Listen to John Kerry’s speech on the comatose Middle East “peace process,” or follow the serial condemnations against Israel at the United Nations, including the latest Security Council resolution 2334, and you’d think that the biggest sin in the world is that Jews build too much. They build too many houses, too many schools, too many synagogues, too many hospitals, too many roads.
Think about that. The biggest problem with the Jews is not that they go on terror rampages that murder thousands of innocents, or that they jail poets, hang gays or stone women. No, it’s that they build too much.
The reason this Jewish construction is considered such a sin, of course, is that it’s happening inside disputed areas which Israel captured in a defensive war in 1967, when its Arab neighbors did everything they could to throw the Jews into the sea.
One of those disputed areas is East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City and the holiest active site in Judaism, the Western Wall. From the time Israel was created in 1948 until 1967, East Jerusalem was administered by Jordan and became a decrepit and closed place where holy sites were routinely destroyed.
After its liberation by the Jews in 1967, Jerusalem flourished, becoming an open, international city where all religions were honored.
But there was a problem. The United Nations, that same anti-Israel haven that once declared that “Zionism is racism,” decided that these liberated areas were “Occupied Palestinian Territory” and that any Jewish construction in these areas, including at the Western Wall, was a “flagrant violation of international law.”
Never mind that from 1948 to 1967, when Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, not one soul ever called it “occupied territory.” Hardly anyone, in fact, ever talked about a Palestinian national cause. That cause only came to life, and that land only became “occupied,” after the Jews took it over in 1967.
You’d never know any of this from hearing Kerry tell the world that these Jewish settlements are such a pernicious “threat” to peace because they’re taking up space for a Palestinian state. What he failed to mention, as most people do, is that there already is a Palestinian state—it’s called Gaza, and it’s run by religious anti-Semitic madmen sworn to destroy the Zionist state.
If you go by Kerry’s speech, this desire to destroy the Jewish state, not to mention the chronic Palestinian refusal to negotiate directly with Israel, are smaller obstacles to peace than having too many Jews building too many homes in too many wrong places.
Kerry also failed to mention that Palestinian Arabs rejected opportunities for statehood in 1937, 1939, 1947, 1979, 1993, 2000 and 2008, and, as historian Mitchell Bard writes, “settlement construction would have come to a halt if the Palestinians had taken advantage of any of these opportunities.” That was, perhaps, as inconvenient a truth as the fact that when Israel did evacuate all of its settlements from Gaza, it was rewarded not with peace but with 20,000 terror rockets.
In his zeal to blame Jewish settlers for making a two-state solution “impossible,” Kerry also glibly dismissed the possibility of Jews living in a Palestinian state. After all, if there are 1.8 million Palestinian Arabs living in a Jewish state, why can’t there be any Jews living in a Palestinian state?
In the event that Jewish settlers and the Israeli army were ever to abandon the West Bank, Kerry seems to have overlooked a complication, such as: Hamas and ISIS swooping in and turning the West Bank into a mini-Syria and chopping off Palestinian heads left and right. I would call that a serious threat to peace.
In any case, you would think from listening to Kerry that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been on a wild settlement building spree. In fact, as Evelyn Gordon has documented in detail in Commentary, data from from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics shows that there has been “less settlement construction under Netanyahu than any other of his predecessors.” Moreover, she adds, “fully three quarters of the growth in the settlements’ population under Netanyahu has been in the major blocs, which every serious international peace proposal for decades has concluded will remain Israeli under any Israeli-Palestinian deal.”
And where did 90 percent of this growth in population come from? Not from Jews moving to the settlements but from natural growth– from women having babies. That’s not according to right-wing sources but from a study by Shaul Arieli, a “veteran peace activist who is also a virulent opponent of Netanyahu and the settlements.”
The bottom line is this: You can push for a two-state solution without buying into the anti-Israel narrative that demonizes Jewish settlers and turns them into the greatest impediment to Mideast peace. By being complicit in the criminalization of Jewish settlers, while downplaying Palestinian rejectionism, President Barack Obama has empowered Israel’s enemies and followed the pathetic path of the United Nations, that hypocritical body where hostility to the Jewish state is a way of life.
In so criminalizing Jewish settlements, Obama also did something else—he virtually killed the peace process, because, let’s face it, why would Palestinians negotiate with alleged land thieves?
In this upside down world, where thousands of buildings and innocent lives were just extinguished in Aleppo, wise men like Barack Obama and John Kerry would rather tell the world about the criminal ways of Jews who build too many homes.
If that’s the worst sin of the Jews, I’ll take it.