Which of the following two statements should prompt diplomatic censure: “Ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd,” or “We cannot agree to the idea of a Jewish state”?
The first statement was made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the end of last week. He pointed out that while Israel has two million Arabs in its midst, who live in peace and with equal rights with the Jews, the Palestinians demand that their future state be vacated of all its Jews. “There’s a phrase for that,” the prime minister noted. “It’s called ethnic cleansing.”
Though the term is strong, it fits. The Jewish people have profound historic, spiritual connections to Chevron, Beit El, Shilo, and all parts of Yehudah and Shomron, and a Palestinian precondition that every last Jew be removed from these areas, simply because they are Jews, not because they have violated any laws, is ethnic cleansing. And as the prime minister went on to say, even more outrageous than the demand is “that the world doesn’t find this outrageous.”
Even more outrageous, we would add, is when the West is outraged at having the anomaly of “ethnic cleansing for peace” pointed out to them. The over-the-top reaction of the State Department is typical, with spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau calling Netanyahu’s statements “inappropriate and unhelpful,” adding: “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank.”
At the heart of the issue is the language used in Trudeau’s statement, loaded words like “settlement” activity and “West Bank.” If Jews don’t belong in Yehudah and Shomron, if they are settlers, another word for colonialists, then indeed accusing the Palestinians of demanding ethnic cleansing is “inappropriate and unhelpful.” And if the sacred piece of real estate between the pre-Six-Day-War lines and the Jordan River is just the sanitized-sounding “West Bank” of the Jordan, and not Yehudah and Shomron, with its Jewish roots and history dating back thousands of years, then it is not ethnic cleansing.
The problem is that the Palestinians have had help in spreading their Big Lie from successive Israeli governments, which have played down the Biblical Jewish claim to the Land of Israel for way too long, but especially since the Oslo Accords of 1993.
Israel’s refusal to clearly state that Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish people as an inheritance from its forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and to live up to its responsibility to conduct itself as a Jewish state, has led to the absurdity of Netanyahu being on the defensive for drawing attention to the Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing.
The second statement, which went practically unnoticed, came from an Israeli Arab Knesset member, who explained what she meant by a “two-state” solution. As part of a propaganda campaign she conducted a few months ago in Switzerland, Hanin Zoabi clarified that there should be a state for the Palestinians, and “a secular democratic state of all its citizens,” with the concept of a Jewish state banned altogether.
“If these two states build relations and eventually decide to unite, that would be possible,” she said. “But we cannot have one state under the current circumstances with the settlers remaining in the West Bank. We must do away with Zionism and the Jewish state, and then we can decide how to set up the states — one or two of them, I personally don’t care.”
Zoabi’s declared goal of working within the system, as a Knesset member, to “do away with” the State of Israel evoked no outrage; no one found it “inappropriate and unhelpful.” Not even in Israel, where her vile antics have become old hat. (She was filmed on the Mavi Marmara together with the armed thugs who attacked Israeli soldiers in 2010, calls Israeli soldiers “murderers” and makes no secret of the fact that Arab MKs “do not represent the Jewish state in the Knesset; we represent our [Palestinian] people.”)
At the heart of Zoabi’s diatribe is an incontrovertible truth: There is no difference between Tel Aviv and Chevron. The Palestinians today call for the cleansing of all Jews from Yehudah and Shomron, a demand that is accepted around the world; tomorrow, they will echo Zoabi’s call for an end to the Jewish state.
Netanyahu was right to talk straight about the Palestinian demand for ethnic cleansing, even though it riled some in the U.S. State Department and Europe. It’s time to start saying, loud and clear, that Eretz Yisrael is deeded to the Jewish People by the Torah. It’s also time to recognize that the deed states explicitly the conditions for remaining in the Land, and that those who seek to turn Israel into a “country of all its citizens,” stripping it of Shabbos and all its Jewish characteristics, will, chalilah, serve the interests of Hanan Zoabi and her ilk.