(August 28, 2018 / JNS)
One would expect that someone as professional and experienced as Martin Peretz, The New Republic’s former editor, would check basic facts before submitting an op-ed to The New York Times, especially when expressing some outrageous ideas about Israel’s newest legislation, the nation-state law.
He thinks that something he terms the “West Bank Model” is a failure.
As he sees matters, Israel is indeed a state whose symbols are Jewish; whose holidays and calendar come from the Jewish tradition;
It is also a country
whose government is accountable to an elected parliament; whose administration operates within the bounds of law; … and whose people are entitled to the minimum civil and legal protections of a modern free society regardless of their religion or ethnicity.
Nevertheless, he identifies something that is odious, but he does so by making an error, and in the Times, of all places!
He would have us believe that the law in referring to “development of Jewish settlement” being a “national value” includes settlement in the West Bank.
But does it?
The answer is “no,” it does not.
The relevant section, 7, reads: “The state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labor to encourage and promote its establishment and development.”
Perhaps Peretz had before him an earlier draft of the bill. That version did restrict settlement that activity to
Jewish settlement within [the State’s] boundaries
Mr. Peretz, I trust, does not think that Jerusalem’s post-1967 neighborhoods, like Ramat Eshkol, Gilo, Ha Homa, etc. are “settlements,” and that the city in its present border configuration is indeed part and parcel of the state, and not what he insists is the “West Bank.” Israel has the right to “settle” therein, even if the Arabs and others claim that Israel’s declared sovereignty is null and void. Does Peretz agree that some “settlement” is acceptable beyond the state’s borders?
But before going any further, I want to be fair and would wish to make it clear, addressing Mr. Peretz’s fear, that when the League of Nations, in 1922, decided that Great Britain would become responsible for a Palestine Mandate and that that entity would become the reconstituted Jewish national home, its territory was, at the outset, true, restricted to areas west of the Jordan River. East of it became Transjordan (see Article 25).
Nevertheless, Article 6 of that decision makes a very forthright and clear statement of support for Jewish ‘settlement’ throughout Judea and Samaria for those were the areas, Gaza, too, that made up “Palestine,” until 1947, anyway, which is that:
“The Administration of Palestine … shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”
Peretz may not like it, or he might not even know it, but “settlement”—or actually resettlement—is an internationally recognized and confirmed right of the Jews for the past century. Close settlement, to be exact.
Worse, he continues to mislead by asking why Israel not change the (non-existent) clause “to exclude the hyper-controversial West Bank settlement project?”
But Mr. Peretz, it isn’t there. It is not in the text.
The term “settlement” equally refers to what takes place in the Negev and the Galilee as well. That is the very essence of Zionism: returning the Jewish people to their homeland and turning that homeland to its original Eretz Yisrael.
Peretz further explains:
The present law—accidentally or not, and probably not—will import the West Bank model into Israel. That will be a catastrophe.
Mr. Peretz, the “model” is what Jews have always been doing: settling in the Land of Israel—taking possession of the land and settling in it (Numbers 33:53).
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and author.