The presence of Iranian military experts in the Gaza Strip and Sinai, according to Israeli intelligence, should raise a question to those opposed to the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank): would turning this area over to Arab Palestinians endanger Israeli security?
That question does not bother Peter Beinart. He’s out to save Israel from itself, as he puts it.
That opponents of Jewish settlements have not drawn any lessons from what is happening in the Gaza Strip, Sinai and southern Lebanon is incredible. Even if they believe that they are right – that Jews should not be permitted to live in Judea and Samaria and that Israel has no legal rights there – the failure to consider what would certainly happen if Israel were to abandon this area lacks common sense.
Exposing Israelis to more devastating attacks from Iranian proxies in order to justify what they claim to be a “moral disaster” – “the occupation of Palestine” – is the real moral disaster. That many in the international community demand Israel’s withdrawal from Judea and Samaria regardless of the dire consequences for Israelis is recognizable Jew-hatred. Yet, Jews like Beinart and even some Israelis participate in this moral absurdity.
One might accept their arguments against the rights of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, however, if they offered any coherent explanation for what would likely happen afterward. They offer none, at least none that I know of, and that is inexcusable. Their arguments are debatable; the practical consequences are not. And for Tel Avivians worried about missiles from Gaza, imagine what it would be like if missiles were coming from the Samarian hills — where the settlements and the IDF provide protection.
With nothing to lose and no stake in the game, one might question Beinart’s moral impairment. But there are Israelis with similar ideas.
Arguing, therefore, that in order to save Israel as a democratic Jewish state, Israel must withdraw to the 1949 Armistice lines might be considered reasonable were it not for the high probability that the state for which they seem concerned could be wiped out as a result. Justifying boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) campaigns to achieve their goals, they are totally oblivious of its effect in delegitimizing and demonizing Israel.
With nothing to lose and no stake in the game, one might question Beinart‘s moral impairment. But there are Israelis with similar ideas. Even Shimon Peres, Godfather of the Oslo Accords and the moribund peace process seems to be having second thoughts.
Not one opponent of settlements has suggested that evacuating Jews from Judea and Samaria will end the violence, hostility and incitement against Jews. Nor have they dared to ask what will happen if their proposals don’t work out as they hope. And not one has acknowledged the possibility that Jews have at least as much right as anyone else to live in these disputed areas under the Israeli flag.
These issues can and must be debated, but presenting the case against settlements only, or even primarily as a threat to Israel’s democracy and its Jewish character, is disingenuous. Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria has had no negative effect on the State or its institutions. Economically, Palestinian Arabs have also benefited.
Moreover, except for the Arab and extreme leftist parties (Meretz and Hadash), support for Jewish settlements has been more or less consistent. There seems to be little or no concern about the effect of settlements on Israeli democracy and the state’s nominally Jewish character. In spite of the fact that half a million Jews live beyond the Armistice lines of 1949, democracy, Zionism and Judaism in Israel are thriving.
Israel’s position in the world, however, is perhaps somewhat more precarious due to the massive funding of anti-Israel campaigns. Those who support such campaigns, like Beinart, as an expression of their opposition to settlements, sharpen the swords of the enemies of the Jewish people.
The word for that is perfidy.
The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist.