Sunday, December 2, 2012

Das neue jüdische Ghetto

Much has been made of the lack of European support for Israel in the recent UN vote granting observer status to the Palestinian Authority. In reality, though, the UN decision is utterly uninteresting, handing the Palestinians a symbolic trophy that was theirs for the asking at any time over the past several decades.

Equally unsurprising, but certainly more disturbing, is the European reaction to Israel's measured response to the Palestinian move. Israel recently approved plans to build about 3000 housing units in the area connecting the capital with the upscale bedroom community of Ma'aleh Adumim. The planned construction site, quaintly dubbed “E1” by diplomats and bureaucrats, comprises less than 5 square miles. That's equal to about 10% of the size of Florida's Disneyworld, or around 50% larger than the San Diego Zoo.

Ma'aleh Adumim will become part of Israel in any negotiated solution; of this, there is no doubt. The status of Jerusalem itself, of course, is a matter of intense debate, but there is no possibility of turning Ma'aleh Adumim into an island in the middle of a future Palestinian state—a corridor connecting the suburb to French Hill, Pisgat Za'ev and the rest of Jewish Jerusalem is a given.

And yet, rather than acknowledging the relatively bland way in which Israel has responded to the Palestinian's abrogation of their previously undertaken obligations, Europe has reacted with dismay.  This false outrage aligns seamlessly with the continuum of appeasement and anti-Semitism that has characterized continental politics since time immemorial. But never has the hypocrisy of European diplomacy been more exposed than in the events of this week.

The UN initiative was a unilateral Palestinian maneuver to avoid sitting at the negotiating table with Israel. And yet, with the shining exception of the Czech Republic, no European nation supported Israel in the the vote on the floor. This, in spite of Europe's routine criticism of any Israeli action they view as unilateral; in spite of Europe's repeated support for negotiation as the path to peace in the Middle East; in spite of Europe's enthusiastic endorsement of the Oslo process, stabbed to death on the floor of the General Assembly with a knife bearing Europe's bloody fingerprints.

I am opposed to expansion of the settlements, and I favor a two-state solution. But we must never confuse pragmatism and morality. Jews are entitled to live anywhere in the world they desire, including the areas that will form the future Palestinian state—and certainly in areas that will not. Europe's insistence, only 67 years after the liberation of the camps and the ghettos, that Jews remain on their designated side of the wall is a dark reminder of why Israel remains the best assurance of Jewish survival in a dangerous and cynical world.

1 comment:

  1. A holocaust survivor (I wish I remembered his name) recently commented, "In 1935, the Europeans told the Jews, 'Go to Palestine, Juden!' Now they say, 'Get out of Palestine, Juden!' Boy, Europeans have a very short memory." (I hope I did that quote justice. Any shortfall in the delivery was mine alone and not that of the original author.)