Seven Decades of Czech-Israeli Friendship

Dec. 19 2017

Shortly after the American declaration acknowledging Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state, the Czech Republic joined suit. Amnon Lord notes that, in doing so, it followed a tradition of sympathy for the Zionist cause that goes back to the War of Independence, when Czechoslovakia sent much-need arms to a nascent Israel. Lord contrasts this reaction to that of Germany:

In Germany, a major news channel devoted ten minutes of a fifteen-minute broadcast to the horrible scandal caused by [U.S. recognition of Jerusalem]. The anchor [explained that] the American president had taken such an unreasonable step . . . “because of his evangelical supporters and ‘rich donors.’” It seems that Germany hasn’t changed. Anti-Semitism is like malaria; it doesn’t go away.

In contrast to the attack [on the White House’s decision delivered by] Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, the stance of the Czech Republic’s President Miloš Zeman shines brightly. The Czechs know what it is to be a small country sold out by a bunch of strong and hypocritical nations. We saw this Sunday in Emmanuel Macron’s chilly reception for Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Czech admiration of Israel in the post-Communist era stems from rebellion. In Czechoslovakia in 1948 there was real admiration for the newly established state of Israel, and the assistance it received from the Czechs will forever be remembered by Israel’s people. . . . In 1967, popular admiration for Israel broke out again after the military victory of the Six-Day War, which is still being mourned by the rest of Europe and the Israeli and American left. But not by the Czechs. . . . [T]he Six-Day War victory gave the Czechs courage and inspiration for the Prague Spring, which then turned into a twenty-year winter. . . .

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, Israel & Zionism, Israeli War of Independence, Israeli-German relations, Jerusalem

 

The Impossibility of Unilateral Withdrawal from the West Bank

Feb. 19 2019

Since throwing his hat into the ring for the Israeli premiership, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz has been reticent about his policy plans. Nonetheless, he has made clear his openness to unilateral disengagement from the West Bank along the lines of the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, stating the necessity of finding “a way in which we’re not controlling other people.” Gershon Hacohen argues that any such plan would be ill-advised:

The political and strategic precepts underlying the Oslo “peace” process, which Gantz echoes, vanished long ago. The PLO has unequivocally revealed its true colors: its total lack of interest in peace, unyielding rejection of the idea of Jewish statehood, and incessant propensity for violence and terrorism. . . . Tehran is rapidly emerging as regional hegemon, with its tentacles spreading from Yemen and Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea and its dogged quest for nuclear weapons continuing apace under the international radar. Even the terror groups Hizballah and Hamas pose a far greater threat to Israel’s national security than they did a decade ago. Under these circumstances, Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank’s Area C, [the only part still under direct Israeli control], would constitute nothing short of an existential threat.

Nor does Israel need to find a way to stop “controlling other people,” as Gantz put it, for the simple reason that its control of the Palestinians ended some two decades ago. In May 1994 the IDF withdrew from all Palestinian population centers in the Gaza Strip. In January 1996 it vacated the West Bank’s populated areas (the Oslo Accords’ Areas A and B), comprising over 90 percent of the West Bank’s Palestinian residents, and handed control of that population to the Palestinian Authority (PA). . . .

This in turn means that the real dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as within Israel itself, no longer revolves around the end of “occupation” but around the future of eastern Jerusalem and Area C. And since Area C (which is home to only 100,000 Palestinians) includes all the Jewish West Bank localities, IDF bases, transportation arteries, vital topographic sites, and habitable empty spaces between the Jordan Valley and the Jerusalem metropolis, its continued retention by Israel is a vital national interest. Why? Because its surrender to a potentially hostile Palestinian state would make the defense of the Israeli hinterland virtually impossible—and because these highly strategic and sparsely populated lands are of immense economic, infrastructural, communal, ecological, and cultural importance, not to mention their historical significance as the bedrock of the Jewish ancestral homeland

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More about: Benny Gantz, Israel & Zionism, Two-State Solution, West Bank