Who, Yossi, Who?

Yossi Klein Halevi (caveat: he mentions me in his memoir on page 45 which means we are friends and we know each other a half-century) has published:

Israelis have a rightful claim to all of historic Israel — and so do the Palestinians.

It appeared in the April 14, 2018 print edition of the Wall Street Journal.

That is quite a questionable declaration. One that Lord Balfour would disagree with, not to mention many others. True, Ze’ev Jabotinsky had much sympathy for them but, nevertheless, expounded a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River.

However, Yossi does emphasize a point that needs repeating, especially by Jewish millennials (a term that I think implies youth with a near total disconnect from history, rigorous thinking and willingness to have your positions challenged and defend them, if you can, without ideology) which is:

The March of Return is an explicit negation of a two-state solution, with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza coexisting beside Israel.

But he veers off, perhaps millennially, and seeks to apply a nebulous “but we too” paradigm to ease the uncomfortable feeling some Jews have when they realize that the only true recourse is considered by all their friends and admirers as “extreme” and he writes:

The Palestinians are not alone, however, in harboring maximalist ambitions. Israel, too, has advocates for the right of return to all of the land between the river and the sea. West Bank settlers and their supporters, including the current government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, believe that this land can accommodate only a single national sovereignty: ours.

He then suggests that those who hold that position would act as Arabs and engage in ethnic cleansing:

Like those Palestinians dreaming of “return” to the state of Israel, the settlement movement aims at demographic transformation.

No, Yossi, I and my family and friends are not “like” Arabs-called-Palestinians. In 2005, it was official Israel that cleansed the Gaza district, a part of historic Israel where many of the zemirot you and I sing around the Shabbat table were composed by Israel Najara (and where Shabbtai Tzvi was pronounced Messiah on Shavuot 1665 by Nathan the Prophet who writhed naked on the floor of a synagogue). I can assure you that we intend no exile for Arabs who present no threat to Jewish lives. And, despite aberrations by the few, we are not like the Arabs, who have since April 1920 engaged unceasingly in a terror campaign against all Jews anywhere in the land and anything they built or planted. Because of the Mufti, by 1938, a few thousand Jews who escaped death had been expelled from Hebron, Schechem, Gaza, Jenin and Jericho, and as a result of the 1948 war additional thousands from Jerusalem, Neveh Yaakov, Atarot, Gush Etzion, Bet HaAravah, etc.

And now to the essence of the piece:

Extricating ourselves from ruling over another people is a moral, political and demographic imperative. It is the only way to save Israel…. Partition is the only real alternative

That is wrong. It is wrong because it has been tried and offered since 1922, when Transjordan was removed from the Mandate area and when partition was proposed in 1937 and 1947 and rejected, and, as you write, rejected today by the most powerful force in the society of the Arabs-called-“Palestinians,” Hamas. And it is wrong for other reasons.

Blog posts are not intended to be essays so let’s be concise and as precise as possible:

  1. If you write “historic Israel,” did “Palestinians” exist when that land became “historic Israel”? One need be minimally logical in these matters. Or, did Saudi Peninsula Arabs invade, conquer and occupy historic Israel in 638 CE, and then seek to denude the country of its Jews, eventually, via UNESCO, stripping Jews of any claim of historic identity to the land?
  2. If you mean that there is an “historic Israel,” that is, a country, a territory, a geographical space that throughout history has been identified as the Jewish national homeland, why should anyone else have a rightful claim to it?
  3. The “Arabs-called-’Palestinians’” called themselves Syrians at least up to 1930, when they finally realized that the Zionists possessed a much better claim than they to the territory you would yield up and portraying themselves as a separate Arab nation-group would be a better way to gain lands they never really possessed or even owned.
  4. A suggest “demographic threat” does not exist. Really.
  5. Why is it not immoral for me to be banned from residing in Shiloh, yet an Arab can live in Jaffa?
  6. If there is any hope for Arabs in this corner of the Middle East to live, flourish, be healthy, gain wealth, advance technologically, scientifically and otherwise in agriculture, science and the like, it is under Israel’s administration.
  7. Political arrangements are plentiful: autonomy, federation, condominium, Jordanian-involvement (why do you think Netanyahu “protects” the Temple Mount, if not to keep Jordan in the loop?) under full Israeli sovereignty.

Yossi, no need for emotions. Rational thinking suggest you err.

Your final vision, of a peace that would include recognition of Israel’s legitimacy and of the Jewish people’s indigenousness in this land, is not only utopian, but simply impossible. And one reason is that people like you and others keep offering it to the Arabs-called-‘Palestinians’.

You are their hope. You prevent their despair if only because you propose gradual Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. They always have an alternative to losing: to wait.

Yossi, until they concede to us, on any level — intellectually, emotionally, cognitively or otherwise — there will never be peace.

Who is propping them up? Who is giving them hope? Who is promising them eventual victory in their designs?

Who, Yossi, who?

About the Author
Yisrael Medad, currently is a Research Fellow at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem and Deputy Editor of the English Language Anthology of Jabotinsky's Writings. American-born, he and his wife made Aliyah in 1970. He resides in Shiloh since 1981. He was a member of the Betar Youth Movement World Executive and is a volunteer spokesperson for the Yesha Council. He holds a MA in Political Science from the Hebrew University and is active is many Zionist and Jewish projects and initiatives.
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