It’s the Occupation, Stupid! (If that is the answer, what is the question?)

Hint: what do the alarming rise in anti-Jewish sentiment, the growing isolation and de-legitimization of Israel, the deepening despair of the Palestinians, and the threatening perversion of the Jewish future all have in common?

THE CONTINUING RISE in anti-Jewish sentiment in countries around the world is of course shocking and disturbing. But is it altogether surprising? I first addressed this issue some forty years ago when undertaking my doctoral research on Israel’s rule over the West Bank during the early years of the Occupation. Here is a compressed version of what I observed in a pamphlet that was published in January 1977:While Israel continues to rule over the West Bank, there are bound to be ever more frequent and more intensive acts of resistance by a population that is feeling encroached upon by a spreading pattern of Jewish colonization and whose yearning for independence is no less than was that of the Palestinian Jews in the early months of 1948. As long as Israel continues to govern that territory, she will have little choice but to retaliate in an increasingly oppressive fashion just to keep order. The moral appeal of Israel’s case will consequently suffer and this will further erode her level of international support, although probably not amongst organized opinion within the Jewish diaspora. This sharpening polarization is bound to contribute to an upsurge in overt antisemitism.In response to this passage, I was told by an assortment of outraged readers that I simply did not get it. First, Israel would soon be returning the territory, or the bulk of it, to Arab rule (meaning to Jordan). Second, it was not independence the Palestinians wanted, but good governance and that is what they were getting from Israeli rule.

Third, bar the initial period following the 1967 war, there was very little Palestinian resistance and there was no reason to believe this would change (the first intifada would not break out for another ten years). The population was enjoying a standard of living and a level of security well above its previous imaginings. They were better off in almost every way, it was claimed, than Arabs living in Arab countries.

Fourth, the Jewish settlements had very little impact on the local Arab population and, where they did, it was almost entirely beneficial, for example in providing jobs (a few thousand settlers inhabited the Occupied Territories then compared with hundreds of thousands today). Fifth, international support for Israel was rock-solid and growing. Finally, latent anti-Jewish feeling has always resided in some segments of civil society (lamentably true) and its manifestation has nothing to do with the way Israel behaves (demonstrably false).

How to Read the Rest of This Article

The text above was just an excerpt. The web versions of our print articles are now hosted by Duke University Press, Tikkun’s publisher. Click here to read an HTML version of the article. Click here to read a PDF version of the full article.

Source Citation

Tikkun 2017 Volume 32, Number 2:41-43

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