Energizing the Debate over Yesha

Israelis have to "think out of the box" on question of whether to declare Israeli sovereignty in Yesha, says writer. Debate tonight at OU Ce

David Lev , | updated: 8:37 AM

3-D Yesha Map
3-D Yesha Map

Most people on the right – in fact, most people in Israel – believe that the only real solution to the security situation is the eventual declaration of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Even if they say different, says writer Yoel Meltzer. And, he says, he can prove it.

“Ask many Israelis if they believe in the two-state solution, and many will say something to the effect of 'what choice do we have?' But then ask them if they believe an Arab state will survive as a viable, responsible entity that Israel can live with, or if it will deteriorate into another Gaza or south Lebanon, and they will inevitably answer the latter. And then ask them how they reconcile the two opinions.”

They cannot, says Meltzer; when it comes to thinking “outside the box” about Judea and Samaria, Israelis experience a form of cognitive dissonance, he says – or, perhaps more correctly, intellectual paralysis.

Regardless, he says, “it's clear to anyone who thinks about this for even a short whole that we cannot continue this way. And I think the time has come for a real debate on the issue.”

Meltzer hopes to prompt that debate at an event on Monday night, to be held at the OU Israel Center, titled “The Preferred Option: Israeli Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.” While Meltzer, a long-time op-ed writer for Arutz 7 and other sites, has some definite ideas on the subject, he does not plan on making what he calls “bombastic statements” about what should or should not be done. And obviously there are many practical questions that need to be explored.

Those questions, and many others, will be discussed by some of Israel's top political thinkers, including former ambassador Yoram Ettinger, Yesha Council Chairman Dani Dayan, Dr. Mordechai Keda of Bar Ilan University, and Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post.

“So far, the question of Jewish sovereignty in Judea and Samaria has been dealt only in certain very select circles. I want to open up the discussion. By bringing together four well-known public figures for one evening, the hope is that other likeminded individuals – whether from the academic world, the media, the business sector, the security establishment, the legal establishment or the political echelon – will be attracted to the initiative in order to participate in future speaking engagements. We need this to be a dialog on a national level.”

This dialog is crucial for Israel's future. “For years the right has been reacting, not leading. We react to circumstances and events, we do not lead them. That needs to change,” Meltzer says.

The current intellectual malaise on the right, Meltzer believes, has resulted in a malaise in the way the country – and the people – are conducting themselves. Seen from this perspective, the disengagement and continued defeatism among Israelis regarding the future establishment of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria is a symptom of this malaise, not a cause – and the malaise must be treated by an honest evaluation of Israel's future in Judea and Samaria.

“Of course there are challenges, but Israelis are ready for them,” says Meltzer. “When I first organized this evening I expected maybe 50 people to attend. But the buzz has been so great about this that I believe we will have a standing room only crowd.”

Monday's event will be conducted in English, but the next one – Meltzer is considering one after the summer – will definitely be held in Hebrew. “The average Israeli must be a part of this discussion, and only with honest input from all those this affects will we be able to forge a dynamic policy.”

That discussion officially opens Monday – with the final result, hopes Meltzer, the forging of an Israeli policy that would absorb Judea and Samaria as the best solution to the country's security problems.