For a campaign intended to halt the barrage of rockets currently raining down on southern Israel, “Pillar of Cloud” is thus a particularly apt title. Just as the cloud protected the Israelites from Egyptian projectiles, so to does the IDF hope to protect Israel’s citizens. However, a literal translation of עמוד ענן—i.e. “Pillar of Cloud”—fails to convey the meaning of the biblical allusion to a lay audience. As such, the IDF chose “Pillar of Defense” as the campaign’s English designation, a conceptual translation which makes clear the intended meaning of the Hebrew.
I have been learned.
Kadima Means Nothing — Ariel Is Worse
The break-up of Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz’s marriage of convenience bears no significance for the future of the peace process. The partnership between Likud and Kadima was never a serious endeavour to begin with, in spite of much talk about reforming the electoral process, introducing a universal draft, and even kick-starting the moribund talks between Netanyahu and Abbas. Rather, the deal was made entirely out of necessity: for Mofaz to elongate the life of his sham of a party, a project he has now surely annulled; for Netanyahu to continue his principal policy of inactivity on all fronts, under the auspices of national unity.
Far more noteworthy, at least when it comes to the hope that, someday, a democratic, Jewish state might reside with a democratic, Palestinian state in a condition of perpetual if uneasy peace, is the decision by the Judea and Samaria Council for Higher Education (JSCHE) to recognise the Ariel University Center as a full-fledged university. In doing so, the JSCHE have gone over the heads of the Council for Higher Education which recommended against recognition, thereby establishing Israel’s first university beyond the Green Line in the occupied territories.
But, as Liel Leibovitz notes in Tablet, the word of the council is essentially meaningless when it comes to the occupied territories:
Because Israeli law doesn’t apply in the West Bank…all civilian affairs in the region are overseen by the Israel Defence Forces. In 1997, after the council refused to supervise a number of nascent Jewish academic institutions established east of the Green Line, a new body was formed, called the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria (CHEJS). Its members are appointed by the army.
And, that this university has been established in Ariel only augments the controversy, given the settlement’s position in the West Bank. Ariel competes with Ma’ale Adumim for the indignity of being the most controversial settlement in all of the West Bank, principally due to its size – a city of some 17,700 people – and its location, some 13km west of the Green Line, north of Ramallah and southwest of Nablus. Netanyahu has previously referred to Ariel as a suburb of Tel Aviv, “the heart of Israel”, and “an integral, inseparable part of the state of Israel in any future arrangement”. Yet having the borders of any prospective Israeli state swoop around the settlement would create a lengthy talon of land that not would only threaten the contiguity of a Palestinian state, but would be indefensible and vulnerable to enemy assault.
The decision by the JSCHE is a far more dangerous and destructive event than the slipping away of Shaul Mofaz and his gang of status quo politicians into the political night. Because, much like the Levy Report, its acceptance beyond those who have a vested interest in its continuation represents a normalisation of perpetual occupation or eventual annexation, either of which would end finally and irreversibly the notion of Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state.
My own view is, you can’t claim as a foundation the principle of international law and what BDS calls a rights-based approach and deny the fundamental principle that under international law, Israel is a state. That’s a fact. There are no “ifs,” there are no “ands,” there are no “buts.”
…There is what you call intellectual dishonesty—I’ll call it intellectual disingenuousness, because I prefer the euphemism—and then there’s the practical side. You’re not going to rope in the Jewish community and say that Israel does not have the right to exist as a state. It’s there, it’s a state. Norman Finkelstein, as quoted in Tablet Magazine
“To Save Israel, Boycott the Settlements” (Or Not)
In The New York Times March 18, Peter Beinart called for a boycott of and divestment from Israeli settlements located beyond the Green Line, in the West Bank, or what he termed (perhaps rather pointlessly) “non-democratic Israel”. Beinart states in part:
Having made that rhetorical distinction, American Jews should seek every opportunity to reinforce it. We should lobby to exclude settler-produced goods from America’s free-trade deal with Israel. We should push to end Internal Revenue Service policies that allow Americans to make tax-deductible gifts to settler charities. Every time an American newspaper calls Israel a democracy, we should urge it to include the caveat: only within the green line.
…Supporters of the current B.D.S. movement will argue that the distinction between democratic and nondemocratic Israel is artificial. After all, many companies profit from the occupation without being based on occupied land. Why shouldn’t we boycott them, too? The answer is that boycotting anything inside the green line invites ambiguity about the boycott’s ultimate goal — whether it seeks to end Israel’s occupation or Israel’s existence.
…The relevant question is not “Are there worse offenders?” but rather, “Is there systematic oppression that a boycott might help relieve?” That Israel systematically oppresses West Bank Palestinians has been acknowledged even by the former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, who have warned that Israel’s continued rule there could eventually lead to a South African-style apartheid system.
Beinart’s op-ed has provoked much reaction fromTablet Magazine’s Marc Tracy has termed the shtetlsphere. To begin with the aforementioned, Tracy concluded that such a boycott would only benefit “those liberal Zionists—not all liberal Zionists—who want an easy salve on their consciences without the full burden, whether of guilt or of principle, of actually abandoning Zionism altogether”.