A Dangerous Precedent
Dangerous Precedent

From a diplomatic, military, and economic viewpoint, Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement plan appears to be very sensible. Israel will be relieved of the cumbersome burden of having to administer to the needs of 1.3 million hostile Arabs. Removing the settlers will relieve the IDF of the difficult and dangerous task of protecting the 7000 settlers scattered in a sea of hostility. The move will satisy the diplomats at the UN and EU who demand that Israel make concessions to advance the peace process. It will placate those who claim that “Jewish settlements are the biggest obstacle to Middle East peace.” The US will be pleased that progress will be made along the “roadmap” plan and provide Israel with increased economic assistance. The settlers will be happy to receive monetary compensation for their losses. In the meantime, the Arabs will have to demonstrate that they can establish an effective, stable government while curbing terrorism. While all this is happening, Israel will strengthen its hold on Judea and Samaria, which are the important territories. The plan seems logical and reasonable with something to satisfy everyone. What could possibly be wrong? Plenty! Closer scrutiny reveals serious drawbacks. The State of Israel is sending the wrong message to the international community, which will cause the whole plan to backfire.

By dismantling the settlements, Israel is sending a message that says, “We acknowledge that we have been occupying Arab lands for over 30 years. We acknowledge that we allowed illegal settlements to be built in Gaza. Jews have no right to build settlements and live in Arab lands. The Arabs have a right to insist that no Jews should live in Arab lands, yet Arabs have a right to purchase land and homes in Jewish areas.” This statement fails to address the following questions and concerns:

Why shouldn’t 2000 peaceful Jewish families be allowed to live in Gaza, a short drive from major Israeli cities and industries?

Why do tens of millions of Muslims have a right to live in France, England, USA, and Canada, but Jews have no right to live in any land controlled by Muslims?

What is the justification for establishing an additional Muslim state in the area, while further reducing the area in which Jews are permitted to live?

Why is it permissible for 7000 Christians to live in Gaza, but Jews should be barred from living there?

What justification is there for the UN to establish a zone where no Jews are allowed to live?

Is there any other ethnic group in the world that gets this treatment?

How is that different from the Nazi demands that Europe be freed of Jews?

Shouldn’t the Arabs be asked to tolerate the presence of 7000 peaceful Jews living among 1 million Arabs, and provide security for them? Doesn’t Israel do that for its Arab citizens? Shouldn’t the Arabs also be held accountable for their pledges of peaceful coexistence?
By removing Jewish settlements, Sharon is setting a dangerous precedent. He is acknowledging that Jews should not live in areas that have been traditionally Arab and are still Arab dominated. Then, in a few years, the international community will demand that the same logic be extended to Judea and Samaria. If Jews have no right to live in Gaza, then they have no right to live in Judea and Samaria which is also under “illegal Israeli occupation.” There will be pressure from the international community to relocate 250,000 Jews, even if they have to be compensated for their homes. What’s a few billion dollars to the UN, EU, and the oil rich Arab states? The result will be that from all the ethnic groups in the world, only Jews will be barred from living within a few kilometers from their holy sites. Jews will be unable to live near sites that are rich with Jewish history, culture, and religious significance. What justice is there in doing that? Any diplomatic, military, and economic benefits from the disengagement plan will be overshadowed by the injustice of removing families from their homes and setting a precedent for the establishment of Jewish-free zones. Jews will be barred by the from visiting their holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem, as they were by the Jordanian Occupiers, in violation of the Armistice Agreement from 1949-1967. At that time, there was no international effort to allow Jews to have even minimal access to their holiest sites.

However reasonable it may seem, the Gaza disengagement plan should not be allowed to progress. It is pure ethnic and racial discrimination that violates the civil rights of all Jews. It is a giant step backwards. All people in favor of freedom, democracy, and equality, should be speaking out against it.

(c) 2004, I. Zwick, NYC

Israel Zwick is commentator on the Middle East based in New York.

Reprinted by permission.