Annexation Now (The West Bank & the “New Israeli Majority”)


With the Jewish left and liberal left out of power in Israel and with no foreseeable return to power, it is now incumbent upon the right to explain what they plan to do “with” the West Bank and with the Palestinian people who live there. The right is now in control of the country, which means that they have to decide in which way they intend to direct the future of the country. But do they have a plan? Or a vision? I’m recommending this article in Ha’aretz featuring Sarah Haetzni-Cohen, granddaughter of Elyakim Haetzni, one of the founding members of the settler right. The article includes background on and interviews with her as well as blurbs from right activists, intellectuals, and journalists such as Yisrael Aumann, Caroline Glick, Yoav Hendel, and Mordechai Kedar.

Stop asking what realistic plans do the left have to offer because they no longer matter. This is the New Israel. Indeed, Haetzni-Cohen declares herself and her friends to represent the consensus in Israel today. This may not be true, but they control the levers of power. So here’s the rub. They have no idea what to do moving forward. “Precisely because of her ostensibly consensus-based self-confidence, and also because her political camp has led the country for many years, [Haetzni-Cohen] felt a certain embarrassment when a politically left-center Tel Aviv friend asked her some months ago about the vision the right wing has to offer as an alternative to the concept of two states for two people as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The basic ideas they propose, which you can read in the article, revolve around the partial annexing of West Bank territories. “Its basic principles are: extending Israel’s sovereignty by legal means to so-called areas of consensus, such as the Etzion Bloc and Ma’aleh Adumim; creating channels of dialogue with an alternative Palestinian leadership; and undertaking an intensive international effort to change the discourse: from two states to graduated Israeli sovereignty. These steps, Haetzni-Cohen hopes, would enable ‘normalization of life in Judea and Samaria, and will bring about a healthier approach to managing the conflict.’”

Foreign media should stop interviewing members of the Israeli left and center left, or artists or members of the Israeli left-leaning intelligentsia. They’re impotent until proven otherwise. For anyone who wants to understand the new Israel, pay careful and exclusive attention to people like Haetzni-Cohen and ministers like Naftali Bennet, Ayelet Shaked, and Miri Regev. These are the people who need to be interviewed in the press and brought to lecture on U.S. and European campuses. For their part, American Jews, in particular, should stop pretending that these people do not represent the future of the country. But readers should note that the words “democracy” and “democratic” do not appear in the article. It is not a part of their vocabulary or vision.

This is probably as good as it gets from the Jewish right in Israel by way of a plan. It is often quipped that the Jewish Israeli leftwing and liberal left live in a bubble called Tel Aviv. But the rightwing inhabit a bubble of their own. The voices represented here seem not to recognize that once a single part of the West Bank is formally annexed, then Israel will have to annex the whole territory and give everyone the right to vote. The international community and international bodies will not have it any other way. If that’s the case then that the Jewish Israeli right cannot see this outcome, then it continues to be true that Jewish right continues to act without a clear political vision as it moves the country towards a one-state future that is bi-national and anti-democratic. It could, however, be the case that these people on the right are more deluded than even the Jewish left. Not Peace Now, but Annexation Now, they represent the people in charge, but do they represent the majority in Israel?

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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