I read in the news, just before a recent Sabbath, about the terrible tragedy of three young Jewish soldiers mercilessly murdered at Netzarim - in the Gaza - early Friday morning. It's always painful to hear about young people cut-down at the beginning of their lives. And it's the responsibility of the Israeli government to pursue political and yes, military policies to minimize or even end that type of thing.
But the response to the event in some quarters defies all logic. Labor MK Yuli Tamir said it was a mistake to build the Netzarim settlement, but we can decide to change direction, i.e. close it down and move the people out. Her colleague in Labor, MK Amram Mitzna, concurred. Israel he said, "We should have withdrawn from Netzarim yesterday and if that did not happen, it should be left immediately." Another colleague, Labor MK Chaim Ramon, echoing Mitzna, said that there was no moral, security or diplomatic utility to remaining in the Gaza Strip. Labor party leader MK Shimon Peres, has suggested for years that Netzarim be abandoned.
To the left of Labor, the ultra-dovish Meretz Party the following Sunday filed a no-confidence motion against the government in light of the Netzarim attack. Meretz MK Yossi Sarid called on IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon to resign over the Netzarim attack. Meretz has for a long time been looking for every opportunity to expel Jews from Gaza.
But the problems aren't limited to the opposition parties. Even members of the government coalition are suggesting retreat. Interior Minister Avraham Poraz - of the Shinui Party - told the cabinet, that the residents of Netzarim should be evacuated and the settlement turned into a military area, where a small number of commando soldiers would be posted. He said that Israel should not fully withdraw from Netzarim, as this would be interpreted as surrender. His colleague in Shinui, MK Melli Polishuk-Bloch said that the attack proved that the time has come to evacuate Netzarim, before the next tragedy. And Shinui Party leader Yosef (Tommy) Lapid told the ministers at the cabinet meeting that, "we must not award a prize to violence, but the time has come for the government to hold a discussion on the future of Netzarim." He said that there was a broad, public opposition to the Netzarim settlement and it is thus not right that the government should continue to ignore the public on this matter.
By such logic, there should never have been a State of Israel. After the terrible slaughter of 6,000 Jews in the War of Independence in 1948 - fully one out of every ten Jews in Israel - since the loss of life was so high, Ben-Gurion and the other Zionist leaders should have re-thought the entire Zionist enterprise and left the country. Auschwitz, here I come!
In fact, the early Jewish pioneers who gave so much of themselves, after the 1921 Arab riots that killed dozens, should have called it quits and said lets forget this "return to Zion" idea and just wait for the messiah. For three soldiers - precious souls though they were - you should close down an entire community?
Imagine, if Syria or Iran or Hamas or the Palestinian Authority itself lobs a missile into Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv, will people like MKs Tamir, Mitzna, et al. be calling to evacuate the city for good? Just give the Palestinians what they want, huh?
Wait, did Yuli or Amram or Shimon find a nice Palestinian family to give their home to, after the 1991 Gulf War missile attacks on Tel-Aviv? When talking about the poor dis-placed Palestinians who need a "national" home, do Leftists ever offer theirs? Has HaShomer HaTzair, the Marxist kibbutz movement so much involved with Peace Now and Gush Shalom - the Peace Bloc - offered to evacuate any of their over 35 kibbutzes, "settlements" they built - after the 1948 war - on previously Arab occupied lands? That is, land that according to the UN 1947 Partition Plan, was supposed to go to the Arabs. No, these defeatists always are planning and scheming to give someone else's home away to the poor Palestinians.
But those in the center and moderate Left aren't the only perfidious fellow travelers. Far-Left activists like former MK Yossi Beilin and Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom are working hard - independent of the attack on Netzarim - to give away to the Palestinians the 1967 liberated lands of Yesha, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank and Gaza). None of these people ever offer their homes. either.
Beilin with his ill-conceived "Geneva Agreement" - which Palestinian leaders like Nabil Shaath insist still recognizes the Palestinian "right of return" despite Beilin's denial - has been pledged $7 million by France and Belgium according to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The Geneva Agreement envisions an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, with minor adjustments. That means not just closing down a small community here or there, but the Expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their ancestral homeland.
Yet "moderate" Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia published an article in the PA daily Al-Hayyat Al-Jadida back in December 1998 - after the Wye summit - stating that the borders of the future independent Palestinian State are to be the boundaries set by the 1947 Partition Plan, not 1967. The 1947 Partition Plan doesn't even give Israel the city of Beer Sheva.
And in a September 1999 visit to China - according to the newspaper Al-Ayyam - Qureia demanded the so-called "right of return" as a basic condition for peace. "Either [we achieve] a just peace that will guarantee the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, including [the] Return, self determination, and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, or there will be no peace, but a return to the struggle in all its forms." Give us everything we want, or else! If nothing else, the Palestinians are consistent.
There are some intellectually consistent positions free of perfidy floating around Israel. For example, Meron Benvenisti - researcher and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem under Teddy Kollek - recently was on Israel Television's "Politica" voicing his opposition to Beilin's plan. Why, you ask? Because Benvenisti has moved past solutions such as the Geneva Agreement. He said he now supports a bi-national state, meaning, no more Israel. Benvenisti said in reality there already is a bi-national state and since no agreement with the Palestinians seems to be able to satisfy their needs. Well, at least he's honest.
Oh yeah, there is one more possible position, fully consistent and honest: that Jews have a right to live in Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not long ago used the same Hebrew root/term - Kibush, occupation - as the Israeli Left has used for years to denigrate the miraculous victory of the 1967 Six-Day War. It's the same term - "occupation" - used by most of the world in their criticism of Israeli policies in the "territories." The Israeli Prime Minister has adopted the language of the self-haters among the Jews - those disconnected from Jewish history and tradition - and the Judeo-paths among the nations. Sharon is misguided. If Jews don't have a right to Netzarim or for that matter Hebron, then they don't have a right to live anywhere in Israel. Put another way, Avraham Avinu - Abraham our father - never walked on Disengoff St. in Tel-Aviv... He, his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob all lived in Hebron, check your Bible. So did King David, who ruled for seven years in Hebron, before moving his capital city to Jerusalem. Abraham and Isaac also lived for a time in Gaza. And people forget that Jewish communities flourished in Gaza for centuries, until 20th century Arab pogroms decimated them.
If Jews aren't entitled to live on their own land - if they can be driven off by a few vicious murders - why have a State of Israel at all?