Karnei Shomron, Samaria
Karnei Shomron, SamariaIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin spoke Wednesday in honor of Zionist leader Zev Jabotinsky. Rivlin took the opportunity to reject statements made by President Shimon Peres several days earlier during a memorial for Binyamin Zev (Theodore) Herzl.

Peres had warned that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) pose a demographic threat to Israel’s future as a Jewish state.

“I admire and respect President Peres, as a noted Zionist and a beloved public representative,” Rivlin said. “But the students of Jabotinsky, myself included, do not see settlements as a threat to our existence.”

“The communities in Judea and Samaria do not threaten our existence, they guarantee our existence,” he said.

Regardless, Judea and Samaria communities should not be judged solely by their strategic usefulness, Rivlin argued. “The settlements are not more or less justified based on their strategic location,” he said. “Rather, based on our right to our land.”

“Unfortunately,” he added, “today there are many who think we do not need to emphasize this right… Even those who think we must give up parts of the land must not hint at disregard for our right.”

Rivlin expressed sympathy with Israeli Arabs while not-so-subtly accusing the left of racism. “I feel pain for the Arab public in Israel, which is humiliated over and over by statements that describe it – or its brothers, and it by implication – as a threat,” he said.

“Jabotinsky’s liberal, democratic and nationalist tradition is not part of the ‘demographobic’ school of thought,” he continued. “That school, which spends all day counting heads – whether east of the armistice line or west of it – is dangerous."

“For the one thing, because in the name of demography the two-state solution is presented as necessary. Worse than that, because in the name of demography, Arab citizens of Israel wake up in the morning and discover that they are a threat. They find that when they brought children into the world, they were plotting against the state of Israel, without even realizing it,” he said.

The legacy of Jabotinsky is to take the vision of Jewish democratic state seriously, “and not to let go,” he concluded.