Stop Deluding Ourselves

“In parts of the West Bank roams a group of lawless people, about whom we can generalize and say that they have a low level of morality, whose twisted religious beliefs are free of any restrictions, and most importantly, they’re striving to destroy the State of Israel.  True leadership that wants to deal with these people has to ask itself about the roots cause from which the violence sprouted. Zero tolerance, 100% taking responsibility.

People who feel that the violence originating from the West Bank is a strategic threat to the state have to understand that it didn’t sprout up there out of the blue. Instead of blaming religious figures, we need to remember that the primary reason is because of the occupation, the military regime that the State has put in place for over four decades in the West Bank.”

I doubt that anyone who follows the news and discussions about Israel is seeing these words for the first time. It is a claim (actually an apologetic) regularly made, that the occupation is the root cause of terrorism. Any pro-Israeli can rattle off a slew of responses to this claim. The claim and the counter claims are actually quite boring.

However, this time there is a twist. These words are taken from an article in last Shabbat’s Olam Katan, a right wing publication that strongly supports settlements and outposts in all parts of Israel. The actual claim that the author (Yosef Roso) made is that the violence coming from outpost youth (noar hagivaot) is rooted in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

There you have it: extreme settlement supporters are adapting a Palestinian argument about the origins of terrorism.

Roso then goes on to propose a simple solution to the problem: complete annexation of the West Bank into Israel. However as Menken said: “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”  What is remarkably wrong in Roso’s thesis is the one word that he doesn’t mention in the entire article: Arabs (or Palestinians). He mentions our enemies, he talks about terrorists. But somehow, in the entire article there is not a single word about the 2.5 million Arabs living in the West Bank.

We can talk all day about the origins of the outposts, their socio-religious significance, why some of (repeat: some of) the people there have resorted to violence, and proposed solutions on how to deal with them.  My personal opinion is that the hilltop youth are a socio-economic issue, not a military, state issue.

What we can’t do is sit around and delude ourselves into thinking that we’re the only people around and that any Arab living here is simply a technical issue. The State of Israel is doing a mediocre job of integrating Israeli Arabs and a poor job of integrating Jerusalem Arabs. We built with our own hands the Chareidi sector which has become another sector cut-off from Israeli sovereignty. The last thing that we can do is absorb millions of other people into the state when we refuse to think about the enormity of what this means. Anyone, like many of Olam Katan’s readers, who is unwilling to share a bus with Arabs has no business proposing that we annex the West Bank and take them into our state.

About the Author
Ben Waxman was born in the US and served as a Peace Corps volunteer. He lived in the Jerusalem area for decades and now resides in the Shomron.
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