We’ll Get Used to Annexation, Too

Yossi Klein
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Arab Israelis take part in a rally in Baqa al-Gharbiya in northern Israel on February 1, 2020.
Yossi Klein

The question is not what annexation will do to the Arabs, but rather what it will do to us. Maybe annexation is the red line we swore not to cross. And maybe not. And maybe there’s annexation and then there’s annexation, and maybe it’s even good for the Palestinians, maybe it won’t happen on our watch, so what do we care?

We can live with annexation like we’ve lived with the occupation. In other words, it’s not that bad. We can live with occupation, not with corruption. We can deal with oppression, just not bribery. We won’t let government corruption stain the pure white cape of our occupation. Corruption is our permanent state, occupation is apparently temporary, annexation is eternal.

Netanyahu's 'annexation nation' is ready to strike again. Listen

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It’s hard to get used to annexation because it never comes by itself. Apartheid and population transfers always come with it. We’re friendly with apartheid. We have always had warm relations with it. Most of the Jewish public (69 percent in a 2012 Dialog poll) have supported it.

Annexation sprang out of nowhere, like Itamar Ben-Gvir showing up on television. Ben-Gvir’s on television? And every day, to boot? How did that happen? A Kahanist in our living room? Anyone who goes to sleep with annexation shouldn’t be surprised to wake up with Ben-Gvir.

What will annexation do to us, not as a state but as human beings? As long as planes fly and our shopping carts are full, we’ll keep sitting on our fat asses and complain about the vulgarity of “Big Brother.” Let them annex, fine, but we’ll show them if they try to cut our pensions or raise the VAT on Milky pudding. We’ll raise a ruckus like never before.

They won’t touch our Milky, and we won’t interfere with their annexation. Anyone who could internalize the occupation for 53 years has a strong stomach. He will swallow apartheid and digest population transfers. In the end, he will believe that God chose him to be master and the Palestinians his slaves. When you have over 2.5 million slaves, you start believing that everything is from heaven, that you are a member of a master nation. Not just masters, but masters by the grace of God.

What will annexation do to the country? It will turn it into South Africa, with the same believe in race superiority and with the same inevitable end. The term “apartheid” will be erased from the history books. We will learn in civics classes about the “separation” and not about apartheid. “Through the separation policy,” TV journalist Rafi Reshef will say, “500,000 families were taken to the Jordanian border, and now we will speak with a truck driver about the logistical difficulties of such a complex operation.”

There will be apartheid, but we won’t agree to the term “apartheid state.” We’ll insist on “the only democracy in the Middle East.” We will shout anti-Semitism and remind everyone of the Holocaust. We will recruit Sheldon Adelson and Donald Trump. We will claim that the Palestinian entity may be an Israeli Bantustan and stay that way, but please, don’t call us South Africa. We surely will not end up the way South Africa did.

In 1968, the Foreign Ministry put together a document that called for “encouraging movement from Gaza to the territories and from there to other regions of the Arab world.” “Encouraging” here does not mean, heaven forbid, loading families onto trucks by force, but rather restricting them within a ghetto where they are deprived of rights, save for the right of replacing the lowly blacks in cleaning jobs at restaurants and homes.

There will be someone who can’t bear the disgrace. He will declare himself a tourist, a guest with a foreign passport. He will tell himself that anyway the country belongs to Bezalel Smotrich and Arye Dery and not to him, but he, too will get used to it.

He, too, will continue going to the office every morning, even if he sees people actually beating Arabs, spitting in their faces, shooting them. It will probably remind him of something, and when he is reminded, he will insist that we not exaggerate. He’ll swear the comparisons are ridiculous. Does anyone really think, he will ask, that we will do to the Arabs what the Germans did to us?

Amos Oz wrote 26 years ago: “We will lie on the streets. We will block the transfer with our body. We will not allow you to carry out the transfer, even if we will have to divide the nation and the army, even if we have to lie under the truck wheels and even if we will have to blow up the bridges.” And to that, we say today, “Really?”

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