Should Israel annex Judea and Samaria (“the West Bank”), or not? Since the War for Independence, and even before then, Israeli and Zionist leaders, and the Jewish people, have debated whether to do this. Israel has not so acted before today because its leaders were afraid to. But today’s leaders might be losing that fear. And a new popular movement to annex Judea and Samaria exists and is thriving.
The One State Israel Movement
At least some residents, and politicians, in Israel have wanted their country to take all the lands that were once part of Israel. But the movement to annex the so-called West Bank has thrived particularly in the last two years.
For ten days in March and April 2011, your correspondent toured Israel. This tour did not include any stops in Judea and Samaria. The reason was simple: the Ministry of Tourism, which furnished the tour guide, did not want to risk taking Americans there. We did not even visit Nazareth, which is within the “Green Line” (the 1949 Armistice Line) and hence within Israel proper. Why not? Because Arabs outnumber Jews there. And a visit to Hebron, the first seat of the Kingdom of Judah in King David’s day, was out of the question. (Another Jewish source told CNAV recently that any tour group visiting Hebron must reserve a bulletproof bus. Kirk Douglas, call your agent!)
“Mickey” Marcus: Is that a bus or a tank?
Magda Simon: A little bit of each.
From Cast a Giant Shadow (1965)
But that did not stop the tour guide on that 2011 trip from telling your correspondent what she would like to see happen. She said at least once that Israel is the only country in history to win a war but not enjoy the fruits of victory. Judea and Samaria fell to Israel in the Six-Day War, a war that Egypt and Jordan started with Israel. But she did not rely on right of conquest. She reminded the group that ancient Hebrews lived in Judea and Samaria long before any Arabs lived there. And if any people have been trying to “rub out” history, it is the Arabs, and especially the “Palestinian Authority.” (She has a point. Rachel’s Tomb, on the Jerusalem-Bethlehem Road, is now a small fortress. “Palestinian” rioters trashed Joseph’s Tomb a few years ago. And who can forget the trashing of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem?) And in one memorable episode, an excursion onto Lake Kenneret (“the Sea of Galilee”), she said that the “hopeful” words of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah (“The Hope”), were not a fact. Yet.
CNAV knows that the views that this tour guide expressed are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Ministry of Tourism. But they do reflect those of many Israeli Jews. They now have organized themselves to press the government to stop talking about a “two-State solution” and annex Judea and Samaria openly.
An organized movement
The site “One State Solution: Israel” is a one-stop shop for everything one needs to know about the history of the West Bank, and where it really stands in terms of politics and demographics. Demographics are the key. Israeli leaders have not annexed Judea and Samaria since they captured them in the Six-Day War for one reason: they were afraid that the Arabs living there would out-multiply them and eventually out-vote them in their own country. No one in Israel wants to evict Arabs from their lands. When Israeli leaders took administrative control of the Golan Heights, they offered the Arabs living there the full rights of voting citizens. They would do the same in Judea and Samaria. They could not, in good conscience, do anything else. Naturally they’re afraid that the new Arab citizens will out-breed the Jews.
They need not worry. Experts now see that Jewish women have been having more babies, and Arab women fewer, than anyone expected them to have, forty-five years ago. Furthermore, as life in Israel improves, more Jews outside of Israel will move in. Today Jews outnumber Arabs, on both sides of the Green Line, 2 to 1. Arabs will never outvote Jews, and eventually Jews will outnumber Arabs even more. Now, thanks to the “One State Solution: Israel” site, every non-expert will know this, too.
The group Women in Green see this now. Last year they convened for the first time, to talk openly of annexing Judea and Samaria. This year they will convene again, on July 12. And they will convene in Hebron. That is either a bold or a crazy thing to do, depending on one’s point of view. Tourists in Hebron need bulletproof buses for a reason. On August 23, 1929, Arabs murdered 800 Jews who lived in Hebron. Some Arabs today still boast about that. But if the Women in Green worry about that happening again, they don’t show it. Nor do their listed speakers seem to worry. They propose to talk boldly of claiming sovereignty over all ancient Jewish land, and never letting any more of it go. This speech title says it all:
From Refuted Fatalism to Documented Optimism
The speaker: retired Ambassador Yoram Ettinger. The subject: demographics.
In August of 2011, Matthew Hausmann wrote this piece to urge the government to annex the territories. He said that:
- The Jews, not the Arabs, have the history in Judea and Samaria.
- Israel has the better legal claim.
- The vaunted Resolution 242 does not force Israel to give up Judea or Samaria.
- The Jews outnumber the Arabs and will outnumber them more easily, not less, with time.
A Special Committee Speaks: Israel Has the Right
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed a select committee to look closely at what Israeli and international law really says about Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Yesterday the committee made its report. Retired Justice Edmond Levy, late of the Israeli Supreme Court, wrote the opinion: Israelis have the full legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria.
Levy and his colleagues looked at the Fourth Geneva Convention on “occupied” lands. They said that the Fourth Convention does not apply to the West Bank. The reasons seem similar to those that CNAV cited earlier: no Israeli officials forced any Jew to live there. In fact, Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950 and expelled all Jews from Judea, Samaria, and East Jerusalem. In 1967, the Israel Defense Forces chased the Jordanians out. In 1996, Jordan let the West Bank go and agreed to stay east of the Jordan River. (See also this piece in Israel Hayom.)
The committee recommended that the government make up its mind whether to authorize more settlements or not. And if it does so authorize, it should set up a body to approve any land buys that Jews might make in Judea or Samaria. (Jerusalem has governed itself as a unified city since the War.) But it also said that the government should not demolish any settlements that stand today.
Not everyone in Israel agrees with annexing Judea and Samaria. Six days ago, Jay Bushinsky, writing in The Jerusalem Post, made the same mistake that most detractors of Israel make. He said that when any number of Jews decide, of their own free will, to settle in Judea or Samaria, that is the same as the Nazis deporting Germans to the Sudetenland and other occupied territories during the Second World War. Bushinsky also accused Netanyahu of making offers that he knows the Palestinian Authority cannot take and will not take.
Recently the government decided to give the title university to a small college in the Jewish settlement town of Ariel. Bradley Burston, writing in Haaretz (“The Land”), wrote bitterly that the government could no longer claim any moral high ground. (A committee of the Council on Higher Education later said that the college in Ariel should not call itself a “university.”)
But in his piece, Burston let slip what really troubled him. The government decided, on June 19, not to demolish the Ulpana neighborhood in the Beit El settlement. Michael Freund, a regular writer at the Post, crowed:
The battle over the future of a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is over. To put it simply: the Left has lost, and the Jewish people have won.
Freund also said that the Armistice Line was no longer relevant. He cited recent surveys in Israel that show that Israelis want more settlements, not fewer, in Judea and Samaria.
When Jeremiah (31:4) foretold that “you will yet plant vineyards in Samaria,” and that the sounds of rejoicing would again be heard in the cities of Judea (33:10-11), he knew of what he spoke.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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