The implications, immediate and far-reaching, have been discussed almost ad nauseum in the political world, in the media, even on this little blog. But the question remains: what ought Israel do in light of the resolution’s adoption, and how should we respond (if at all) to Obama’s betrayal?
Isi Leibler, in his column at the Jerusalem Post, asks this very question. In answer he recommends Jewish unity, bi-partisan Jewish support of President-elect Trump, and a plea to Israeli politicians to stop antagonising the nations with their loose-lipped talk and shoot-from-the-hip political suggestions:
We are more powerful today than ever before and in the course of our history we have successfully overcome far greater threats to our existence than the United Nations. Now is a time for us to display unity and strength.
In this context, if the proclaimed decision to move the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem is implemented it will send the world a powerful message. To his credit, Trump used all his weight as an incoming president in efforts to ward off the UN resolution, albeit unsuccessfully.
In light of these developments most of the mainstream Jewish leadership who were in denial for over eight years should share a deep sense of guilt and shame.
They remained silent as Obama treated Israel diplomatically as a rogue state whilst he groveled to the Ayatollah. They continued voting for him and we now see how he repaid them. The only consistent critic was indefatigable Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America who has now been more than vindicated.
Individual American Jews are free to express their personal political opinions in any manner they deem fit, but mainstream Jewish organizations are obliged to avoid activity which reflects political bias.
But now is the time for us to look forward and unite. This U.N. resolution was not just about settlements. It was to undermine the security of the state and pave the way for anti-Semitic boycotts and sanctions by those seeking Israel’s demise.
The resolution employing Obama’s malevolent views made no distinction between isolated outposts and settlements in outlying regions and Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem including the Western Wall.
Any Jew who endorses the view that Judaism’s most sacred site – formerly occupied by the Jordanians who denied Jews access to worship – is occupied territory is reminiscent of medieval “mosers” (informers), who were ostracized from the religious and social life of the community. Those in J Street, The New Israel Fund and other far left Jewish groups who consider Jewish districts of Jerusalem and Judaism’s holiest site to be “occupied territories” should be regarded as renegades and treated as such.
The immediate challenge is to encourage the incoming Trump administration to salvage what it can from Obama’s betrayal of Israel.
Most important to note is that the moderate Sunni countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states will be desperate to ally themselves with Trump and are hardly likely to do more than express formal protests if and when the US treats Israel as a genuine ally.
But for this to be effective, Israel must tread cautiously and not provoke the incoming administration by seeking to impose arrangements without prior consultation.
Naftali Bennett and other right-wing elements should be silenced and Prime Minister Netanyahu must be enabled to determine the attitude of the new administration. They should also realize that whilst there is close to a consensus for ultimately annexing the settlement blocs and creating defensible borders, most Israelis do not seek to incorporate Judea and Samaria in their entirety because this would effectively lead to the demise of a Jewish state and its substitution by a binational state which would be swallowed up by the Arab world.
The recent statements and settlement policies certainly provided Obama with additional ammunition to justify his perfidious initiative. But it is almost certain that he would have acted no differently had the government not been engaged in any public discussion because his prime intent, since the day of his inauguration, has consistently been to impose such a settlement on Israel.
The reality is that all political parties – other than the Joint Arab list and Meretz – are no less opposed to this resolution than the government. This is surely a time for all political parties to set aside parochial squabbles and act in the national interest by displaying strength and unity.
Jewish unity is always an excellent idea, particularly in times of trouble. Whether American Jews or Israel’s politicians will pay any heed to Leibler’s suggestions is another matter altogether.
In contrast to Leibler’s plea for caution on the subject of settlements, Evelyn Gordon urges “Build baby, Build” – settlements of course:
There’s really only one suitable Zionist response to last week’s UN Security Council resolution on the settlements: massive settlement construction. That’s the appropriate response for more than one reason, but I’ll focus here on the most obvious one: The resolution proves conclusively that Israel gets no credit for showing restraint on this issue, so there’s no earthly reason why it should continue suffering the costs of restraint.
As I’ve written repeatedly in the past, data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics shows that there has been less settlement construction under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than under any of his predecessors. Nor is this a matter of partisan dispute: The left-wing daily Haaretz, a virulent opponent of both Netanyahu and the settlements, used the same data to reach the same conclusion last year.
For Netanyahu, this restraint has come at a real price. First, it caused him political damage, because it infuriated his voter base. The result, as I’ve noted before, is that by last month, he was facing an open revolt in his own party over the issue.
Second, it caused Israel strategic damage, because it kept the country from strengthening its hold over areas that most Israeli governments have considered essential for security under any future agreement. To take just one example, all Israeli premiers have deemed the E1 corridor, which links Jerusalem with the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement bloc, critical for Israel’s security – even Yitzhak Rabin, the patron saint of the peace process. Moreover, E1 in no way prevents the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state, and has actually been assigned to Israel by every serious international peace plan ever proposed. Yet for years, Israel has refrained from building there out of deference to international public opinion, even as illegal Palestinian construction has mushroomed in this formerly empty area. The result is that it now has no “facts on the ground” to act as a counterweight to Palestinian claims. And since Palestinian claims always enjoy the international community’s automatic support, facts on the ground, in the form of large numbers of Israelis whom it’s simply too difficult to evacuate, are Israel’s best guarantee of retaining areas it deems essential to its security.
Third, settlement restraint has caused major financial damage by exacerbating Israel’s massive housing crisis. As of last year, the price of an average apartment had soared to 146 average monthly salaries, more than double the ratio in most other countries, and up from just 43 in 2008; rents have risen correspondingly. In short, housing in Israel has simply become unaffordable for most people, and that’s a major threat to Israel’s future:…
The settlement blocs are all within commuting distance of the center of the country, which is where the jobs are, and thus where people want to live; inside the Green Line, in contrast, there are few empty areas left in the country’s narrow waist. And in Jerusalem, the housing shortage is the main reason why the capital loses some 18,000 Jews every year.
Netanyahu was willing to absorb all this damage in the belief that international leaders, regardless of what they said publicly, would know the truth about the brakes he has put on settlement construction and support him when it mattered. But to most of the world, the facts have never mattered where Israel is concerned, and it turns out the same is true of the post-truth Obama Administration.
So if Israel is going to be accused of “accelerated settlement activity” and slapped with potentially serious consequences no matter how much restraint it shows, there’s no justification whatsoever for it to incur the very real costs of this restraint. Hence there’s only one sensible response to this resolution: Build, baby, build.
And once again, in case anyone had the slightest doubt about the invalidity of the “Israeli occupation” myth, law blogger Elliott Hamilton lays to rest the myth of the “illegal Israeli occupation” in a scholarly article in The Daily Wire.
From the perspective of someone who does not understand international law or the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, this resolution tells the story that Israelis have trampled over Palestinian lands illegally and decided to build houses on them in a fit of colonial aggression. Unfortunately for them, that is nonsensical and false.
I recommend you read the entire article which has detailed quotes from the laws of treaties from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Since there has never been a sovereign state of “Palestine” prior to 1948 or 1967 and since there is still no legitimate state of “Palestine” today, there cannot legally be an “occupation of Palestinian lands” by Israel according to the Hague Convention of 1907. Since there was no legitimate Palestinian state and Israel already has legal claim to Judea, Samaria, and Eastern Jerusalem, Israel has the right to build Jewish communities in disputed territory in Area C until a final peace agreement is signed with the Palestinian Authority, if that is still possible at this point…
We must keep hammering this point home until the world gets it.