The U.S., and the World, Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

Last week, parallel bills were introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate that would formally acknowledge Israel’s claim to the Golan. Zvi Hauser explains that such a move is justified politically, strategically, historically, and morally:

Iran’s presence in Syria is a done deal . . . The border between Israel and Iran, between the West and radical Islam, now passes through the Golan Heights. Iranian militias, looking a lot like Hizballah, are digging into bases on the border with the Golan, the Shiite population in the area grows larger, and rocket supplies threaten the Israeli residents of the Golan Heights and the eastern Galilee. The Iranian leadership clearly realizes that the way to challenge Israel’s security isn’t necessarily by [conventional] warfare but by asymmetric conflict, deploying terrorist organizations and militias that spark skirmishes along the border and attack the civilian population. . . .

Jewish history in the Golan began as soon as the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, as the book of Joshua tells us. . . . Jewish settlement in the Golan grew and thrived in the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 5th centuries BCE with the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon. In 67 CE, three years before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple, the Golan witnessed the battle of Gamla, which was part of the Jewish rebellion against Rome. . . . Archaeological digs in the Golan have thus far revealed the remains of 25 synagogues that operated between the Jewish rebellion in the 1st century CE and the Muslim conquest in the mid-7th century CE, as well as evidence of numerous Jewish villages and communities. . . .

Syria controlled the Golan for 21 years—as opposed to 52 years of Israeli control. In those 21 years, it encouraged terrorist organizations to use the entire Golan as a base of operations for terrorist attacks against Israel, ceaselessly bombarded communities around the Sea of Galilee and close to the border, used the Golan as a strategic base from which continuously to threaten Israel, [and] attempted to divert the Golan’s water sources, hoping to deny Israel vital waters it needed for drinking and agriculture. . . .

There is no other horizon for the Golan Heights save for the Israeli horizon.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Golan Heights, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syria, US-Israel relations

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem