The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, November 23, 2009
Lessons Of Gilo
Israelis across the political spectrum have expressed surprise and dismay in reaction to the harsh U.S. and international criticism of the Jerusalem municipality's granting of a permit to construct 900 new housing units in Gilo, a post-1967 neighborhood with 40,000 residents in southwestern Jerusalem.
Two important lessons can be learned from this:
1. The Israeli left's position on construction in areas captured in 1967 is inconsistent, illogical and hypocritical.
The same people who bash all "settlements" as akin to land theft somehow, with a straight face, say that Gilo is different.
Now, it may very well be that housing in Gilo is, as a matter of policy, a better idea than a community deep in Samaria.
The issue, however, is this: Are the 1949 armistice lines sacrosanct? Do these lines (a/k/a the "Green Line") constitute an actual border?
If yes, then Israel has no right to build anywhere across the '49 lines. If not, then the area is, at least, disputed territory to which Israel can assert a claim.
The position of the Israeli left is that construction on the "wrong" side of the Green Line is bad - except in places where nice secular people happen to reside - like Gilo.
2. How did Israel get to a point where housing in Gilo is not only controversial, but something condemned much more harshly than, say, Iran's refusal to cooperate on the matter of its assembling nuclear weapons?
Part of the answer is that the Obama administration is more hostile to Israel than prior administrations over the past three decades.
But the continual erosion of Israel's positions is the main reason for the shift in policy.
The U.S. (and the rest of the world) never liked the idea of construction in the post-1967 areas. But for many years, the main focus was on the construction of new communities deep in Samaria. The "settlements" near Jerusalem were not the focus of more than token objections, and construction in Jerusalem itself was usually not an issue at all. Indeed, Gilo, Ramat Eshkol, Ramot, French Hill and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City were developed without much attention from anyone. Har Homa was criticized more strongly but President Clinton didn't do much to stop it from becoming another large neighborhood.
When Israel agreed to stop constructing any new communities, the focus shifted to removing small settlement outposts.
Then, Israel was pressured to stop building outside of Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs.
When Israel agreed to that, the demand was increased to no new housing anywhere in Judea and Samaria.
When Prime Minister Netanyahu signaled agreement, the pressure immediately turned to predominately Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem like Sheikh Jarrah.
Now Gilo has become the focus. Gilo is not even in the eastern part of Jerusalem - despite persistent media reports to that effect.
Ultimately, the world wants Israel to withdraw from every last centimeter captured in 1967. Thus, no concession will ever suffice; instead, each concession will result only in more pressure to retreat further.