A friend of mine forwarded my previous letter (Thoughts Re Netanyahu's Vision) to some Jewish friends here in Israel. My friend received one response which in so few words typifies so much of our government's policies towards the West Bank and towards Israeli Arabs, it also typifies the short-sighted "vision" of our Israeli Right.
This was the response:
"My vision for Israel is a country for the Jewish People...If you don't like it, LEAVE. This small piece of land cannot accommodate more than one people and the Israeli people are it! Arabs have their own countries and have overtaken much of Europe & Indonesia. They have their Mecca and we have our Wall...And never the twain shall meet! T---."
This was such a simple, pure, direct and honest response, that I felt obligated to comment on it. How well our problem is embodied in T's few short words. And so I wrote back to my friend:
Thanks for sending my letter onwards to others.
Yes, T's response is why Netanyahu is prime minister. T's answer is also a short-sighted one, perhaps given without much thought to what happens next. Its easy to say "If you don't like it, LEAVE", but what happens if that doesn't happen: They don't like it, but they don't leave. The 20% of Israeli citizens (2nd rate citizens at that) who are Arab have no intention of leaving Israel. The two and half million Palestinians in the West Bank also have no intention of leaving. Your friend T then has three alternative solutions because according to T the land "cannot accommodate more than one people":
1. Force them to leave…..mass deportation "somewhere", of up to four million Arabs. Quite a tragic scene, though perhaps T is not worried either of the moral implications or the consequences. If so, we don't belong to the same Jewish People.
2. Annexing the West bank as part of Israel and thereby making another 2.5 million Arabs citizens of Israel. Of course this would mean that we are on our way to be an eventual large Jewish minority within the country, a bi-national State….not really a Jewish State by any means. This is what the Palestinians would prefer. I don't think T would go for it.
3. Annexing (or not) the West Bank but keeping the Arab population without any rights of citizenship and penned up under a military clamp….Essentially similar to today's situation. In that case I refer you back to my previous letter which tries to show some of the consequences of this alternative.
All alternatives boil down to some concoction of one of these three. If T knows of some other alternative model, I would be anxious to learn of it. (Having Jordan take over the West Bank is also not an alternative. Both Jordan and the Palestinians reject any such possibility. Just as Egypt refused to take over Gaza once we were ready to give it up. Also "Leave everything to God" is not a viable alternative, I won't even begin to rebut that. Well, maybe I will say that God helps those who help themselves, and then only sometimes. )
But yes, there is one more possible alternative: Coming to some kind of mutual agreement about two States for two People. This too is not simple, and all of our moves via settlements in the West Bank are made to preempt such an alternative, but perhaps we have not quite yet passed the point of no return. Any agreement needs to be mutual, needs to refer to security matters, needs international participation and guarantees, needs to have stages for building trust, stages for reducing hatred, and probably a lot more.
There are many more moral and historical grounds that would classify T's response as lacking both knowledge and foresight, but the problem of the above alternatives will suffice for now. I assume Terry will probably choose alternative number 3 above. In that case, once more I refer you back to my previous letter (see below) and to where that alternative is taking us.
Still hoping for a brighter and more sensible tomorrow,