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Friday, April 24, 2009

Heartbreak: Netanyahu US ambassador candidate favors 'unilateral withdrawal'

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's leading candidate for ambassador to the United States, Historian Michael Oren, who was a college classmate of mine at Columbia, told an audience at Georgetown earlier this month that the only way to 'save' Israel as a democratic Jewish state is to 'unilaterally withdraw' from most of Judea and Samaria.
Oren, a Middle East expert and senior researcher at Jerusalem's Shalem Center, gave a 90-minute lecture entitled "The Gaza Crisis from an Historical and Personal Perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Answering questions from attendees, Oren voiced his opinions about possible solutions to the conflict and the policy Israel should take. He emphasized that he does not represent the majority of Israelis.

"I may be the last of the standing unilateralists," he said. "The only thing that can save Israel as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing our settlements from the West Bank," and waiting for a new Palestinian leadership.

Oren said he does not believe that a solution to the conflict could be achieved at this stage. Instead we should find ways to "better manage the conflict, to relieve tensions and ameliorate the conditions under which people live to ensure against future flare ups."

"Peace as a solution is not a question of next week but a generational issue," he said. "One of the lessons that the failed Oslo process has taught us is that peace must be built from the bottom up. We cannot impose peace from the top down, it doesn't percolate from the top down."

Establishing a Palestinian state would require the evacuation of tens of thousands of Jewish settlers from the West Bank and from holy cities like Hebron, Oren said.

To take such a traumatic step most Israelis must be convinced that they would be getting "absolute peace" and the "end of the conflict," he said.
Read the whole thing. He also says that he agreed with the 'disengagement' from Gaza, but that Israel's mistake was not responding immediately and more effectively to 'Palestinian' rocket fire. As if that rocket fire and the limp response to it were not entirely predictable in 2004 and 2005.

I vehemently disagree with Oren. First, there is no need to expel all the Jews living in Judea and Samaria unless one accepts the most dire demographic predictions and one feels that one must make an absolute choice of a democratic state over a Jewish one. I don't accept the predictions so I don't have to reach the second half of that sentence.

Second, even if Israel were to ultimately determine that expelling all the Jews who live in Judea and Samaria is in its best interest, doing so unilaterally - and then sitting and waiting (for what?) with a vacuum will only teach the 'Palestinians' that terror pays. The results of the Gaza disaster prove that.

Third, I am much more concerned with better management of the conflict than I am about ameliorating the conditions under which the 'Palestinians' live. As far as I am concerned, they have brought those conditions upon themselves through their leadership choices. If many of them decide to leave while waiting for a leadership that is willing to live in peace with Israel to develop, I will be more than happy to show them the door.

Finally, Oren should not be casually tossing around the idea of expelling thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria. Certainly not until we have at least gotten permanent homes and jobs for the much smaller number of Jews who were expelled from their homes in Gaza nearly four years ago.

Time to find another candidate, Bibi.


At 2:44 PM, Blogger YMedad said...

Michael, from personal knowledge, has long been a 'centrist' and a no-supporter of Jewish residency in Judea and Samaria. After his success with the book, "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East", he started to part his hair in the middle. That's when I knew for sure something was wrong.

At 3:45 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

To be fair, Michael Oren emphasized those are his personal views. I'm in favor of Disengagement in the reverse sense of how Oren uses the term. I'm in favor of cutting off all Israeli aid to Hamas and the PA and letting the Palestinians fend for themselves. Peace will not be attained by running away from the Land Of Israel and expelling hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes. All that will do is send the Arabs the message that if they wait long enough Israel will be the author of its own demise.

G-d forbid.

At 4:52 PM, Blogger Andre (Canada) said...

Unilateralists remind me of the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
Israel gave back Sinai and now it is used as a passage for weapons into Gaza. Israel withdrew from Lebanon and Hizbollah took over, attacking Israel. Israel gave up Gaza...and we know how well this turned out.
Now, the unilateralists argue that withdrawing from Judea and Samaria will bring about peace! What exactly is their rationale for this delusional idea? Is there one shred of historical evidence that proves their theory? Are they not simply trying to deal with the feelings of guilt brainwashed into them by the constant depiction of Palestinians as "victims"?
I hope Bibi is paying attention to what Oren is saying here and selects a candidate who shares Bibi's and Likoud's new tougher approach to things.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

Would like to see Dore Gold instead, but Michael Oren would be a very effective ambassador, despite some of his personal views.

He is a fine historian, who understands and explains well, the history and roots of the conflict.

I would expect that he would explain the views of the government expertly.

What this does tell me is that Bibi gets America and having great spokesmen in America is important.

With all due respect to Danny Ayalon and Alon Pinkus, having an american in this position cannot be underestimated. If he is willing to take this position, I would not worry about his more far out views, but rather how effectively he can sell Netanyahu's bottom up principle, which is really the paradigm shift we need in washington after 15 years of peace processing from the top down.

Oren is a strong advocate for Israeli use of force and that is what is needed now regardless of his ulitmate solutions to the demographic issues.

At 7:56 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Each side is currently jockeying for position and floating trial balloons which include maximalist demands. Of course, in the case of Israel "maximalist demands" amount to little more than the bare necessities for survival, i.e., recognition of a Jewish state.

At any rate, I expect a freeze on settlement-building to come rather early in the negotiations as a gesture of good faith by the Netanyahu government. The important thing is that these concessions be reversible when the Palis fail again to honor any of their commitments.

At 5:36 AM, Blogger heroyalwhyness said...

via Australia's ABC radio, Oren describes his participation in the forced removal of Israeli settlers from Gaza. in this radio report:

History of Israel 2 September 2007
Download Audio - 02092007

How Israel handles itself in the Middle East is a challenge to Jewish morality, says renowned historian Professor Michael B Oren. Now with the Shalem Centre in Jerusalem, he has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Yale, author of two New York Times best sellers, and a frontline soldier. He presented the Richard Pratt Oration of 2007 on the history of Israel and its moral dilemmas.
Show TranscriptQUOTE: "I carried out policies with which I was not always in accord, and yet I fulfilled them responsibly because those responsibilities represented to my mind the decisions of the democratically elected government of Israel, and because they did not exceed the bounds of Jewish morality. And should those policies exceed those bounds, I told myself, then I would simply refuse to carry out those policies and I would bear responsibility for that decision as well.and in the summer of 2005 I donned my uniform again as a reservist and participated in the operation to remove 21 Israeli settlements from the Gaza Strip and 8100 inhabitants. Those residents regarded Gaza as the Jew's god-given patrimony, a gift which no government had the right to reject, and then the question arose, could this rift be spanned? Could Israel survive it? I was not sure.

On the morning I walked into the first of those settlements, with 500 Israeli soldiers, and the settlers set fire to the gate on fire so that we had to wait until an armoured bulldozer came and broke it down. We poured into the settlement and the residents pelted us with sacks of paint and assailed us wearing the yellow star of the ghetto, calling us Nazis. The settlers then barricaded themselves into the synagogue and would not come out, and finally the commander of my unit reached an agreement with the rabbi of the settlement that they would pray the afternoon prayer and then they would come out, and line up and go on buses. But they did not come out. That poor commander had to make the difficult decision any Jewish officer could make: to break into the synagogue with a sledgehammer. So we broke into that synagogue with a sledgehammer, and what greeted us in there was the most difficult scene I've ever encountered in my thirty years of army service. There were 100 Jews lying on the floor, wailing and screaming, clutching Torah scrolls, clutching pews, crying out for God to save them. And some of these Israeli officers, many of who were pilots and commando, fell as if they'd been hit by bullets. And for a while there we weren't sure who was evacuating whom as some of the settlers came to help the soldiers who had been stricken and fell down. And it took hours to literally tear these people away from these Torah scrolls and physically to carry them on to buses. And I was not sure that we could survive this as a people, as a state.
I Spit on Oren's neutrality

At 5:46 AM, Blogger Daniel434 said...

How in the world does seceding more land to the enemy (because that is what they are) accomplish a peaceful two-state solution? Rather, they will have more "convenient" locations to launch deadly missiles.

Maybe WWII would have ended much sooner if we seceded more land to Hitler and allowed him to kill more Jews and therefore gained 'peace'.

One must realize that peace is not always the favorable or most "healthy" option.


At 11:26 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Demographic predictions are just that. There other more positive trends to bank on too. But regardless, the cancer is in your midst. You have been surviving the morbidity as am Yisroel long before the state of Israel was recently recreated. The problem is that it is within your midst. Oncologist Oren believes the vital tissue should be removed instead of the malignant. I submit the following regarding Oren's sensibilities:Oren didn't just don the uniform and participate mechanically after receiving the order. He volunteered to implement the Mitzna plan that the people voted against by voting for Likud whose leader then disenfranchised and implemented it against also the Likud charter and referendum that he swore to uphold. Why the Likud didn't espel him I will never understand. And also, I will never understand how he was able to take the PMO with him, as if it were a desk accessory, when he moved his desk from Likud to Kadima when Kadima had never even been in an election. Oren is also morally bankrupt as he has been arguing for years that the Sinai withdrawal was a precedent for justifying not just the Katif keroush but also Yehudim from Yehuda. May Oren repent and work towards enforcing the right of return of those that come to kill you back to the homicidal, Hamite, peninsular homeland of their own name instead of the Jews from the land of their own name.


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