A huge billboard greets people entering Kafr Qasem, an Israeli city. It reads: “The time has come to divorce the Palestinians.” The sign was installed on behalf of the group Commanders for Israel’s Security. It features a picture of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, and was put up there, of all places, at the entrance to an Arab city where historical memory is particularly highly-charged.
It’s a place where there should have been a black memorial sign with an inscription commemorating eternal shame, reading: “May the people of Israel remember the 47 sons and daughters whom security forces murdered in the criminal massacre that took place here,” but instead the retired generals taunt the survivors of the massacre and their descendants, as if the massacre was not enough. Welcome to the leftist campaign being waged by former senior members of the defense establishment. Why at the entrance to Kafr Qasem and not in the Jewish Tel Aviv suburb of Kfar Shmaryahu? Will Kafr Kasem ever participate in the decision to divorce the Palestinians? Will anyone ask its residents’ opinion? Or is the billboard perhaps actually directed against Kafr Qasem, which Israel will also divorce when the time comes?
It’s like the bridge that leads to Nazareth, the largest Arab city in Israel, a bridge which not coincidentally is named after Rafael Eitan, who hated Arabs and called them “drugged cockroaches.” Or like the endless number of the streets in the heart of Arab Jaffa that are named after forgotten Ashkenazi rabbis. The same goes for this provocation in Kafr Qasem, placed there on behalf of army commanders pretending to be belated peace activists with guilty feelings over military careers in which they did everything to abuse and oppress those whom they now want to divorce.
These new divorce counselors are in the midst of their campaign to convince Israelis to support their position. The rights to the idea are reserved unfortunately for the late Amos Oz, who wrote about it nearly four years ago in a Haaretz article (“Amos Oz Has a Recipe for Saving Israel,” Mar. 13, 2015). Even then, his stance was highly grating. But it is that much more disturbing when generals express it.
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Separation from the Palestinians, the leading idea of the Zionist left, has a nationalist and racist flavor. Calls to separate from the Jews in Europe were always anti-Semitic and Nazi. And there is no difference between a call for separation made on the banks of the Yarkon and one expressed on the banks of the Rhine.
The longing for a now outdated two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians could have been phrased differently. When we call for “divorce” on the main streets of Arab towns, the associations it prompts are threatening. Geyrushin, divorce in Hebrew, can only remind Hebrew speakers of the root that it shares with gerush, expulsion. It is impossible to call for divorce in Kafr Qasem and not raise the suspicion that the real aim is expulsion, another final solution to the Palestinian problem, which will one day become politically correct.
The old-timers who signed the commanders’ petition remember well how they themselves expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their land. If they are repenting for their sins, which is very doubtful, then it could have been expected for them to use different language.
But even if they had good intentions in calling for a divorce, we need to ask: Were the two peoples married to each other? Did they related to one another fairly? Were they equals, even for a moment? Did the Palestinian bride agree to the marriage forced on her 100 years ago? The writer A. B. Yehoshua compared the commanders call for a divorce from the Palestinians to a call for the rapist to divorce his victim. We’re finished raping you, dear Palestinians. Now let’s divorce. That’s fair. Isn’t it?
Even if the goal is to achieve a settlement of the conflict, which will be unilateral – to Israel’s benefit – and would take into consideration only Israel’s security needs, even then, we are talking to them in colonialist language.
A unilateral divorce, after a life of domestic violence, without forgiveness but with a billboard in Kafr Qasem, is how the Israeli generals want to make peace. With a new messiah, former army chief Benny Gantz, now heading a new political party, with generals once again the great hope of Israel, it is worth remembering who they are – even the most enlightened of them – what they have done in the past and what their conceptual world is – and not forget it.