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Applying sovereignty won’t be easy, but Israel is used to that

Time has run out on the Arab waiting game. Sovereignty won’t be simple—nothing of monumental historical consequence is. Only one more month to go.

Israelis participate in a march to celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day near Havat Gilad in Judea and Samaria on May 9, 2019. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.
Israelis participate in a march to celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day near Havat Gilad in Judea and Samaria on May 9, 2019. Photo by Hillel Maeir/Flash90.
Rabbi Dov Fischer, Rav of Young Israel of Orange County (Credit: YIOC)
Rabbi Dov Fischer

Though it decidedly will not be “annexation,” when Israel extends its sovereignty over segments of the Jewish heartland from the Jordan Valley to the other Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, the world is going to get angry.

But that is what it means to be a Jewish country. When Zionist visionary Ze’ev Jabotinsky was promoting declaring independence, many in the world Zionist leadership feared doing so on his time scale. The British would be angry. The Arabs would be angry. The New York Times, even then, would be angry. American Jewish leaders were divided. Yet, eventually, on the Fifth Day of Iyar, 5708, the deed was done. Sure enough, they all actually did get angry. At last glimpse, Israel still is alive, now in its 72nd year of extraordinary life. Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) still are angry.

It was the same after 1967 when Israel unified Jerusalem and then waited for world recognition. It never came. Most of the world’s nations have preferred to choose Israel’s capital for it, and maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. In America, it became a game. To embarrass Republican presidents, Democrat Congresses would press to move the embassy to Jerusalem. When Democrats took the White House, the Republicans in Congress became the lovers of Zion. Both sides always included a negating caveat that empowered the president to kill any embassy move by declaring the time not right. So it never happened, because otherwise everyone would get angry.

Finally, amid warnings of Armageddon, Trump did it. Everyone in Europe, Russia, the Arab world and the left wing of the Democratic Party got angry. The leading E.U. countries, for example, still have not and probably never will emulate the move. Yet Trump’s Democrat opponent in the presidential race now is on board. While he plans to restore Palestinian Authority funding that effectively will subsidize P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas’s “pay to slay” program that disburses cash bounties and annuities to families of terrorist murderers, Joe Biden now is on record that he will not uproot America’s new Jerusalem embassy. That is how history works, just as time has persuaded others that California and Texas are integral parts of America, not Mexico. Remember the Alamo.

Does King Abdullah II of Jordan really want a newly created Arab terrorist country on his western border instead of a peace-loving Israel? His great-grandfather, Abdullah, was murdered by the Arab locals. King Hussein, Abdullah’s father, succeeded to the throne and brutally drove out the “Palestinian fedayeen” in a vicious military engagement known as “Black September.” In August 1988 Hussein finally announced the “severing of Jordan’s legal and administrative ties with the West Bank.” He forgot thee, O Jerusalem, and accordingly has no further place at the table.

Saudi Arabia similarly says it will get angry if Israel extends sovereignty. However, the Saudis also prioritize staying alive. Call it triage. For the foreseeable future, the entire Wahhabi enterprise, and even Sunni Islam itself, faces existential peril at the hands of Shi’ite Iranians. Israelis, Americans and the rest of the world know that Iran is the central sponsor of international terrorism. Among their primary targets are the Sunni oil sheikhdoms, with Saudi Arabia a prime target.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have had no diplomatic relations since an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January 2016. Iran supports the Bashar Assad regime in Syria; the Saudis support the rebels. Saudi Arabia is at war with Iran all over the Middle East through proxies in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere. The Russians and Chinese support the Shi’ite ayatollahs, while America stands with Saudi Arabia. When Israel extends sovereignty, Saudi Arabia may be angry—but not as angry as it will be if Iran overthrows the House of Saud.

The Europeans will get angry? Because money is fungible, for decades they essentially have been funding Arab terrorism, “pay to slay” and textbooks that have incited three generations of Arab children to hate and murder Jews. For decades the United Nations Security Council has been savaging Israel, and the Europeans leave it to America to veto the hate. And the duplicity! Great Britain will not countenance Jewish sovereignty over the Jewish heartland in Hebron, Shilo and the Jordan Valley, while the same Britain sent its Royal Navy halfway around the world to assert sovereignty over the Falkland Islands—wherever those are. The French and Germans kept annexing Alsace-Lorraine back and forth so often that schools there had to teach both languages.

And what exactly will all these angry polities do about it, with COVID-19 raging and the European Union itself slowly disintegrating? Refuse to use CT-scan technology made in Israel? Ban “surgical theater” technology from Israel? With what will they replace Israeli life-saving technology and high-tech know-how? With Palestinian “inventions” like throwing rocks at civilians? Or will the European Union launch a targeted boycott or require special labels goods made in Judea and Samaria? Oh, wait. Been there, done that.

So that leaves the left wing of the Democrats. Leave them to American Jewry. And if J Street leads attacks on Israel, it will not matter anyway because the same ones who oppose Israeli sovereignty in the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria also opposed moving the embassy to Jerusalem, and their spiritual progenitors in the American Council for Judaism opposed Israeli independence. They did not matter then, and they will not matter later.

For more than a century, not merely the past 72 years of Israel’s existence, the Arab world has been playing the “long game” aimed at out-waiting Israel, focused on wearing Israel down, rejecting compromise—all premised on time being on their side. Half a century demonstrates irrefutably that no Israeli risks or concessions ever induced Abbas or his predecessor Yasser Arafat to sign a deal to live in peace, to stop inciting new generations to hate and to murder, and to stop believing that they gain by “playing for time.”

Meanwhile, Abbas is alive today because Israeli intelligence has reportedly thwarted several assassination plots against him. He knows that, and he will not dare terminate all security protocols with Israel. Triage.

Time has run out on the Arab waiting game. Their own birthrate has receded dramatically while even secular Jewish reproduction in Israel has boomed, alongside new sources of mass aliyah. A century of riots, pogroms and war, the annual Nakba Days, Land Days, plane hijackings and intifadas ultimately will be shown to have netted nothing but Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the rest of the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria. No one is going to expel 800,000 Jews from eastern Jerusalem and the rest of Judea and Samaria and, besides, there is nowhere to relocate nearly a million Jews.

Sovereignty won’t be simple. Nothing of monumental historical consequence is. Only one more month to go.

Rabbi Dov Fischer, a law professor and senior rabbinic fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, is a senior contributing editor at The American Spectator.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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