Amos Schocken in Haaretz’s offices. (Photo: Michal Chelbin/The New Yorker)
Amos Schocken, owner of Haaretz, writes in Israel (not here, no way) that the settler movement Gush Emunim is building an “apartheid regime” in Israel and Palestine and that it is supported by the “Jewish lobby” in the U.S. That lobby is “totally addicted” to settler policies; and this explains Obama’s collapse.
In trying to understand Obama’s reversal of his declaration in Cairo in 2009, Schocken does what Walter Russell Mead of the Council on Foreign Relations swears never to do; he ascribes political influence on the Democratic Party to American Jews. Mead would classify Schocken as an anti-semite for saying this.
As to Schocken’s question, Why they fell into line? He does not understand the minority Jewish experience. American Jewish leaders were instructed after ’67 and ’73 that they were the only thing preventing Israel’s destruction and that they must support Israeli leadership, no matter what. (Chuck Schumer: I am Israel’s guardian.) These are religiously-loaded instructions that young Jews are trying to reform. Thanks to Paul Mutter.
The term “apartheid” refers to the undemocratic system of discriminating between the rights of the whites and the blacks, which once existed in South Africa. Even though there is a difference between the apartheid that was practiced there and what is happening in the territories, there are also some points of resemblance. There are two population groups in one region, one of which possesses all the rights and protections, while the other is deprived of rights and is ruled by the first group. This is a flagrantly undemocratic situation.
Since the Six-Day War, there has been no other group in Israel with the ideological resilience of Gush Emunim, and it is not surprising that many politicians have viewed that ideology as a means for realizing personal political ambitions. Zevulun Hammer, who identified this ideology as the way to capture the leadership of the National Religious Party, and Ariel Sharon, who identified this ideology as the way to capture the leadership of Likud, were only two of many. Now Avigdor Lieberman, too, is following this path, but there were and are others, such as the late Hanan Porat, for whom the realization of this ideology was and remains the purpose of their political activity.
This ideology views the creation of an Israeli apartheid regime as a necessary tool for its realization. It has no difficulty with illegal actions and with outright criminality, because it rests on mega-laws that it has adopted and that have no connection with the laws of the state, and because it rests on a perverted interpretation of Judaism. It has scored crucial successes. Even when actions inspired by the Gush Emunim ideology conflict with the will of the government, they still quickly win the backing of the government. The fact that the government is effectively a tool of Gush Emunim and its successors is apparent to everyone who has dealings with the settlers, creating a situation of force multiplication.
This ideology has enjoyed immense success in the United States, of all places. President George H.W. Bush was able to block financial guarantees to Israel because of the settlements established by the government of Yitzhak Shamir (who said lying was permissible to realize the Gush Emunim ideology. Was Benjamin Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan University speech a lie of this kind? ). Now, though, candidates for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination are competing among themselves over which of them supports Israel and the occupation more forcefully. Any of them who adopt the approach of the first President Bush will likely put an end to their candidacy.
Whatever the reason for this state of affairs – the large number of evangelicals affiliated with the Republican party, the problematic nature of the West’s relations with Islam, or the power of the Jewish lobby, which is totally addicted to the Gush Emunim ideology – the result is clear: It is not easy, and may be impossible, for an American president to adopt an activist policy against Israeli apartheid.
Schocken asks why