Expanding Qalqilya is a lame-brained idea that can cost lives
Expanding Qalqilya is a lame-brained idea that can cost lives
From my viewing some televised episodes of “Srugim,” it appears that there is a term in Hebrew that is a bit challenging to translate into English: Idiotim.

If I had to translate this Hebrew word for an English-speaking audience, I would say: “Think of the people in Israel’s Government who contemplated approving a massive expansion of the population of Qalqiliya.  Got it?  Now do you understand what the word means?”

Of all the lame-brained political ideas that ever have come out of Israel, the notion that a Jewish Government that repeatedly bars expansion of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria – and even occasionally freezes and always limits Jewish building in East Jerusalem – would permit the mass expansion of Qalqiliya is beyond any comprehension.

Qalqiliya is in Area C of Judea and Samaria.  Although I am among those who believe that Area A and Area B also belong to the Jewish People, everyone seems to agree that Area C is under complete Israeli control, even under the terms and conditions of the disastrous Oslo Accords.  Qalqiliya is in that Area C over which Israel may exert complete dominion.  The city has 53,000 residents.  Suddenly, there are those in the Government of Israel prepared to allow that city to expand by 14,000 housing units.  Even by conservative estimates, that would double the city’s population, if not triple it, virtually overnight.

Israeli Highway 6 (the north-south Yitzchak Rabin Highway, which is a major vehicular artery for Israelis) is right near Qalqiliya.  Similarly, Israel’s east-west Route 55 takes Jews to work in Kfar Saba, Ra’anana, and even to work in Hod HaSharon, Herzliyah and Petach Tikvah, from their homes in Karnei Shomron, Maaleh Shomron, Alfei Menashe, and Tzufim.  Qalqiliya is along the way of Route 55.  

Not only does Qalqiliya lie along a major Israeli north-south highway artery at Israel’s narrowest point, and smack in the middle of a critical east-west route in Samaria, but that city repeatedly has been a hotbed for producing terrorists.

In March 2015, the Shin Bet security forces in conjunction with the IDF broke up and captured the terrorist members of a Hamas cell that was in the process of planning terror attacks in Israel.  Tens of kilograms of explosives were uncovered along, and six ringleaders were captured. The terror cell was based in Qalqiliya.

A year later, in March 2016, an American tourist was killed and at least ten others were seriously injured during a mass stabbing attack that extended close to half an hour at several locations in and around Jaffa. The terrorist, a 21-year-old, finally was caught and killed by police.  He was from Qalqiliya.

Last December Israeli security forces shot and killed an Arab terrorist at Tapuach Junction in Samaria after the terrorist drew a knife on them.  The eighteen-year-old terrorist was from Qalqiliya.

In February of this year, another Hamas terrorist, Malik Nazar Yusef Kazmar, was arrested in a joint operation conducted by the IDF with the Shin Bet security services.  Again – hailing from Qalqiliya.

Four months ago, in March, Israeli security forces arrested a 23-year-old terrorist, Yusef Yasser Sweilam, who was working in conjunction with Hezbollah, planning attacks within Israel and training in kidnaping.  Sweilam was a resident of Qalqiliya.

Nor is this a recent development.  Ten years ago, in March 2007 Israeli security forces arrested 19 Hamas terrorists operating out of Qalqilya.  They planned to perpetrate a series of attacks during Pesach, including a suicide-bombing attack in Tel Aviv.

In the words of Yossi Dagan, who heads the Samaria Regional Council, “This terrible plan to double the size of Qalqiliya, which sits just two kilometers (1.25 miles) from Kfar Saba, at the expense of areas under full Israeli control, puts residents of Kfar Saba, Kochav Yair, the Sharon area and Samaria at risk and needs to be dropped from the [government] agenda. We expect the government and cabinet ministers to take this absurd idea off the table. I respect the Defense Minister, but the role of a right-wing government is to build for the State of Israel, not to build up Qalqiliya. It looks like they’ve got their priorities mixed up.”

If politicans within the Government of Israel think they will win world acclaim and applause by doubling or tripling the terrorist stronghold of Qalqiliya, they are amazingly naïve.  Consider the Oslo Accords and the dismantling of Gush Katif and all the similar concessions and building freezes and torn-down Jewish communities that Israeli Governments have agreed to.  Each time, the concessions won partial applause and congratulations for half an hour, maybe a full day.  By the next week, UNESCO was always back at declaring Jews illegal in Jerusalem.  The United Nations General Assembly was back at passing anti-Israel resolutions.  Obama and Kerry were back at allowing the U.N. Security Council to declare Jews to have no rights to East Jerusalem and the Kotel.  Not to mention all of Israel’s admirers in the countries of the European Union, the continents of Africa and Asia – even New Zealand (wherever that is).

But, while all the world’s cheers over Israeli give-aways changed rapidly to jeers soon after, one thing did not change back: the self-destruction to which Israel had agreed proved near-impossible to reverse.

If an Israeli Government approves an expansion of Qalqiliya, no one in the West or elsewhere will notice.  The European Union is focused on Brexit and climate change.  The United States is focused on an insane investigation regarding President Trump and the Russians that is so banal that future historians will not even be able to explain it.  The Russians are focused on expanding their influence wherever they can.  North Korea is focused on nuclear-bombing San Francisco.  The Arab world is focused on ISIL in Syria and Iraq, terrorists in Qatar, and the plummeting price of oil.  The few Jews in America who are institutionally associated with Reform Judaism are focused on adding an additional entrance to their precious Robinson’s Arch prayer zone, which is empty 95 percent of the year except when an occasional Reform tourist group comes by – and even then it empties immediately when they hear that Britney Spears is at the Kotel.  The rest of American Jews, other than the Orthodox Jews – who, along with Christian evangelicals, are Israel’s strongest base of support in America – could not care less about Israel or anything Jewish, as they focus instead on advancing their dreams of liberalism and impeaching President Trump.

In other words, no one outside Israel cares about expanding Qalqiliya. No one will applaud Israel “for taking brave risks for peace” if Qalqiliya is doubled or tripled.  No one will notice.

But Israel – and the travelers along Highway 6 and Route 55 and the people who encounter those incubated at Qalqiliya’s doubled and tripled terror factories – will be stuck with the terrible mistake for years to come.

Rabbi Dov Fischer, a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, is author of General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine (Steimatzky). His political commentaries have appeared on the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Los Angeles Times, and in other major American publications.  He formerly was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, is an adjunct professor of law at two prominent American law schools, and is Rav of Young Israel of Orange County, California.  He is author of Jews for Nothing (Feldheim). His writings can be found at RabbiDov.com