“Conditional Zionism” Demands That Israel Commit National Suicide for the Sake of Moral Legitimacy

A new attitude toward Israel, which Evelyn Gordon dubs “conditional Zionism,” has been gaining traction among American Jews. To its adherents, support for the Jewish state should be dependent on the righteousness of its conduct—a stipulation that, inevitably, is interpreted to mean an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. While the suggestion may be absurd on its face—after all, Gordon notes, Beijing’s persecution of the Uighurs doesn’t cause anyone to question China’s right to exist—it could, perhaps, be defended from the standpoint of Jewish theology:

[The idea] that the Jewish people’s right to remain in its land is conditional on its moral behavior [is] a core element of Jewish theology. It’s stated repeatedly in the Bible. It’s included in the Sh’ma prayer. . . . It’s the reason given by the rabbis of the Talmud for both the first and second exiles.

So does that mean conditional Zionists are right, and Israel’s right to exist depends on satisfying Palestinian demands? Not at all, because there’s a crucial distinction between modern conditional Zionism and the biblical version: neither the Bible nor the talmudic Judaism it engendered ever insisted that Jewish morality requires the Jewish polity to commit suicide. Indeed, another fundamental principle of Judaism is that following God’s laws leads to life, not death. . . . For the same reason, national self-defense is considered one of the principal responsibilities of a Jewish leader.

Even if you accept the (false) premise that ceding the West Bank would actually satisfy Palestinian demands, the fact remains that Israel isn’t there solely or even primarily because of the settlers, who have repeatedly proved incapable of preventing territorial concessions (see the Oslo Accords, the disengagement from Gaza, the far-reaching offers made by prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert). It’s there because, based on bitter experience, most Israelis see no way to leave without committing national suicide.

Read more at JNS

More about: American Jews, Hebrew Bible, Judaism, Liberal Zionism, West Bank


Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship