Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Letter in NY's The Forward

Eitam Was Wrong, But So Were Gaza Expulsions

A September 15 editorial terms Knesset member Effie Eitam’s call for the expulsion en masse of Palestinians from the West Bank as “lamentable” and a “mischievous assault on decency” (“Effie’s Choice”). I agree. Even Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the iconic nationalist Zionist, rejected the idea.

In the now-famous 1923 article setting out his basic doctrine vis-à-vis the relationship with the Palestinians of the Jewish national home, “The Iron Wall (Part I),” Jabotinsky wrote, “I am reputed to be an enemy of the Arabs, who wants to have them ejected from Palestine, and so forth. It is not true…. Politically… I consider it utterly impossible to eject the Arabs from Palestine…. I am prepared to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone.”

Nevertheless, in characterizing Eitam’s message as “rooted in a form of messianic optimism,” the argument must then be expanded and the question need be asked whether the forced removal of Jews from those very same areas is legitimate, democratic and moral. It is obvious that the establishment of a second state in the territory the international community set aside for the reestablishment of the Jewish commonwealth will result in a uni-ethnic polity.

No Jews would be able to reside in Hebron, Beth El or Shiloh. Is this expulsion, perhaps, also stemming from despair, and is it that exiling of Jews from their homes is also a messianic optimism?

If so, we only have to review the total failure as well as the dangerous developments of the disengagement from Gaza. Terrorism has not stopped, and the Qassams are only improving.

Eitam is wrong, and so are those who seek to ban revenant Jews from living in their patrimony. But if the expulsion of Jews is a solution, there will always be people who secretly harbor the hope of removing Palestinians, believing that what is good for Jews is equally good for Palestinians.

-Yisrael Medad*

*The writer lives in the West Bank town of Shiloh.

No comments: