It’s Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year. This is the time of the year when it is customary to wish friends, family and even perfect strangers a “shanah tova” or happy new year.
But let’s not kid ourselves it’s going to be a happy new year, because it isn’t.
The central problem of the Israeli Palestinian conflict is no longer suicide bombers going off on Israeli buses, it is not slaughter in Israeli settlements, it is the fact that Israel simply isn’t willing to ever give up the West Bank.
Not last year, not next year. Never.
We Israelis like to pride ourselves on the fact that we want peace. We talk about peace all the time, we pray for peace and accuse Palestinians of not wanting the same. But the truth is that wanting peace is the easy part.
What we are prepared to do in our quest for peace is the real question. Napoleon Bonaparte also wanted peace. He wanted to take over all Europe without firing a shot. Did Begin want peace before the foundation of the state? Did Shamir?
We have a military presence in the West Bank. Palestinians have a physical presence in the West Bank. We have taken great pains to show them that in the coming years nothing awaits them except more of the same. They’ve taken great pains to show us that the continuing occupation will cause us suffering.
It was Nelson Mandela who wrote:
It is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle, and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of the oppressor. At a point, one can only fight fire with fire”
It is we who have decided what the new year will bring. When we told Palestinian stone throwers that they will be punished as much for throwing stones as they would for throwing molotov cocktails we opened the door for them to jump up to committing worse crimes than throwing mere rocks.
When we throw Palestinians in prison for months on end without charging them with any crimes at all we tell them to shame us with hunger strikes.
By continuing to build settlements and to expand building within existing settlements we open the door for harsher treatment from the rest of the world.
By allowing administrative detention for Jewish extremists we pushed whole communities towards feeling even more marginalised towards their own country.
All over Europe and on university campuses throughout the world people are taking steps constantly to attack Israel. The leader of Britain’s opposition party is a leader of the anti Israel movement in the UK. Israel’s Prime Minister refuses to even talk about the settlement issue with representatives of the UK Jewish community. He sweeps it aside when raised by the Chief Rabbi. He will find that the Jews of the UK will be sweeping Israel aside.
At the dawn of a new year only the one glaringly obvious fact stares me in the face. Israel doesn’t want to relinquish control of the West Bank. It’s not about security, it’s about God. Apparently God lives in the West Bank and he wants us to have houses there.
Israel doesn’t want to engage in a process resulting in the end of Israeli control of the West Bank. Israel doesn’t want to stop building homes in the West Bank. Even if it means Israelis are worse off, even if it means the country ends up being unfeasible in the long run. Even if it means we have an army of soldiers trained to fight a war but experienced only in chasing after 12 year olds.
Even if it means bankrupting the nation.
Get ready for another crappy New Year in the holy land.