Gil Troy, Jerusalem Post, 15 July 2020
There’s a reasonable case against annexation: Netanyahu’s too distracted; Jordan’s too weak; the Gulf states are too opposed; Palestinian rights are too important; and the status quo is too advantageous to risk. But I keep reading more infuriating, delegitimizing statements from supposed allies – anti-annexationists – and wincing.
The Zionist case against annexation should not validate the Palestinians’ false claim of exclusive rights to the West Bank – ignoring Jews’ legitimate stake in biblical Judea and Samaria.
Yet many anti-annexationists swallow this Palestinian lie that the artificial areas defined in green pencil to suspend the 1948 war are all theirs, while others follow through on that conclusion’s delegitimizing implications. Negating Israel’s historic and legal rights to settle everywhere in the British Mandatory territory of Palestine – west of Transjordan – undermines Jews’ rights to settle anywhere in that region.
The historically authentic, legally accurate, and fairer position recognizes Jews’ rights to settle anywhere, even if we don’t exercise them everywhere, for pragmatic, diplomatic, or idealistic reasons. (And consider, who loves peace more – someone who says, “I have rights to settle here but I respect others’ rights, too, so I won’t,” or those who say, “We have no rights there, we’re land-grabbers” – what concession for peace have they made?)
The hater-hijackers shout during anti-annexationist “days of rage”: “Genocide since ’48, we don’t want your Jewish state” and “We want it all.” That’s expected. But beware forked-tongue allies, Trojan horses who try mainstreaming anti-Zionist libels while claiming to be Zionists.
If you question the annexation, great, but it’s unfair to accept Palestinian land claims blindly while scrutinizing Jewish claims harshly.
If you think Israel should relinquish its ’67 gains, let’s debate. But it’s misleading to pretend there ever was an Arab entity called Palestine, or deny that Israel won the territory in 1967 legitimately in a defensive war and had rights granted under the British Mandate to settle west of Transjordan.
If you doubt your Zionism, let’s talk, but don’t lie to yourself, claiming you’re still a “liberal Zionist” if you reject Jewish statehood.
If you stop supporting a Jewish state, fine, but it’s a lie to transform the marginal voices that questioned Jewish statehood into the “essence” of Zionism, while marginalizing the Zionist consensus championing statehood.
And if you seek democracy and social justice but endorse “one equal state,” proclaiming it’s “the preference of young Palestinians” and “young Americans,” while ignoring Jewish preferences – and endangering Israeli lives – admit you’re only committed to democracy and “social justice” for them, not us.
Finally, if you want a one-state solution, admit that most Palestinian leaders envision a no-Jewish-state solution, and that their Jew-hating culture of terrorism challenges your Kumbaya vision; it’s not some Holocaust-scarred Israeli delusion.
MOST AMERICAN Jews remain solidly pro-Israel. But a loud minority of “woke” Jews with a spongy identity, sapped by constantly trying to fit into an ultra-progressive world that detests their Jewish state, become bash-Israel-firsters. It’s the writer who privileges Palestinian preferences over Jewish ones. It’s the rabbinic intern who tells students unwilling to pray for Israel under Bibi or the US under Trump, “Let’s have a moment of silence and pray for whichever country you wish – Israel, America or Palestine.” It’s the rabbi who denies Jewish indigeneity to Israel, when Jews are, in Irwin Cotler’s words, the “original aboriginal people,” still reading from the same book, speaking the same language, on the same land for 3,500 years!
True, often conservatives – and territorial maximalists – are hard-hearted, and liberals, softheaded. Today’s ultra-right-wingers are also softheaded – ignoring obvious consequences – while ultra-left-wingers are hard-hearted – neglecting their own.
To become an attention-grabbing Jewish bash-Israel-firster requires intense mental gymnastics. You contort your spine. You bulk up with false arguments. But, ultimately, it costs you nothing. And voila: You star in The New York Times. You thrill progressive Zionophobes while annoying establishment Jews (with both exaggerating your popularity) – without risking your neck or your kids’ necks.
Fortunately, you haven’t weakened the Jewish state – most Israelis ignore you, and for the rest of us, your specious arguments strengthen our resolve. You have, however, made peace more elusive, the situation more volatile, by feeding Palestinian maximalists and obstructionists. They figure, if even New York Jews are “woking up” and giving up on Israel, no need to compromise now, Israel’s destruction is imminent.
Psychologists warn of “pathological altruism”: intended do-goodism producing bad results. The soul dies a little death each time you abandon your people in some desperate desire to woo their enemies.
Still, because these calls are more destructive than self-destructive, call it “felonious altruism.” From 6,000 miles away, you’re sacrificing us, your pawns, in your quest to enter America’s politically-correct kingdom, er, nonhierarchical person-dom.
Sadly, buying into today’s absolutism requires sacrifices of logic, facts and self-respect. The self-righteous have-your-cake-and-eat-it-toism, pretending you’re still within the very tent you’ve trashed, reflects today’s brattiness, making these rebels-without-real-claws even more irksome.Remember, most American Jews – including most young American Jews – like most Americans, support Israel. The Jewish bash-Israel-firsters master the airwaves – commanding far too much attention. That’s why we should refute their arguments. But I don’t mention names, because the goal is to sharpen our positions through intense debate, neither demonizing nor glorifying the bashers.
It’s not about them. We may not be woke, but we have awakened to the exciting opportunities – and dilemmas – of returning to statehood, to Jewish history, to responsibility, for one another and the wider world. That’s true Zionism.
The writer is the author of The Zionist Ideas, an update and expansion of Arthur Hertzberg’s classic anthology, The Zionist Idea. A distinguished scholar of North American history at McGill, his next book, Never Alone: Prison, Politics and My People, coauthored with Natan Sharansky, will be published in September.