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 Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria