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

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy