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April 07, 2005

Delegitimizing Israel

There was a point where I supported Sharon's disengagement plan on tactical and strategic grounds. Hillel Halkin put it well, describing it as a strategic pullback, designed to unilaterally draw the borders of the inevitable Palestinian state, to Israel's best advantage. On objective grounds, Israel is completely within its right to do this, the Palestinians having double-faulted away entire sets at this point. The position that the fence is a "land grab" is true only insofar as one assumes that the Palestinians have an inherent right to everything the Jordanians held onto in 1948.

I had hoped that the Palestinian reaction would be to realize the stew they were in, treat the loss of yet more territory they thought of as their own, as the loss it was, and perhaps proceed down whatever violent or non-violent path they needed to take in order to get back to sanity from their current, pathological state.

Not to be. Instead, backed by the Arab League and sadly, the US, they are treating it as a victory.

It speaks volumes that the Arab League would torpedo a Jordanian proposal on the grounds that diplomatic recognition is "something tangible." This sort of reasoning appeals primarily to the western diplomats who are the Arabs' target audience. The pursuit of diplomatic relations for their own sake is redolent of State Department and Labour policy that got us into this mess in the first place. Entire institutions dedicated to "diplomatic processes" have been dragooned into the Arab cause up in Turtle Bay. What's really tangible is disarmament and a few riyals crossing the border in the other direction, along with a couple of hundred terrorist leaders swinging from their feet for the benefit of al-Jihadi al-Jazeera.

Jews continue to farm land in Jordan as part of the peace treaty with that country. Personal ownership is different from national sovereignty. Just ask the Japanese who bought all that trophy real estate in the 1980s. Religious Jews see living in the Land of Israel as a commandment, even if it's outside the borders of the State of Israel. There's no inherent reason that Jews couldn't choose to live as either residents or citizens of a Palestinian state, except for that fact that they'd all be dead the next morning, which ought to be enough reason to hold off minting that new series of diplomatic car tags. But it also means that the term "ethnic cleansing" isn't really that far off the mark, even though it's a democratic government acquiescing to the bigotry of its external enemies.

The settlements have always been seen not as natural cities for individual Jews, but as arms of Israeli government policy. That, combined with the term "settlement," which conjures up imaginary log cabins rather than actual shopping malls and hospitals with real sliding glass doors and cement foundations, has always made them seem impermanent, without roots.

That the Arabs see Tel Aviv more or less the same way is inconveniently unrealistic for the Europeans and the American left, so it also generally isn't acknowledged by them, either. In the Arab mind, Gush Katif is just an outlying suburb, and if Jews - just for being Jews - can be removed from Gush Katif, there's no inherent reason the Arabs can't be renaming Diztengoff Street in due course.

When Oslo started, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, who wholeheartedly supported the thing. He was adamant that there were certain red lines that no Israeli government could cross. "But it's not me you have to convince," I said, "it's the Arabs. They're the ones who have to believe." Silence.

I don't for a moment believe that Sharon has succumbed to the Peace Psychosis of the Left. The man spent his whole life fighting not only Arab armies in general, but terrorism in particular. Unlike Peres, he's not looking for open borders, but a defensible fortress. It may well be that forcibly relocating Jews from Gaza is better than telling them they're on their own and letting them get slaughtered. From a PR point of view, I know which one I'd rather see on the nightly news, although neither one is pretty.

But I do know that the Arabs still aren't convinced.

Posted by joshuasharf at April 7, 2005 10:31 PM | TrackBack

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