Israel: Left, Right Or Both?
On the diagnosis side, I am a political Leftist; I am in their corner. Israel has taken and settled land that was once occupied by Palestinians.
The claim that religious Jewish right has made––that this is Jewish land because it was promised by God several thousand years ago––does not hold water for me. There is a legal principle called a “forfeiture”: If you do not occupy your land and do not lay claim to it for a prescribed period of time, you are considered to have abandoned it. It then becomes the property of any occupant who has lived there for another prescribed period of years. (The law is written differently in different countries, but it exists almost everywhere.) The Jews’ claim to the land based on a single Jewish family (in the Galillean village of Pekiin) that supposedly never left Israel hardly justifies a right to the whole country. Nor does the fact that we never stopped praying to return, and dreamed of it for two thousand years.
We took the land by war. Period. And we are not the first, nor will we be the last, to do so.
Yes, we had our reasons for taking this land rather than any other land. The Soviets offered us Birobidzhan; then Baron Hirsch tried to settle us in Argentina, and Theodor Herzl even considered the idea of settling the Jews in Africa––but none of these alternative locations worked succeeded to settle the wandering Jewish souls. Only the land where our ancestors lived succeeded to do so. For this piece of the desert, Jews were and remain willing to die.
And after two thousand years of continual persecution––especially after the Holocaust––the Jewish people clearly need to have a land of their own, to calm their suffering, weary souls. Period.
But as far as the Palestinians are concerned, none of this reasoning is relevant. They did not cause the Holocaust . They did not inflict the pains of inquisition either. So why should the Palestinians pay a tragic price for a problem they did not cause?
So up to here I agree with the political Left: We are the cause of the Palestinian tragedy. My sympathies and sense of justice cannot help but be persuaded by Palestinian pain. We should apologize. We should make reparations and pay them for whatever we took in wars and it is simply irrelevant which side initiated that war. We claim they did by attacking Israel first. They claim they attacked because we threatened to take their land as colonialist. I suggest we stop this bottomless discussion. They lost. We won. If there is going to be peace their loss has to be recognized. Period.
So my diagnosis of the problem corresponds with the opinions of the Left.
But what should be done now?
In “therapy”, in how we solve the problem, oops! I move to the moderate right.
Let us look at some alternatives:
We could simply reverse history and tell everyone to go back to wherever they came from.
Obviously, that isn’t going to happen. No one can reverse the wheels of history.
OK, why not let all the Palestinians return to their land?
Hm, let’s think about this. The Palestinians who populated the refugee camps in Lebanon almost destroyed that country. The Jordanians killed thousands of Palestinians who had accepted citizenship in Jordan and then conspired to overthrow the government.
Nor are Palestinians welcome in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states. So why should anyone believe they would be willing to live peacefully with six million Jews in Israel?
I do not believe this solution, a bi-national state, would work. Before long, the country would become another Ireland, or worse.
So the usual solutions the Left offers are not acceptable to me although I agree with their diagnosis.
Then let the Israelis put up a security wall along their border and maintain the status quo.
This is a temporary solution––an effective one for now, but it could not work permanently, over time, because the demographics of the region will eventually render it ineffective. The Palestinians are growing in numbers, and their children have no future. Their only conceivable future is to commit suicide and go to heaven, taking as many Jews as possible along with them.
Furthermore, as the Palestinians grow in number, and their plight becomes worse and worse and their options ever more circumscribed, Israel is sure to become an international pariah. And no one can survive the wrath of the entire family of nations.
Then how about two states? Aha! That is the currently favored solution internationally. But neither Hamas nor Hezbollah will accept it. They refuse even to talk about it, much less negotiate around it.
Hezbollah and Hamas revere Salah-al-Din, who kicked the Crusaders out of the Holy Land in the 12th century. They see Israel as another colonizer, no different from the Crusaders. And they must be made to leave. Period. No negotiations whatsoever. Or to let all Palestinians come back to their homes, which may not even exist anymore, and to their orchards, which have probably been transformed into high-tech factories.
Those proposed solutions have one common denominator? Israel’s enemies want us DEAD.
Social science has long posited that the justification for most, if not all, of our actions is survival. So who can blame us for refusing to accept a solution that would lead to our destruction? Who would commit suicide willingly?
So here, I agree with the moderate right-wing: In order to survive Hezbollah and Hamas, we need to stay strong. But we will have to make do with Fatah––to make peace with them and work together to establish a Palestinian state.
“But they cannot be trusted!” some very right-wing people in Israel might say. “They will arm themselves and then attack us.”
To that, I say: Yes, maybe so. But I would rather fight an ordinary established army than a terrorist cell.
In conclusion, I cannot see any alternative to pursuing the two-state option while at the same time maintaining vigilantly military superiority.
I support the diagnosis of the Left but the solution of the Right.