Tova Herzl

If I were Palestinian, I would help build settlements

If I were a Palestinian, there are some things I would do to further our national aims, and others I would avoid.

I would clean schoolbooks of maps showing Palestine from the river to the sea. True, in the ruling coalition’s guidelines, the word “exclusive” describes the Jewish people’s right to the entire Land of Israel, meaning the current government of Israel also believes “from the river to the sea.” But – so the wise Palestinian will say to herself – this is not a slogan contest, and we must do only what serves us.

I would stop trying to obtain international recognition. As long as the IDF maintains roadblocks everywhere, apparent successes merely create an illusion. The process annoys Israel and its friends, but will not lead to sovereignty.

I would avoid terrorism. It arouses fear and sympathy in Christian majority countries which have a sizeable Muslim minority, and gives credence to Israel’s claim that it has no viable interlocutor. Terrorism is counterproductive.

What then? One can wait until demography and geography do their bit, or actively help Israel deepen the pit which it is digging for itself, and thus hasten Palestinian control over the entire territory.

For example, instead of embarking on tiresome legal processes when settlers take over private land, it is better to simply sell it to them. But that is not enough.

Palestinians who desire one state from the river to the sea should help construct settlements. This can be voluntary national service, where pay is irrelevant — let them just continue building, wherever they want. The more remote and isolated, the better.

Then, in 10 or 20 years, the moment of truth will inevitably be upon us.

Already now, it is impossible to know if there is an Arab majority between the river and the sea. Soon, numbers will be unequivocal. Then the Palestinians will show the world that due to the distribution of Israeli settlements, we are completely mixed up. Even if both parties would want to separate, it cannot be done. In one country, all must enjoy equal rights, including voting.

Who will oppose such a logical demand? What will Israel do? Insist that a minority will eternally rule over a majority by force? What will prevent sanctions like those imposed on South Africa, where apartheid lasted less than fifty years? Will Israel be forced to agree to equality, thus bringing about the end of a Jewish state?

Israel’s cabinet recently decided to legalize five “young” outposts, illegal even by Israeli law. These are not military bases, a different matter entirely, but the product of a private decision. This and other acts were designed to punish the Palestinians for taking action against Israel in international fora. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Some believe that every settler caravan brings us closer to redemption. I will not presume to convince those who conduct dialogs with the Lord, who not only ask questions but also receive precise instructions – we speak different languages and it would be pointless. But do others stop to think whom such moves punish? Who will suffer from the consequences? Who will benefit, whose goals will be served?

If I were a Palestinian who yearns to see Israel disappear, I would tell us Israelis, t’fadhalu, please, continue building. And I would gladly supply the rope for Israel to hang itself.


About the Author
Tova Herzl served twice as congressional liaison in Washington DC, was Israel's first ambassador to the newly independent Baltic states, and took early retirement after a tumultuous ambassadorship in South Africa. She is the author of the book, Madame Ambassador; Behind The Scenes With A Candid Israeli Diplomat.
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