Photo Credit: courtesy
Sunrise over Neve Daniel in the Judean Hills

{Originally posted to the Elder of Ziyon website}

How’s this for a stunner? According to the latest Peace Index,* a poll of Israeli attitudes put out by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and Tel Aviv University (TAU), the majority of Israelis (57%) think Barack Obama has had an unfriendly attitude toward Israel during his tenure. Of course, the IDI and TAU are both bastions of liberal thought, so you can probably assume the actual number of Israelis who think Barry hates us is closer to, oh, a gazillion percent.


It’s no surprise that we think Barry O. hates us here in Israel. It is kind of surprising, however, when you look at what Israelis think about the by now, infamous abstention on UNSC Resolution 2334. One might have thought that the IDI and TAU, being slanted so far left they’re in danger of falling over, would find a way to skew their poll so that it attributes the motivating force behind the resolution to settlement construction.
But no.

The majority of Israelis polled, (52.9%), as it turns out, are certain the resolution was all about hostility toward Israel, rather than any principled stand on settlement construction. And since that is the case, some 62% (!!!) of Israelis polled feel that in light of the Security Council resolution, we should “continue” building homes in “the territories.” Which is a funny thing to say, considering there hasn’t been any settlement construction to speak of under PM Netanyahu, except for some (inadequate) natural growth expansion. Obama has made sure of that.
Still, it’s nigh impossible to get 62% of Israelis to agree on anything at all, so let’s look a bit closer at the number of Israelis who think we should Build Baby, Build.

  • 89% of those on the right say Israel should keep building
  • 83% of moderate right Israelis say Israel should keep building
  • 45% of the center says Israel should keep building
  • 21% of moderate left Israelis say Israel should keep building
  • 15% of the left says Israel should keep building

That final figure (15%!!) kind of jumps out and makes one wonder what prompts that many leftist, anti-settlement, pro-two-state-solution, land-for-peacenik Israelis to favor building in the territories. Could it be that Security Council Resolution 2334, or perhaps the U.S. abstention of same, finally brought home (if you’ll excuse the expression) to them that when the UN and Barack Obama speak of “territories,” they don’t just mean Judea and Samaria, but Jerusalem, and probably Haifa, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, and all parts in between?

It would be nice to think so. Because fixing problems always begins with a frank assessment of the problem. Part of that problem is the blame game.
The Israeli left traditionally blames settlers for the lack of peace in the region. This belief was the driving force behind Disengagement. The left needed a scapegoat. They needed to punish someone. The settlers were “It.” All 11,000 of them. That is the number of Jews expelled from Gaza and Northern Samaria in order to make Disengagement possible.

Expelling those settlers made the left very happy. It made them cheer. But the thing is, all of us can see the results of Disengagement. All of us can see what happens when you boot out the settlers and give the land they made bloom to the Arabs. You get Hamastan on your border. You get tens of thousands of rockets shot from the land you gave them into the part you still have. You get terror tunnels invading your kibbutzim.

The left is beginning to see these simple truths. That the only answer to a world that doesn’t want Jews to build homes in Israel—the land promised to the Jews—is for Jews to build homes in Israel.
Building homes won’t stop the terror. Not altogether. But it will make a dent in that terror. Because it’s giving an inch that makes them attack you until you give them a mile. The more you give, the more they will demand, the harder and more cruelly they will attack you. That’s just the way it is.
It has always been thus.

Building, on the other hand, says, “No. We’re not going away. We’re digging in our heels.”

Now most Israelis (71%) believe that under the Trump administration, Israel will have a free hand in this renewed desire to build the land of Israel. Or at least, we won’t have anyone tying our hands to keep us from doing so. Even the Arabs believe this (81%). They know that when Obama goes, there goes the constraints, the blackmail, the nasty lashing out at Israel. They know that no one in the White House is going to get in the way of Jewish building now that Barry’s going away for good.

It’s all so close and yet so far away. The dream of a racist Judenrein Arab state on Jewish soil may yet be declared in Paris before Obama’s timeline runs out. But it will matter little to how we run our affairs in Israel. We know it and the Arabs know it, too. Jews are gonna build homes in their homeland, because they can and they will.
We’ll keep on building because there is nothing wrong with Jews building homes and everything right. Unless you’re Obama and the UN Security Council. And there is this sense that these two entities have had their day in the sun and that this particular sun is waning. They will hurt us all they can and then they will render themselves completely irrelevant as the world begins to understand that their hate is just hate. Even if it’s Jew-hate.

It’s going to happen. People will see that homes are just buildings and that it is terror, not buildings, that prevents peace. All over the world, they will awaken and see it.
There may be some blips along the way. But we can smell truth dawning, getting ready to sit pretty in the sunshine and put some color in its cheeks.
And it’s only a week and counting until it happens.

*From the IDI press release: The Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. This month’s survey was conducted by telephone on January 2 and 3, 2017, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents (500 Jews, 100 Arabs), who constitute a representative national sample of the adult population aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.


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Blogger and mother of 12, Varda Meyers Epstein is a third-generation Pittsburgher who made aliyah at age 18 and never looked back. A proud settler who lives in the biblical Judean heartland, Varda serves as the communications writer for the nonprofit car donation program Kars4Kids, a Guidestar Gold medal charity. The author's political opinions are her own and not endorsed by her employer.