The Crimea and Judea impasse

The whole world is watching as the crisis in Eastern Europe is played out. The narrative portrayed by the US and Germany for this crisis has been so far from the actual geopolitical reality that one can only wonder how much propaganda can possibly be spun without repercussion. So far, naive Western audiences appear to have bought into the spurious political fiction that the Ukraine imbroglio is merely a question of a bad authoritarianism (Russia) vs. a good democracy (Ukraine). Never mind the abundance of Ukrainian Nazis and other far-right extremists, or the unconstitutional coup they helped perpetrate. Never mind that preceding the so-called “invasion”, the territory of the Crimea had been long held by Russia (since the reign of Catherine the Great, 1763). Never mind that the real geopolitical issue is the segregation of Russia from a hostile military alliance (NATO), whose attempts to isolate Moscow and emasculate her strategic depth are the real reasons for the crisis. In the West, Russia has almost always been portrayed as the bad guy. No one seems to remember WWII; not even in the post-national “new Germany” does anyone seem to care. No wonder President Putin and his supporters are angry.

The same simplistic logic is perpetrated against the Jews of Judea. Never mind that the so-called West Bank only achieved its name in 1951 because of an illegal occupation by a British-led and financed colonial puppet, Jordan. Never mind that this country, Jordan, had used its illegal occupation of the territory of Judea in an outright aggression to destroy the Jews of Israel (1967). Never mind that Britain refused to allow Jewish settlement of this territory during the Holocaust (1933-1945) even though international law had declared it as a “homeland for the Jewish People”. Never mind that this territory has always been called Judea and has been the seat of Jewish civilization for nearly four thousand years.

Now, unbelievably, the Western world calls this very same territory the West Bank, and they claim that it belongs solely to one people, the Palestinians Arabs. These same people, the Palestinian Arabs, defined themselves as Syrians just one hundred short years ago and have really only existed as a national movement since the founding of the PLO (1959). In other words international public opinion, which appears to determine so-called international law, excludes historical context and is strictly what national interests say that international law should be. No wonder the Jews of Judea and their supporters are angry.

The geopolitical reality of history is the true driver of politics. Forget the whitewashed excuses of the US president and the German chancellor; the 21st century is no different than the 20th or the 19th. As long as there are exclusionary military alliances, there will always be the potential for war. Unlike the unrealistic words of Mrs. Merkel that President Putin is behaving in a revisionist and anti-modern manner, the Russian leader simply won’t allow hegemonic powers (NATO) the luxury to dictate international law. When such definitions are both anarchistic and subject to alternative interpretation, who is the proper adjudicating body? If the Security Council of the UN is an unworkable executive, how can the court in the Hague be a workable judiciary? In this case, legislation without authorized execution is simply the naked power game of permanent powers. War has not been outlawed by the Security Council; in fact, self-defense has been enshrined. Russia’s actions can be interpreted as being preemptive and defensive.

The Crimea and the entire Ukraine, for that matter, are as important to Russia’s defense as the so-called West Bank is to Israel’s. When flying over Israel, US President George W. Bush once commented on the width of the tiny Middle East country: “We have driveways in Texas much longer than this” (nine miles). What other nation in the world has a strategic depth of such limited latitude? Yet Israel’s many European detractors claim that according to international law, the occupation of those territories is illegal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel came to those territories in a self-defensive, preemptive war. According to the League of Nations Mandate, the territory had been designated for Jewish sovereignty but without prejudice to Arab autonomous political rights. Israel never denied those autonomous rights. It was the Arabs who rejected Israel’s right to establish a “homeland for the Jews” in 1947 (without the West Bank). It was Israel who accepted a second partition of the mandated land (the creation of the Arab State of Jordan took place on the eastern section of the historic mandated Israel-Palestine). The Arabs of Palestine rejected a West Bank state in 1947 in a war of genocidal aggression against a legitimate member of the UN, Israel. Their aggression made UN Resolution 181 null and void. When Israel liberated Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the territory’s sovereignty was without UN designation but not without League of Nation’s precedent. Israel did not occupy the land of the West Bank because she holds the best claim to the territory. Israel occupies the Arab people of the West Bank, who remain in a state of war with her. The occupation of these people can only end when the state of war has been negotiated away to its conclusion and all claims decided. Israel must hold true to the League of Nations Mandate and all the rights (including Arab rights) that the mandate provides.

Could Israel or Russia achieve fair treatment by the Western powers of Europe or the US over the issues of the Crimea and Judea? I doubt it very much. In the case of the Crimea, Russia has an all-important veto in the UN Security Council. So, short of nuclear war or economic strangulation, Moscow can protect its interests with little fear of conventional retaliation or diplomatic isolation. Israel is not so lucky. Its strategic partner, the US, has served it a warning that if the so-called two-state solution doesn’t proceed toward a comprehensive agreement (really three states, two Arab and one bi-national with a Jewish majority), Washington cannot really help Israel off-set its diplomatic isolation. This veiled threat by President Obama himself means that Israel’s legitimate rights, on the territory so vital for its survival, are not respected by this administration. This is an open invitation for further Palestinian incitement and rejection. For the Palestinians understand that without US support, Israel faces the daunting prospect of isolation at the UN and its World Court in the Hague.

Now more than ever the Netanyahu government must stand up for Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria. But it must do so in such a way that Arab political rights and sovereignty are addressed by Israel with justice and compassion. The idea of the conquest of Judea has reached its historical limit. Israel must find an alternative narrative to both Rabin’s Palestinian autonomous-state model (with the monarchy in Jordan as its linchpin) and the religious Right’s conquest dead end. Both projects have reached impasse. Only Arafat’s “phased strategy” remains. Apparently, the King in Jordan has neither the bravery nor the inclination to move forward toward a constitutional monarchy. What comes after a West Bank Palestinian state (if Israel’s diplomatic isolation allows it to be achieved) will most likely be a second Palestinian republic in Jordan. But before this can transpire, the PLO seeks Israel’s complete withdrawal to the 1967 lines. This is vital for Abbas to defeat the Rabin model.

Israel’s diplomatic isolation is Obama’s trump card. Kerry has done the heavy lifting, but Obama gives the orders. More and more, this administration will attempt to delegitimize the settlements and Israel’s presence in the territories. Abbas and his successor will hold firm. This will happen either with an Agreed Framework or not. The Palestinians are in the game for the long term. Netanyahu has accepted the Rabin formula but lacks an appropriate narrative for its success. Abbas is simply stringing him along, until such time as history becomes less a living reality and more and more empty political spin. That time is fast approaching. When the Western world can forget Russia’s strategic imperatives in the Crimea and the Ukraine (the reality of WWII), they can certainly forget the Jewish State’s rights and imperatives in Judea (the reality of the Holocaust and the Arab wars of genocide in 1948 and 1967).

The Holocaust produced a Germany which had fallen out of history. It no longer wished to be a part of European geopolitical reality but merely the “European” economic engine of a US-led military hegemony called NATO. For this reason, Germany could no longer understand Russia and instead took its primary direction from the US. But Germany cannot live in a world of dreams. The Germans must reenter the world of geopolitics as realistic idealists. They must adopt an all-European policy of anti-hegemony and persuade the continent that it is possible. Only by rethinking NATO will Europe overcome its Crimean impasse.

Similarly, Israel cannot live in a world of dreams. The Holocaust produced an Israel that had not only fallen into history, but has done so in the middle of a totally hostile Islamic world. But while the Jews could rely upon the sympathy of the Germans and other Europeans for a time in history, they cannot rely on Europe forever. Once again, the ugly demons of European hatred have resurfaced. From France and the Netherlands to Hungary and the Ukraine, European anti-Semitism has reappeared. Anti-Israel propaganda has now become even more pronounced. For Israel to survive, it needs a narrative for Islamic justification and acceptance. The Middle East must rise on its own. The economy of the region and Israel’s place in that economy will be crucial. For Egypt and the Sunni Arabs of the Levant and the Gulf, Israel could lead the way toward a solar future of energy, transportation, and “ocean to sweet water”. But in a region of religiosity, the bottom line for Israel’s future lies first and foremost with a Divine-centered narrative. Only through the revelation of the Torah can the Judea impasse be solved. Only when the Muslims see that Allah Himself has been the author of Israel’s miraculous reemergence will they agree to share the historic Holy Land of Moses — from the desert, over the river, and to the sea. Only then will Jerusalem become “a light unto the nations”, truly two states for two peoples.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).