Posts Tagged ‘Green Line’
The post-‘Arab Spring’ Middle East is certainly overflowing with problems that threaten the stability of the region.
There is one thing common to the problems in Egypt, Syria and the rest of the states on the neighborhood – these problems have nothing to do with Israel.
Whether or not Israel builds another porch in Jerusalem or for that matter entire new communities beyond the Green Line has no impact on the resolution of these problems.
By the same token, the attitudes taken by the Arab “actors” in the region– be they the contending leaderships or the “street” – towards the United States are driven by how America relates to the new and developing situations in these countries rather than by either Israel’s activities within its own sphere or how the U.S. responds to those Israeli activities.
Simply put, the United States has nothing to gain by throwing Israel under the bus.
With the presidential elections coming up, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has the opportunity to try and get the Obama Administration to concede this fundamental point.
Sure, in the months coming up to the November elections Mr. Obama may hold back. But it would be a terrible mistake not to exploit this “election year window of opportunity” to try and put the concept in place to influence America’s post-election policies.
Back in September 2011, in an editorial titled “Magen David Adom: No Time to Blink,” we expressed our dismay over reports in several Israeli newspapers that Israel’s national ambulance service – its version of the American Red Cross – was in the process of removing the display of the Magen David symbol on its ambulances operating over the Green Line as a sop to the International Red Cross and the Palestinian Red Crescent, which are averse to the display of the Jewish symbol there.
As we noted, in 2005 MDA applied for membership in the IRC. At the time, the IRC had approved the display on members’ ambulances of the Christian cross, the Muslim (and Palestinian) crescent, and the Red Lion symbol of several Asian nations. As a condition of membership, the MDA had to agree that when it operated over the Green Line – generally comprising territory seized by Israel in 1967 which both Israel and the Palestinians now claim – it eventually would not display the Jewish star. At the time that editorial appeared, it seemed the grace period had passed and the IRC was insisting MDA stop using the Jewish star over the Green Line.
The editorial evoked a vituperative e-mail response from one Robert L. Kern, director of marketing and communications of American Friends of Magen David Adom. Mr. Kern claimed our “suggestion that ‘under pressure from within the IRC, the MDA is now phasing out any display of the Jewish star…’ is a complete and total lie.”
Mr. Kern acknowledged that “In some cases, the star has appeared inside the ‘red diamond’ because that is a universally recognized International Red Cross emblem,” but added that “any suggestion that the ‘Jewish star’ is no longer being used by MDA outside of Israel is wrong.”
And Mr. Kern went on to say, “For the record, [the Jerusalem Post] and Haaretz have acknowledged their mistakes, as corrected by MDA in Israel.”
We were unable to locate any retractions, or even clarifications, from the Jerusalem Post or Haaretz. In any event, last month Haaretz reported that MDA would indeed no longer be operating over the Green Line. Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson wrote that this was pursuant to its agreement with the IRC in 2005 that MDA would remove the Star of David from its ambulances in the West Bank, replacing it with a red diamond shape.
According to Haaretz, MDA will rely on local units to provide emergency ambulance service over the Green Line with ambulances that will not display the traditional Star of David.
And last Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reported:
A senior official in the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed…that Magen David Adom removed the “Magen David” symbol from the ambulances it operates in the West Bank to comply with an agreement with the Palestinian Red Crescent, Army Radio reported.
The official, Per Stanbeck, told Army Radio that when Magen David Adom joined the ICRC, it was required to cease operating in the West Bank. Because it cannot operate in the territories, “[they] are outsourcing the ambulances” to local authorities, he said.
Chairman of the Judea and Samaria Council of Settlements Dani Dayan responded with harsh criticism over the news, saying that while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is fighting over the details with the Palestinians in Amman, “[Magen David Adom] already recognized a Palestinian state on 1967 borders,” speaking with Army Radio.
This is not about The Jewish Press claiming vindication. We did not then, nor will we ever, be intimidated by those who are upset about our telling it as it is. The significance of this episode is that no organization should feel it can do or say whatever is expedient without fear of exposure.
The standard critique of Israel’s settlement movement from the Zionist left has been to point out that attempting to assert sovereignty over the West Bank could lead to an Arab majority. The argument is that this would enable the Palestinians to succeed in wiping out the Jewish state using demography rather than invasion or terror. It’s a point of view many Israelis share, but the Palestinian refusal to make peace has continued to frustrate the wishes of most Jews for a two-state solution.
But the dislike of the settlers goes a lot deeper than mere demographic arguments. As Gershom Gorenberg’s piece in The New York Times’s Sunday Review section this week illustrates, the passion to buttress the Jewish presence in any part of the country, whether on the wrong side of the Green Line or not, is what is really bugging the left.
Gorenberg, a veteran Israeli journalist whose animus for the settlers and Israel’s government have made him a regular presence in liberal American publications, takes his familiar attacks on the right to new levels in a piece in which he claims efforts to ensure a Jewish majority in the Israeli city of Acre as well as the Galilee are no more defensible than the settlers’ attempts to establish Israeli beachheads in the West Bank.
For Gorenberg, the push to ensure that parts of pre-June 1967 Israel will not be lost to the Arabs is also “racist.” Indeed, he worries that even if a two-state solution forces some of the Jews currently living in the West Bank to relocate inside the Green Line, they will take their Zionist fervor with them – leading to conflicts that will replicate the “price tag” attacks on Arabs that leftists see as the inevitable product of settler ideology.
This distorted argument not only turns liberal Israeli arguments upside down, it also betrays the mixed feelings some on the left seem to have for Zionism.
As with many accounts of events on the West Bank that treat the rare outbreaks of Jewish violence against Arabs as the only story worth reporting, Gorenberg’s attempt to paint all settlers with the brush of the “price tag” crimes is both factually incorrect as well as unfair.
Anti-Jewish violence in the West Bank is a daily occurrence that liberal journalists either choose to ignore or rationalize as justified, because they see the presence of Israelis in the territories as inherently illegitimate. The same mindset has led the press to treat a regrettable case of arson against a mosque inside Israel as a harbinger of pogroms against Arab citizens.
As with the West Bank, far more numerous incidents – especially in the Galilee – in which Israeli Arabs have targeted Jews are treated as either unimportant or just ignored.
Rather than the malevolent attitudes of West Bank settlers infecting ordinary Israelis, as Gorenberg fears, what has actually happened in the last 18 years since the Oslo Accords empowered Fatah terrorists in the territories is that Israeli Arabs have become radicalized. The political culture of the people who now dub themselves Palestinians with Israeli citizenship has become a reflection of the hatred and rejectionism that characterizes the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Gorenberg’s disgust for attempts to reinforce Jewish numbers in the Galilee also contradicts a basic tenant of the Israeli left. For decades, even those who agreed Jews ought to have the right to live in the West Bank because it is the heart of the historic Jewish homeland argued that it made more sense to put more Jewish resources into the battle to maintain a Jewish majority in the Galilee and the Negev.
If such efforts are now to be treated as being as illegitimate as the campaign to restore Jewish life to Judea and Samaria, it is difficult to see how Gorenberg imagines Israel can retain a Jewish majority.
This reflects the cognitive dissonance on the left. Though writers like Gorenberg claim to support the idea of a democratic Israel with a Jewish majority, the anti-Zionist logic that brands the Jewish presence in the West Bank as racist colonialism can just as easily be applied to any spot inside the Green Line.
Israel’s enemies view Tel Aviv as being as much an illegal settlement as the most remote hilltop encampment of right-wing Jewish extremists. The fact that Gorenberg views Jewish community-building in Acre and the Galilee with the same disgust as West Bank settlements illustrates all too clearly just how out of touch he is with both reality and the views of Israel’s moderate Zionist majority.
Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine with responsibility for managing the editorial content of its Contentions website – where this originally appeared – as well as serving as chief politics blogger.