Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Israel's moment of truth

A guest post by Philo

I was reading some articles this morning, and suddenly Israel's situation got kind of real. This is an extremely serious time for Israel. International isolation has been increasing, and their window for a negotiated solution is closing. What follows isn’t new, but the urgency has certainly increased.


  • The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are reconciling to form a unity government.

  • The Palestinian Authority plans to ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian State in September 2011, along the 1948 borders.

  • The international community is indifferent to Jewish historical claims and sees Israel as a strong state for the Jews, and right-wing claims of security needs when it comes to keeping settlements in place as disingenuous at best.

  • There is a long history of Palestinian Arabs living in the region comprising Israel and the territories. This is indisputable, even if details like the numbers, or whether the label “Palestinian” is an invention, are arguable.

  • Israel is a ticking demographic time-bomb. Keeping the entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan will eventually mean a single, bi-national state, without a Jewish majority.

Another set of facts:

  • There’s an unreasonable anti-Israel bias in the world, often crossing the line into anti-Semitism.

  • The Jewish people have a deep and rich connection to their historical homeland, the heart of which is Yehuda & Shomron, AKA the West Bank.

  • The Jewish people have been persecuted throughout history, and the Jewish State rectifies that wrong and provides a safe haven.

  • Israel is surrounded by virulently anti-Semitic populations, including most Palestinians.

  • Israeli civilians have been subject, time and time again, to terrorism that is perpetrated by, celebrated by, and honored by the Palestinians. While reverse terrorism has occurred (Jews against Arabs) it is barely a drop in the bucket, comparatively, and is immediately denounced by almost all Jews.

The main question is; does the second set of facts in any way keep the first from being true or from the world recognizing a Palestinian state?

Yes, it’s difficult to negotiate with people who want you dead. Yes, it’s unlikely that any agreements will create any sort of warm relations and that terrorism will end.

But Israel is a strong state and will survive any flaws in a two state agreement. And it’s much better to negotiate the borders now then after a Palestinian state is recognized on ALL the land over the green line.

Imagine what happens this coming September, just 4 months from now:

  • The Palestinians declare a state on the entire West Bank and Gaza.

  • Most of the world, as well as the UN, recognizes that state.

  • Israel is now, in the eyes of the world, not just occupying disputed territories, but occupying huge swaths of another sovereign nation. That includes Ariel, Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, and other large cities.

  • A negotiated solution that includes land swaps becomes almost impossible. The world pressure for Israel to stop occupying another nation’s land is ratcheted up tenfold.

  • Sanctions come fast and furious, with Israel becoming an international pariah.

Is any of this fair? No. In an ideal world, Israel would be allowed to keep the heart of its historical and religious homeland. But people who think that’s possible now are waiting for a miracle.

If Netanyahu only had the courage to do what was necessary, we could keep the largest settlement blocs as part of Israel. Yes, the Palestinians have rejected those offers before and turned to violence, but Abbas (no saint, I admit) is not Arafat.

And yes, it would tear my heart out to have to leave places that are at the heart of our people, like Shilo, Hevron, etc. But we may not have a choice, and we can at least save Maale Adumim, Ariel, Gush Etzion, and most importantly, huge parts of Jerusalem, which are also over the green line.

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