ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Israel as the Strategy for Survival 25.12.04

Israel as the Strategy for Survival

25 December 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Quite a bit of criticism has come my way since my "An Open Letter to my Judea, Samaria and Gaza Brethren" was published this past week. Below is my response.

The existence of the State of Israel is the best strategy for the survival of the Jewish People. Up to the present it is the most successful response to antisemitism, the Holocaust and physical threats against Jews. From the outset such a venture called for Jewish unity of purpose, planning, organization and money. The state however, is only the means to an end, that final objective being the continued existence of Am Yisrael. Theodore Herzl was famous for his statement, "If you will it, it is no dream," but that does not mean engaging in wishful thinking and taking no action. Engaging in politics and diplomacy, Herzl knew that after organizing his brethren, his first order of business was to line up a patron. The Jewish nation was simply too small, too weak and too scattered to make headway on its own. He met with the Turkish sultan, the German Kaiser and British officials.

Pragmatic Zionist leadership always sought out the "patron," whether it be Ben Gurion, Weizmann or in particular the Revisionist leader Zev Jabotinsky. Later leaders including the Laborites of the first 29 years and afterwards the right wing Likud members did the same, whether it be Begin, Netanyahu or Sharon. Unofficial alliances with Britain, France and the US during different periods were seen as safe guarding the Jewish People in nation building. The yishuv (of the Mandate) or the State after 1948, was to absorb immigrants and decide its collective Jewish future.

As described by Dan Margolit in Ma'ariv this Shabbat, the state is under vicious attack by the far Left, Israeli Arabs and elements of the Right, especially the settlement movement and those willing to fight to the end against the Gaza Disengagement. It is the last mentioned which at the moment is most dangerous, since approximately 20% of Israel's population is said to stand with them (Ma'ariv).

In discussions, either written or spoken with the uncompromising Right one hears of several solutions in dealing with the Palestinians and projections as to how the future State of Israel should function. First there is the tiny minority of ultra-extremists who would deal with the Palestinians as one would do with Amalek (elimination), then there are those who advocate expulsion. Both solutions are completely untenable, unrealistic, immoral and more so totally impractical. Which army/police is expected to do this? Israelis will not lift a hand in such an operation. Israelis know that they will violate their own self identity and ethical code should they take such actions, and thereby cease to exist as Jews. (Yes, our enemies would behave this way if the Jews were losing, but being that we have no intention of becoming like them, or being a mirror image of their society, these "solutions" must be banished.)

Then there are those who want a Jewish State with no minority participation and in this way one can hold all Judea, Samaria and Gaza with its demographic time bomb and not worry about being out voted by the Palestinians. The group breaks down into conservatives who would concede no minority rights and the liberals who would give local autonomy jurisdiction. The word for this is "apartheid," something intolerable to the west, including President Bush and the Republican Party.

Years ago, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Meron Benvenisti, who since has done extensive work looking for a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict announced that his generation must ask the tough questions as to how to end the disaster. He exclaimed that he had the questions, but not the answers, that was the job of the next generation. The answer is a demilitarized Palestinian state, with secure borders for Israel (nothing resembling 1967) and disentanglement from the Arab population.

The four right wing choices are all non-starters, not only will we become international pariahs, but Israel will lose support from the US patron and other less known backers – yes, Israel's greatest trading partner, the EU. Or we can play the full democracy card as the far Left would have it, keep all the territories, allot the Palestinians equal rights and have a bi-national state where Jews will be the minority in a few years.

We cannot attain a democratic, Jewish, secure state in the entire Greater Land of Israel. There are too many contradictions. Sure, "If you will it, is no dream," but Herzl was practical and always sought a supporting patron. The far Right is speaking theoretically and engaging in wishful thinking. Zionism has succeeded because it recognized reality and stretched it to its fullest. One can lose all when stepping beyond the attainable.

"One encourages terrorism by leaving Gaza" is the cry one hears. This could be true in the short run, but let's remember it is a tactical problem to be contained by the army with offensive forays, intelligence gathering and correct usage of the security fence. The Right fell into the Palestinian trap by raising such tactical issues to the level of "final objective". Keeping Israel in Gaza is exactly what the Palestinians want.

And for the Messianists who are expecting Divine intervention, I have a suggestion. Let the Messiah decide on the exact borders of the State, but until then, the Jewish People have to survive and a Jewish, democratic State of Israel is the best tool in our arsenal to attain that goal.