Irrational, Dangerous Iran Policy is No Accident

Joe Biden’s people say that his move to return to Barack Obama’s JCPOA, the nuclear agreement with Iran, is the only reasonable path. After all, they argue that Donald Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure” failed, as evidenced by Iran’s signing a 25-year agreement to cooperate economically and strategically with China. They also note that Iran responded by ramping up their violations of the agreement.

Although Biden initially talked tough, saying that the US would not weaken sanctions until Iran returned to compliance with the original agreement by ending enrichment of uranium to 20%, reducing its stockpile of enriched material, and other items, American resolve seems to be slipping in the face of Iranian stubbornness. The person he put in charge of the negotiations, Robert Malley, has said that he prefers to return more or less to the original deal first, and then try to negotiate a new, better one later. On the face of it, this is silly. If the US gives up leverage by removing sanctions, why would the Iranians want to renegotiate later, just to obtain a deal that is worse for them?

The original deal was simply a disaster. It removed the restrictions placed on Iran by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that it had signed and ending international sanctions enforcing several Security Council resolutions intended to deter it from its nuclear ambitions. It granted Iran an unprecedented “right to enrich” uranium that the NPT denied, with limits that would be removed in a decade. That decade ends soon, in 2025, after which there will be no limits on Iran’s nuclear program.

Even those temporary limits were technically inadequate, as was the inspection routine, which had holes big enough to drive numerous large trucks through. As a side benefit to Iran, Security Council resolutions that forbade Iran from developing ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear weapons were replaced with one that only “called upon” Iran to eschew such technology (Iran has since developed such missiles). It is not an exaggeration to say, as PM Netanyahu did in 2019, that the deal “paved Iran’s path” to nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them rather than blocking it.

The icing on the cake was the infusion of cash the JCPOA provided, which Iran promptly used to pay for its intervention in the Syrian civil war, the arming of Shiite militias in Iraq, support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen and their attacks on Saudi Arabia, and of course the continued buildup of Hezbollah’s and Hamas’ missile arsenals – which the Iranian regime intends as the main weapon in its campaign to wipe Israel off the map (its nuclear-tipped missiles will provide a deterrent umbrella against Israeli retaliation).

Trump reversed Obama’s policy, exited the deal, and re-imposed sanctions to pressure Iran economically. Either the regime would collapse, or Iran would be forced to accept real restrictions on its nuclear and missile programs. The sanctions crushed the Iranian economy, and combined with the Covid epidemic and the domestic Iranian opposition, pushed the regime onto the ropes. The regime clearly understood this, and even tried to influence the 2020 American election against Trump.

The contention that Trump’s program didn’t work is false – the regime simply was able to hold out until he left office. Something that the NY Times et al don’t mention is that the agreement with China, the enrichment to 20%, and the introduction of new-generation centrifuges prohibited by the JCPOA didn’t occur until 2021, when Trump was either already gone or about to be. The Chinese undoubtedly knew that Trump would retaliate economically if they made their agreement with Iran during his term. And the Iranian regime clearly feared the US president, who had eliminated Qasem Soleimani, the single most dangerous terrorist operative in decades.

Biden’s policy – or that of whoever is making decisions for him – will empower the Iranian regime in reaching its objectives. And those objectives are quite ambitious: the establishment of a Shiite caliphate in the region, the replacement of various regimes (e.g., in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain), the destruction of the Jewish state, the control of all Middle Eastern fossil fuel resources, and so on. Iranian expansionism has already turned Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen into failed states whose populations are suffering enormously as a result.

If Iran continues with its nuclear program past Israel’s redlines, or if it orders its proxies to attack Israel, the result will be regional war. Such a war would be disastrous, especially for Lebanon, whose southern part has been turned by Iran’s Hezbollah proxy into one big launching pad for an estimated 130,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel. Israel’s defensive capabilities, although the most advanced in the world, could not deal with the number of weapons that would be fired at it, and so it would be necessary to respond by bombing southern Lebanon. That would cause thousands of casualties in a country already suffering from disease and total economic collapse.

The regime in Iran has made it clear that America, “the Great Satan,” is its most important enemy. It and its proxies have killed Americans in Lebanon and of course Iraq. It will work together with other enemies of the USA to harm it in any way it can. It even played a role in the 9/11 attacks. It isn’t unthinkable that it will provide nuclear material to terrorists in order to attack her in a “plausibly deniable” way.

Is enabling this regime’s regional takeover and nuclear project in America’s national interest? I don’t think so. The best way to forestall its plans is for the US to return to the policy of maximum pressure: to squeeze it economically until either it has no option but to retreat from its aggression, or it falls and is replaced by the more moderate government that most of the Iranian people would prefer.

Having said that, I am certain that this will not occur. What is going on is more than just a repudiation of Trump. Whoever is behind the project of strengthening the Iranian regime and enabling it to obtain its objectives knows what they are doing, and must share those objectives. The ideology of appointed officials is too consistent, the historical precedents too clear, and the functioning of the PR echo chamber too slick for it to be anything but deliberate.

Israel can only defend herself. It’s up to Americans to do whatever is necessary to move their country off this dangerous path.

Posted in American politics, Iran, Middle East politics | Leave a comment

Why Arab MKs Hate the State

On Tuesday, Israel’s 24th Knesset was sworn in. They were asked to commit to “…be faithful to the State of Israel and to fulfill with devotion [their] cause in the Knesset.” The majority of them responded “I commit,” but four Arabs and one Jewish communist did not. The Arabs, members of the Hadash (communist) and Balad (“land” parties) said that they would commit to struggle against “occupation and apartheid” or “racism and racists.” The declarations were not accepted and the five were escorted out of the chamber. They will forfeit some privileges of Knesset membership until they make the proper declaration, as specified in the Basic Law for the Knesset. I have not been able to determine if they will also not get paid, although I’m not holding my breath.

This is not anything new. Arab MKs in 2013 left the ceremony before the singing of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva. Then-MK Hanin Zoabi of the Balad party explained that “as an Arab woman born in this country, the anthem oppresses me and humiliates me.” The song expresses the “Jewish spirit yearning … to be a free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem.” Zoabi and other Palestinian nationalists reject the idea of a Jewish state; their official platform calls for a Palestinian state in Judea/Samaria and the “return” of  the descendants of the Arab refugees of 1948 to the area of pre-1967 Israel and the establishment of a binational state. They consider themselves the “true owners of the soil,” and so the sentiments expressed in Hatikva are offensive to them.

All the Arab parties and the Arab-Jewish communist party are explicitly anti-Zionist. Balad is funded by Qatar; Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am party  – which ironically (and in my opinion, outrageously) may end up supporting a Netanyahu coalition with its votes – is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the parent and patron of Hamas. The Basic Law for the Knesset says that “negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” disqualifies a candidate from standing for election to the Knesset. If it were enforced, probably none of today’s Arab MKs would qualify.

About 20% of Israel’s citizens are Arabs, mostly the descendants of Arabs that did not flee the area that became Israel in 1948. Some are residents of eastern Jerusalem who accepted Israeli citizenship when it was offered after the 1967 war (although most refused and remain permanent residents who can vote in municipal elections but not national ones). Arabs are an essential part of Israel’s economy and cultural life.

And they are not going anywhere. Meir Kahane argued that if they were not removed from the country, they would overtake the Jewish majority demographically; but as time has passed and the Jewish and Arab birthrates have tended to converge, this worry has receded. On the other hand, if it turns out that the political positions of the Arab MKs are representative of the population, then the presence of a large minority that opposes the existence of the Jewish state as such is exceedingly dangerous. Is there in fact such a minority?

It’s not a simple question. Several surveys in recent years show a large majority of Arab citizens of Israel are happy with their lives here, and would not choose to live in another country – certainly not in the Palestinian Authority or Gaza. Surprisingly, a recent poll shows that one-third of them even approve of the performance of PM Netanyahu, whom the Jewish Left constantly accuses of anti-Arab racism.

On the other hand, a large majority assert that they oppose the definition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people as expressed in the Nation-State Law, and would prefer a state of all its citizens. But it seems – and anecdotal evidence supports the idea – that the economic and physical security that they find in Israel overrides ideological considerations.

This situation is not ideal, but is probably the best that can be expected. The ideological disagreement comes from the traditional Palestinian narrative, in which they see themselves as the aboriginal inhabitants of the land who were pushed aside and had their land violently stolen from them by a wave of European Jewish invaders. This story imparts a serious blow to the honor of the Arab community, honor that some of them believe can only be recaptured by the violent expulsion of the invaders. This is sometimes understood as a loss of honor to the Muslim ummah as well, in which case there is a strong religious imperative to regain it. The combination of these beliefs can inflame their holders to commit acts of violence, even suicide terrorism.

While most Arabs in Israel are not extremists, the narrative powerfully influences their collective consciousness. Sometimes this is expressed in ways that shock us, as in the recent welcome given to a terrorist who was released after 35 years in prison for the gruesome torture and murder of a young Jewish soldier.

The Palestinian narrative is taught in the Israeli-Arab school system, and by left-wing Jewish and Arab teachers in universities. It pervades Arab culture: theater, poetry, and music reflect it. Although hatred for Jews and the glorification of martyrdom in the service of the cause is not part of official curricula as it is in Gaza or the Palestinian Authority, it is part of the conventional wisdom in Arab communities that anti-Israel terrorists are heroes and heroines even if their actions are thought impractical. And the Palestinian narrative is an essential part of the ideology of Arab intellectuals, including members of the Knesset, whether or not it is connected to a religious, Palestinian nationalist, or pan-Arab message.

Could there be an Arab consciousness that is truly accepting of the fact of a Jewish state, a consciousness that understands that there is nothing fundamentally illegitimate about the state, and one that can see the decision to live as a minority in a state that belongs to someone else as not shameful?

That would require teaching a new understanding of the history of the state that sharply contradicts the existing Palestinian narrative. It would need to take into account the actual history of the Jewish people and the Palestinian Arabs in the region, rather than the myths that have been created for political purposes. It would have to describe the migrations of the various groups that make up today’s Palestinians, and not make up stories about Philistines and Canaanites. It would need to accept that Jews lived in the region for thousands of years, and built a Temple in Jerusalem (and incidentally that Jesus was a Judean). Finally, it would need to drop the ideas that Palestinians are victims of Jewish colonialism, and that they are indigenous and we are not.

Unfortunately, the academics that would teach this version of the story, a version that could be accepted by both Jews and Arabs because it is true, are rare indeed. The post-modern view that all narratives are equally true (or false) is common today. The politicians that would adopt it would be forced to give up political advantage gained by stirring up resentment and hatred, placing them at a disadvantage to those who didn’t (which is why all Arab MKs at least pay lip service to Palestinian nationalism).

I don’t expect this to happen, at least not today with today’s cast of characters, both Jewish and Arab. So the best we can hope for is an increased pragmatism, an understanding that everyday life is more important than ideology. It’s not perfect, but we can live with it.

Posted in Israeli Arabs, Israeli Politics | 1 Comment

America Switches Sides

The US is “recalibrating” its relationship with Saudi Arabia (read: withdrawing support in its struggle with Iran and its proxies). It has removed several Patriot antimissile batteries from the area, ended the permanent stationing of an aircraft carrier in the region, and eliminated surveillance systems that were operating there. It stopped providing arms for “offensive” Saudi operations in Yemen (the Saudis say they are defensive), and canceled the designation of the Houthi rebels in Yemen as a terrorist organization. The Iran-supported and controlled Houthis, in turn, have recently stepped up their attacks on Saudi Arabia, using Iranian drones and missiles. Last month, the Biden Administration also released a report about the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that accuses Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman of ordering the grisly affair.

Part of the arrangements for the Abraham Accords, the normalization of relations between Israel and several Arab countries, was that the Trump Administration agreed to sell advanced F-35 stealth aircraft to the United Arab Emirates. Israel, surprisingly to some, did not object. But within a week of his taking office, Biden’s administration froze the deal, and is not expected to reinstitute it. Apparently this has not damaged the relationship between Israel and the UAE, but one wonders about the motivation. The only obvious beneficiary here is Iran.

Biden has also begun to recalibrate the relationship with Israel. Although his administration makes the usual noises about concern for Israel’s security, it has returned to the idea of a two-state solution “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps and agreements on security and refugees.” It has restarted aid to UNRWA, the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency which, instead of solving the problem of stateless descendants of the Arab refugees of 1948, perpetuates it as a weapon against Israel. It is in the process of finding a way to restore direct aid to the Palestinian Authority without violating US law (the Taylor Force Act) which requires the PA to first stop paying convicted terrorists and their families. It has expressed its intention to reopen the PLO office in Washington and the US consulate in eastern Jerusalem, the unofficial “US Embassy to Palestine.”

Recently, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi that “Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy ‘equal measures’ of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy.” On the surface, this is puzzling. The Palestinians are ruled by the PA, which is just the murderous PLO dressed in fancy clothes by the Oslo Accords, and Hamas, a vicious terrorist gang without even the patina of legitimacy possessed by the PLO. Neither of these regimes are sovereign states, and both live on funds provided by foreign donors; in the case of Hamas, the support is provided explicitly to encourage its warfare against Israel. Both are misogynistic, homophobic, dictatorial, corrupt, and of course antisemitic regimes. If Blinken thinks that these things should change, why did he not address his remarks to the PA and Hamas leadership? Why tell it to Israel’s Foreign Minister?

I suggest that what Blinken actually meant was that in his mind Israel and “Palestine” are equally legitimate. This in turn implies that “Palestine” should have an equal measure of sovereignty with Israel. This goes significantly farther than either the traditional position of Israel – which, since Rabin, has never gone past envisioning a Palestinian entity with significant limitations on its sovereignty – and that of the Trump Administration, whose two-state plan required the Palestinians to meet certain “governance criteria” before receiving statehood.

While the US administration would claim that the change in policy helps the Palestinian people without hurting Israel, it’s unfortunate that the nature of Hamas and the PA/PLO make the conflict a zero-sum game. As their repeated refusals to accept statehood or to abjure terrorism make clear, the primary objective of the Palestinian leadership has never deviated from the expulsion or killing of all the Jewish inhabitants of the land between the river and the sea.

Recently the Wall St. Journal published leaked information about Israel’s sabotage of Iranian tankers carrying oil to Syria in violation of international sanctions on Syria and Iran. Apparently this has been going on for the past 2-1/2 years and has cost Iran billions of dollars, money which could be used to supply weapons to Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies. The leak has been attributed to the Biden Administration, which wanted to “[neutralize] background noise which the Americans think might soon hamper the renewal of negotiations with Iran about the United States’ return to the nuclear agreement.” But the result may be an escalation of hostile actions between Iran and Israel. In essence, Biden’s people chose to harm Israel in order to improve its relations with Iran.

At the same time, Biden’s people have backed down on the demand that Iran first stop enriching uranium to 20% before talks on returning to the JCPOA could begin. It seems that, like the first time many of the same people negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran, they are hungry for an agreement, so much so that they have already started down the slippery slope of concessions. As all Middle Easterners, even Israelis, know, this is not how to make a deal in the shuk. They may think “this time it will be different,” but they are fooling themselves. I don’t know precisely why they are so hungry, but I am absolutely certain that displaying their hunger at the outset is a recipe for taking a beating at the end of the day.

In Plato’s Republic, Polemarchus argues that true justice consists of helping one’s friends and hurting one’s enemies, in particular by making oneself an ally in war with one’s friends against your common enemies. Whether or not this is justice in any sense (Plato thinks not), it is a fundamental principle of international relations, where “friends” and “enemies” are defined in terms of national interests. It seems that Biden (or whoever is making decisions in his administration) has decided that American interests lie in taking the side of Iran over that of the developing alliance between Israel, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and others who are threatened by Iran. Friends become foes, and former foes, friends.

Judging by the actions of the Iranian regime until now, it is hard to believe that an international agreement led by the US – which is removing the military assets that would buttress compliance! – will prevent the regime from achieving its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Indeed, as we saw with the previous agreement, the deal may act as a shield for nuclear and missile development, as well as a deterrent to Iran’s enemies to act against it, without significantly slowing Iran’s nuclear progress. The ending of sanctions makes a huge amount of money available to the regime, which – again, as was manifest after the 2015 deal – may be used to export terrorism and build up Iranian proxies for warfare against Israel or other states.

The worst-case scenario is that Iran will obtain and use nuclear weapons directly against its enemies or as a shield for conventional aggression. Another possibility is that Israel and her anti-Iranian alliance will find themselves compelled to use force to prevent Iran from going nuclear, precipitating a very destructive regional war. It could also happen that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and possibly other states would feel obligated to acquire nuclear weapons themselves as a deterrent.

If the new administration had chosen to continue Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, along with supporting the regional alliance against Iran, Israel’s special operations, and the strong domestic Iranian opposition, it might have been possible to bring down the regime. But that is not the path they chose.

Posted in 'Peace' Process, Iran, Middle East politics, US-Israel Relations | 2 Comments

It’s All About Bibi

The whole story of Israeli politics today is Binyamin Netanyahu.

I won’t bore you with countless scenarios, most of which are about as likely as the one in which I become Prime Minister. Everything is contained in six numbers:

Number of Knesset seats needed to form a government: 61.
Number committed to join a coalition with Netanyahu: 52 (Likud, Shas, UTJ, Religious Zionism).
Number opposed to Netanyahu: 57 (seven parties).
Uncommitted: 7 (Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party).
Committed to supporting Netanyahu from outside the coalition: 4 (Ra’am party of Mansour Abbas*).
Number considered “right-wing”: 72 (Likud, Shas, Yamina, UTJ, Religious Zionism, Tikvah Hadasha).

What this tells us is that if it were not for the contentiousness of Binyamin Netanyahu, there would be a natural right-wing government. It’s what the majority of Israelis want. Bibi’s Likud party received almost twice as many seats (30) as his nearest competitor, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party (17). The Center, Left, and Arab parties (except Ra’am) amount to only 44. The right-wing-but-not-Bibi group has 20.

The ideological differences between this last group and Netanyahu are small to nonexistent. It’s personal to a great extent: Bennett, Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Gideon Sa’ar (Tikvah Hadasha) were all formerly members of the Likud who were squeezed out by Bibi, who does not tolerate even theoretical competition for leadership of the party. Lieberman and Bennett had cabinet positions in several previous coalitions in which they were prevented from exercising their supposed authority by a micro-managing Bibi.

Netanyahu is presently on trial on several charges of corruption, and if he is convicted he will have to step down as Prime Minister. A great deal of what has happened in Israeli politics in the past two years revolves around his opponents’ attempts to bring him down by means of these charges, and his struggle to stay in power – and out of jail. The charges are a mixed bag: the ones considered most serious by the prosecutors are called by some “invented crimes” that are merely politics as usual. On the other hand, it seems clear that he (and his wife – who is a big part of the problem) took expensive gifts from foreigners who had business with the government.

Bibi is so hated by the Left that there have been demonstrations with thousands of participants going on outside his homes and in other locations every Saturday night for at least a year. They accuse him of “destroying democracy and the rule of law” for his attempts to rein in the judiciary, including the Supreme Court and the state prosecutor’s office. But while, obviously, he is pursuing his personal interest, it is still true that the left-leaning legal establishment has arrogated to itself almost unlimited power and has destroyed the balance of powers between the legislature, the government, and the judiciary that is essential for a truly just regime.

There is no question that Bibi jealously hoards his power, and does not delegate it in areas that he considers important. He breaks promises repeatedly, both to his constituents and to other politicians. He has on occasion been responsible for ugly campaigns of innuendo against his opponents, such as a rumor that Naftali Bennett’s wife worked as a chef at a non-kosher restaurant (Bennett is an observant Jew as are many of his supporters), and that Benny Gantz (Blue and White) had an affair with another government minister.

And yet…

And yet, Bibi has been a great Prime Minister, arguably Israel’s greatest. His reign, the longest in the history of the state, has been remarkably peaceful. Some say he has only “kicked the can down the road,” but others argue that he has managed the covert war against Iran and its proxies very effectively, preventing Iran from going nuclear and interdicting the supply of improved weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria. He has been criticized (unfairly, I think) for the poor relationship with former US President Obama (I blame Obama for this) but he presented Israel’s case to the US Congress forcefully, and galvanized opposition to the Iran deal, even if its opponents were ultimately outmaneuvered. On his watch the US finally moved its Embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights, and exited the Iran deal. Bibi achieved improved relations with numerous countries, including the ground-breaking Abraham Accords with several Arab nations that were formerly counted among our enemies.

He has been criticized for the handling of the airport during the pandemic, as well as being too easy on the Haredim, who kept schools and yeshivot open and held massive weddings and funerals against government rules. But he did the one thing that was most important with respect to the Coronavirus: he brought us the vaccines that made Israel one of the most successful countries in the world in dealing with it. Yes, it is annoying that he constantly brags about it, and how it was a personal accomplishment, as if he himself vaccinated millions of Israelis. But as a matter of fact, it was – he truly did “obsessively” call the CEOs of the vaccine manufacturers. He did take the difficult decision to pay a premium price for the vaccine and provide data to the manufacturers. He did this. He had help of course, from the HMOs and the Health Ministry that set up the distribution system, but he is right in taking credit for it. Thanks to Bibi, today we are reopening our economy and returning to ordinary life, while Europeans are still struggling with lockdowns and shortages of vaccine.

I did not vote for him. Although his accomplishments are many, I am convinced that it’s time for new leadership. I voted for Bennett, whom I believe is smart enough and creative enough, as well as ideologically committed to strengthening Israel, including the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan valley, areas that are both the spiritual heartland of the nation as well as essential for its defense. And he has the moral qualifications, too. Is Bennett tough enough? Time will tell, although I think so.

But Bennett, whose party has a total of seven seats, is probably not going to be Prime Minister this time. I will go out on a limb and predict that Bibi will manage to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat once again. Maybe Bennett and Sa’ar will join his coalition, or he will persuade the necessary two members of the Knesset from other parties to jump to his side, or he will convince the other members of his coalition to accept the support of the Ra’am party – an Arab Islamist party led by Mansour Abbas, who for pragmatic reasons will support Netanyahu and Likud.

If this happens, it will prove once again that in addition to being one of Israel’s greatest Prime Ministers, he is also an incredibly adroit politician. If he is also smart enough to understand that now is the time to step back and start thinking about retirement, that would also be good.

_____________________
* An Israeli Arab politician, not to be confused with the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

Posted in Israeli Politics | 1 Comment

The Invisible War

I’ve written before about the European Union’s intervention in Judea/Samaria, how our “friends” in Europe pour massive amounts of money into illegal Palestinian development in Area C – the part of the territory that is supposed to be under full Israeli control according to the Oslo Accords. Control of these areas is absolutely critical for the defense of the State of Israel, both against Palestinian terrorism and against invasion across our borders.

Area C had very few Arab residents, and contains virtually all of the Jewish communities outside the 1949 armistice lines. Although President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” encouraged Israel to extend Israeli law to much of this area, it did not happen – to a great extent because of the chaos brought about by successive elections, and PM Netanyahu’s preoccupation with his legal problems.

Palestinians and their supporters typically falsely accuse Israel of precisely the evil intentions that they themselves hold toward us, and this is no exception. One hears no end of talk of “creeping annexation,” in which Jewish settlements are said to be inexorably capturing “Palestinian land,” while Israel torpedoes attempts to reach a negotiated settlement to end “the occupation.” But the reality is precisely the opposite: the Palestinian Arabs are increasingly appropriating land and building illegal settlements in Area C.

Thanks to the ever-vigilant European-funded left-wing Israeli NGOs like B’Tselem and others, with the cooperation of Israel’s Supreme Court and other elements of the judicial system, there has been very little, if any, growth in the area occupied by Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria for decades. But Palestinian construction, agricultural development, and conversion of state land into what the courts will declare “private Palestinian land” is flourishing in Area C, paid for by money from Europe and Qatar.

The motivations of the EU, which has adopted the Palestinian cause as its own, are manifold. There is the influence of Europe’s growing Muslim population. There is the lingering effect of decades of Soviet anti-Israeli propaganda. There is the residual guilt over European colonialism (the European Left is wedded to the view that Israel is a colonial power), and of course over their cooperation with the Nazis. By equating Israel with the Nazis that they allowed (and sometimes helped) to murder the Jews of Europe, and then opposing us, they expiate their guilt.

But regardless of its causes, this is war, a war to conquer and occupy territory, and part of a long-time campaign to end Jewish sovereignty altogether. It is being fought with money and not guns, but ultimately it will come to that. It’s a war that doesn’t make headlines, and a war that’s invisible to most of our people and politicians. Our opponent is an axis that includes some of the richest nations in the world, who are allied with our bitterest enemies. And it appears that the new government of our formerly most important ally, the US, is sympathetic to their cause.

We do fight back, a little. From time to time, Israel demolishes illegal structures. But there is no plan to stop the EU from pumping in money for construction or to finance the numerous NGOs that are involved in every kind of anti-Israel subversion, lawfare, and propaganda. There is no consistent strategy to win the war. We are reacting (once in a while) to their attacks, but we are not interdicting their supply lines. We are not counterattacking by building our own infrastructure in Area C.

Now, thanks to an intrepid undercover operation (watch a Hebrew video here) by a volunteer organization called Ad Kan (loosely translated as “this far and no farther”), the joint plans of the Palestinian Authority and European Union have been obtained and exposed. These plans are extremely detailed and represent a blueprint for an Arab takeover of all of Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley. If this plan succeeds, it will return Israel to a state with what Abba Eban called “Auschwitz borders,” an indefensible enclave surrounded by hostile enemies, without the benefit of the natural geographic features that are so strategically important, and without strategic depth in her most populated region. The EU has promised the PA billions of Euros to complete the takeover.

Until now Israel’s actions to interrupt this program have been sporadic and ineffective. I expect that the advent of the Biden Administration, which has already indicated that it would like to see a sovereign Palestinian state “based on pre-1967 lines,” will make opposition to it more difficult. But the plans that Ad Kan has made available to the authorities make it clear that failing to stop the EU/PA project will have very serious, even existential, consequences.

Despite its consistent characterization in the media as a “right-wing, hardline” government, Benjamin Netanyahu’s successive administrations have done little to oppose the ongoing loss of what is arguably the most important part of our land, the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. We have just had an election, which will (one hopes) produce a new government. Various scenarios for the outcome of coalition negotiations exist, including failure and another election, a clumsy just-not-Bibi coalition that depends on Arab votes, or (I think this is the most likely) a right-wing government led yet again by Netanyahu.

Whatever happens, it’s important for the leadership to begin fighting the heretofore invisible war. It must cut off the flow of money from the EU, and get its representatives off of our soil. It must crack down on the support from Europe – as well as left-wing groups in the US and other foreign sources – to the Israeli NGOs that work hand in hand with our enemies to subvert the state from within. It must build strategically and massively in Area C to prevent a vacuum that will be filled by the PA with the help of the EU.

Most importantly, it must present, to Israelis and to the world, a clear and consistent policy toward Judea and Samaria. A key part of that policy should be to extend Israeli law to all of Area C, and to enforce it.

I know this path will lead to friction with the EU, with the Arabs, and with the Biden Administration. There’s no alternative. We may not be interested in the invisible war, but the invisible war is interested in us.

Posted in Europe and Israel, Israel and Palestinian Arabs | 4 Comments