Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Vic Rosenthal's weekly column

Israelis are sometimes criticized for saying “yehiye b’seder” [it will be OK] without sufficiently considering the consequences. But there is such a thing as decision paralysis, when you can’t act because you never feel that you have enough information. Sometimes that’s worse than a less-than-perfect decision. I think the opponents of Israel’s application of civilian law to parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley are trying hard to induce decision paralysis.

Today (Wednesday) there is supposed to be a meeting in the White House at which Trump Administration officials reportedly will decide whether to green-light the move. Of course it will be a good thing if the US recognizes Israel’s action, especially if that means that it will issue an official statement that Jewish communities outside the Green Line are part of Israel.

But on the other hand, there is a feeling that the US is trying to micromanage Israel’s behavior. Perhaps, it is suggested, the “green light” will only include several communities near Jerusalem. Or maybe a phase-in that will take several months. Or maybe the US will require Benny Gantz’ explicit agreement. Or – who knows?

Gantz, incidentally, is remarkably unclear about his position, if he indeed has one. Here is how Noa Landau, a left-leaning journalist for Ha’aretz, describes it:

Not unilaterally, yes unilaterally. Only with the international community’s (unobtainable) consent, only with Jordan’s (unobtainable) consent. Only the Jordan Valley, only the settlement blocs. Only as part of the broader Trump plan, only a limited symbolic step. Only with a gesture to the Palestinians – but who needs the Palestinians anyway? Just don’t ask us to elaborate.

There is great pressure being applied from many quarters, both against PM Netanyahu and against Trump, to oppose this step, which is almost universally referred to as “annexation of [part of] the ‘West Bank’”. As Eugene Kontorovich argues [$], it is not “annexation” because the territory in question

…isn’t legally the territory of any other state, nor has it been since Israel’s independence in 1948. Neither the U.S. nor the European Union recognizes the existence of a Palestinian state, and Israel’s sovereign claim to the territory is superior to any other country’s. Putting this move in the same category as Russia’s seizure of Crimea is entirely misleading.

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) in the US is asking its members to lobby Congress against the plan, “out of a concern for Israel’s safety and security, for the preservation of Israel’s democratic character, and for the place of Israel among the nations of the world.” Its talking points come directly from the Israeli Left, which has been consistently defeated at the polls since the disasters wrought by the government of Ehud Barak in 2000. But don’t liberal American Jews know better than Israeli voters?

The Obama Gang has weighed in as well. Here’s Gangster Susan Rice: “So when it comes to annexation, I think the obvious argument against it is that it all but makes that objective of a two-state outcome impossible…”

What she means, of course, is that it makes impossible the Gang’s version of a two-state solution, in which Israel, including Jerusalem, is divided along the 1949 armistice lines. But that was always so, because it would render Israel indefensible, precisely the opposite of their contention. The Gang also envisioned the expulsion of tens of thousands of Jews from the territory in order to make a Jew-free Palestine possible, and Israel giving up control of Judaism’s holy places – which worked so well [not] under the Jordanians.

But a demilitarized Palestinian autonomy in less than all of the territory is far less dangerous. It does not require expelling Jews (or Arabs), and very few Palestinians are incorporated into Israel. That’s the Trump Administration version of the two-state solution.

Opponents of the move worry a great deal about the response of the Arab countries, especially Jordan, and the Europeans. I must note that if I have misgivings about the US micromanaging Israeli policy, I am even less likely to be influenced by the public pronouncements of Arab leaders who have been pumping anti-Israel venom into the veins of their subjects for decades, and now – when they depend on us for their security – are afraid that they will be overthrown if they don’t show sufficient enmity toward us. Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states all know who will help them when they are in trouble, and who wants to hurt them.

The intersectional Left is fond of asking people to “check [their] privilege.” To the Europeans, I say “check your history,” you who practiced viciously exploitative colonialism for hundreds of years, who started world wars, and who either participated in the genocide of the European Jews, prevented their escape (Britain, I am looking at you), or turned a blind eye. It hasn’t been long enough to give any weight to your moral pronouncements.

Returning to President Trump, I think that moving this deal forward is of great importance to him, to show both his allies in the Middle East and his pro-Israel domestic supporters that he keeps his promises. The fact that his political enemies are mobilizing against him in force – particularly the Obama Gang – shows the importance of this issue. This gives Israel some leverage, which should be applied to keep the initiative from being watered down. We don’t have to agree on anything other than the map, and certainly not to a sovereign Palestinian state.
I think time is very short. The American election campaign will soon begin to absorb all the energies of the administration. Any gradual phase-in of sovereignty will not survive a change of administration, if it should occur. I am convinced that if Mr. Biden is elected, his administration will be dominated by the Obama Gang, which has proven itself an enemy of the Jewish state.
A Biden Administration could reverse an American position established by Trump – as Obama did with respect the Bush-Sharon letters – but it can’t undo Israeli decisions, which can and should be translated into facts on the ground.

It’s imperative that Israel move ahead and extend civilian law to communities in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley, in July as planned. If the map that will delineate the lines isn’t complete, it should be completed, unilaterally if necessary. I don’t see Trump objecting to unilateral action. Why should he? The details, essential to us, are unimportant to him.
There’s one week left in June. If not now, when?


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