Ironically, the thing that made Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely swell with pride last week was that the discussion of annexation had reached the other side of the political spectrum, notably with novelist A.B. Yehoshua joining the fray. This took place at a forum organized by a Bar-Ilan University professors’ group and titled “Ending the ‘Occupation.’” The sense was that “even leftists now understand what we’ve been talking about all these years.”
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It’s too bad Hotovely didn’t discern another, no less important change: Yehoshua may have mentioned granting residency rights to Palestinians in Area C, but the occupation seemed to be worrisome to right-wing participants at the forum. The quotation marks around the word “occupation” could not serve as a barrier against the occupation’s reality, gnawing at their consciousness.
A further irony is that the right, which disqualifies the Palestinians as partners since it views whatever action they take, be it violent or peaceful, based on the Oslo accords, as merely a stage in a Palestinian multi-stage program for eliminating Israel. This dismissal actually reflects the right’s own tactics. The Jewish right wing’s plan to impose Israeli law on the occupied territories is nothing but a Jewish multi-stage plan to wipe out Palestinian nationhood. The ultimate plan is to annex everything without granting equal citizenship rights. Thus, aside from excitement over the appearance of the redheaded messiah, words of concern could be heard at the forum, especially from Immigration Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Jerusalem Post journalist Caroline Glick.
It’s easy to dismiss Glick’s concerns. She’s always worried. She views the shadow of Europe’s past as an active anti-Semitic volcano. In her mind the left, J Street, the army brass (excluding the partisan reserve colonel Erez Weiner, who attended the conference, and a handful of others) – are all Judenrat.
It is precisely for this reason that her worries about Trump deserve particular attention: Trump is not anti-Semitic in her eyes. So what could be bad for the Jews with an American president who is not an anti-Semite? The danger is that he’s a deal-closer. After all, he promised to “close a deal in the Middle East.” Trump is even more dangerous than Obama, explained Elkin, since Obama would never agree to a deal that is unacceptable to the Palestinians. Trump could impose a deal he believes in on the Palestinians, even against their will.
So what’s the problem? The problem lies in the words “deal” and “closing.” A deal means that not only one side’s aspirations are fulfilled. Closing a deal means that there are no more demands. Trump could be the wall on which the multi-stage programs of both sides are shattered. Elkin explicitly said so: A partial annexation could be interpreted as a relinquishing of all the rest. If we annex only Ma’aleh Adumim how do we explain to Trump that we’re not giving up our national aspirations regarding all the territories? It was no coincidence that Glick hoarsely cried out for annexing everything right away.
The dilemma facing the settler right is this: A partial annexation of areas containing blocs of settlements could at the same time be a step towards separation into two states, akin to eating first and paying later. Position papers disseminated by the left also talk about steps on the road to separation. The territorial map of the two-state plan is more or less clear. Anyone interested in the entire territory could reach a practical decision that it’s better not to sign any deal that involves accepting only part of the territories.
Trump may not be an anti-Semite but it appears that he knows Jews well. His secret weapon is a Jewish mediator, his son-in-law Jared Kushner. What did Trump call him? “A natural deal-closer.” By natural he means Jewish.
Truly, why didn’t they think of this before? It’s so poetic it must be just. Trump decided to be Jewish in dealing with the Jews. It’s almost a pity we won’t be able to see Netanyahu eating the stew he concocted for his people.