That Israeli “occupation,” “settlement,” in the West Bank and Gaza is “immoral” is the hallmark of Israeli leftists. Many of them believe that all of Israel’s problems stem from this “evil.” In their view, nothing is worse that oppressing another people and depriving them of their national/political rights. These sentiments resonate in every Jewish heart because we are a people with a long history of suffering and oppression. More than anyone else perhaps, it is our responsibility to examine carefully our behavior. We cannot do to others what was done to us.

In presenting their case, however, advocates for unilateral withdrawal from all or most of Yesha – and the creation of a terrorist-led Palestinian state – use “morality” to obscure something much deeper: their sense of shame and guilt.

Ever since Israel conquered Yesha in the Six Day War of June, 1967, the Left has been apologizing for that miraculous victory, even though Israel’s very existence was at stake. Leftists are even more incensed that Israelis had the “audacity” to move into areas that were formerly forbidden to Jews, where Jews had lived before 1948 and which hold deep historical and strategic significance for the Jewish people.

Despite the fact that not a single meter of Arab-owned land was taken (or “stolen”) by Jews who built their homes in Yesha, the Left considers this “occupation.” After the Oslo agreements in 1993, however, nearly all Palestinians came under the control of the Palestinian Authority. And until Arafat and his terrorists openly declared a renewed war against Jews, it was a period of enormous growth and prosperity.


If there is “occupation” now, it cannot be over people, even when Israel exercises its right of self-defense by going into Arab towns to destroy terrorists and their network, or when Arabs are restricted at checkpoints. These actions save lives.

If Israel is “occupying” land that belongs to someone else, that is another matter – and a legal one. But who owns “state land” – land that is unclaimed and uninhabited – but the state? And who is to decide?

“Moralists” of the Left draw the line in 1967, but from the Arab perspective the “nakba” (catastrophe) was not in 1967 but in 1948. The so-called Arab refugees come from that failed attempt at genocide. Using that criteria of “occupation,” the establishment of the State of Israel itself was “immoral.”

What frightens the Left is the possibility that Jews did “steal Arab lands,” that Israel does discriminate against Arabs, that Israel is responsible for Palestinian terrorism, that Zionism is racism. So they blame “the settlers.” It’s convenient and it diverts attention.

In order to justify Israeli “occupation of Arab land” in 1948, the Left would sacrifice Jews who “occupied Arab land” since 1967.

On numerous occasions I have asked leftist friends and colleagues to accompany me to Yesha to see for themselves what is going on – for good and bad. They refuse on principle. In their eyes it’s immoral to visit these areas – except to demonstrate with Peace Now and Palestinians against Jews – because it implies support for Israeli “occupation.”


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Moshe Dann is a Ph.D. historian, writer, and journalist living in Jerusalem. His book of short stories,“As Far As the Eye Can See,” was published by the New English Review Press in 2015.