Tony Judt, recently quoted in a Haaretz article, says the charge that there is a movement to delegitimize Israel is a red herring meant to stifle debate about and criticism of Israeli settlement policies. Of course he, himself, is the one that makes that connection. There is the question of settlements and then there is the question of a delegitimization movement. Does he deny that there is such a movement?
The Kotel is an important part of Jerusalem, though situated across a green line originally drawn only by the outcome of a war imposed on Israel in 1948. The Jordanians managed to remain in the East half of the city after an armistice line was drawn that became known as the Green Line because maps delineating the line were colored in green by the United Nations. The city was reunited by Israel in the outcome of its counterattack against clear Jordanian aggression in 1967. The Jordanians joined into the 1967 War after Israeli entreaties to remain neutral were overshadowed by the Egyptian boasting that it was winning the war and Jordan should link up with their jihad against the Jews in order to get in on the spoils of war. Under UN law, Israel has the right to trade land for peace, but not necessarily does such law call on Israel to return explicitly to the Green Line, and only the Green Line. That was purposely left open for negotiation.
The point is firstly, that the Kotel is up for negotiation to either side, and it is not in “settler territory” or Palestinian territory. Second, that it is paramount to assume it will go to Israel since reversing this will NOT lead to a full and final settlement of all issues outstanding, unless Israel is somehow forced to make this choice. Israel would not voluntarily make this choice.
In point of fact, it is Tony Judt who tosses red herrings because the delegitimization movement is real and not merely a tactical way for pro-Israel groups to avoid the debate on settlements. We can debate the issue of settlements just fine. It is Tony Judt who doesn’t seem to want to debate that. He would rather debate red herrings.
It is with this in mind that the article below bears on the question of the movement to delegitimize Israel. The Kotel, being part of a historically derived, Jewish Jerusalem (the name Jerusalem is mentioned some 700 times in the Bible and not at all in the Koran), is part of a directed and financed campaign to separate and whitewash the connection of Jews to East Jerusalem. I could argue the point further, but there really is no need. Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, as Benjamin Netanyahu recently stated, just as Washington, D.C. is the undivided capital of the United States. Jews have the right to settle there and build there. Anything less is just outright discrimination against Jews and Judaism. That is the definition of anti-Semitism. The Palestinians only have a right as of now to live there as Israeli citizens and not as a separate state.
The Palestinians story is that this is a struggle for their civil rights in East Jerusalem, but that is not the case. First things first, though. Let’s get it straight first that there is a world-wide movement to delegitimize Israel and we are not making this up out of whole cloth. And that this movement is based clearly on anti-Semitic underpinnings. We need to take this seriously and counter it. All of Judaism in its present liberty is at stake.
Let’s be even more clear about this. There are people who, for whatever reason, don’t like Jews. There are even Jews who don’t like Jews. Where their anti-Semitism comes from is a matter between them and Freud. And just to be clear, anti-Semitism is not a one size fits all concept anyway. By admonishing the existence of anti-Semitism I am not saying they are all like skinheads, only better dressed. Indeed, some are better dressed. Many of them are just too sanguine about this, but they are being led by people with money and power and more importantly an agenda, an anti-Jewish agenda.
Doesn’t the FACT of the Holocaust teach us anything about those possibilities?
Just for the record, several years ago in the New York Review of Books Judt argued a post-Zionist argument that Jewish Israel should be a non-Jewish bi-national state or it would be a “belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno state.” Yet, Tony Judt has a strong Jewish background and he has been a strong supporter of Israel, so he is no anti-Semite or self-hating Jew. He says he reconfigured his position on Israel and the Arabs as a result of rethinking and more study. I take this from him at face value. So this article is not explicitly about people who want to do harm to Israel and Jews, though I bring it up. Much criticism of Israel comes from sincere people. However, this is about arguing the facts and the meaning of those facts.
The fact is that time and again Israel has made sacrifices, even extremely painful sacrifices for peace. Israel is still willing to make even more sacrifices. And Israel has taken large risks for peace. Only recently have we seen any reciprocation from the other side. The Palestinian erstwhile Finance Minister and Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, gets some of the credit for this, but mostly it is because Fatah would be replaced with Hamas if they didn’t cooperate with Israel. So they cooperate to save their own corrupt government, their power and their wealth.
Understand this: anti-Semitism is a powerful and growing threat to Israel’s existence. The plan is to strangle Israel by isolating it into a decrepit state that is too weak to fight back. Cut it up in small pieces rather than big ones. Take Gaza there, East Jerusalem here. Rocket attacks on Sderot here. Then rocket attacks on Ashkelon there. Isolate Israel at the UN. Isolate Israel at educational institutions around the world. And recently, ban Israeli advertising using the Kotel to make the point that Israel has no right to build in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. One small step beyond the last small step, together with a willing world, demanding these discriminations in the name of peace, and soon Israel will be too weak to fight back.
The oldest trick in the book: Death by incrementalism.