The Amona Evacuation and the Future of Zionism

Following the orders of Israel’s supreme court, the IDF removed the residents of the West Bank town of Amona from their homes last week. While some left voluntarily, others holed up in the synagogue and waited for soldiers to drag them out, leading to a disturbing scene reminiscent of the evacuation of Gush Katif in 2009. Daniel Gordis reflects on what took place, and its implications for Zionism itself:

The supreme court had ruled that the settlement sat on private Palestinian land, and it therefore demanded that its inhabitants leave. One can question the court’s ruling or even the activism of the court in general. Yet, . . . [if] matters are so clear, why did we [Israelis] feel no moral clarity as we watched Amona brought to an end? Was not the triumph over Amona the triumph of Israel’s democracy and rule of law?

Yes, but no. What we saw as we watched the demolition of Amona’s synagogue was also the shattering of Israel’s founding ethos. Nothing articulated that ethos better than the old Zionist song, Anu banu artsah: “We have come to the Land to build and to be built on it.” Prior to statehood, Jews immigrated to Palestine and built on whatever land they could purchase. . . .

In truth, both [Israeli supporters and opponents of the settlements] lost last week. . . . If Zionism is no longer about settling the land, building on it and being built on it, then what is Zionism? . . . Do we [Israelis] as a collective still believe in anything at all? If we do, what is it? And if we do not, why do we dare imagine we can long survive in this region? . . .

If this was a week when we should have mourned, then next week and beyond need to be a time of re-imagining, of reviving dreams, of rediscovering purpose.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Gaza withdrawal, Israel & Zionism, Settlements, Supreme Court of Israel, Zionism

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

More about: Houthis, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy