What Israel Must Do
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
The people of Israel must come to the understanding that they are in a crisis that requires overthrowing convention, tradition, and ancient claims. Survival in Israel as Jews trumps these secondary considerations, and requires extreme measures. These daily bombings can be made to stop, but only if Israelis come to new ways of thinking.
First of all, people should get clear that the cause of the Israeli occupation and incursion into Palestinian Arab areas is violence against Israel. Those who excuse and even favor this terror call it "resistance," but it is evil aggression, not true defensive resistance. The non-Arabs who back this pseudo "resistance" are themselves also to blame for the violence. The Arab League needs to call for the end of the terror and violence against Israel if it truly seeks peace.
The government of Israel cannot withdraw from the Palestinian areas so long as the Palestinians keep shooting and bombing Israelis. The Israelis made a mistake when they withdrew from southern Lebanon, because many Arabs do not differentiate the occupation of Lebanon from the occupation of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. To these Arabs, it is all the same occupation, so they think violence will also make the Jews abandon Judea and Samaria and Gaza. Israel dare not withdraw under the pressure of violence, because then the violence will intensify in order to make Israeli Jews abandon Israel completely.
The Arab league has offered recognition of Israel if it withdraws from the West Bank and Gaza. The government of Israel should call this bluff. Israel should agree in principle to this proposal. Yes, Israel has a historic and religious claim to these lands, but the reality is that Arabs and Muslims now have an absolutist mental structure that these are Muslim and Arab lands that must be given back. Israel must take a strategic retreat. We need to differentiate Jewish claims from the claims of the Israeli government. Jews can still think of and claim Judea and Samaria as promised land, without the State of Israel having sovereignty. Jews have lost and regained the land many times. This is just one more episode in the long Jewish history in Israel. A thousand years from now, the borders will all be different anyway.
Agreeing to withdraw will remove the excuse for the violence. The continuing bombings will demonstrate that the occupied land is not the root cause. The world will realize what the violent Palestinian Arabs really want: all of Israel, with no Jews.
Suppose that a new government took power in Israel and agreed to recognize a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza with the 1967 borders. Nobody expects Israel to withdraw in one day. Negotiators need to recognize that property rights are a bundle with many strands that are separable both in the types of rights and in the timing.
The withdrawal can be conditional on Israel leasing the lands in Judea and Samaria where Jewish settlements and Israeli military are located. It can be a lease for 50 years, subject to extension if the Palestinians attack Israel. Paying rent for the leasehold will compensate the Palestinians for the lack of possession of these areas. Israel should then withdraw from Gaza completely. Yes, Jews lived there historically, but Gaza is a tiny area packed with angry Arabs and difficult to defend. Give it up, Israel, it's just not worth it!
Israel can recognize Palestinian Arab sovereignty of East Jerusalem without immediately giving up administrative control. Let Palestine establish its capital there and have joint control of the city. There is also no escaping the need for a confederation to handle joint matters. The Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount should be under the authority of a confederation.
If the Palestinians refuse to agree to these conditions, the US, Europe, UN, and Arab League should recognize this as the legal reality. The Palestinians will then be pressured to agree. Israel must take the first step. It would not be as painful as bombings that continue indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Israelis must take desperate measures to stop the violence. They must abandon niceties, conventions, and traditions. This is an emergency. They need to identify who is carrying explosives. Clothing hides the weapons, and it is not easy to detect. The clear logical solution is to deny the bombers their cover. All Israelis must cast off their clothes and don swimming suits in their daily life. Even in the synagogue. Bathing suits should become the new national dress of Israel. Minimal dress should be mandated as a national security measure. Arabs who refuse can be confined to their quarters, and Israelis will be that much safer.
The current government of Israel will not do these things. It requires imagination, courage, and a leap of fate. But a new government will come, and then just maybe Israel will come to grips with the deadly reality and the radical measures that need to be taken for survival.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2002 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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