Uri Pilichowski
Author, Educator and Father - Brother to All
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A settler’s unexpected reason to extend sovereignty

The Palestinians have suffered because of Israeli actions, yet they can best achieve freedom and a decent quality of life by following Trump's plan, and its direct negotiations
A rally for Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria in Jerusalem. (YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

One of the most surprising aspects of the sovereignty debate (or as some prefer, annexing parts of the West Bank) is the opposition shown by many settlers and Israel’s closest friends. While opposition was expected from the left and Israel’s opponents (no, they’re not the same), opposition wasn’t expected from right-wing settlers, centrist scholars, and Israel’s friends in Congress. Settlers fear a Palestinian state that the Trump plan promises, scholars fear the impact of annexation on the war for Israel’s legitimacy, and Israel’s friends in Congress fear, “Unilateral annexation would likely jeopardize Israel’s significant progress on normalization with Arab states at a time when closer cooperation can contribute to countering shared threats, insecurity in Jordan, and that unilateral annexation could create serious problems for Israel with its European friends and other partners around the world.”

When asked why they believe Israel should extend sovereignty, most proponents explain that to build in Judea and Samaria Israelis need permission of the land authority, an extra step of bureaucracy Israelis on the west side of the Green Line don’t suffer. Other proponents say that after 50 years without an Eastern border, it’s time to declare one, and that after years of the two-state solution going nowhere, Israeli and Palestinian leaders unable to even negotiate, it’s time to move in a different direction to end the conflict.

I’m not a representative of the “settler movement,” I’m just one man living in Mitzpe Yericho, with a slightly above-average familiarity with the issues of the conflict and an affinity for truth and justice. I maintain that Israel should extend sovereignty according to the terms of the Trump Plan. Israel should extend its laws to Judea and Samaria because doing so aligns with truth and justice. We’re often too scared to say it, but an honest look at history demonstrates that Judea and Samaria is the heartland of the historic homeland of the Jewish people. This isn’t “just” a religious belief. It is historic fact that Jews lived in these lands, only left because they were forcefully exiled, and yearned to return for 2,000 years.
There is a confusing duality to the Jewish people. We are ancient people who embrace modernity. Our embracing of modernity often confuses people into thinking we aren’t connected to our past. Israeli Zionists are the descendants of the ancient Jews who lived in these lands. We might wear suits and lab coats today, but we used to look just like the Bedouins who are my neighbors today. Progressives dedicated to everyone’s truth but that of the Jews, tend to restart the clock a few hundred years ago and declare that the “West Bank” is Palestinian land. Only moral gymnastics and historical revisionism can stand by that claim. Liberals who stand for human rights should be standing with the Jewish people’s just claim to these lands. Ease of building, setting forth a realistic future by determining final borders and instituting civil law for both Israelis and Palestinians are good reasons to extend sovereignty. But truth and justice of returning the land to its ancestral people is the ultimate reason that Israeli sovereignty should be extended to Judea and Samaria.

President Trump and his team have brought something to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that no previous American administration had the courage to declare; the truth. For far too many years falsehoods have been at the foundation of international peace plans. These falsehoods included assuming that the West Bank was Palestinian land, the two state solution is the only path to peace, that every Arab with a Palestinian great-grandparent has a right to return and live in Israel, and that it is unrealistic to demand Palestinians rid themselves of terrorists.

It’s easy to negate what I’ve said until now. Characterize my words as “Bad Hasbara,” and call me a white colonialist neanderthal who isn’t concerned for my Palestinian neighbors. Those are false because I believe that Palestinians deserve equal rights and self determination in a state of their own. I recognize that Palestinians have lost dignity, opportunity and suffered because of Israeli actions. While I believe Israeli security protocols are acted unjustly, I empathize with my Palestinian neighbors and want them to live freely with the quality of life and liberty that I enjoy.

I maintain that the best way to achieve a truthful justice for the Palestinian and Israeli people is by following the Trump plan. I don’t think the plan is perfect; no plan will be. But the plan calls for direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. It is only through negotiating together that the problems both sides find in the plan can be worked out and the conflict can end.

Is following the plan worth the risks that were outlined above by its critics? Whenever Israel has lived according to its historic truth and followed truth there’s been risk. The one thing all opponent arguments have in common is that they’re based in fear. Zionists dream big and make miracles happen. We are pragmatists, but not pessimists. As President Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” As long as we stand for truth and justice, we’ll overcome our critics. It is time to stay loyal to the just Zionist dream of returning the Jews to its homeland. We can renew the Zionist dream this week.

About the Author
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator. As a teacher, author and speaker, he teaches Torah and Politics, where he specifically emphasizes rational thought and conceptual analysis.
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