I have a confession to make: I don’t really live in Jerusalem anymore. Yes, on social media I’m known as Rabbi Joe in Jerusalem, but for the past three years I’ve lived in the West Bank town of Maale Adumim. How close is Maale Adumim to municipal Jerusalem? So close that a 4 1/2 square-mile area known as E1 is all that’s needed to fill in the gap. That’s why it’s so hotly contested.
Right now, there’s a protest going on at E1, which you may have heard of under its media-friendly name, Mevaseret Adumim. That makes it sound like my hometown, or like the Mishor Adumim Industrial Zone next door, home of SodaStream, where we all shop. (What, are you gonna go to Co-op at the mall? Have you seen how much their tomatoes are? THAT should be illegal under international law!)
This protest is being well-attended by the leading lights of the political right: members of Knesset, deputy ministers, officials and rabbis. Our mayor sent all forty thousand of us Adumites an invitation on Facebook.
But I declined. Yes, I know full well that the E1 Plan dates back to none other than Yitzhak Rabin, in those glory days between Oslo I and II. I also know that it doesn’t technically slice the Palestinian part of the West Bank in two, as a road which we might build one day could go around the entire Greater Jerusalem (now featuring Maale Adumim!). But it does mean embracing East Jerusalem in a great Israeli bear hug, only increasing the awkwardness of the situation in which the 250,000 Arabs living there are citizens of an Israeli city (Jerusalem) but of a Palestinian state. OK, not a state. What are we calling it nowadays? An entity?
The essential question is the following: how much do we believe in the two-state solution endorsed by our last three prime ministers? (Yes, Ehud Barak was the last prime minister not to do so, at the turn of the century.) And if we don’t believe in two states for two peoples, what is our solution to the fundamental injustice of a permanent underclass under Israeli control?
Speaking of SodaStream, I was struck by the triumphalism of my/ our putative supporters. A Facebook group called “I support Scarlett Johansson against the haters” gets 30,000 likes, dwarfing the 17,000 likes on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement page? Well, that settles it. Clearly, Israeli policy is unimpeachable, because people liked a pretty girl on our side. Not that I know what our policy precisely is. Maybe our prime minister is waiting for his second decade in office to reveal that tidbit.
I know, I’m a settler myself; I should just shut up. What possible reason could I have for seeking defined, internationally-recognized borders for the Jewish state and the annexation of the town I live in? Instead, I should join Israeli and Jews worldwide in obsessing over the latest imagined slight from the Obama administration, the egregiousness of the boycott-sanction-divestment movement, the outrageous statements of Palestinian Authority officials. To do otherwise would be self-hating.
Perhaps the real question is this: where do we see ourselves in fifty years? If we’re planning for a recognizable Jewish, democratic Israel to still exist, we need to start making some tough, long-term decisions.
Unless Scarlett is the Messiah…