Prime Minister Netanyahu has decided to file away last month's report by a committee headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, which endorsed an Israeli view of international law that Yehuda and Samaria (the West Bank) are not "occupied territories," insofar as they never were the possession of any country. The prime minister was not rejecting the committee's conclusion, but putting it in the archives without a formal endorsement in order to avoid international complications.
In other words, the Jewish state, like Jews historically, was settling for less than is due in order to avoid provoking the goyim.
Now lets hear it from the anti-Semites, self-hating Jews, both Jews and non-Jews who think Jews and Israel already have more than they deserve and should be a light unto the Gentiles, along with all the rest who think that I am just plain crazy.
I support the prime minister's action, but also feel it appropriate to call it as it is.
Israel is a tiny country, supported by some of the few Jews in the world, and by some other decent folks and governments. But it does best, like Jews historically, when it operates in full recognition of its limited power.
Israel's actions in the West Bank are limited, but more sloppy than elegant. Government officials praise settlers and provide them with subsidies. Policy is to avoid the expansion of existing settlements, and to allow construction only within the boundaries of those existing. Some of the settlements have "boundaries" beyond existing structures. Officials oppose "illegal" settlements, and occasional move against them, all the while proclaiming that Israel is a country ruled by law.
Another case of Israel accepting less than what is arguably its due concerns African migrants coming over the Sinai.
According to one view of international law, they may deserve consideration as refugees in the first country that they enter which is not their own.
That's not Israel. Egypt appears to qualify, where Israel can dump them all back and be done with them, along with a sense of being law abiding.
However, experience is that Egyptian police and soldiers are likely to shoot them on sight, aiming to kill. So something akin to an generous interpretation of international law and Jewish morals has Israel accepting them, at least for a while. An imperfect set of coping mechanisms includes keeping some of them in camps (what opponents call jails), letting some wander the country and earn their keep as best they can, providing medical care and other basic services, and putting some on a plane back home along with a thousand euros to keep them quiet and give them a fresh start where a thousand euros is a lot of money.
There is also a barrier being built, regulations against those working in the country to send money home, and occasional indications that Israeli soldiers are going a few meters into the Egyptian Sinai where the barrier has not been completed, seizing groups of migrants, and keeping them from continuing to Israel.
It's kind of messy, and not at all clear as to the effects of all these steps on the intentions of Africans to keep coming. The messiness also reflects an Israeli pattern of dealing with a difficult issue when Israeli leftists, overseas Jewish leftists, and the goyim are looking and judging.
International law is also messy. There are numerous provisions, some of which seem at odds with others, different ways of judging the meaning and importance of various sections, no proper judges to rule fairly without a political agenda, and no international force to apply their rulings in a professional manner.
Israelis have created a decent country, rated among the world's wealthiest, with its share of Nobel prizes, highly ranked universities, decent medical care with one of the world's longest life expectancies, and lots of reasons for Jews to complain.
Social services are not as good as in countries that have wealthier economies and lesser problems of national security requiring one of the world's most expensive armies per capita. A visit to Norway can easily make an Israeli jealous of all that water, hydro-electricity, oil, abundant fish for export, only a bit more than half of Israel's population, one of the world's three or four highest per capita incomes, a 25 percent value added tax that pays for lots of social services and helps keeps down the incidence of foreign tourists.
Jews may not, by nature, be a modest people. I've known Jewish nouveau riche who remind of the wedding scene in Goodbye Columbus. However, Israel's government must be modest. It lives in part by sufferance, and in part by its own resources and willingness to take risk in its defense.
Currently the most pressing issue is not the African migrants or how much of the West Bank Israel can settle, but what should it do about a country developing nuclear weapons and means of delivery, along with frequent declarations that Israel ought to be destroyed.
Israel does not have the resources to invade Iran, oust the current government, and make things right. It may have the capacity to destroy a lot of that country along with many of its people, but that is not an option on the table.
Israel may have the capacity to set back Iran's nuclear program, and maybe involve a bigger power in the operation.
That prospect is on the table, but is being discussed like Jews discuss things. Lots of argument, and with a concern not to do something that will upset too many of the goyim.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Posted by Ira Sharkansky at August 15, 2012 09:52 AM