HomeMay 2024Safeguarding the Right of Israelis to Live in Israel

Safeguarding the Right of Israelis to Live in Israel

The open landscape of the Northern Negev. In the area of Sderot.

Not About the Territories but What About the Territories?

From Hamas’s strategic perspective, the only thing that could have made its October 7 attack even more “successful” would have been had it taken place in the Territories rather than within the Green Line. In addition to the actual devastation wrought, such an attack would not have caused Israel to immediately unite under the slogan “Together We Will Win”; instead, a sizable percentage of the country would have thought: “That’s what’s going to happen if you live in the Territories.” (Ironically, the communities in the Western Negev that were devastated on October 7 were disproportionately populated with those who might have been expected to take such a view.) Given the actual location of the pogrom, however, this war is obviously not about the Territories but about safeguarding the right of Israelis to live in Israel and especially in border communities.
    To say that Iron Swords is not about the Territories does not of course mean that the Territories are not affected. Indeed, in addition to the IDF’s fronts in Gaza and on the Lebanese border, our troops in the Territories have been very busy.  Battalion 43’s Company Seymour, led by Major Elie Weinberger, was stationed near Shilo in the Shomron (Samaria) from the beginning of the war until January 23, when it moved to the Ofer Army Base near Givat Ze’ev for four more weeks. In a letter to the families of his troops, Elie offered the following examples of the Company’s work: “We arrested dozens of wanted persons in our area; we confiscated NIS 350,000 of terrorist funds as well as dozens of stolen and unauthorized vehicles; we blew up the house of Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas commander and a leader of its military; and we defended all the roads and towns in our jurisdiction.”  With all this and obviously much more going on throughout the Territories, one cannot help but ask: Is this war going to change Israel’s status quo with the Palestinians?
    While there are those, including President Biden, who feel that a resolution of the Gaza conflict should include concrete steps toward a Palestinian State, it’s hard to imagine Israel entering such discussions in the near future, given the horrors of October 7.  However, I’m bothered by a comment in this connection made to me by a friend. He said that if Israel were to proceed toward a two-state solution with the Palestinians, that would be like rewarding Hamas for its atrocities–since Hamas would then take credit for instigating the process that led to the Palestinian State. I would urge us all to eschew this kind of thinking, for it will never allow us to make peace with our enemies. We cannot object to peace because it will make our enemies happy. If it does turn out that the next Israeli government decides that it is in our best interests to work with the Palestinians toward establishing a state, then I would urge everyone to support this. While it may end up taking many years for such a decision to be made, in the wake of October 7 it’s clear that the status quo in the Territories does not inspire hope for a better future.

Teddy Weinberger is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine. He made aliyah with his family in 1997 from Miami, where he was an assistant professor of religious studies. Teddy and his wife, Sarah Jane Ross, have five children.

 

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