Feeling heat from furious ministers who accused him of pursuing his own “private political agenda,” Barak defended Beit El as “a veteran, big, and very important community.” But, he told the Cabinet, “if neighborhoods and buildings are on private land they need to be evacuated…. A government striving to live in a democracy in the twenty-first century cannot act differently.” Israel must be “a normative country among advanced nations.”
For Barak, “democracy” seems to mean the expulsion of Jews from their biblical homeland. Several Cabinet members have wisely suggested that his virtually unilateral authority over settlements be transferred to a ministerial committee. This, of course, would infuriate the Israeli Left. A crisis was at least temporarily averted when the Supreme Court ruled Sunday that demolition of the Beit El buildings would be postponed for 60 days, pending judicial resolution of ownership.
Barak’s definition of “democratic,” “normative,” and “advanced” invariably translates into the expulsion of Jews from their homes. Even disregarding divine promise, ancient history and more than a century of Zionist settlement, Jews retain the legal right, protected under the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, to “close settlement” west of the Jordan River. This guarantee was intended to compensate Jews for the loss of three-quarters of Palestine east of the river, bestowed by Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill upon Abdullah for a kingdom of Trans-Jordan. It has never been rescinded.
A pervasive double standard drives current settler expulsion efforts. If the government of Israel took steps to establish Arabrein communities within its borders there would be instantaneous, and justified, outrage from the Israeli Left – and worldwide. But when the government imposes Judenrein policies in Judea and Samaria, Israeli leftists enthusiastically lead the celebration.
The expulsion of Jews from their homes is not “democracy” or “the rule of law,” as Barak incessantly claims. It is blatant discrimination by secular Israelis against religious Zionists. If expulsions continue, there is the ominous potential – not for the first time in Jewish history – for fratricidal war.
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Brothers at War.” His newest book, “Against the Grain: A Historian’s Journey,” has just been published by Quid Pro Books.