What if Israel annexed Palestinian Territories? A moral challenge for Jews who believe in democracy.
It looks like the situation has cooled off. The Trump administration gave the emergency government formed by Prime Minister Natanyahu the go ahead to begin annexation of Palestinian territory as of July 1, 2020. Thank God: things have cooled down. For now. They will heat back up.
Israel is in no place to begin any sort of national campaign as of this exact moment. Israel too has found itself within a prolonged and deadly phase 1 of this pandemic. The hope of the current government to move on annexation has been dashed by the reemergence of Covid-19 amongst the Israeli population. But Netanyahu knows that if Trump loses the election, the USA will no longer support this land grab. His hopes for annexation will be over.
Things have cooled down but the election is still upon us. Our election, not Israel’s. We still need to talk about this issue. Annexation. Why? Because it is going to be a dividing point between Jews this November. Perhaps like no other political issue in American Jewish life. This issue has the power to break whatever unity exists within the Jewish people. Long story short: this is huge. A major fissure might be upon us. We can walk in blind or we can walk in educated and prepared.
What is annexation and how is it a threat to not only a democratic Israel but future the unity of our people?
Annexation would divide up the current Palestinian territory of the West Bank in such a way that it prevents the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Some of the West Bank would be Palestinian and some Israeli. The Palestinians living in the Israeli zones would not have Israeli citizenship-no right to vote, no voice. This annexation would institutionalize an undemocratic system in which Israel would rule permanently over stateless Palestinian residents of the West Bank. This move to annex is a betrayal of the Zionist vision of an Isreal founded on democratic principles. This move would also breakdown the US-Israel relationship becuase it would make it nearly impossible for a broad group of Americans who value democracy to continue to support Israel.
Annexation is, in essence, the creation of an apartheid-like situation. It is a cruel move. A power move. A dominance move. It does not ensure greater security for Israel. To the contrary. It is the opposite of peace making. The opposite of progressive. It is surely not the blessing we are supposed to be to the world as descendants of Sarah and Abraham. There is no blessing in squelching the yearning for self-determination of another people by placing a boot on their throats.
I am Israeli. It is my other home. I am a Zionist. And I know that the majority of American Jews under the age of 50 will grow away from Israel in love and commitment if this annexation happens. Judaism and Zionism might be forever severed. Israel will be associated with authoritarianism, undemocratic policies and amoral leadership.
I am worried. For the future of Zionism: Jewish self-determination. For the future legitimacy of a Jewish state that has allied itself so clearly with the Trump administration. I am worried about the moral character of the Jewish people. Did we survive this long to behave like THIS? Democracy is the bare minimum we can offer each other.
Annexation will also allow both Palestinian and settler leaders to avoid confronting the hard reality of the need to compromise. Once again, the Middle East will squander an opportunity to consider a future different from the past. And the expansive view outside my window will turn increasingly ominous.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and author of “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.”
There are so many things we can’t do right now. Covid-19 has made the scope of our physical world smaller. But not our intellectual or spiritual worlds. They can keep expanding all of the time.
If you feel like you do not know how to feel about annexation and want to look at some maps? Hear the voices of a variety of perspectives (not just that of your Rabbi)? Get a grasp for your own self of this issue? Join me this Saturday. You are welcome to disagree with me. Ask questions. Wrestle. Learn more. We will do it together.
Israel, Palestine and Annexation: A Community Conversation
Time: Jul 18, 2020 05:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
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Meeting ID: 891 4546 7244
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