Op-Ed: American Jews: Expel Yourselves
Orit ArfaThe writer is author of "The Settler," a novel following the rebellious journey of a young woman into Tel Aviv nightlife following her traumatic eviction from her home in Gaza during the 2005 withdrawal. Visit Orit's website for more info: www.oritarfa.net.
The majority of American Jews, if one can judge by presidential voting records and policy statements by AIPAC and other major Jewish organizations, believe that the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict involves evacuating Israeli Jews from Judea and Samaria (aka the "West Bank") to pave the way for two states: Israel and "Palestine."
Here are some basic premises guiding this view:
1. Israel was created so that Jews could live as a political majority under Jewish sovereignty, unlike Jews in the US.
2. The demographic "time bomb" (which is challenged by actual statistics) forces Jews to physically separate themselves from the Arabs, by walls if necessary.
3. Only Jews are allowed to ruin other Jews' lives, i.e. the Jewish government is allowed to expel Jews from their homes and destroy their livelihoods, as it did in Gush Katif, Gaza, for the greater Jewish collective. Jews are not allowed to ruin Arab lives. The Jewish government would be slammed as racist if it dares expel Arabs. The US would likewise be slammed as anti-Semitic if it engaged in ethnic cleansing of Jews.
4. American Jews can dictate Israeli policy since Israel is the "Jewish" state, and all Jews get a vote on its future, no matter they don't live in Israel and just come for inspirational, fun vacations. As major funders of Zionist causes, some believe that Israel must answer to them.
Only Jews are allowed to ruin other Jews' lives.
Sure, most American Jewish organizations state that their position is to support policies of the Israeli government, lest they be perceived as interfering with Israel's democratic process. In practice, that is not the case. Most major organizations don't send their missions beyond the green line, even as the Israeli government supports building there. In fact, most members of PM Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition do not support the creation of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu actually goes against Likud constituency when he pays lip service to the two-state "solution," which makes one wonder: who is he answering to?
What's so ironic is that American Jews who push hard for the expulsion of Jews by Jews are advocating the composition of a state they do not choose for themselves. Referring to the premises above:
1. They choose not to live in a state with a Jewish majority and probably have no intention of making aliyah to Israel, which involves many material sacrifices. They're more concerned with Israel as a symbol of Jewish sovereignty, granted with world approval, not to mention one they can enjoy on High Holidays, always a wonderful time to visit the Jewish state.
2. They're concerned with Jewish demographics, but, in practice, prefer living among non-Jews, often in homes that few Israelis can afford.
3. They choose to live in a country with separation between religion and state. However, in Israel they want Jews to live at the mercy of a Jewish political system, a system they would not deign to live under.
4. They often justify their permanence in the US by donating large sums to Zionist causes and to the Jewish state. Unless an Israeli is some high tech genius, it's almost impossible for Israelis to amass in such a small, beleaguered country the kind of wealth one can amass in the US. Israelis work tirelessly just to make the month, which makes them, in fact, feel bound to American financial support and hence their dictates, even if those dictates go against Israelis' long-term interests.
This analysis leads to several interesting conclusions. If American Jews truly seek to live according to their values—and if one of their ultimate values is a state with a Jewish majority—then they should move to Israel, not just own a summer apartment that jacks up the rental prices for actual residents.
If they truly want to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of demographic concerns, they should advocate a more Zionist humanitarian solution: mass aliyah of Jews, particularly into Judea and Samaria, the historical Jewish heartland. About 1 out of the 7 million of Jews in the Diaspora should do the trick. If the multi-millions that Jewish organizations raise to defend Israel—and better yet— if the expenses of removing Jews ($2.6 billion per 9,000 Jews, if judging from Gaza) are diverted to support this new wave of aliyah, the problem is SOLVED.
Speaking from experience, it's difficult yet very rewarding to make aliyah. It's much easier for Diaspora Jews to impose their vision of a state with a Jewish majority, living alongside a new Arab state, when they don't suffer the direct consequences. Instead of aliyah, they push for destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews who live across the "green line," a place the "settlers" chose, often at great sacrifice and personal risk, so that Jews everywhere are free.
American Jews by and large don't want to be inconvenienced or to downgrade their lifestyle, but they'd dare push the Israeli government to cause more than just inconvenience to "settlers." A two-state "solution" would involve an army turning on its people, the uprooting of families from their hometowns, their livelihoods, their spirits. And would American Jewry pick up the bill for rebuilding lives that, if Gush Katif serves as an example, could never truly be rebuilt?
Any solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict must ensure that expelling Jews from their homes is not an option. This might actually involve—and what a concept—Jews living peacefully among non-Jews, particularly Palestinian Arabs, in the "West Bank." Such a solution demands the pain of creative thought, true tolerance, hard work, and above all, integrity. After all, American Jews have shown that their ultimate value is not a state with a Jewish majority; otherwise, they'd live here.
So the real, humanitarian solution is simple. American Jews: Expel yourselves.