Daniel Pipes’ has written a fallacy-filledNew York Times op-ed opposing Israeli legally valid sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley which sounds like it came from the hostile-to-Israel far left. Instead, it came from Pipes, a well-known pro-Israel rightist who is also a “never-Trumper.”
For starters, Pipes’ op-ed uses the leftwing misnomer “annexation” – which implies that Israel is taking lands to which she has no right. The accurate description is: “Israel’s exercise of her sovereignty over historic Jewish lands to which Israel is entitled under binding international law,” or “extending Israeli law to Judea and Samaria,” or “exercising her sovereignty.” International agreements, including the British Mandate and San Remo resolution, guaranteed the Jewish people’s rights to resettle and reconstitute the Jewish state on these lands.
Pipes also wrongly writes that “annexation” was a “fringe” idea prior to publication of President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan in January 2020. In fact, polls show that the overwhelming majority of Israelis have favored exercising sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, since well before the Trump peace plan was announced. In January 2017, the Maagar Mochot Interdisciplinary Research Institute poll found that Israelis opposed a Palestinian-Arab state and favored Israeli sovereignty by 10 to 1. Prominent mainstream journalists have been writing about the advantages and inevitability of Israel exercising her sovereignty for years.
Notably, an Al-Monitor article posted in Arutz Sheva by respected security expert Efraim Inbar, directly contradicts Pipes’ op-ed. The article explains: “Netanyahu’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley is not just a far-right wish, but the fulfillment of long-standing Israeli security objectives. . . .”
Pipes’ assertion that “annexation” achieves nothing is ludicrous. Exercising sovereignty is a long-overdue step that will promote the security of Israel and its people; firmly assure that Israel maintains defensible borders; and end the decades-long limbo of the 500,000 Jews who live in Judea-Samaria.
Again, Pipes’ op-ed is contradicted by the Inbar article, which explained: “The Jordan Valley is the only available defensible border on the eastern front, and the closest to Israel’s heartland — the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa triangle. This area holds 70% of Israel’s population and 80% of its economic infrastructure. The distance between the Jordan River and Jerusalem is only 30 kilometers (19 miles). . . .”
Pipes in fact offers no valid reasons for his anti-“annexation” stance. Five (out of six) of Pipes’ anti-“annexation” arguments simply consist of Pipes’ speculation that: basically “Annexation will make some people angry.” That’s a pitiful and dangerous rationale for Israel refraining from exercising her legally valid sovereignty.
Every time Israel speaks about defending herself or protecting or asserting her rights, the left raises the same specter: “Some people will get mad.” For instance, there were all sorts of doomsday predictions before the U.S. embassy was moved to Jerusalem. The move went ahead anyway, and the predictions of the move causing uncontrollable Mideast-wide conflagrations were proven wrong.
Israel’s true friends will be pleased that Israel has finally exercised sovereignty over lands where over 500,000 Jews now live-land which would never become Palestinian Arab territory.
It also sends a message of stop lying that this is Palestinian Arab land—it’s not and Judea Samaria never was.
The people Pipes listed who hate Israel – including Hamas, the PLO, the antisemitic Israel-bashing wing of the Democratic party, and the notoriously anti-Israel former officials whom Pipes merely identifies as “30 Democratic Party foreign policy heavyweights” without mentioning their longstanding deep-seated Israelophobia – will hate and attack Israel no matter what Israel does as they always have-while never attacking the Palestinian Authority’s anti-peace pro terror actions and policies They can always find another pretext for venting their bile.
Moreover, Hamas rockets, PLO/PA intifadas, and the hostile-to-Israel wing of the Democratic party’s persistent anti-Israel efforts didn’t cease during the 53 years when Israel refrained from exercising her sovereignty rights over Judea/Samaria. The Jew-haters and Israel-haters can’t do any worse than what they’ve been doing already, for decades. But the security advantages from Israel exercising her sovereignty will make it more difficult for Israel’s enemies to attack and kill Jews. It also sends a message of stop lying that this is Palestinian Arab land—it’s not and Judea Samaria never was.
Israel’s transactional friends – the Sunni Arab nations who have become closer Israel in order to contend with their common Iranian foe, and Israel’s European trading partners – will continue being Israel’s transactional friends. The Sunni Arab states care much more about the persistent, existential Iranian threat than whether or not Israel exercises sovereignty over the largely Jewish and barren areas of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Europe will continue to need Israel’s world-class extraordinary technology and products.
Moreover, Jordan would much prefer having its peace partner Israel ruling the Jordan Valley, which borders Jordan. A Palestinian-Arab enclave on Jordan’s border would endanger Jordan, especially if Jordan is faced with a domestic Palestinian-Arab uprising.
And contrary to Pipes’ assertions, President Trump is unlikely to “erupt in fury” if Israel exercises her sovereignty. Trump has had his Secretary of State and U.S. Ambassador to Israel proclaim the Trump Administration’s support for Israel declaring sovereignty over this area. Trump’s Peace to Prosperity plan envisions Israel’s exercise of sovereignty occurring promptly, long before any potential Palestinian state could be formed.
The Trump plan’s “criteria [that] are a predicate to the formation of a Palestinian State” include that “The Palestinians shall have ended all programs, including school curricula and textbooks, that serve to incite or promote hatred or antagonism towards its neighbors, or which compensate or incentivize criminal or violent activity.”
Given the PA’s insistence on teaching its children to hate Israel, and on continuing the PA’s heinous “pay to slay” payments to terrorists to murder innocent Jews, it’s unlikely that the PA will meet the criteria for statehood anytime soon – if at all. President Trump understands that it’s pointless for Israel to keep waiting for the PA and Hamas to miraculously become peace-loving, which has not happened in the 27 years since the Oslo peace accords and other major Israeli concessions.
President Trump likely also understands that Israel must act now to exercise her sovereignty, in case he is defeated in November and a possibly unfriendly administration is elected.
Pipes’ speculation that leftwing Israeli Zionists would respond to “annexation” by leaving Israel en masse is absurd. The left didn’t leave Israel when Israel exercised her sovereignty over the Golan or Jerusalem. The right didn’t leave Israel when leftwing Israeli governments took harmful steps such as Oslo and the Gaza withdrawal. American leftists promptly forgot their threats to flee from the United States after Donald Trump was elected. Mere disagreements with government policies are rarely an impetus for flight from one’s home.
Pipes’ whole argument is reminiscent of the Biblical episode of the meraglim (spies) in the Torah portion Shelach. Ten of the 12 spies allowed fear to cloud their judgment and the facts, and wrongly reported that it would be impossible for the Jews to capture the land. As a result, G-d relegated the Israelites to wandering in the desert for 40 years.
Allowing speculative fears to dictate Israel’s actions can likewise have devastating consequences. The failure to exercise sovereignty severely weakens Israel’s security and sends the false message that this is not Jewish land, legally, politically and Biblically.
Pipes’ final argument – that annexation would cause the problem of enabling more Arabs to become Israeli citizens – is also wrong.
If Israel exercises sovereignty over the areas that the Trump plan envisions will fall within Israel, the number of Arabs citizens potentially added to Israel would be minimal. The Trump plan provides that “Approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory, and approximately 97% of Palestinians in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Palestinian territory. . . . The Palestinian population located in enclaves that remain inside contiguous Israeli territory but that are part of the State of Palestine shall become citizens of the State of Palestine and shall have the option to remain in place unless they choose otherwise.” (“Peace to Prosperity” plan, page 12.)
The Inbar article also explains regarding the Jordan Valley: “The strategic imperative is complemented by demographic realities. Relatively few Arabs live in the unhospitable desert-like valley. Therefore, inclusion of this area into Israel does not burden the Jewish state with a demographic problem.”
Even if Israel exercises her sovereignty over more of the territory to which she is lawfully entitled, potential new Arab citizens would also not be a major problem. Pipes is merely rehashing the left’s repeatedly debunked “demographic” fear-mongering, which uses the PA’s and Hamas’ vastly overstated population figures. In fact, Israel’s Jewish native population has been increasing at a faster clip than the Arabs, and rampant Islamic antisemitism in Western Europe is bringing new Jewish immigrants into Israel.
ZOA urges Daniel Pipes to review the facts and issue a retraction.
Morton Klein and Mark Levenson are president and chairman, respectively, of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).