A Lesson in Zionism for MK Amichai Chikli

Amos Schocken
Amos Schocken
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A sign on a storefront in Hebron, in the West Bank, in August.
A sign on a storefront in Hebron, in the West Bank, in August.Credit: Emil Salman
Amos Schocken
Amos Schocken

Knesset member Amichai Chikli of the Yamina party feels that belief in the justice of the path of Zionism, the national movement of the Jewish people, has been undermined among what he calls the Zionist left. The evidence he presents is my tweet regarding Shalhevet Pass, the baby girl murdered in 2001 in Hebron by a Palestinian.

I wrote that “Shalhevet Pass was killed due to the irresponsibility of her parents, who thought it possible to bring up children in an embattled environment, and of the Welfare Ministry, which in a normal country would have removed children from war zones.”

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MK Chikli asks: What would Mr. Schocken say to the parents of Ido Avigal, who was five years old when he was killed by a rocket during Operation Guardian of the Walls, or to the parents of Bat-Chen Shahak and her friends, who were murdered in a terrorist attack in Dizengoff Square on Purim in 1996? He adds: “Is there anyplace in our country that wasn’t once ‘an embattled environment’?”

I understand Zionism to be an ideology that says the solution for the Jewish people is a national home in the Land of Israel, in the form of a Jewish and democratic state. This is the exercise of our historic right to the country and our aspiration to ensure the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and political sovereignty in our homeland, in a democratic framework.

Contrary to Amichai Chikli’s remarks, my belief in the justice of Zionism’s path has not been undermined at all. The ones who have distorted the meaning of Zionism to an unrecognizable extent, in my opinion, are people such as Chikli who have abandoned one of the state’s two basic values, but complain about someone who has continued to adhere to genuine Zionism as historically defined.

People such as Chikli think they’re Zionists, but when they support and maintain an apartheid regime, they’re anti-Zionists. The product of Zionism, the State of Israel, is not a Jewish and democratic state but instead has become an apartheid state, plain and simple. One can say many things about this, but one cannot say Israel is fulfilling Zionism as a Jewish and democratic state.

Prior to the state’s establishment, the Zionist leadership understood this danger, and so they agreed to the United Nations’ two-state Partition Plan of November 1947: a Jewish state and an Arab state that would be neighbors with a common border in the Land of Israel.

According to the Partition Plan, incidentally, the city of Hebron would have been in the Arab state, and even after the War of Independence, Hebron was part of the Kingdom of Jordan. It wasn’t in Israel. Today in Hebron there’s a Jewish-Israeli settlement, but it can only exist because about 500 IDF soldiers ensure its security every day. There is no place else like it in Israel. Even MK Chikli can understand the difference between Hebron and Dizengoff Square or even the Gaza border region.

The UN Security Council, with the participation of Israel’s best friends, determined in December 2016 that any Israeli civilian presence beyond the 1967 Green Line, in the occupied territories, is illegal. Decades before that, the High Court of Justice avoided considering the settlements’ legality (perhaps out of concern over criminality by settlers who would violate court orders), and thereby, in practice, approved their establishment and expansion. The countries that along with Israel signed the Geneva Convention are not prepared to listen to this. They know that the convention bars the transfer of civilians by the occupying power to territory it has occupied.

One must face reality. The settlement enterprise has destroyed true Zionism; the two cannot coexist. Amichai Chikli is looking for Zionism in the wrong place. Only someone who supports a two-state solution may be deemed a Zionist.

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