Thursday, August 18, 2016

 Vic Rosenthal's Weekly Column

Seven things Israel doesn’t need

A popular idea in the West is that you solve conflicts by satisfying people’s needs. Just figure out how to meet everyone’s needs, and the result will be peace and harmony. The American administration and the Europeans want to help the rest of the world – and especially Israel – meet these needs.

This is backwards. The problem here today is that the Middle East has too much help. Israel, for example, receives many gifts that it would be better off without. And as many of them are supplied by our friends in the US and Europe, I am asking them to stop giving us these things. So, dear friends, here are seven things that we don’t need that I would like you to stop supplying us with:

We don’t need the millions of dollars and Euros that go to subversive non-governmental  organizations in Israel. We have dozens of them, supposedly working for human rights, but in truth demonizing Israel in the eyes of the world, weakening our ability to defend ourselves, strengthening our enemies, creating and maintaining conflict between Jews and Arabs, keeping us busy with lawsuits and investigations, and interfering with our political processes. Our cadre of anti-state activists gets little support from Israelis. Would you please stop paying them?

We don’t need your help to make us a more just society. We understand that you are obsessed with racial, religious and gender issues, and we are sympathetic. But you really don’t understand our society at all, and when you send delegations over here to take part in (sometimes violent) demonstrations at the security barrier or make threats about what will happen if we don’t become more friendly to non-Orthodox Judaism, you are possibly on the wrong side and certainly not improving the situation. 

We don’t need advice from ludicrously uninformed or misinformed American Jews, who get their information from anti-Zionist organizations like J Street, and seem to believe that their Jewish descent entitles them to a share in the governance of the state of Israel. If you want to help determine the fate of this country, you are welcome to move here, send your kids to the army, pay taxes, worry about rockets and terrorism, and vote. Otherwise, don’t tell us what to do.

Americans have plenty of racial violence at home, and Europe is experiencing an epidemic of rape and sexual harassment. May I suggest that you fix these things before giving us the benefit of your advice? Thank you.

We don’t need you to be our building department. We have complicated laws of land ownership dating back to the Ottoman period, and we have an elaborate process of for getting approval to build. We have courts that adjudicate issues that arise, and they are very fair to Palestinians. We can and should be able to enforce our zoning rules without interference. Presently we have a situation where anti-Israel NGOs, supported by European and American money, report to the US State Department what they claim are discriminatory actions, after which the State Department protests to the Israeli government. 

And – EU, I’m talking to you – building structures in our country without approval, and then claiming that “diplomatic immunity” means you didn’t need a building permit doesn’t fly. Don’t complain when we tear them down.

We don’t need you to tell us where Jews can live. Even – especially – in our capital city, Jerusalem, the US and EU regularly protest when Jews move into a neighborhood that “Palestinians want for their planned state.” Does Israel protest when a Christian family moves into a Jewish neighborhood in Silver Spring, MD? The fact that the West actually supports the racist Arab plan to create a Jew-free state by ethnic cleansing in the 21st century is mind-boggling if you think about it. 

We don’t need you to define our borders. Our borders are where they are, just like everywhere else in the world, as a result of wars and bilateral agreements. We understand that our enemies would like to see them shrink so it will be easier for them to wipe us out, but we can and will defend the ones we have. We don’t need the corrupt “United Nations” or the hostile Obama Administration to pressure us  to reverse the outcome of a defensive war and make ourselves as vulnerable as we were before 1967. Let the US give much of its southwest back to Mexico first.

We don’t need you to intervene in our democratic elections. Israel has possibly the most democratic (if frustrating) electoral system in the world. If anything, it’s too democratic, with small parties having too much influence. We don’t need foreign powers and their surrogates injecting money into our elections or providing consultants to one or another party. I know you don’t like Netanyahu, but Israelis keep electing him, so just accept it. That’s called “democracy.” We don’t like Obama so much either.

We don’t need your military aid. Here, I’m talking to Americans. Military aid damages our own industries, makes us buy things we don’t need, skews the decision-making of our military planners, and gives you way too much leverage over our politics. We can buy what we need with our own money, and that would be good for Israel and for America.

All of the above are aspects of one basic problem: the US and Europe do not treat Israel like an independent, sovereign state. Noninterference in internal affairs of other nations is a basic principle of international relations, and yet in our case it is more honored in the breach than in the observance. 

Little by little, every time we yield to foreign pressure, we become less and less independent. This is our country, our capital, our elections, our borders, our streets and our buildings, and our army. None of it belongs to Washington or Brussels. It’s governed by our Knesset, according to our laws as interpreted by our courts and enforced by our police.

Israel has some problems that are not in our power to change. There will not be peace with the Arabs until they accept the existence of a Jewish state, and that is up to them. But although I have addressed my complaints above to the US and Europe, we can fix almost all of them ourselves, just by being more assertive. Here are some of the ways we are trying, or should be trying, to do so:

  •  The Knesset took on the subject of controlling foreign-funded NGOs and after long labor gave birth to a mouse, an NGO transparency lawwhose maximum penalty for failing to report on the millions being spent on subversion is a fine of $7500. A tough law would help with several of my concerns, since so much foreign intervention is mediated by these groups.
  • Until just recently there was no systematic vetting of “tourists” entering the country to ensure that they were not activists intending to participate in demonstrations. Now there is, and we’ll see if it’s effective.
  •  Israel has begged – and continues to beg – the US for military aid. Phase it out.
  •  Rather than standing up for our sovereignty against the State Department or the EU, we often take refuge in bureaucracy, make excuses or even apologize. But the only way to teach them that we’re serious is to take a firm stand in each and every case. The answer to “Jews living in eastern Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace” needs to be “don’t tell us who can live where in our capital” and nothing else.
  •  Our position on borders should be that we have a historical, moral and legal claim on the territories that is stronger than that of the Arabs, and while we might relinquish some land in the context of negotiations, we are not obliged to do so. And we are certainly not obliged to “swap” land west of the Green Line for any that we keep on the east side, as if the 19-year illegal Jordanian occupation somehow conferred ownership of the land on the Arabs.

Israel became a sovereign state in 1948, but it seems that we’ve forgotten this. Sovereignty needs exercise, like a muscle: use it or lose it.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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