Today I read Isabel Kershner’s very good report in the New York Times saying there are serious reasons to doubt the Israeli government’s commitment to investigate and prosecute Jewish terrorists — including “price tag” criminals who murder Palestinian villagers as a message to the government against even trying to restrict Jewish colonization of the West Bank. The article underlines the view that:
Israeli law-enforcement authorities have for years acted with laxness and leniency toward Israeli citizens.
And while Kershner does not adequately consider the backing for these radicals inside the Israeli political structure, she unwittingly raises a burning question that liberal Zionists and other advocates of the two-state solution must answer:
Two-state advocates have to convince us that an Israeli government that has proven ineffective to do anything to stop a pattern of terroristic activities by Jews far away from the settlements can project the physical force necessary to move hundreds of thousands of settlers back into Israel.
Reflect that liberal Zionists tell us that a two-state solution is still possible, that most Palestinians and Israeli Jews support it. But to create a viable Palestinian state, large number of settlers will have to move — or be moved — back across the Green Line into pre-67 Israel.
There are well over half a million settlers across the Green Line, and whole communities would have to be uprooted. Large numbers of often-religious nationalists would have to leave the territory of the new Palestinian state.
I think the answer is that Israel can’t pull that off — not even to move the 100,000 settlers that supporters of a bare-minimum Palestinian “entity” envision — without provoking a civil war among Jews.
Who’s going to force the Jewish settlers to move back into Israel? Hard-core Jewish nationalists, long supported by the Israeli government, have already proven that they’re going to kill, bomb and burn to hold on to what they call biblical lands, and they don’t mind murdering Jews to do so. Anyone who’s serious about this should study the history of the French in Algeria; when calls for Algerian independence gained traction in the 1950s, the French nationalist OAS, or Organisation de l’armee secrete, tried to hold the line against any French concessions on Algeria by committing terrorist acts across Algeria and inside France too, by trying to overturn the French government, and by attempting to kill French President, Charles de Gaulle. Jewish nationalist radicals are capable of the same violence. In fact they already did murder Israel’s leader. Twenty years ago, one of them, Yigal Amir, killed the Israeli Prime Minister for talking about giving up West Bank lands, and he is a hero in right-wing circles. Today there are many rightwing leaders inside the Israeli political establishment who are one degree of separation from these fanatics — and quietly respect them for helping to shatter the idea of a Palestinian state.
Israel will not be able to move even 10,000 settlers, let alone 100,000, without creating a bloodbath.
Advocates of two states sometimes say those who call for one state are utopians. But isn’t the belief that Israel will force hundreds of thousands of settlers to leave the occupied West Bank just as utopian?