Kick More Jews Out, No Referendum In Israel
© 2006/5766 Ariel Natan Pasko
Turning reality on its head, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on presenting his new government to the Israeli Knesset recently, stated that the Jews of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) endangered the State of Israel. "The continuance of scattered Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria endanger us," said Olmert.
Not Hamas' genocidal suicide bombings mind you, nor Iran's threat to vaporize Israel with its nukes.
Not the rapidly secularizing Israeli masses for whom being Jewish is loosing all meaning; nor it's defeatist corollary, reflected so eloquently by Olmert himself, speaking to the Israel Policy Forum in New York, in June 2005, "We are tired of fighting. We are tired of being courageous. We are tired of winning. We are tired of defeating our enemies."
What's the alternative, being slaughtered by Hamas? Only Jewish "settlers" are a threat to Israel, according to Ehud Olmert.
In response to Olmert's charges, National Religious Party secretary Shalom Jerbi said that Prime Minister Olmert's "Convergence" plan would be dangerous to the State of Israel instead of saving it. "Uprooting Jewish communities is not saving Zionism. It is the noose that strangles the Jewish state," he said in reply to Olmert's speech.
The Council of Settlements in Judea and Samaria (The Yesha Council) released a statement, "Olmert plans to endanger the State of Israel by handing Hamas strategically vital areas, this should worry not only the residents of Judea and Samaria but every citizen of Israel. Olmert and his immature government are seeking to present Hamas with Israel’s last bulletproof vest."
I would add that by strengthening Hamas, the world should be concerned. The connections between, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Iran, Hizbollah, al-Qaeda, and the Global Jihad Network have been reasonably proven.
Interestingly, the Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, told the Hebrew newspaper "Maariv" the same day as Olmert spoke in the Knesset, that he would try to get around the Hamas government by presenting a referendum to PA voters, to ratify or decline a peace pact with Israel. Abbas called on the Olmert government to renew negotiations with him.
Yet the Hamas-led PA called Olmert's Knesset speech, launching his new administration a "declaration of war." Referring to Olmert's plan of retaining some Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, "settlement blocs," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said, "There is nothing new in his speech." The spokesman added that "Arafat recognized Israel, but was not made a partner and that therefore the problem is not with us but with Olmert. We will continue to defend ourselves against Israeli terror and the occupation."
Taking a page out of Joseph Goebbels' propaganda lessons, Olmert continues to propagate the "big lie" that Kadima's election "victory" gave him the authority to carry out wide ranging expulsions of more Jewish "settlers," promising again in the Knesset, not to hold a referendum on the issue.
Olmert speaking via satellite to an Anti-Defamation League convention not long ago said, "I wanted the elections to be a referendum on the plan I presented." Olmert added, Kadima has a mandate, and he intends to use it effectively in order to implement his "Convergence" plan and "create a new reality in the Middle East."
No matter what Olmert says, no matter what they tell you, no matter how much they lie, know, the elections were not a referendum for expelling more Jews from their homes. Little was discussed about "Olmert's plans" during the election. Contradictory voices came out of Olmert's own party, stating there were no plans for future unilateral expulsions of settlements.
I can't understand why people like Benjamin Netanyahu, Nadia Matar ("Women in Green") and others on the right (before the recent election) described it as a referendum on the withdrawal-expulsion issue. They helped Olmert reinforce the idea.
Referenda without clear policy guidelines, without specifics (who exactly is going to get expelled, from where, and how much or how little compensation are they going to get?), simply are not carried out like this.
For starters, let's look at Olmert's statement about the election being a referendum (don't misunderstand, I categorically deny that any particular generation of Jews has the right to give away parts of the G-D's Promised Land).
Kadima (his party) won only 29 out of 120 seats, or 24% of the vote. All the other parties that favor territorial compromise (Likud, Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and UTJ, Meretz, Labor, the Arab parties) do so only within a negotiated settlement with the Palestinian Authority. They claim to be against a unilateralist policy, like Ehud "following in Sharon's footsteps" Olmert is promoting.
Olmert's "Referendum" was a complete flop. He lost it. Olmert's "Referendum" was roundly defeated by 76% of the voting public.
Olmert presented his new coalition of 67 seats to the Knesset, but of the parties in Olmert's new coalition government, both Labor and Shas (31 seats combined), are on record as opposing a unilateral expulsion of Jews without an agreement with the PA. So what will happen to Olmert's government, will it fall apart at the first sign of "Convergence"?
When Ariel Sharon began promoting his Gaza Expulsion Plan, euphemistically called "Disengagement," opponents called for a referendum. Ministers in his government (including Olmert) spoke out against holding one. The then Minister of National Infrastructure, Yosef Paritzky claimed it contravened the democratic principles of the country. The Justice Minister at the time, Yosef Lapid, expressed his opposition to the referendum idea, "Such a move is not part of our democratic process." Both politicians had a point; modern Israel has never held a referendum.
A little history about the call for referenda in Israel...
Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin - then a Knesset Member - in the early 1950's opposed the deal that then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion worked out with West Germany, to accept reparations after the Holocaust. Begin suggested a national referendum to allow the people to decide whether to accept them or not, but Ben-Gurion refused. In February 1958, Menachem Begin again suggested using referenda to decide on various issues in the young Israeli democracy. Ben-Gurion's ruling party, Mapai, responded, calling the proposal "Bonapartist, fascist and totalitarian."
Certainly, referenda are neither fascist nor totalitarian.
Referenda are used in many democratic states around the world to allow the citizens to directly decide important issues. For example, referenda have been used by European countries to decide on whether to join the European Union, or once in, to adopt the European Monetary System and replace their national currency with the Euro. Many states in the US use referenda for a whole host of issues, and the constitutional process of adopting a new state constitution itself can include a referendum from voters.
Is there a more important issue today, pressing the people of Israel, than the issue of territorial integrity or withdrawal from parts of it's historic homeland, the biblically promised, Land of Israel?
But, Olmert's "Referendum" is more reminiscent of the "electoral process" of former totalitarian regimes (vote yes or no) such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq or the Former Soviet Union under Brezhnev.
Olmert's claim that the election was a referendum on his Unilateral Expulsion Plan, now being called "Convergence," bolstered by Netanyahu's and Matar's politically immature pre-election statements, just goes to show how many Israelis live in La La Land.
Everyone in the world knows that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People. Christianity and Islam are built on Judaism and both recognize this fact. The nations of the world, through the League of Nations and later the United Nations gave its stamp of approval also.
For those who say "Israeli settlements" are a violation of "International Law" or the Geneva Convention, they simply don't know what they're talking about. The League of Nations' "Palestine Mandate," recognized the right of Jews to "close settlement on the land," and no later UN resolution has ever abrogated those rights. Even the 1947 Partition Plan into Arab and Jewish states, left over 6,000 Jews in the proposed Arab state and assumed that Jews would continue to live in the Arab state, as Arabs would in the Jewish state.
By Divine Right, historical right, and internationally recognized law; Jews have a right to settle, build homes and towns, and live in all parts of their homeland, Israel, including the areas liberated in 1967.
The use of referenda to generally resolve issues in Israel is perfectly democratic, it builds social solidarity and wide consensus, contrary to the views of the "people's representatives". But on the issue of territorial compromise and expulsion of Jews from their homes (such as happened in Gaza/Northern Samaria and now what they want to do with more of Judea/Samaria - the West Bank), something that gets to the heart of Israel's national existence, and will negatively effect Jews living around the world, even democracy has it's limits.
How many Americans would honor the outcome of a referendum in the US (through elections or otherwise), to return the "Occupied Territories" to Native American Indians, along with the concomitant expulsion of millions of black, white, Asian, and Hispanic "settlers"?
There is no legitimacy to Olmert's Expulsion Plan, the nation of Israel voted on it long ago, at Mt. Sinai.
Ariel Natan Pasko
is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a
Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis.
His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank
websites, in newspapers, and can be read at: www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko