Moti Kedar (R) at Oz VGaon with Sovereignty Youth
Moti Kedar (R) at Oz VGaon with Sovereignty Youth Sovereignty Movement Spokesman

At the Oz veGaon preserve in Gush Etzion, the Sovereignty Youth movement held its annual Hanukka seminar, in capsules and adhering to the directives of the Ministry of Health. Head of the hosting council, Shlomo Ne’eman, opened the event with remarks of welcome to the youths, after which, economist Eran Bar-Tal spoke about the economic benefits of the application of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

Former Justice Minister MK Ayelet Shaked, spoke of the vision of sovereignty in its political aspect, but also in matters touching on the Israeli justice system. She stated that despite the current focus on resolving the economic crisis around the Corona, the vision of sovereignty was not abandoned by her party.

She first mentioned the revolution that has occurred in the past decade since the idea of sovereignty was thought of as delusional, until today, when the idea enjoys a broad consensus: “When Bennett was Head of the Yesha Council and I was head of Yisrael Sheli, we began to talk about the topic of sovereignty. Bennett published a plan for the application of sovereignty in Area C. When we were elected to the Knesset, they told us that we are delusional, along with the two other delusional women, Yehudit and Nadia, but today there is already a majority in the Knesset for sovereignty, after Yehudit and Nadia’s hard work and after we joined and now the idea has permeated large sections of the Likud and has reached the White House”.

“We hoped, for a year or two, that Netanyahu would apply sovereignty during the Trump era but unfortunately, this did not happen. However, we cannot ignore that the discourse of sovereignty is now in the center of the stage. Once, when we spoke of sovereignty they thought that we were delusional and today it is within a kind of consensus, and it is, in large part, because of Yehudit and Nadia’s faith and hard work and because we took their ideology and translated it into practical work in the Knesset. The very fact that the American administration understands that this is the direction is very important”.

Later in her remarks, Mk Shaked focused on the matter of the State of Israel’s unique democracy as a Jewish state. “The Left cries about the end of democracy, but this is nonsense. We have a strong legal system and just because we want to make changes does not mean that the legal system is not independent and strong”, stated Shaked, describing how the court took authorities that it didn’t have in the past, in the spirit of Aharon Barak:

“In the past thirty years the court took upon itself increasingly more power, at the expense of the legislative and executive authorities and this is something that must be balanced, but as a democracy, we are a strong democracy. Aharon Barak took three steps that weakened the authority of the Knesset and the cabinet. The first step was to broaden the right of standing, which allowed any person to appeal to the court, even if he did not experience any harm. This step made our entire lives justiciable. The second step is that the court took upon itself the authority to nullify laws, and the third step is the ‘cause of reasonableness‘, when the court took upon itself the authority to interfere with every administrative and governmental decision according to what it defined as unreasonable in its eyes, and this is very amorphic”.

“During my period as Justice Minister, I tried to balance this by choosing conservative and nationalist judges, and we can see the difference in rulings, as each judge brings into the rulings his own identity and world-view”, said Shaked, who also rejected the claim that by imposing Corona restrictions the government has severely harmed the democratic character of Israel. “During the Corona period, for the first time, in the past decades, the government has violated fundamental, basic rights – freedom of movement, employment, freedom of association, but the fact that the government did this does not mean that we are a weak democracy or less democratic than we in the past. Many mistakes were indeed made by the government during this crisis, but although the government is harming our fundamental rights, it is not endangering Israel as a democracy, but is only harming our rights in a focused way, in order to fight the pandemic”.

Later during her remarks, MK Shaked held an open discussion with the youths, who wanted her opinion on various matters. To the question of whether her party has removed the matter of sovereignty because of the battle with Corona, she responded that “The subject of sovereignty is very, very important to us, but in the coming months, we are in a severe health crisis and it is very important to focus on the economy, but this does not mean that we are neglecting the matter of sovereignty and are not acting to promote it”.

In her remarks, she highlighted the young settlement as a practical expression of the current spirit of pioneering, as she defined it. On the status of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, after the application of sovereignty, she stated that there would be equal civil rights for all, but “In the national aspect, the State of Israel is the nation-state exclusively of the Jewish People. When we speak of sovereignty in Area C, we are saying that the Arabs who live there will have the same rights as the Israeli Arabs, except for citizenship”.

Shaked is asked about the youths’ influence on the public political system and she emphasized the importance of the youths’ extra-parliamentary activities, including youth movements that influence public opinion and public discourse as well as politicians. “As a member of Knesset, I am influenced by you. You are the voting public and it is important to me to know what you think and it is very important to me to know what is important to my public”.

When she is asked about the prospect of promoting the vision of sovereignty while the Trump administration is still in the White House, she expressed significant doubt, in light of the fact that the government has not taken a much simpler step, the step of regulating the young settlement. “We are simply asking for a decision of the government to regulate the young settlement. This is settlement that already exists, but the government will not do it. This is a more realistic decision than whether it will apply sovereignty within the next month. Now, as the Sovereignty Movement, your role is to keep the banner of Sovereignty waving always”.

The economist Eran Bar Tal told of how, during his visit a few days ago to Dubai, he repeatedly encountered residents of the Emirates “who cannot understand why we do not have sovereignty over the Land of Israel”, in his words. “For years, we thought that the Arab world was the obstacle, and now we understand that not only is it not an obstacle, but that they do not understand how it is that while we have held the territory since ’67, we don’t have the courage to say that these territories are ours and we do not have the courage to apply sovereignty over them. This is a great failure because it makes us occupiers. If you don’t apply sovereignty, you are an occupier. It is our responsibility to apply sovereignty”.

Bar-Tal told the youths about the research that he did with students from the Technion and with the National Vision movement about a decade ago to investigate the economic ramifications of sovereignty: “We divided Judea and Samaria into units of territory to be priced, what the land would be worth in the present situation without sovereignty and what it would be worth the day after sovereignty compared with parallel areas. The state decreases the value of the land when it doesn’t apply sovereignty over the area. The value of the area changes according to its legal status. If the state decides that certain land does not belong to it, its value decreases by tens of percent. When the state declares that an area belongs to it, its value jumps by hundreds of percent”.

Bar-Tal also addressed the significance of the application of sovereignty on the housing industry, stating that “the housing problem is one that we ourselves create. We have land in Judea and Samaria, much of which is in areas of high demand, in the center of the country, and for some reason, it is all “occupied” according to a governmental decision. This fact prevents us from populating it with Jews, which is the purpose of our gathering here, to be a magnet for the Jews of the Diaspora, to be a Jewish home for the People of Israel. Recent governmental decisions indicate that we have forgotten why we have gathered here. Look at the forecasts of the Central Bureau of Statistics and you will understand that in less than three decades, we will double Israel’s population. Where will these nine million go?”.

“I have friends who are Arab journalists in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Dubai, and they ask me these questions. They ask ‘what are you doing in Judea and Samaria?’ If it is yours, why don’t you take it; if it is not yours, why don’t you leave?”

Bar-Tal also related to the manpower aspect: “People ask what we will do with all the Arabs in Judea and Samaria. No reasonable person, on the Left or on the Right, has any solution other than to employ the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. It’s either starve them or allow them to work. They want to work and we need them as laborers”.

There is now a lobby in the Knesset to bring in foreign workers. I asked them how many people they need and was told that without thirty thousand workers the price would rise by three percent per month, and this is true. This would be about forty percent per year. We don’t have enough Israelis who can work in construction and we have the solution in our back yard. We don’t have to bring in Chinese and Romanian people. We should employ the Arabs from Judea and Samaria who have no work and their salary there is less than two thousand shekels per month, while we pay them 8000 and we turn a family in crisis to a thriving family. Arab friends tell me that if an Arab head of a family has work in Israel, their daughters make a better match for marriage. They want this”.

Bar-Tal verbally attacked and criticized the conduct of the human rights organizations, which he defined as contributing to the trampling of human rights. “These are anti-humanitarian organizations that cause people to be hungry on one hand, and on the other hand cause the state to be involved in the madness of bringing in foreign workers, while perpetuating the conflict. It is a self-feeding system”.

According to him, with the money that Israel would earn, “it would be possible to improve the infrastructure of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria and to make it possible for them to have a better life with more money, which we could give them, as well as to open the Jewish State for the absorption of the Jewish People who are not yet here”.

Bar-Tal continued by mentioning the aspect of cash flow: “Another aspect of these things, as to whether will they pay or not, is capital. At the moment, we don’t have control over cash flow and the money that has flowed in the billions, disguised as humanitarian aid from the Arab oil countries to terror infrastructures instead of schools, hospitals and roads. This capital does not find its way into anything positive, that would build the economy”.

Bar-Tal states that the political discourse does not relate to income that would result from the application of sovereignty, “We don’t do this, not for an economic reason but for an ideological reason, led by the side that is interested in separation”. In his opinion, this approach is nothing but “a bunch of slogans, ‘to allow them self-determination’, etc. but there is evil behind this, not only toward us but toward them as well. And many of the Arabs that I meet understand this. To say that we will put up a wall and be separated means that we will starve them behind that wall”.

MK Ayelet Shaked at Oz vGaon with Sovereignty Youth
MK Ayelet Shaked at Oz vGaon with Sovereignty Youth Sovereignty Movement Spokesman

“From an economic, humanitarian point of view, there is no other solution and today, even the most radical Leftist understands this. The idea of separation is not practical and not only because of the idea of expelling hundreds of thousands of Jews. Such a state is not feasible in the Middle East without the State of Israel. “Everyone understands this in Dubai, but it is still difficult to explain this to someone in Tel Aviv because they have convinced us with nice human rights slogans that we are evil occupiers and if only we would get out of there, they would have a lot of food”.

Bar-Tal added that we must remember that “our goal is to preserve a Jewish State here. Our grandparents came here because this was their goal”. In this spirit and under this principle, Bar-Tal believes, it will be possible to grant citizenship, carefully and in a measured way. “This principle is clear to every citizen in Dubai as well. There are many there who have married women from the U.S., but even after years, these women still are not citizens”.

In his lecture to the participants of the seminar, Middle East expert Dr. Moti Kedar laid out his concept of the correct way to relate to the Jewish-Arab conflict from the comprehensive historical aspect, stating that the tragedy of the modern Middle East states that were founded by British, French and Italian colonialism, is that they are states that were built according to European concepts and not from understanding of the internal clan affiliation of the area’s Arabs.

Later in his remarks, he presented his position on the tribal-clan structure of the Middle East and on the political ramifications of this structure in regard to a possible solution to the Israel-Arab conflict.

In the second part of the seminar, the youths lectured to their friends in the style of short TED lectures on various matters relating to the application of the vision of sovereignty and disseminating the idea among Israeli society.

The co-chairwomen of the movement, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, sum up the event with great satisfaction, in light of the involvement of the youth in producing the event and their participation in uploading its contents. “With encounters of this sort, we see our idealistic youth at its best. The youth asks questions, delves into the material and wants to know how to lead the vision of sovereignty to realization. The youth is causing a real revolution and we are proud to be partners to this.