Sovereignty now – Just get it done.
Does that remind you of the Nike advertisement we grew up on? Just do it.
That’s what we hear from friends in high places. And they don’t understand why we’re still hesitating. These political leaders have worked to defend Israel’s rights in so many ways, with a deeper understanding of the two-state dead end and the need to find new ways forward. Maybe it’s that we’ve shared Shabbat in these Judean hills. Or the people whom they’ve met along the way (thanks to the Yes! Israel Project’s ongoing missions), real people with regular lives and a vigor that is hard to find elsewhere.
It doesn’t take a lecture or a video to explain Israel’s tiny, fragile existence. Walk the land, take out a bible and read a passage on Abraham setting up his tent, or Rivka meeting at the well. Look out from the highest of our mountains (no ‘fourteeners’ here), over the plains to the Mediterranean Sea and it’ll be clear – our borders are close, our enemies closer. Meet the residents of Jerusalem, Haifa, and yes, those ‘settlers’, regular people like some of you and me, with a house, a yard and a dog (or 3 cats:) whose daily worry is the safe return of their kids after a day at school or at the beach.
Sovereignty would help normalize our lives. The stakes are high – people’s well-being, long term investment and basic freedoms. Yes, freedoms – Did you know: Jewish Israelis living in areas like the Jordan Valley, Judea or the Shomron pay taxes like every Tel Avivian or Jerusalemite. We pay our bills, fulfil our military duties and attend state-sponsored schools. Yet we are left out of long-term strategic thinking – Israeli ministries provide contingency plans for growth in infrastructure, education, health, natural resources, you name it. But less in these regions, in the heart of the Jewish state, and it manifests in a lack of planning that harms the whole.
Did you also know: Arab residents of these same areas do not pay taxes to Israel. Yet they benefit daily from infrastructure, commercial ventures and even protection from a corrupt Palestinian Authority. Remind me, when was the last time Abbas was elected in free democratic elections; or any, for that matter? It can’t come from us Jews, but go find hard-working, honest palestinian arab families who will tell you honestly, behind the scenes, that Israel is good for them. Economic stability, freedom of movement, good neighbors – that’s what we are, for those who do seek peaceful coexistence. With sovereignty we solidify that which is already true, and encourage long lasting prosperity for everyone in the neighborhood. In the region. Everyone, that is, but the PA leaders who’d rather keep their people oppressed and pocket the monies meant to trickle (or pour) down.
We care, we are honest brokers, and the Middle East is better off for it. Prime Minister Netanyahu, the voters have told you so three times in the past year. Friends, time to tell our leaders, loud and clear.
Let’s do it. Sovereignty: Just get it done.