The Conspiracy

What are Israel’s Priorities?

Netanyahu Looking Like a Wreck

This has dragged out too long. Just shut down the settlement expansion.

I have to admit, I am a Religious Zionist. Not all RZs support settlements, but most do . . . and but I do. The settlements actualize the imperative to settle the country. If the land is bought from a private owner, there is nothing stopping me from celebrating it.

I am also a realist. They give Israel some more breathing room territorially and reach at the negotiating table . . . that is until now.

Diplomatically, the comfort zone the country has had building them was probably going to decay – eventually. I think that point has come. The extra cards it gave Israel in negotiations do not mean anything if the world does not let you negotiate. This is not judging the settlements as legal or illegal under international law; nor moral or not; nor conducted while respecting private property or not. There is simply too little breathing room these days. Shut down the enterprise. Shut it down.

The prospects of international isolation are very real. While Jews worldwide and Israelis especially think the situation with the Palestinians as much more complicated than issues of independence and self-determination, the rest of the world simply does not agree.

The world simply prioritizes Palestinian independence over Israeli security. There is little Israel or the global Jewish community can do about it. We will, by majority, disagree with the planet on this. Public relations and negotiating tactics are out of step with global opinion. The country simply has been caught off guard by the drive toward Palestinian independence. With that, Israel ought to go with the flow and change its approach to the Palestinians. Allow the West Bank and Gaza Strip their independence, merely with the stipulation that border and refugee issues have not been finalized, and that goes doubly for Jerusalem. Just outright support it – just ask for some time to design a withdrawal plan.

I expect Netanyahu to say something like this soon. But as of now, he does not have the political foresight to out-pace this situation. The UN will recognize Palestine as an independent state. Even if the Syrian protests turn into a civil war and the world allows Israel more leeway in how it positions the IDF (i.e. in the West Bank), the pressure is just going to come back.

Building the settlements was the right idea. It expanded Israel’s physical territory. No one knew how far it would eventually go before it became too much of a problem. Given the situation, I am guessing this would be a time to consolidate what Israel has gained and re-focus on other issues. Israel has no vision for its future.

Everyone has been running too scared to choose the country’s path. What preparations have been made for Palestine actually becoming an independent state? What does that mean for the priorities of the Jewish State in such an event?

As for the country’s identity, what would be Israeli policy toward a Palestinian state; goals of Zionism; security and religious interests under Palestinian rule; and settling the Galilee & Negev?

The lack of priorities has left Israel unprepared for the “diplomatic tsunami” that seems to be headed toward its pristine Mediterranean beaches.

Will Israel try to get a million new Jewish immigrants? Will it expand its economic power? Its cultural influence? Settle disputes between Jewish denominations in Israel and reform civil law? Write a constitution? There are simply no goals. There is no clarity.

AND as for Religious Zionists: the West Bank and Gaza are still holy land – it’s not going anywhere – it will just be under Palestinian government. It cannot constitute a priority compared to Jerusalem on the one hand or domestic stability on the other. But when was the last time you heard a settlement leader talking about the Temple Mount instead of a less significant hilltop somewhere south of Hebron? Religious Zionist leadership is out of step with reality and has no vision for its community and its religious goals. Of all the priorities that are contorted, twisted and far from straight, theirs seem to be the utmost.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Older Responses to “What are Israel’s Priorities?”

  1. Eldad
    April 21, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Do you think that by shutting down the settlements, the demands to give the Old City to “Palestine” would diminish? On the contrary, they will be redoubled.

    Similarly, do you think that there would be free access to Hebron and the Kever Rochel while they “will just be under Palestinian government”? No, at best any Jews who want to visit their holiest places will have to go in an armored bus, once a month if they are lucky, the way that the Kever Yosef in Shechem is visited now.

    Your criticisms have merit, but your solution has none. I’d rather have an “unrealistic” situation where the very heart and soul of Eretz Yisrael remains under Jewish control than giving it up for a completely illusory peace. Of course, I’d rather have had an Israeli leadership that didn’t telegraph to the world that it has no business belonging in Judea and Samaria.

  2. Ronna
    April 22, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    shut the whole dang thing down. really do American, Australian and European Jews need to be displacing Palestinians? What kind of light unto the nations is this? glad you’ve seen the light. may it shine brightly in all the dark places, including our hearts.

    btw, settlements were NEVER the right idea, occupying another land is never right, kicking people off their land and out of their homes for (zionist) ideology was never right.

  3. Ellen
    April 22, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    “Building the settlements was the right idea. It expanded Israel’s physical territory.” Logic of the Fascists looking for “lebensraum.”


  4. pheldermaus
    April 22, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    I completely agree with your two ‘bottom lines’: Settlement build-up should stop immediately, and it’s clear to all that Israel is playing a day-to-day ‘buying time’ game, rather than putting forward a clear vision for itself and those who care about it.

    I should also say that as a Religious Zionist, you’re brave to call for stopping the settlements. I believe that the RZ community (in Israel and abroad) is the ONLY one who will actually care about building halt like that, while the rest of the Jewish community will either be very happy about it or just wouldn’t care.

    I disagree with you about the ‘why’ should Israel stop settlements. We all need to understand that Israel was there before the Israeli settlements in the west bank started. and as settlers see themselves as the ‘front line’ in Israel’s defense (a notion you referred to) they forget that there was a Jewish state even without one settlement to speak of, so the notion that Israel’s caving on settlements would lead to its demise is wrong.

    And yes, the settlements ARE immoral, illegal, counterproductive and actually drain the Israeli resources that could have gone elsewhere (you rightly mention the galil and the negev). it is amazing we needed to reach this point in time and politics to actually get it.

    The scary thing is that Israel has not comprehensive vision for itself. So Netanyahu will be forced to freeze the building, and then what? it seems that every so called peace offer from Israel is no more than tactical and political ploy to gain time, stop pressure or roll the ball to the Palestinian court. there is NO real, honest, positive and forthcoming attempt to end the conflict, not with the Palestinian or the rest of the Arab world. (I dont think there will ever be ‘peace’). Israel excel in military solutions to civil-political problems, and no more.

    If you care about Israel you need to ask yourself: would it be here in 50 years? will it become a middle eastern version of Yugoslavia or South Africa? What is our role, our DUTY as Jewish Americans in this? some suggestions are here:

  5. pheldermaus
    April 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    @ Eldad

    You bring up a valid point, or rather a question: What is the purpose of the State of Israel?

    I don’t think that as of itself the Land of Israel is Holy. It has tremendous importance to our people, but the rocks, the gravel, the hills have no metaphysical meaning. So when Jews do evil just to be back to a ‘holy’ place, it makes no sense to me. I rather stay in the “diaspora” and be able to look myself in the mirror than to be an immoral Jew in the holy land.

WordPress Backup
Read previous post:
A Foreign Affair

Three big events happened for the first time this week. One, I went to my first Seder spoken completely in...