Israelis debate Israel: What has to change?
The current Russia-Ukraine war is certainly a tragedy of huge proportion. However, there is another tragedy taking place at this moment — in our very own land, a tragedy that has been simmering under the radar for decades and now seems about to erupt like a volcano.
How much news coverage will this growing Israeli tragedy garner? Will it inspire the same degree of vigorous discussion we see as Israelis contend with the impact of the Russian-Ukraine war on us and how Jewish President Zelensky really is? For, as debates about the Ukraine are raging among the citizens of Israel, the rug is being pulled out from beneath the feet of Jews residing in Judea-Samaria, undermining Israel’s hold on Area C.
Whatever one’s opinion on whether or not Israel should control Area C to any degree, it is a fact that a contract was signed by the USA, Israel and the PLO creating the Palestinian Authority and giving Israel exclusive and complete control over Area C. This contract was called the Oslo Accords.
Israeli NGO Regavim has been sounding the alarm for decades about the furtive war being conducted against Israel over Judea-Samaria but until now, it seems few paid any attention. There is growing momentum in this war and Israel is being sabotaged by her own leadership as settlers are now regularly accused by MKs and the mainstream Israeli media of unprovoked violence against Arabs and using this as legitimization for tearing down Jewish homes and synagogues.
On Monday morning (21 March 22), Jews were thrown out of their homes in Judea-Samaria AGAIN, this time in Maoz Esther and A’ira Shacher in the Binyamin region. This is just the most recent site under attack: on Purim, less than one week ago, Homesh was blockaded and, as I discovered yesterday at the site, it is slated for demolition; in early February, two homes were destroyed in Givat Ronen. And it goes on and on and on.
Gilad Atia, a soldier in the IDF, was sleeping on base and woke up to news of the destruction of his home and all its contents in Maoz Esther. His wife was home alone when this took place. He felt he had no choice but to leave the base without permission and take time off in order to rebuild his home and ensure that he and his wife have a place to live. He described feeling like he was kicked in the face by the country in whose defense he serves. In fact, a force of about 400 soldiers, border police and tactical units were on hand to evict eight families, razing their homes to the ground and destroying their belongings and two synagogues and other public structures.
Creeping Land Stealing
For decades, the organization Regavim has been documenting the systematic land stealing on the part of the Palestinian Authority with funding from the European Union. Regavim is fighting in the courts to force compliance with decisions handed down ordering the demolition of illegal Arab construction, decisions that are ignored by the Civil Administration. As a result of this lack of compiance, the illegal outposts continue to grow, with the Arabs living there often having permanent homes in legal villages not far away. If leftwing activists know about this, they ignore the fact.
In contrast, the moment a court authorizes the destruction of a Jewish building, that building is taken down.
Regional council heads in Judea-Samaria cry out against this selective law enforcement by means of which Israel is losing control of her land. They are growing louder in protest as the rate of illegal Arab takeover of Area C approaches a point of no return. Is anyone paying attention?
The anti-Zionist activist organizations that demonstrate against Arab home demolitions shed nary a tear for the Jewish families thrown out of their homes. Perhaps they even applaud the move as their goal is the removal of all Jews from Judea-Samaria in preparation for a Palestinian state. The images of young children made homeless in the cold of winter and of a young soldier forced to abandon his unit in order to rebuild his destroyed home seem to draw no empathy from them.
MK Mossi Raz (Meretz) shows in this viciously worded and highly inaccurate tweet that he understands that we are approaching the point of no return:
The demolition of two criminal outposts overnight is too little but if there is a continuation of this it will not be too late. Across the occupied territories settler militias erect criminal outposts on land that is not theirs every Monday and Thursday and there is no response from the leadership while the Palestinians do not get building permits on their own land and their homes are destroyed over and over.
פינוי שני מאחזי עבריינים הלילה הוא מעט מדי אך אם יהיה לו המשך לא יהיה מאוחר מדי. ברחבי השטחים הכבושים מיליציות של מתנחלים מקימות מאחזי עבריינים על אדמה לא להם בכל שני וחמישי ולא נענים בתגובה שלטונית בעוד הפלסטינים לא מקבלים אישור לבנות על אדמתם ובתיהם נהרסים שוב ושוב
— Mossi Raz | מוסי רז | موسي راز 🟣 (@mossi_raz) March 21, 2022
And Then, Beersheva Happened
As I reviewed these lines last night, wondering how to effectively bring this article to a close, news of the terrorist attack that killed four Jews in Beersheva came out. Four people who left home that morning (22 March) unaware that a fellow Israeli woke up not far away and decided that that was the day they die just because they are Jewish. Because they are Jews living in the Jewish state. For this terrorist-murderer there is no Green Line, no legitimate border, today or in the future, for a country he and others like him regard as illegitimate.
In other words – Hebron, Efrat, Shilo are no different from Beersheva, Tel Aviv, Haifa.
Seeing Israel barricade Homesh, with soldiers there to prevent Jews from going up to the yeshiva to study and pray, seeing soldiers bulldoze homes and synagogues in remote hilltop communities that have no water or electricity, seeing soldiers take down one Jewish home after another while ignoring for years demolition orders of illegal Arab construction handed down by the Supreme Court of Israel — seeing this, they conclude that we do not have the nerve to act in accordance with our right over this land, the heartland of the ancient Land of Israel and most recently ours by contract. Seeing this, they believe that we are weak-willed and can be conquered by one more car ramming, one more stabbing, one more missile from Gaza, one more synagogue-burning (Lod), one more, just one more will be the last straw. And we will magically disappear?
What they have not yet understood about Israeli Jews is that we are at our fiercest when our backs are against the wall. It is tragic that we Jews have not yet understood that were we to behave as if we really believe in our right to Jewish nationality and sovereignty we would not have to get to that point.
It is important to debate our presence in Judea-Samaria because not all citizens believe we should be there. But the debate has to be respectful. And it has to be based in fact. For example, it does nothing to further our national security or moral standing in our own eyes when MKs and the media applaud law enforcement when related to Jews but claim that Israel is wicked when attempting to enforce the law with respect to Arabs.
The Nature of National Debate
The war in the Ukraine is huge news that fills the virtual space with heartbreaking images of destruction and refugees who have lost everything. The debates about what is behind the war and how Israel and Israelis should respond to it is natural. What is not natural is that many Israelis seem not comprehend that we are engaged in a yet ongoing war for our land — Beersheva, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Hebron, Efrat, Shilo. A war of attrition that comes onto the radar only when there are dead and injured victims whether Jews or Arabs. It is almost as if we are surprised except that we are not, really.
It is time to reframe the nature of the disagreements among us regarding our presence in Area C and the Palestinian land stealing. It is not an ideological battle; neither is it a political contest.
It is war.
And if we had any doubts before, even after May 2021’s mixed-city violence, yesterday’s terror attack by an Israeli Arab citizen showed us that this war has nothing to do with the Green Line. Furthermore, it has characteristics of civil war, of psychological warfare and of an unfinished War of Independence. If we are to have any chance of coming out of this with our sovereignty intact and with a strong society that includes healthy thriving minorities who are loyal to the State of Israel, we need to debate every assumption we hold except one — that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People.