Translated literally from Hebrew, the word “Modi’in” means “intelligence” — something sorely lacking from the European Union’s decision to add the city of Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut to a list of Israeli settlements ineligible for tax breaks on exports to the EU.
The city that I live in is a thriving center of some 80,000 people located at the midway point between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It is an overwhelmingly young, middle-class and religiously mixed and tolerant community. Until today, the closest this city has come to issues of disputed territory is the 30-minute drive that many of us make on the daily commute to Jerusalem on the Route 443 highway through parts of the West Bank.
Until today, nobody here could have imagined that an issue of contentious borders would thrust the city into the forefront of a political spat.
On principle, the EU’s decision must be opposed in the wider context of the battle for Israel’s legitimate and sovereign rights. It should certainly not be the EU defining Israel’s borders, particularly in areas that have never been considered to be anything other than undisputed Israeli territory. After all, even the Palestinians, with their maximalist demands, have never demanded that Modi’in be part of a future Palestinian state.
I happen to live in one of the three zip codes that are now officially recognized as part of an illegal settlement. Yet, anyone living in my particular neighborhood knows that their homes are nowhere near either side of the no-man’s land that includes the location of Maccabim.
The EU’s research is simply wrong.
While I doubt that I or my neighbors will be producing goods from our homes that will be affected by EU restrictions, there are obvious implications for the city as a whole.
Major companies will think twice before relocating to Modi’in’s industrial zones if it might affect their ability to export to Europe. This, in turn, reduces municipal revenues that we all rely on for the upkeep of our fine city and for vital services such as education.
Branding Modi’in as an illegal settlement also obviously has a negative impact on the image of our city and its ability to promote itself as a destination for new residents and businesses.
In the wider context, this also gives a boost to the boycott movement that will now be able to actively campaign against cities within the Green Line as well as outside it. This has the potential to be the start of a very slippery slope. Where will it end? After all, a small section of the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway (Road 1) cuts through the Green Line around the Latrun area. Will the EU now demand that Israel move its major transport artery to comply with its dictates?
This decision can and must be vigorously opposed by the Israeli government, residents of Modi’in and anyone who values Israel’s sovereign and territorial legitimacy.
Modi’in’s most famous historical residents, the Maccabees, would have been up in arms. Perhaps a social media campaign might not have been their choice of weapon, but let’s see if we can create an online buzz and support for the city.
Like this Facebook page to help my city fight this outrageous decision by Europe’s faceless bureaucrats.