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Jennifer Rubin's neo-con argument for one-state solution

The Washington Post’s conservative blogger visited the West Bank and returned home convinced Israel should keep it. Many on the left would agree, though not for reasons that would please Rubin

For some time now, settler leadership has been undertaking a PR campaign, designed to improve the way that Jews living in the West bank are presented in the media, and to fight attempts to boycott or isolate them. As part of this effort, Israeli and international celebrities, politician and journalists are taken to tours between holy sites and flourishing settlements in the West Bank. Their goal is to show that settlers are “ordinary Israelis” rather than the violent fanatics you sometimes get to see on TV.

This VIP treatment was recently given to the Washington Post’s Jenifer Rubin, who visited Israel a couple weeks ago for the Herzelia Conference. Rubin visited Ariel, passed by Nablus and stopped at a local winery. Tremendously impressed, she shared her experiences with her readers.

…What I saw surprised me. Even well-informed consumers of international media imagine that the West Bank is crowded, dangerous and replete with roadblocks and officious Israeli security forces. So when one leaves Jerusalem, crosses the Green Line — a cement wall and a checkpoint (not unlike the set-up for an agent at a U.S. border) — and travels up and down the highways of Samaria (the portion of the West Bank extending north), you realize how little non-Israelis know about the Jews who live in territory that is the focal point of so much international attention.

The media terminology doesn’t comport with one’s direct observations. “Settlements” are not hovels tended by goat herders. Settlers are not uniformly religious. The Palestinians who demand the right of return are generally the descendants of those who left Israel proper in 1948; the region is still sparsely populated and was even more so in 1967.

Naturally, Rubin wasn’t taken by her hosts from the Yesha Council (the settlers’ representative body) to Palestinian towns or villages, and the only non-Jews she met were two workers in a Jewish-owned factory. She praises the Israeli landlord for the salary he pays his Arab workers, and engages in a short conversation with the Palestinians, in which she tried to expose them as Hamas-sympathizers, and ends up declaring that “at least for now, economic cooperation has not inspired political realism.” Oh, those ungrateful Arabs.

Rubin is a radical neo-con, so it’s not surprising that her trip to the West Bank reads like a journey to the segregated south, hosted by a hospitable Klan member. Traveling on the Jewish-only highways, Rubin portrays a picture of a pleasant co-existence; she spots a Palestinian in a grocery store and concludes that the boycott attempts goes against the will of ordinary Palestinians. Obviously, she knows nothing about the military courts, the arrests of children and the tortures, the severe limits on traveling from and to the West Bank or the limited access of Palestinians to Jerusalem. At one point, Rubin claims that 95 percent of the Palestinians have no interaction with the IDF. It’s not clear whether it’s her ignorance that fails her, or if she knows the truth – Palestinians encounter soldiers daily, at checkpoints, during nightly raids, in Jewish Hebron and more – but prefers to engage in propaganda.

All this was not that interesting, if it wasn’t for the the political sub-text of Rubin’s post. Even if she doesn’t say it in so many words, it’s obvious that Rubin accepts the settlers’ narrative, according to which (a) the West Bank is the heart of the land of Israel, part of Israeli life and of Jewish history and that (b) for security reasons Israel cannot leave the West Bank. The Zionist-Liberal line was always that Israel prefers not to rule over the Palestinians, but is forced to do so because of the effect of extremist – settlers and Palestinians – on the political dynamic. Rubin presents a different narrative: The West Bank belongs to Israel, but it’s actually not that bad for Palestinians as well.

We are left with the unpleasant issues of equal rights. There are over 2 million Palestinians living in the same territory as the settlers, subject to military control, and with no political rights. Even after Oslo and the establishing of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians can’t travel freely; they are tried in military courts and are subject to the decisions of the regional military commanders. Ben-Dror Yemini, a conservative rightwing columnist for Maariv and the Jerusalem Post, calls it Apartheid (though he blames the Palestinians for it). So who are we to argue?

Much like Rubin, I am not happy with the demonization of the settlers by the media. The occupation is an Israeli project, initiated and executed by government agencies. Blaming it on the settlers, like most liberals do, is making life way too easy. But if the territories are indeed part of Israel, as the settlers’ leaders claim, then the only possible solution would be along the lines of “one person, one vote.” This is one issue the rightwing neo-cons refuse to deal with, and when they do – they come up with the craziest ideas.

A year ago, I interviewed a group of rightwing people who were experimenting with these ideas; among them were former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and former Chief of Staff for PM Netanyahu, Uri Elizur. It’s no surprise: One cannot think of another sustainable solution that wouldn’t include the evacuation of most settlements. If Jenifer Rubin’s political sympathies truly lie with the settlers, she should be honest enough to extract the full meaning of her views, that Israel should apply its laws on the entire West Bank population rather than just the Jews, and become a bi-national state.

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    1. Raed Kami

      This comment was removed for offensive content

      Reply to Comment
    2. Koshiro

      The problem is that Rubin – and, let’s be honest about it, many if not most of the settlers too – would have no problem with permanent apartheid; crowded, disconnected, nonviable bantustans in which “the Palestinians can run their own lives” included to make it appear “democratic”. And right now, they have no reason to believe that such a solution would not be feasible.

      What Raed Kami writes is important as well: In a binational state based on equality, can the settlers still sit in their hilltop communities hogging the prime real estate – in many cases illegally confiscated from Palestinians – and the water resources? Not really, right?

      Reply to Comment
    3. Excellent article. It’s nice to see a critique of the neoconservative argument. It makes all rationales for apartheid all the more porous.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben Israel

      I see. If Jews don’t employ Arab workers (what was called in the 1930’s “Avodah Ivrit”) they are racists. If they DO emplooy Arab workers they are colonialist, capitalist exploiters. I’m glad I got that straight.

      Reply to Comment
    5. directrob

      Ben Israel, you do not understand. If “Jews” do not employ “Arabs” they are by definition guilty of racial discrimination. There is nothing wrong with “Jews” employing “Arabs”. What the “Jews” do to “Arabs” in the West Bank and Gaza and did to the “Arabs” in the land currently called Israel is not colonialism or capitalism. The normal current terms are “crime against humanity”, “apartheid”, “racial discrimination” and “ethnic cleansing”. No person should be displaced, denied their rights and robbed from their existence because people like “Ben Israel” label them “Arabs” instead of “Jew”. Each person has individual human rights.

      Reply to Comment
    6. sam

      and the obvious rubin doesn’t mention, is it is forbidden (by the isrealis) for the paletsinians to build on their land in the west bank. don’t forget getting roads, water and electricity for them if they did, is impossible. the settlers living on the 10’s of newly implanted racist colonies on the hilltops leading to nablus, are the most virulent, racist and violent type squatters. but anything than lies coming from a radical neo-con (hucklebee comes to mind) squatter sympathizer would just be out of character.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Lora Lucero

      Although the international community and the UN recognize the 1967 border has legal significance, it doesn’t appear that Israel or the settlers share that opinion. What would those in the Knesset say if Palestinians started building some new “facts on the ground” within the 1967 border?

      Of course, it would never happen. They would be shot first. But perhaps some NGOs sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians might start purchasing property inside the 1967 borders and begin building “settlements” for the Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Michael W.

      It seems like you guys delete a comment by almost every Arab commenter here.

      Reply to Comment
    9. @Michael – I can assure you that’s not true. We delete comments that are not in line with our comment policy (which you can see on our About page).
      We have deleted comments of both Jews, Christians and Arabs (or at least people who post comments with Jewish, Christian and Arab names). No one receives “special” treatment on +972.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Ben Israel

      Palestinians build facts on the ground within the pre-67 Israel every day…this is called “illegal building” in Israel and it is massive. This includes Palestinians who are forced by the 1948 war to carry Israeli identity cards (i.e. what used to be called “Israeli Arabs” but that has become politically incorrect) and those who don’t.

      No Palestinian or other Arab recognizes Israeli sovereignity inside the pre-67 borders. That is why they insist on the “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees…they do not view Israel as having sovereign rights to determine who lives within those borders, the Palestinians claim the right to determine that. They also oppose Jews living in Arab areas within pre-67 Israel….e.g. the demonstration against Jews moving into Jaffa a few weeks ago. Thus, the only people who view the pre-67 lines as having any real significance are the Israel Left. The Arabs certainly don’t recognize it as an international border in the the generally accepted sense of the word.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Kibbutznik

      ” Thus, the only people who view the pre-67 lines as having any real significance are the Israel Left. The Arabs certainly don’t recognize it as an international border in the the generally accepted sense of the word. ”

      Text of Arab peace initiative adopted at Beirut summit :
      ” … Consequently, the Arab Countries affirm the following: a. Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.

      b. Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.

      4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.

      5. Calls upon the Government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab Countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighborliness and provide future generations with security, stability, and prosperity.”


      Reply to Comment
    12. Ben Israel


      Nothing you quoted there goes against what I said. The Arab Initiative calls for an unlimited right of return for the Palestinian refugees.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Ben Israel

      In any event, in light of recent developments the Arab Initiative is a dead letter (was it ever alive?). With important elements in both Jordan and Egypt indicating that they want to “review” their “peace agreements” with Israel leading to downgrading of relations if not cancelling the agreements outright, no one in the Arab world is now going to be pushing for new peace agreements.
      Abbas’ refusal to accept American compromise offers if he would withdraw the UN Security Council Resolution regarding the settlements and openly embarrassing the most pro-Arab President in history shows the PA has no intention of resuming the “peace” negotiations with Israel on any terms so we are now entering a new era in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The 37 year-long period following the Yom Kippur War in which the Israeli Left convinced itself that the Arab were ready for peace with Israel has come to an end.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Olivia J.

      The Arab Peace Initiative is still being pursued and encouraged by key leaders in the region, it is not dead.

      One of the main stipulations of the initiative and subsequent recognition is that Israeli leaders agree to return to pre-1967 borders. Low and behold, Israeli leaders refuse to accept returning/ retreating to Israel’s pre-1967 borders and continue to encroach on Palestinian land.

      The plan should be seriously looked at…It was supposed to be a backbone of Obama’s foreign policy initiative regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…but has been lost in the shuffle, with only trivial lip-service paid to the plan. The Arab League and many prominent figures in the M.E. continue to push this peace plan. Don’t disregard it.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Kibbutznik

      @ Ben Israel , you said :
      ” Thus, the only people who view the pre-67 lines as having any real significance are the Israel Left. The Arabs certainly don’t recognize it as an international border in the the generally accepted sense of the word. ”
      Wrong .
      Plus ” The Arab Initiative calls for an unlimited right of return for the Palestinian refugees. ”
      Kindly read this :

      Reply to Comment
    16. Ben Israel

      “Agreed upon by both sides”. The Palestinian demand is unlimited, unrestricted return, and until the Israelis accept this, there is no agreement. Exactly what I have been claiming. You want to believe that the Palestinians will compromise on this. Have they?

      Reply to Comment