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."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.
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.
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.