Symposium: How To Deal With “The Deal of The Century”? – November 2018
Revelation of President Trump’s still under-wraps “Deal of the Century” to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict over Palestine is around-the-corner. What should Israel and its supporters do now, and when it comes out, for the Jewish homeland of Israel?
by Jerome R. Verlin
We have two warnings about President Trump’s still-under-wraps “Deal of the Century” plan for bringing Peace between Arabs and Jews: that soon the wraps will come off, and that “there will be things in the plan that each side won’t like.” Two things about that plan that already trouble me, a Jew who believes that a seminal Jewish history event, fulfillment of the Dream of Generations for our Jewish homeland’s sovereign redemption, is taking place in our time, are these two warnings of Trump’s. Now is not the time, and balancing “not likes” is not the path to our Dream of Generations’ fulfillment.
Begin by defining that Dream. Possession of the Land of Israel – the Promised Land, Canaan, Israel & Judah, Yehud, Judaea, Palestine west of the Jordan – has been central to Jewish peoplehood from Moses and Joshua. Unceasingly unearthed archeological evidence overwhelmingly establishes that biblical history happened, and that Jews weren’t “exiled,” but remained in the Land following the 135 CE defeat of the final Judaean revolt against Rome. That tenacious homeland-claiming physical Jewish presence continued – “in spite of every discouragement,” as historian Parkes put it – all through the long, dark centuries of exclusively foreign empire rule by Romans, Byzantines, briefly Persians, Ommayad-Abbasid-Fatimid Muslim dynasties [the only time Arabs ruled], Crusaders, Mamluks and Turks, until modern Israel’s independence as the Land of Israel’s next native state after Jewish Judaea.
During those eighteen hundred years of post-biblical foreign empire rule, there was no “East” Jerusalem, just Jerusalem, in which nobody called its Jews, who again became the majority during 1800’s Ottoman rule, alien “settlers.” There was no “green line,” no “West Bank,” just “the hill country of Samaria and Judea,” the very names the U.N. itself used in 1947. The Dream of Generations encompassed the entirety of that Jewish homeland, not merely a rump ghetto nine-miles-wide in the lowland middle, sans Judea-Samaria and historic Jerusalem (Old City, Temple Mount, Western Wall, Jewish Quarter, City of David, etc), the core of the core of the Dream.
But not just of a Dream. As Herzl told us, if you Will it, it’s not just a Dream. We think of today’s Israel as having fought all these wars – war of 1948-49, Sinai Campaign, Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, etc., etc. But those were battles. Our time’s State of Israel has fought only one war, its War of Independence, and it is still being fought.
We who believe in fully fulfilling that Dream have to be partisans in that war. We have to make the case that the Two States of “the Two State Solution” are the State of Israel, in the entirety of the Land of Israel, and Jordan, with its Palestinian Arab majority (and zero Jews) in the 78% of the Palestine Mandate east of the Jordan. Insertion of another Arab state into the Mandate, west of the Jordan in Judea and Samaria and historic Jerusalem, would not just be a peace plan point we Jews would “not like,” but from an historical as well as security standpoint an existential concession that a Jewish homeland that is a Jewish homeland cannot make. Now, while the substance of President Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” if actually drawn up in detail, is still under wraps, Israel and Jews with the ear of the President must drive this home.
But the timing of the President’s peace plan bothers me too. We may believe “Jordan Is Palestine,” and that the rest of the world can accept this as the just and realistic “Two-State Solution,” but the reality is that today nobody in the world accepts that Jordan is Palestine other than us. The rest of the world believes, at best, what it said rather bluntly in UNSC 2334:
1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;
2. Reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard;
3. Underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations;
4. Stresses that the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-State solution, and calls for affirmative steps to be taken immediately to reverse the negative trends on the ground that are imperilling the two-State solution ….
We have a lot of work to do to get through to governments and folks in the West.
We have to begin by purging from our own mouths all the everyday dirty words the entire world, including us, uses – “Israel’s creation and founding in 1948, as though artificially and out-of-the-blue … West Bank and East Jerusalem … Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem … Palestinian Arabs as The Palestinians ….” and on and on. We have to openly acknowledge that the mainstream Western media uses this loaded lexicon of poisoned pejoratives religiously, and we have to contest that. We have to make the case that the Land of Israel does not stop at the 1949 Israel-Jordan military ceasefire lines, but comprises the entirety of Palestine west of the Jordan, including Jerusalem. And we have to make the case, which we don’t, that We Never Left. When and if we make some headway in getting the West to accept that Jews are the Land of Israel’s indigenous people, and even that it is the Land of Israel and not a Palestine of “The Palestinians,” the West at least will be open to an Arab-Jewish conflict peace plan encompassing one whole Jewish state alongside some two dozen Arab ones.
Jerome R. Verlin served as president of the century-old fraternal order Brith Sholom and as a vice-president of the Greater Philadelphia District of the ZOA. He authored Israel 3000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3000 Year Presence in Palestine and co-authored Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-to-Z.