Sometimes, nothing is more infuriating than the truth.
On Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu infuriated the Obama administration when he told the truth about the nature of the internationally supported Palestinian demand that Israel must transfer control over Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians Jew-free.
In a video address posted to his Facebook page at around dawn Washington time, Netanyahu said, “The Palestinian leadership… demands a Palestinians state with one precondition: No Jews.
“There’s a phrase for that. It’s called ‘ethnic cleansing.’ And this demand is outrageous.”
Netanyahu then turned his fire on the so-called international community that supports this bigoted demand.
“It’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find this outrageous,” he said, adding, “Some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.”
Later that day, Associated Press correspondent Matt Lee asked US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau what the administration thought of Netanyahu’s statement.
Apparently turning to a prepared text, Trudeau declaimed robotically and emphatically, “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.
“We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful….We share the view of every past US administration and the strong consensus of the international community that ongoing settlement activity is an obstacle to peace. We continue to call on both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to the two-state solution.”
The only thing missing from Trudeau’s response was an explanation of why Netanyahu was wrong. She didn’t explain, nor was she asked, how the US’s opposition to Israel’s respect for Jewish Israelis’ property rights in these areas squares with her denial that its policy supports ethnic cleansing.
To make this point a bit more clearly, here are a few questions that Trudeau was neither asked nor explained on her own, but whose answers are self-evident from the administration’s apoplectic response to every move by Israel to permit Jews to lawfully build homes in Judea, Samaria and unified Jerusalem.
• In the US government’s view, does Israel have the right to pass laws or ordinances for land use in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria? If not, why not?
• And if you do respect Israel’s right to issue rules on land use, why do you oppose the destruction of illegally built structures in Susiya? Why do you oppose the legal purchase of land by Jews in the so-called outposts?
• Under what circumstances is it legal for Jews to buy land beyond the 1949 armistice lines in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria?
• Under what circumstances is it legal for Jews to build homes for themselves in these areas?
Through its consistently stated and deliberately applied policy of totally rejecting all rights of Jewish Israelis to live and build in these areas, from its first days in office, the Obama administration has made clear that it rejects the civil rights of Jews as Jews in these areas and seeks the complete negation of their rights through mass expulsion, property seizure and destruction, that is, through ethnic cleansing.
As Trudeau noted, the Obama administration’s support for the ethnic cleansing of Jews is a continuation (and radicalization) of the policies of its predecessors.
Netanyahu’s statement flummoxed the administration because no Israeli leader has ever stated the obvious bigotry of the US position regarding the so-called settlements so pointedly.
To the contrary, for much of the past 20 years, in a futile attempt to mobilize international support Israel, it has been the consistent policy of successive Israeli governments to ignore the anti-Semitic bigotry at the heart of “otherwise enlightened” nations’ rejection of Jewish civil rights.
The problem for Israeli leaders has been that the so-called “two-state solution” which successive governments have been strong-armed by “otherwise enlightened countries” into supporting is predicated on the ethnic cleansing of Jews.
You cannot have a “two-state solution” unless Israel forcibly expels more than a half million Jews from their homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
In his remarks, Netanyahu argued that it is impossible to base peace on bigotry. And of course he is right. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 proved his point.
Eleven years ago, with the support of ideologically driven jurists and journalists and the Bush administration, then prime minister Ariel Sharon suspended the rule of law in Israel when he denied the due process rights of 10,000 Israelis lawfully residing in lands to which they had legal title in Gaza and northern Samaria, and denied their supporters’ the right to lawfully protest his policies.
Far from convincing the Palestinians or their “otherwise enlightened” supporters of Israel’s commitment to peace, Sharon’s actions convinced them that there is no downside to supporting ethnic cleansing of Jews in furtherance of a Jew-free Palestine.
Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections the following year, and the Bush and later Obama administrations’ increasingly extreme rejections of Jewish rights across the board in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria proved that limited enactment of ethnic cleansing of Jews merely whets the “otherwise enlightened” nations’ appetite for more.
Rather than point out this state of affairs, until last Friday, Israel’s leaders pretended it away. And then, all of the sudden, Netanyahu decided to overturn the applecart.
Lee asked Trudeau whether the administration was demanding that Netanyahu “walk back” his statement. Trudeau gave no answer.
But it wouldn’t matter if they were. It is too late.
As Trudeau’s non-denial response showed, Netanyahu’s statement was the truth. The anti-settlement policies of the Obama administration and its predecessors are founded on the anti-Semitic assumption that Jewish civil rights – as opposed to everyone else’s rights, are conditional. When Jewish rights collide with the internationally supported demand for a Jew-free Palestine, Jews and Jewish Israeli governments become “obstacles to peace.” That is, they become evil and therefore deserving of persecution.
As Trudeau was failing to explain how the US’s support for ethnic cleansing was anything other than support for ethnic cleansing, The Jewish Press reported that the administration-supported pro-ethnic cleansing group J Street is lobbying the IRS to trample the civil rights of a group that rejects ethnic cleansing.
According to the report, J Street’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami sent an email to the group’s membership announcing that he is lobbying the IRS to revoke the non-profit status of Regavim. Regavim is a private group that documents illegal Palestinian construction.
Regavim works to convince the courts and the government to enforce land laws without prejudice to Jews and non-Jews alike. For rejecting anti-Jewish bigotry, Ben-Ami wrote, Regavim acts in defiance of US government policy. As a consequence, J Street is seeking to deny Regavim’s American supporters their right to lawfully donate and raise funds on behalf of Regavim’s lawful activities.
Netanyahu’s decision to tell the truth about the anti-Semitic nature of the anti-settlement movement was a watershed event. From now on, leaders from Ramallah to Washington to Brussels will have to account for their anti-Jewish policies.
For the first time, the Israeli government has made clear that there is no distinction between the civil rights of Jews in Tel Aviv, Beit El or New York.
Like every other national, religious, ethnic, racial and other group in the world, Jews have the right to exercise their civil rights to property. And if the Palestinians and their “otherwise enlightened” supporters don’t like it, that’s their problem, not ours.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.