While the world holds its breath in anticipation
of the Mideast Summit in Annapolis – which, no doubt, will constitute a historic
landmark, giving a most significant boost to the economy of that small town
in Maryland – the Israeli right wing comes up with a new peace initiative, launched
by MK Benny Elon, chairman of the National Union and the Moledet Party, as "The
Israeli Initiative," "a new way of thinking about the conflict, in
learning from our mistakes, and in rereading the regional map toward a revitalized
and genuine quest to achieve The Right Road to Peace." Elon also praises
his plan in the media as being "beyond Left and Right." And it has already
been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Sam
Listen to the Right
It's important to monitor the Israeli far Right.
The settlers' ideology is usually shared by the Israeli military, and the military
is the central political agent in Israel, much more important than any short-lived
government or prime minister. This is why plans, demands, and suggestions of
the Israeli far Right, no matter how lunatic they sound when launched, are often
the best prediction for future reality, which usually lags just a few years
For example, I still have in my archives an old ad published by the Moledet
Party back in June 1996, demanding "a full, permanent closure on the Arabs of
Judea and Samaria" (that's how they call West Bank Palestinians). At that time,
only a far-right party could dare suggest such a appalling idea. A few years
later, this became a reality, unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Save the Refugees
So what is Benny Elon proposing? At the core of
his program is a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. It's indeed touching
to see a representative of the settlers – the civilian sector most responsible
for the harassment and dispossession of Palestinians all over the occupied territories
– so concerned with their true misery. Elon urges to rehabilitate millions of
Palestinian refugees by dismantling UNRWA
(an old anti-Palestinian dream);
consequently, "all residents of refugee camps will be offered permanent places
of residence, citizenship, and a generous rehabilitation grant. The refugee
camps will also be dismantled following this process."
Sounds great, doesn't it? The only riddle is where these "permanent places
of residence" will be. Elon is intentionally vague at this point: he speaks
generally of "immigration countries." One thing is clear,
though: Israel is not one of them; otherwise Elon couldn't promise that "dismantling
of the refugee camps as part of a process of rehabilitation will reduce the
Arab population in Judea and Samaria." Clearly, then, the Palestinian refugees
now residing in the West Bank and Gaza will be "rehabilitated" somewhere else
on the globe (how about Canada, Alaska, or Europe, to strike a familiar
chord?). So here it is: the old "transfer" or deportation desires of the
Israeli Right, now with a more fashionable haircut. Beyond Left and Right you
always find the far Right.
Blackmail, the Moral Version
To gain support for this ethnic cleansing of the
Palestinian territories, Elon quotes "Independent polls indicat[ing] that half
of all Palestinians are considering moving to a different country." This
might be true – thanks to Benny Elon and his fellow settlers. Years ago, when
asked to explain what he meant by "voluntary transfer" of Palestinians, Rabbi
Elon gave an example from Jewish law. According to the Halacha, a rabbinical
court cannot impose a divorce on a refusing husband; but what it can do is use
sanctions, including incarceration and even physical penalties, until the husband
succumbs. This is what Elon meant by "voluntary transfer": making Palestinian
life in the Territories unlivable, to the extent that they would rather live
somewhere else. Now the time has come: after years of Israeli oppression just
as Elon demanded, the cynical politician can now claim that the Palestinians
are finally "voluntarily" willing to go.
Here's the Right Road to Peace, and to getting your neighbor's house for free:
terrorize him until he breaks down, then take his house and claim you were just
following his own wish to leave. What any sane person (or jury) would define
as blackmail and hypocrisy is "a moral solution to the refugee problem" for
MK Elon, chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus. I wonder what Jesus
would have said.
Our Palestinian Guests
Elon further suggests dismantling the Palestinian
Authority – what else is new? – and founding his "peace" on a pact with Jordan.
Israel, surprise surprise, should annex the West Bank (or rather "extend its
sovereignty over Judea and Samaria"), and the "Arab population that will continue
to reside inside the new borders of the State of Israel [i.e., those
not already deported as "refugees"] will enjoy full human rights awarded
by the State of Israel, but they will possess Jordanian-Palestinian citizenship,
and their political rights will be realized in Amman."
This sounds very humane indeed: not only will the remaining Palestinians generously
"enjoy" full human rights in Israel, they will also have Jordanian nationality.
What hospitality! Imagine President Bush offering all Native Americans in the
U.S. not only full human rights, but also full citizenship in, say, Mexico.
Elon's plan clearly aims at turning the Palestinians into guests in their own
land: they will be tolerated in Israel like any other tourists, but their actual
homeland will be the Kingdom of Jordan. Obviously, no sovereign state is expected
to keep foreigners within its borders indefinitely, let alone allow them to
multiply and grow in number. Once the Palestinians are turned into Jordanians
residing in Israel, their deportation, whether individually or en masse,
will become a simple internal, technical Israeli decision, which the Immigration
Police could implement any time.
The Israeli and pro-Israel Right, then – people like Benny Elon and the settlers,
his allies among evangelical Christians, and probably also far-right Israeli
leaders in disguise (Ehud Barak?) – have not abandoned their intention to ethnically
cleanse the Land of Israel of its "Gentile" inhabitants. They keep pushing these
genocidal ideas in ever changing but quite transparent robes.
In practical, moral, and legal terms, there is little difference between Elon's
"peace initiative" and Ahmadinejad's. Both aim at solving the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict by "relocating" – often a codeword for elimination – one of the parties.
I wonder whether in his next visit to his evangelical friends in the U.S. MK
Elon will enjoy the same kind of reception as the Iranian president just did.