclinations, is so readily participating and organizing such a program.

Well… here’s my explanation. To begin with, our event is not a ‘celebration’ per se, nor it is a ‘mourning’ of sorts. (Most certainly it is not a political event.) Rather—though both elements would be present—it is a commemoration. We will be observing and reflecting on the days leading to the war. Days that began with an act of aggression by Egypt and its leader Camal Abdel Nasser, being pushed from behind by the Russians, which led to a joint effort by all the Arab countries surrounding Israel, aiming to annihilate the young nation and its Jewish people from the face of the earth. Days that plunged Israel into a collective state of anxiety, great worry for its survival, and preparation for the upcoming war. Days of mobilization of all the country’s resources, human and machine, dedicated to the defense of the Jewish state. Days of no school; of no theater; of no street cafes and normal life. Culminating in six days of war that would prove to be decisive, destructive to our enemies, and glorious in term of modern history warfare.

What we will not be observing, reflecting on or discussing, would be the aftermath of that war. The day after. Fifty long years of wars, battles, and yes, some peace. In those years Israel, which at the end of the war—a war of survival per excellence, make no mistake about it—not only secured its long-term existence, but was also began a downfall of sort. At the time, it was situated at its modern zenith as a country, at the highest point on top of the ‘wheel of history.’ But unfortunately, thereafter, it began a downward spiral, continuing to this day. This disastrous descent included, among its many casualties, two warrior leaders turned peacemakers: an Egyptian President and an Israeli Prime Minister, assassinated on the altar of peace. But true: not everything has been bad since then. Far from it: The country, its army, its economy, its high-tech industry—not only its agricultural marvel as before the war—grew into a global leading proportions. After the terrible blunder of the Yom Kippur War, the country had made peace with two of its strongest enemies: Egypt and Jordan. A peace that is lasting, so far. A country of two million people is now a country of more than eight million people. Despite some challenges, it’s still a democracy. Not bad at all.

What went wrong was, still is, the occupation. I’m talking, of course, of the colonial grabbing of the West Bank (the Golan Heights too, to a degree), and the continuation of the conflict with the Palestinian people; which, in historical terms, had begun in 1948 and before. This occupation has led to a situation on the ground where the only solution available; the only solution acceptable on the majorly of both peoples; the only solution accepted on the international community—which regard, and rightly so, the Israeli settlement movement and activity as illegal—has brought us to the dying bed of that Two-State solution. It can still be resurrected and brought to life, I very much want to believe so. But in truth: I don’t see how. Again, I believe the majority of the people on both sides—more even than the politicians—are resigned now to the fact that it’s over and done with.

So what’s wrong with it, you ask? I tell you what. It can bring, potentially, not only the demise, but the end of Israel as a free society, and as a Jewish and democratic state. Maybe still in our lifetime, and maybe not. With it, it would also kill the Zionist dream. Here’s why: It cannot be both. Israel cannot be Jewish and also democratic state, while at the same time continuing to rule over millions of Palestinian people. If Israel would grant them citizenship, it soon won’t be a Jewish state anymore. If it would deprive them of these rights, while continuing to control their lives and treat them as second-class citizens, then it’s no longer a democratic state. It’s an Apartheid state. We did not—I repeat, did not—go to war for that!

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One-State Solution: Options Three, Four & Five

972mag.com

As I promised you in my last post, I’m returning to the acute topic of the “One-State Solution,” and to the next three proposals making the rounds in Israel, especially among the settlers. To refresh your memory, these proposals were specified in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, on the day Prime Minister Netanyahu had met with President Trump at the White House – a day we might consider from now on as the ‘official’ day the two-state Solution has finally died. It was titled, “A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future,” and was written by one Yishai Fleisher, “the international spokesman of the Jewish community of Hebron.”

No matter what we think of this unknown (until now) ‘official’ spokesman, and of such a position for that community, we have to take it seriously since, as I firmly believe, they carry more probability of materializing than the two-state solution, as well as other solutions being mentioned. In this respect, just as the settlers’ movement has kept to its mission undeterred for almost fifty years, and has won the day, so are these proposals more likely to become a reality as “facts on the ground” sooner or later. As I mentioned also in my last post, none of these proposals take into account the just, legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for an entity, capital and state of their own. Still, it’s incumbent on us to take them seriously. Which I intend on doing.

Here then is the third proposal, as written in that Times’ op-ed piece: “… (it) is promoted by Prof. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv. His premise is that the most stable Arab entity in the Middle East is the Gulf Emirates, which are based on a consolidated traditional group or tribe. The Palestinian Arabs are not a cohesive nation, he argues, but are comprised of separate city-based clans. So he proposes Palestinian autonomy for seven non-contiguous emirates in major Arab cities, as well as Gaza, which he considers already an emirate. Israel would annex the rest of the West Bank and offer Israeli citizenship to Arab villagers outside those cities.”

This proposal, which we might term the seven, or eight-state solution, is so laughable that to treat it seriously is border on the absurd. And yet, Israel is already being accused – lately by a UN body of some sort – as an Apartheid state de facto. A proposal like this, taken straight out of the South African regime playbook for its “Bantustans,” is nothing short of racist in its most cruel manifestation. However, it is proposed by an Israeli professor, who had been brought to Sacramento by the “Stand With Us” organization, and was received with great fanfare and applause in our very own congregation of Mosaic Law. Just think of this. It runs deep, I tell you, fascism in disguise of academic bullshit. But I tell you one more thing: Just like in South Africa, and despite the hidden wishes of many, it has no chance of ever becoming a sustainable reality.

“The fourth proposal is the most straightforward. Caroline Glick, a Jerusalem Post journalist, wrote in her 2014 book, ‘The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East’ that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Jews are not in danger of losing a demographic majority in an Israel that includes Judea and Samaria. New demographic research shows that thanks to falling Palestinian birth rates and emigration, combined with opposite trends among Jews, a stable Jewish majority of above 60 percent exists between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (excluding Gaza); and this is projected to grow to about 70 percent by 2059.”

This proposal, supported by a growing chorus of voices – among them none other than the Israeli President Mr. Rivlin – is fair in its basic premise of equal citizens’ rights to all the state’s residents, Jews and Arabs alike. But it’s very much debatable in its demographic conclusion, and to my understanding, and knowledge, her numbers have been strongly reputed by real experts in this field. However, even if we take her numbers as somewhat correct, we are left with a very problematic, unsatisfying solution. What kind of democratic Israel, a Jewish state would it be with a 40% Arab minority, at its rosiest possibility? What kind of a future will this bi-national state hold for a peaceful, humane, democratic Jewish nation? Not to mention the function of the Knesset, with almost evenly split Jewish and Arab representatives (with an Arab United Party maybe the largest party…) It might be a one-state solution, but a Jewish one-state solution most certainly not.

“Finally, there is a fifth alternative, which comes from the head of the new Zehut party, Moshe Feiglin, and Martin Sherman of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. They do not see a resolution of conflicting national aspirations in one land and instead propose an exchange of populations with Arab countries, which effectively expelled about 800,000 Jews around the time of Israeli independence. In contrast, however, Palestinians in Judea and Samaria would be offered generous compensation to emigrate voluntarily.”

Good luck with that. Jews offer money to Arabs to relocate. Moving the Palestinians to the Sinai Desert, I heard it being mentioned. Or to Saudi Arabia, as if they would be welcomed there. This last proposal is just a way of avoiding the truth, and the inevitable: the disastrous conundrum Israel is finding itself in because of 50 years of occupation, of building illegal settlements, and of doing all it can to avoid bringing to fruition the one acceptable, sustainable solution: The two-state solution. But that one, as I’d mentioned before, is all but dead. So it’s either an Apartheid state now, or a Bi-national state later, which won’t be a Jewish state as we know or want it to be, or as Herzl envisioned it in the first place. Take your pick. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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

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