I recently read a tribune written by the very respectable Gary Rosenblatt, editor of the site The Jewish Week, based in New York. In his column, Rosenblatt, a friend of Israel, embraces a sharp position against Netanyahu’s government and the 1,000 acres of land “taken” this week, and complains about the “diplomatic arrogance” of Jerusalem.
As editor of the main Jewish French media (JSSNews), but also as an Israeli (since I made aliyah in 2006), I wish to respond to him by reminding some facts and I’ll conclude by offering my vision of what should be the role of our Jewish American friends.
1. Regarding the “seizure” of the land: As perfectly written by the Israeli Think Tank JCPA:
There is considerable confusion about the recent action of Israel’s civil administration declaring 988 acres of West Bank territory as state land. In general, West Bank territory may be divided into three legal categories: state land, private land, and land whose status is to be determined. The territory in question had the status of territory whose status is to be determined. Before the declaration of the land as state land, an investigation had to be undertaken by Israel’s civil administration that took several years in order to ascertain its exact status.
Moreover, looking to the future, the territory in question, at present, is part of a settlement bloc, south of Jerusalem, known as Gush Etzion, which was settled by Jews prior to 1948, but lost by Israel when it came under attack by Arab forces. During past negotiating rounds it became clear to Israelis and Palestinians alike that at the end of the day when a territorial compromise is reached, Israel will retain the settlement blocs (UN Security Council Resolution 242, drafted after the Six-Day War, never envisioned a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in any case).
2. My answer to Gary Rosenblatt. Mr. Rosenblatt writes in the introduction to his paper:
Did you, like me and many other supporters of Israel, cringe on reading the other day that the Jerusalem government had laid claim to nearly 1,000 acres of land in the West Bank, presumably for settlement expansion? It seemed like the timing couldn’t be worse. After seven weeks of war against Hamas, with many hundreds of civilian deaths in Gaza and relentless international criticism of Jerusalem for alleged disproportionate use of military might, the expansion announcement had a tone-deaf quality to it. As in, what were they thinking?
Not only don’t I understand how a “Zionist” editor can write that Israel uses disproportionate force to protect its civilian population from thousands of missiles launched to them, but I’m also shocked to see him take a stand against the Government of the State of Israel. Let me be clear: all opinions are good to hear, but as an Israeli, I can’t accept lessons from a journalist who lives 10,000 kilometers of our daily problems. Rather than spreading nonsense about Netanyahu’s government actions, I invite him to emigrate to Jerusalem and to vote in the upcoming general elections in 2017. Let me make myself clear: criticism is necessary if it is constructive. But in this case, I am uncomfortable with the fact that apparently, Obama’s anti-Israel policy is more important and appropriate in the eyes of the writer than the interests of Israel (which are, again, totally legal). Gary Rosenblatt added:
Is the Netanyahu coalition prepared to jeopardize Israel’s relationship with America, its closest and in many ways only major ally in the UN and beyond?
Well… In my opinion, the special relationship between Jerusalem and Washington is catastrophic since Obama’s administration conducts an aggressive and unfair policy towards my people. Moreover, the foreign policy of the United States is catastrophic throughout the Middle East: Observe their management of the conflicts in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran… and how relations with the best allies of the United States in the Middle East have deteriorated, and you’ll understand how Obama’s administration is a disaster for the region. With intelligent measures, the Iranian nuclear threat might be non-existent today and the nations of the region might live a much more serene time. Let’s recall that Obama helped to build (despite himself or not) the radical Islamists in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Finally, in the end of the article, Rosenblatt wrote:
What, if anything, can we as American Jews do to stop the hemorrhaging of goodwill in Washington and around the country toward Israel?
Whatever is the policy of Israel, as long as the country is a democracy and his government is legitimately elected (when Israelis elect the right wing at power, it does not seems to please you), if you want to defend Israel, from the Diaspora, do not start by beating him. If American Jews want to fully defend Israel, they should follow the example of the Jews of France, who defend Israel at all costs, regardless of the government. One can, of course, disagree with a particular policy, but in order to counter this policy, the only solution is to vote and therefore to live here, under the daily terrorist attacks of Fatah and Hamas. In the words of the French writer Philippe Destouches in the eighteenth century, “criticism is easy but art is difficult.“