While the world holds its breath in anticipation of the Mideast Summit in Annapolis which, no doubt, will constitute a historic landmark, giving a most significant boost to the economy of that small town in Maryland the Israeli right wing comes up with a new peace initiative, launched by MK Benny Elon, chairman of the National Union and the Moledet Party, as “The Israeli Initiative,” “a new way of thinking about the conflict, in learning from our mistakes, and in rereading the regional map toward a revitalized and genuine quest to achieve The Right Road to Peace.” Elon also praises his plan in the media as being “beyond Left and Right.” And it has already been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback.
Listen to the Right
It’s important to monitor the Israeli far Right. The settlers’ ideology is usually shared by the Israeli military, and the military is the central political agent in Israel, much more important than any short-lived government or prime minister. This is why plans, demands, and suggestions of the Israeli far Right, no matter how lunatic they sound when launched, are often the best prediction for future reality, which usually lags just a few years behind.
For example, I still have in my archives an old ad published by the Moledet Party back in June 1996, demanding “a full, permanent closure on the Arabs of Judea and Samaria” (that’s how they call West Bank Palestinians). At that time, only a far-right party could dare suggest such a appalling idea. A few years later, this became a reality, unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
Save the Refugees
So what is Benny Elon proposing? At the core of his program is a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. It’s indeed touching to see a representative of the settlers the civilian sector most responsible for the harassment and dispossession of Palestinians all over the occupied territories so concerned with their true misery. Elon urges to rehabilitate millions of Palestinian refugees by dismantling UNRWA (an old anti-Palestinian dream); consequently, “all residents of refugee camps will be offered permanent places of residence, citizenship, and a generous rehabilitation grant. The refugee camps will also be dismantled following this process.“
Sounds great, doesn’t it? The only riddle is where these “permanent places of residence” will be. Elon is intentionally vague at this point: he speaks generally of “immigration countries.” One thing is clear, though: Israel is not one of them; otherwise Elon couldn’t promise that “dismantling of the refugee camps as part of a process of rehabilitation will reduce the Arab population in Judea and Samaria.” Clearly, then, the Palestinian refugees now residing in the West Bank and Gaza will be “rehabilitated” somewhere else on the globe (how about Canada, Alaska, or Europe, to strike a familiar chord?). So here it is: the old “transfer” or deportation desires of the Israeli Right, now with a more fashionable haircut. Beyond Left and Right you always find the far Right.
Blackmail, the Moral Version
To gain support for this ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian territories, Elon quotes “Independent polls indicat[ing] that half of all Palestinians are considering moving to a different country.” This might be true thanks to Benny Elon and his fellow settlers. Years ago, when asked to explain what he meant by “voluntary transfer” of Palestinians, Rabbi Elon gave an example from Jewish law. According to the Halacha, a rabbinical court cannot impose a divorce on a refusing husband; but what it can do is use sanctions, including incarceration and even physical penalties, until the husband succumbs. This is what Elon meant by “voluntary transfer”: making Palestinian life in the Territories unlivable, to the extent that they would rather live somewhere else. Now the time has come: after years of Israeli oppression just as Elon demanded, the cynical politician can now claim that the Palestinians are finally “voluntarily” willing to go.
Here’s the Right Road to Peace, and to getting your neighbor’s house for free: terrorize him until he breaks down, then take his house and claim you were just following his own wish to leave. What any sane person (or jury) would define as blackmail and hypocrisy is “a moral solution to the refugee problem” for MK Elon, chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus. I wonder what Jesus would have said.
Our Palestinian Guests
Elon further suggests dismantling the Palestinian Authority what else is new? and founding his “peace” on a pact with Jordan. Israel, surprise surprise, should annex the West Bank (or rather “extend its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria”), and the “Arab population that will continue to reside inside the new borders of the State of Israel [i.e., those not already deported as “refugees”] will enjoy full human rights awarded by the State of Israel, but they will possess Jordanian-Palestinian citizenship, and their political rights will be realized in Amman.”
This sounds very humane indeed: not only will the remaining Palestinians generously “enjoy” full human rights in Israel, they will also have Jordanian nationality. What hospitality! Imagine President Bush offering all Native Americans in the U.S. not only full human rights, but also full citizenship in, say, Mexico. Elon’s plan clearly aims at turning the Palestinians into guests in their own land: they will be tolerated in Israel like any other tourists, but their actual homeland will be the Kingdom of Jordan. Obviously, no sovereign state is expected to keep foreigners within its borders indefinitely, let alone allow them to multiply and grow in number. Once the Palestinians are turned into Jordanians residing in Israel, their deportation, whether individually or en masse, will become a simple internal, technical Israeli decision, which the Immigration Police could implement any time.
The Israeli and pro-Israel Right, then people like Benny Elon and the settlers, his allies among evangelical Christians, and probably also far-right Israeli leaders in disguise (Ehud Barak?) have not abandoned their intention to ethnically cleanse the Land of Israel of its “Gentile” inhabitants. They keep pushing these genocidal ideas in ever changing but quite transparent robes.
In practical, moral, and legal terms, there is little difference between Elon’s “peace initiative” and Ahmadinejad’s. Both aim at solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by “relocating” often a codeword for elimination one of the parties. I wonder whether in his next visit to his evangelical friends in the U.S. MK Elon will enjoy the same kind of reception as the Iranian president just did.