Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Not Too Dificult a Task

A Ra'anana-based businessman, Montreal native who made aliya in 1976, Sheldon Schreter, published an opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post, "For the cause, the settlements must go".

Some excerpts:-

Israelis seem to have lost their belief in the rightness of our cause...How did we get to this situation, and how do we get to a better place?...Huge energies, vast resources and endless creativity were poured into the settlements in territories conquered in 1967.

...I recently read David Shulman's Dark Hope, which is an eyewitness report on the abominations committed in the West Bank in the name of the Jewish contention [is] that they are profoundly, dangerously wrong in mortgaging the entire Zionist enterprise to the cause of the settlements. In so doing, they have unintentionally caused grievous damage to the rightness of our wider national cause, on two levels.

First, the perception of the essential rightness of our cause by the nations of the world...It is criminally foolish to underestimate or scoff at its importance. Maintaining it is tough, as our enemies market the calumny that Israel is merely a colonial implant, another apartheid South Africa, or, at best, Europe's export of its Jewish problem to the Middle East. The most important proof in the arsenal of our enemies is precisely the settlements, and the accusation that we are stealing the land and livelihoods of our neighbors...

SECOND IS the impact settlements have had on our internal consensus and belief in the rightness of our cause...The settlements thus undermine both the external perception others have of us, and our own internal perception of the rightness of our cause. As such, in utter contradiction to the intentions of so many of their residents, settlements wind up weakening rather than strengthening us, and seriously endangering the existence of the one Jewish state we do have.

There is a bizarre, paradoxical connection between the settlers' yearning for the whole land of Israel and the Arab demand for a single, secular, democratic state of all its citizens: Both would have the consequence of destroying Israel.

WITHDRAWING from the settlements will not appease our enemies, nor should we leave unilaterally, without guarantees, safeguards and milestones. But withdraw we should...We have to relinquish our profound internal split over Greater Israel in order to unite effectively in favor of pre-1967 Israel (plus minor, negotiated additions). Our shared belief in the rightness of our cause - without which we shall fall - cannot be rebuilt so long as we are occupying and dispossessing another people.

It will be tragic to leave the sites associated with our cherished collective memories...

So, if I manage to convince most Israelis that the communities are part of Israel's national, cultural, historical and religious ethos and that without that ethos, Israel will not be Israel but some Cannanit Hebrew-speaking state;

and if I convince most Israelis that a withdrawal from the territories will bring with it an existential security threat;

and if I convince the majority of Israelis that no Arab is willing to settle for the continued existence of Israel in any border configuration and that after 1967+ boundaries, we will be forced to face demands for 1949, then 1947 and then - the right of return (but not necessarily in that order);

and if I am successful in all the above, then I have solved Schreter's problems and we can get on with the business of reconstituting the Jewish National Home in its historic homeland.

That's not too difficult a task.

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