Isaac Herzog's Plan for Separation Sounds Horribly Familiar

The leader of the opposition should remember that there is no Jerusalem without Palestinians, just as there is no Jerusalem without Jews.

Salman Masalha
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Opposition leader Isaac Herzog unveiling his "separation plan" at the Institute for National Security Studies, January 19, 2016.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog unveiling his "separation plan" at the Institute for National Security Studies, January 19, 2016.Credit: Chen Galili
Salman Masalha

The answer to the question “Who is a Zionist?” was provided long ago by the late general-turned-politician Rehavam Ze’evi, who wasn’t nicknamed “Gandhi” because of his pacifist teachings. “Zionism is in essence the Zionism of transfer,” Ze’evi once wrote in the organ of his far-right Moledet party, adding, “If transfer is immoral, then all of Zionism is immoral.”

This stemmed from the simple fact that Zionism “arose and grew through a massive state of transfer. Nearly all our communities were established atop Arab villages or towns Kibbutz Merhavia replaced the village of Al-Fula, just as Reshafim was built on the ruins of Al-Ashrafiyya and Ruhama on the ruins of Jamama, Megiddo on top of Lajjun. Even Rehovot was built on top of Khirbet Deiran and Beit She’an replaced Beisan, just like all our settlements” (“Only transfer will bring peace,” Moledet 44, 1992).

In another article, published in “the (democratic and Jewish) newspaper of the state” [aka Yedioth Ahronoth] in 1987, he wrote of the “transfer by consent” that was imposed on the residents of Majdal (near Ashkelon) in 1950.

This village was home to some 2,700 Arabs, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. Ze’evi related how, after becoming intelligence officer for the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, he held a conversation with its then-commander, Moshe Dayan. The latter spoke of the need to evacuate the village’s Arab residents so as not to leave an Arab community on the border, something that could pose a security problem. Ze’evi wrote that he tried to dissuade Dayan from implementing the plan, but his commander was adamant.

When the operation was delayed, Dayan appealed directly to then-Prime Minister (and Defense Minister) David Ben-Gurion, who “agreed with this transfer unhesitatingly, instructing the deportation of Majdal’s residents to Gaza. In mid-October 1950, this was carried out with the consent of the Egyptians and the residents of Majdal themselves.” (“Transfer by consent,” Yedioth Ahronoth,” August 10, 1987.)

Maybe it was in this transferred village that the slogan “We’ll live here and they’ll live there” – which, over time, became a catchy Zionist jingle for the dissemination of Ze’evi’s transfer-espousing theory – was born. He repeatedly said he had absorbed this ideology from his political leaders and military commanders – in other words, from those currently labeled “the left.”

An Arab saying holds that “what one learns in one’s youth persists into old age.” Arabs also know how to use proverbs for the formulation of insights that are useful for others, too. And so we’ve reached a point where the man leading what we term “the fighting opposition” lays out his own new-old plan. “I wish to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible,” declared Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, speaking recently at the Institute for National Security Studies’ annual conference in Tel Aviv. His message was clear: even though he may have tarried, the mask was now coming off.

In order to ensure that his words were clear to one and all, the slogan coined by Ze’evi was now being employed, in modern Zionist parlance, by a person vying for leadership of the Knesset: “They are there and we over here; we’ll erect a big wall between us. That is the kind of coexistence that’s possible now. You exist there and we exist here,” stated the Zionist claimant to the title of prime minister.

Herzog, who keeps insisting that he’s even more extreme than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when it comes to security matters, imagines a Jerusalem with no Palestinians, calling for the removal of Arab villages from the city. “Then we’ll reunite the true Jerusalem without hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who will remain on the other side of the barrier,” concluded the visionary.

Well, esteemed opposition leader. There is no real Jerusalem without the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, just as there is no real Jerusalem without the hundreds of thousands of Jews – let alone other ethnic groups and religions. The real Jerusalem is also the real Land of Israel and the Land of Palestine. Just as there is no Israel without Jerusalem, there is no Palestine without Jerusalem.

After hearing Herzog’s words, it’s a wonder there are still people here who call this beast “the left.” Netanyahu can continue snoring quietly in his office.