Opening Friday’s newspaper, I found an interesting article in the Ha’Aretz magazine, authored by noted left-wing Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua. The article, called “Eleven Degrees of Separation” deals with the issue of unilateral separation, the new-old idea now being espoused by the left as an “alternative” to Oslo. Unilateral separation is, in simple terms, full, or almost full Israeli withdrawal from all land liberated by Israel in 1967 during the Six Day War, uprooting of almost all communities established by Israel throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and construction of a fence to divide between Israel and the Arabs.
Without any doubt, unilateral separation on the part of Israel would lead to the creation of a Palestinian State. The main difference between this program and Oslo is that Israel withdraws without negotiation. We get up and leave Yesha (Judea, Samaria, Gaza) to Arafat to do whatever he wants. Theoretically, following such a travesty, future negotiations could lead to establishment of “permanent borders” i.e., additional Israeli concessions, both in areas not yet abandoned by Israel and in Jerusalem.
Yet, the real problem with A. B. Yehoshua’s article is not his plan to abandon Yesha. The real problem is revealed before he gets to his actual proposal. He lists several a priori assumptions, the first of which says, in brief: “The Zionist phenomenon generated, and continues to generate, a trauma in the local residents… and was a powerful and complex shock to the Palestinians.” A few paragraphs later Yehoshua defines Zionism: “If I had to define Zionism in just one word, I would choose the word ‘borders.’”
I find it amazing how ignorant a supposedly intelligent person can be.
As to the first assumption, Joan Peters, in her monumental work From Time Immemorial writes in her concluding chapter, called “The Flight from Fact”:
In other words, A. B. Yehoshua’s assumption that Jewish return to Israel was a trauma to the Palestinians, is undeniably wrong, for there were no “Palestinians” to be traumatized.
- Myth: “The ‘Palestinian people’ have had an identity with the land.”
- Myth: “The ‘alien’ Jews returned after 2,000 years in 1948 to displace the ‘Palestinian Arabs’ in the new Jewish state.”
- Myth: “The Arabs were there first – it was Arab land.”
- Myth: “The Jews stole the Arabs’ land.”
- Fact: “The land of ‘Palestine proper’ had been laid to waste, causing peasants to flee.”
- Fact: “Jews and Zionism had never left the Holy Land, even after the Roman Conquest in 70 CE.”
- Fact: “The Arabic-speaking ‘masses’ – what few there were - thought of themselves as Ottomans or Turks… or as Arab people, but never as Palestinians.”
- Fact: “The bulk of of all ‘Arab’ peasantry in the area…were rendered ‘landless’ by feudal-like societal structures, natural disasters, extortionate taxation and corrupt loan sharks… yet the Jews were cynically charged with creating ‘landless Arabs’ in Palestine.”
His definition of Zionism as “borders” is remarkable. Many years ago, following the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism, I defined Zionism as Jewish nationalism. If need be and, according to Yehoshua’s rules, I can use only one word, then Zionism is, very simply, Israel - the land of Israel, living in the land of Israel. Professor Binyamin Neuberger, in an article on Zionism called “A Modern Rendition of an Ancient Motif,” says: “The origin of ‘Zionism’ is the biblical word ‘Zion’, often used as a synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael). Zionism is an ideology which expresses the yearning of Jews the world over for their historical homeland - Zion, the Land of Israel.”
A. B. Yehoshua’s conceptualization of Zionism as “borders” to fit his political outlook, in not only a distortion of our Jewish heritage, it is an attempt to rewrite history, to preempt Jewish yearning for its homeland in favor of “palestinian trauma.” According to A. B. Yehoshua, the real Zionists are not Jewish, they are Arab. This leads to the logical justification for Israel to abandon Yesha, since it is seen merely as a restoration to the Arabs of what rightfully belongs to them. As Yehoshua writes, “the major obstacle is the settlement enterprise… is it conscionable that nine million people should be blood hostages in the hands of 50,000 settlers?”
In other words, a present day Jewish Zionist, if such a term exists, can be defined, according to A. B. Yehoshua as someone who wishes to abandon Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), not live in Eretz Yisrael. As such, the term Zionism contradicts itself. So much for intelligent Israeli authors.
Yet the contradictions don’t stop in writing. Recently I was asked to speak to a group of young Jews who had just arrived in Israel from Australia. Having traveled into Jerusalem to meet some of these people, I discovered a small group of people imprisoned on a Jewish Agency site in south Jerusalem. These young people, eighteen years old and up, are literally locked in and forbidden to leave their campus. Security guards at the entrance to the facility will not let them out. Why? We all know the answer: Security, of course. Come to Jerusalem, but don’t go outside. Zionism in action.
I was told that, despite their political affiliation with the international Betar movement, a right-wing Jewish organization associated with Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, most of the group’s classes for the next four months will be conducted by so-called educators of the opposite political persuasion. These young people will, upon their return to Australia, be the leaders and educators in and amongst their Jewish communities.
The name of the game is education. Not myths, but facts. Not a superficial brainwashing, but a solid grasp of reality. As long as philosophies such as A. B. Yehoshua’s, which is actually cheap Arab propaganda, are allowed to run rampant in the guise of historical fact, and are being fed to Jewish youth, whether in Israel or around the world, we are in trouble. Only when all Jews come to a realization that Jewish life in all Eretz Yisrael, including Yesha, is the Zionist standard and that Eretz Yisrael belongs to Am Yisrael (the People of Israel), as it always has and always will, will we be able to proceed forward.David Wilder is a spokesman for the Jewish community of Hevron. A recorded version of his regular radio commentary on Arutz Sheva Israel National Radio can be heard on IsraelNationalNews.com..