A political declaration of Israeli sovereignty over all the land of Israel can only come after a long process of shaping our national identity • But this sovereignty is the only way for us to avoid the existential threat a Palestinian state would pose.
1. As expected, U.S. President Donald Trump will not be doing the dirty work for us. He will not hand us sovereignty over the entirety of our land. He will not be taking responsibility over reinforcing the settlement enterprise. He has his own problems in his own country. It is up to us, just as it has been throughout history. Fifty years after the Six-Day War — our war of redemption — and our return to those parts of our historic land that represent the cradle of our birth as a people, Israel is now taking its time when it comes to cementing our hold over those swathes of land. True, there are strong voices in favor of Israeli sovereignty, but frankly, the voices speaking out against it are no less powerful.
In the midst, there are social and political factors making our future uncertain. As such, any clear decision to implement the law would be tantamount to forcibly imposing a political solution, much like the Oslo Accords were forced on us before blowing up in our faces. We currently have no choice but to continue this slow, gradual historic process of settling the land inch by inch while educating and convincing the Israeli public, with the “help” of our neighbors.
Those who love this land and its settlement need to take a sober look at reality and prepare for what’s coming. Unlike the situation with the Golan Heights, the main problem in declaring full sovereignty is the 2 million Palestinians who would become Israeli citizens (according to conservative estimates). I have discussed the demographic issue at length in previous columns.
Another profound problem, which, in my opinion, is even more crucial, has to do with the Jewish identity that Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem represent in our historical consciousness as a people. Applying Israeli sovereignty over all the land would be require all of Israeli society, including all different sectors within it, to accept and come to terms with the tradition and the religious faith that shapes this renewed Israeli identity (and I’m not talking about everyone suddenly becoming religious). We are only at the beginning of this process and there are many challenges ahead on this front. Imposing sovereignty without making room for this internal process would be impetuous and could result in disaster. The political act can only come after our national and historic identity is sufficiently bolstered. There can be no shortcuts.
2. So what do we do in the meantime? First we need to “depart from evil” before we can “do good” and all the while “seek peace, and pursue it” (Psalms 34:16). We need to introduce and reinforce the evident notion that a Palestinian state between Jordan and the sea would be an existential threat to us, and ensure that one is never established. Why? Here are a few of the reasons: The significant revolutions happening around us in the Middle East; the collapse of states before our eyes; the massive changes in ethnic demography; the Arab people’s rejection of the Western national values imposed on them and their return to tribal and familial patterns; the religious renaissance of Islamic jihad; the obvious failure of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and the subsequent Hamas takeover; the constant incitement and consistent hate education in the Palestinian Authority, urging eternal war against Israel and the Jews (incidentally, this incitement is completely out in the open — just look at sites like MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch for evidence); the growing anti-Israel nationalist sentiments touted by the leadership of the Israeli Arab sector; and more. These are clear parameters that indicate that the establishment of a Palestinian state between Jordan and the sea, especially in the geographic location that can directly menace our population centers, would be a clear threat to Israel.
The promises made by military experts and policy makers about the demilitarization of a Palestinian state and other such fantasies are all great, on paper. But the moment an independent state arises, it will be very difficult to stop it from arming itself. It will be even more difficult to prevent Hamas from gaining power in it. And more difficult yet will be preventing the now-dormant Islamic State cells from starting operations and firing rockets at us from above.
When this happens, the leftist groups in Israel and the world will not tolerate Israeli military action against a Palestinian state, and if Israel tries to block the borders of the Palestinian state to prevent the Palestinians from smuggling weapons it will be accused of perpetuating the occupation. An independent Palestinian state, mere kilometers from Israeli Arab populations in the Triangle and in the Galilee, will serve to fan the flames of nationalistic sentiments among Israel’s Arabs and intensify the demand for cultural and political autonomy. This will draw accusations of apartheid within the Green Line — something that is already being argued. International efforts denying Israel’s right to exist and its legitimacy will not subside, they will only grow stronger. And the reality that unfolded during the Oslo Accords years, and even worse after the disengagement from Gaza, will feel like a preview for what will undoubtedly be a far more frightening reality.
3. This realistic analysis rests entirely on facts and experience. It teaches us that despite all its challenges, the current state of affairs is far better for us than the dangerous chaos that the alternative would undoubtedly unleash. The solutions to the conflict between us and the Arabs offered so far by the Left and the Israeli elite have relied less on facts and more on diplomatic theories, moral wishes, impatience towards historical processes and disregard for cultural, religious, traditional and political differences.
Historian Robert Conquest wrote about the Western Left’s profound and dangerous misunderstanding of Stalin’s Soviet empire, saying that it was a combination of Soviet misleading and Western self-delusion, with the former unable to exist without the latter. He asked why the vast majority of an entire intellectual class chose to believe a story that was clearly false. His answer was that this question could not be answered in intellectual terms. He said that it was completely irrational to blindly accept clearly contradictory information without investigating the facts.
Conquest demonstrated how the contradiction between the horrid Soviet reality and romantic view of it in the West was facilitated by a wide spectrum of Western journalists. And when one examines our local arena in this context, things look even worse because the facts are even more out in the open, and still, some of us are under the continued impression that a Palestinian state will solve the problem.
The conclusion, whereby a Palestinian state must not be permitted, should serve as the basis for all future policies and agreements. Once we understand that, only then can we begin exploring what we can do. Meanwhile, it is important to support the settlement enterprise in the coming years and increase the number of settlers, not only in the settlement blocs but especially on the Samarian hills. In addition, we need to found research institutions, education centers, publishing houses and curricula focused on nourishing the spirit and fighting false notions in the intellectual, media and academic arenas.
While change is certainly unfolding in these areas, the rightist conservative camp has shamefully invested far too little in the intellect, in contrast to the Left’s prolific activity in this department. Winning elections is not enough. Politics require intellectual and spiritual support to garner the strength necessary to decide these points. In the meantime, patience is a virtue.