Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Depth of the Withdrawal, the Depth of the Knife: Part 2 of a Point-Counterpoint pair - Orli Goldklang

by Orli Goldklang

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

Read Part 1, The Settlements haven't got a Chance

Even Ran Edelist is no longer promising us that there will be peace, just a transfer of the terror lines to new borders, nearer to the centers of population. To reject this idea is not a messianic response, but a well-considered response

After the with thunderous failure of the Oslo Accords to the beat of Hamas’ cannons, and after the concept of unilateral disengagement was shattered with the necessity for repeated military operations in Gaza, now, the settler Right is once again expected to surrender its principles and its word view, this time for “the sake of cohesion within the people and the country”. At the end of his emotional missive, after all of the dubious assumptions that we are expected to align ourselves with, Ran Edelist asks the settlers to accept the principle of land for unity. Edelist, a Peace Now person, no longer offers us regional calm nor does he use the word “peace” even once in his article, except to mention the name of the movement of which he was a founding member. On the contrary, he offers us war, and just moves it to borders that he and his friends will be willing to defend together with us. The new border – which will bring the enemies’ missiles within a distance that will threaten Ben Gurion Airport and Route 6, Kfar Saba and Petah Tikvah – will not be free of terror, just free of settlers. In any case, the price in blood that Edelist seeks to prevent will be inevitable. Because of the very proximity of the new border to crowded population centers, not only will the number of casualties not decrease, they will even increase significantly. 

Not only is the vision of peace missing from the article, the potential partner for such an agreement – the Palestinians - is also missing. While the settlers are demanded to open their eyes and emerge from the blindness holding them in its grasp regarding the settlements’ contribution to regional unrest, it seems that it is even clear to the writer that our promised partner does not play according to the rules of the game. After Arafat and his successor, Abu-Mazen turned a cold shoulder to Barak’s and Olmert’s, far-reaching gestures it is difficult for even the most entrenched people on the Left to promise a rosy future in the Middle East. The reasons for this are still under dispute: we see that radical Islam is waging a world war in various continents, while Edelist, on the contrary, sees the settlements as an existential danger. He feels that the establishment of communities in Judea and Samaria pulls him unwillingly into a dangerous gamble and suggests that we should be pulled into an even more dangerous gamble under the borders of the ’67 lines. While there is still a Palestinian yearning for Jaffa and Haifa, Acre and the Galilee – the randomly defined Green Line continues to star as a magic solution to all the dangers that the State of Israel is up against.

There is also fluidity among the Arabs

“You will agree with me that there is something basically amiss when a country conducts an all-out war against children who stab people and old ladies who run people over with cars”, asks Edelist. It seems that there are many more who would agree that there is something wrong with the basic educational system and the faith that sends children out to stab people and old ladies to run them over. True, you don’t have to be a bleeding heart, but it is better to be intelligent and understand that there is no excuse or justification for terror. The long-suffering Jewish people, even in its periods of despondence and lacking an assured horizon of continued existence, has never taken up these violent means against regimes that it lived under. Not in the Islamic countries of the previous millennium, and not in Europe of the previous century. 

Edelist does not promise us that we will beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks, but he prefers that the next war be waged against a regular army, and not against children or old women. On the question of who that army would be – a Palestinian army or Da’esh [Islamic State] – he does not bother to answer, and rightly so. If there is one sentence that we can both sign on, it would be the statement that “there is nothing like the Middle East to prove how volatile today’s existence is”. This is true regarding the future of the settlements, as the “etrog”, Ariel Sharon, demonstrated. It is true regarding the entire Arab area, as demonstrated by Al-Baghdadi’s group.

Ultimately, the conflict that the writer of the article seeks to solve is not with the Palestinians, but with the various international bodies. In his article, Edelist reminds us of the limitations of the State of Israel’s power, which is subject to the external pressures that he and his cronies create with their own hands. The Israeli Left has fallen into bad habits – pushing and encouraging a boycott on its own country, and then warning against the process of “South Africanization” that will befall all of us. If the bodies that are threatening us now with recognizing a Palestinian state had stood shoulder to shoulder with us against the evil decree – and such a decree is indeed both bad and dangerous – we would not have had to hear threats of civil war, or of being defined as war criminals. To our great misfortune, even the cohesion that Edelist promises us within the boundary of the Green Line, does not have a strong basis. Ask Zochrot. Ask Breaking the Silence. Ask the African Refugee Development Center.  

Despite the polite request, even with a fourth and fifth reading of the article I was not able to feel the sectorial disgrace that I was supposed to, not even the collective shame. Bottom line – the fight between the Palestinians and Israel is not over the West Bank, but over the entire area between the sea and the Jordan River. The Israeli Left, both the radicals and the moderates, have not had any proven, dizzying success in the area of making predictions in the Middle East. The Right, to the contrary, unfortunately has. All of the threats that were predicted by the disparaged prophets of doom have come true. They cannot be charged, as they usually are, with faulty vision.  

We also have determination

In our region it is often claimed that the Right has no alternative, but reality proves that on the contrary, it is the Left that does not create an alternative vision for the existing situation. We have already tried its dangerous and armed peace agreements, despite all the cries of “Don’t give them rifles”. These weapons were ultimately turned against us, and even as we bled, we were demanded to surrender more and more. The refusal to make additional concessions does not stem from a messianic concept, or a stubborn insistence to hold onto land at any price; it is a considered step in light of the consequences of all of the previous withdrawals. As long as the Palestinian people do not accept the existence of the State of Israel, but hope for its elimination, the terror will continue and will punish us mercilessly. Until today, the Palestinians have never been impressed by the idea of the Green Line as a border, and they will not begin to be impressed by it even if the vision of the Left comes to be.

As Edelist noted, the existing situation is based on the Palestinians’ determination. It is a good thing that opposite them stands an absolute majority of people no less determined, that is ready to stand in the front line for the sake of the stable and secure existence of the State of Israel. Contrary to Edelist, it does not entertain the illusion that uprooting the settlements would promise a paradise.

Orli Goldklang

Source: Makor Rishon Newspaper, Dec. 18, Issue 958, Diokan section, pg. 5

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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