After a long period of relative calm in Israel, three events, one closely following another, smashed the tranquility. I refer to the renewed shelling from Gaza, the brutal murder of the Fogel family in Itamar, and the bombing near Jerusalem’s Central Station taking the life of one passerby and injuring many more. This is the first such bombing in Jerusalem since 2004. Why the increased violence?
The Arab world is in a period of turmoil. Revolutions have taken place in Tunisia and Egypt and their dictators of many decades have been unceremoniously deposed. Libya is in the midst of a civil war, and the ground is shaking under the feet of Arab leaders from Yemen to Syria.
Even non-Arab Moslem dictatorships such as Iran are feeling the pressure and are responding in their usual brutal way. In none of these upheavals has the issue of the Palestinians played a notable part, something not lost on them. It is fair to assume that the recent Palestinian violence in Israel is an attempt to raise the profile of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
And yet while these events do get momentary coverage, they get lost next to the turmoil in the Arab countries and the extensive coverage being given to the great catastrophe that has afflicted Japan.
The murder of the Fogels brought out a crescendo of condemnations from the political Right. The Netanyahu government was condemned for — in the words of David Wilder, a spokesman for the Jewish settlers in Hebron — being “willing to again abandon our land and our people, ‘returning’ all the heavily populated cities in Judea and Samaria to monkeys dressed up as people”
Not content with antagonizing the moderate Palestinians (how would you like to be called a monkey dressed as a person?), the Right has inveighed against the Israeli Left. Ron Nachman, mayor of Ariel, claimed that “there is a direct link between domestic incitement and the murder.” In other words, the Left, which advocates a two-state solution, is really responsible for the murders.
Hear, then, is the Right’s greatest fear: arriving at a peace agreement which would of necessity end the occupation of the West Bank.
In blaming supporters of a two-state solution for incitement, the Right seems to forget the early years of this century when hundreds of Israelis were victimized annually by suicide bombers. In essence, the terrorist attacks largely ended in 2005; the last bomb in Jerusalem was in 2004. The two principle reasons for the reduction of Palestinian terrorism has been the separation barrier and the Palestinian security forces. Trained by U. S. General Keith Dayton, Palestinians have cooperated with the IDF in apprehending terrorists and have foiled plots before they could be executed.
It is a fair bet that these Palestinian forces read the remarks of Wilder and similar sentiments by others in the far Right. One wonders if these spokesmen ever considered that their words might undermine the motivation of these Palestinians in preventing terrorism. Rather than work with their new Palestinian security partners, figures like Danny Danon of Likud say that Israel should increase checkpoints — which besides embittering Palestinians, were not all that effective in stopping terrorists during the last decade.
Right-wing parties, in control of the Knesset, have set up two parliamentary committees to “investigate” NGOs on the Left and their sources of funding. These committees have no representatives of the Center or the Left and their recommendations are not difficult to predict.
Recently at the U N, it was only a United States veto that prevented the Security Council from censuring Israel for its settlement policy. Nevertheless, the U.S. took pains to dissociate itself from the settlements, explaining its veto as a defense of the peace process. It is questionable how long the Obama administration will be willing to be alone in supporting Israel while fundamentally disagreeing with its settlement policy.
Similarly, the Palestinian Authority is pushing the UN for recognition as a state within the1949 borders. In addition to blanket support from the Moslem nations, it has lined up support from South American countries. It is not too much to believe that there will be European support in the offing.
So what has this Right-wing bravado achieved for the State of Israel? It undermines Israel’s by undermining cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, it undermines Israeli democracy by using its Knesset majority to demonize the opposition, and it further isolates Israel in the world by establishing policies almost universally rejected.
This illustrates that it is possible to be wrong while being Right.