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Equally horrible, if not worse, at a time when Israel is being threatened with annihilation by Iran, and Jewish communities in Europe and Latin America are under physical assault, the voice of the self-obsessed American Jewish community is coming through more and more weakly, with powerful voices questioning the very legitimacy of its collective voice.
In Israel, the success of local Alinskyites was on display this week as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu found himself squaring off against his party’s most committed constituency.
The 350,000 Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria and their massive support base inside the Likud, and indeed throughout Israeli society, suffered a tremendous defeat this week.
Netanyahu’s decision to torpedo a proposed law that would have prevented the implementation of the Supreme Court-ordered destruction of the Givat Haulpana neighborhood in Beit El has made these Likud members perceive themselves as isolated and in danger.
Just as the American Jewish community needs to recognize the J Street effect to contend with its current condition, so in Israel both sides of the divide in the nationalist camp need to understand how they came to find themselves on opposite sides of the fence.
Misreading what has happened, many are drawing false analogies between Givat Haulpana and the destruction of the Jewish communities in Gaza in 2005 and the destruction of homes in Amona in 2006. In both those previous cases, the destruction of the homes was the consequence of government policy. Then-premier Ariel Sharon wanted to destroy the Jewish communities of Gaza and northern Samaria. Their destruction was the centerpiece of his governing agenda. So, too, his successor Ehud Olmert wanted to destroy Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. He ran on a policy of destroying them in the 2006 elections.
This is not the case with Netanyahu.
Netanyahu can be faulted for not providing sufficient protection to Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria. He has not permitted Jews to build on state land to make up for the fact that they face market discrimination from the Palestinian Authority which has made it a capital crime to sell private land to Jews. And of course, he bowed to US pressure and instituted the deeply prejudicial temporary construction ban on Jews in 2009 and 2010.
But unlike Sharon and Olmert, Netanyahu has not made the destruction of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria a goal of his government.
To the contrary, he has enacted initiatives to strengthen the Jewish communities there and to raise the general public’s awareness of the centrality of Judea and Samaria to Jewish history and heritage.
Netanyahu is not the best friend of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. But he is more a friend than an enemy.
SO IF Netanyahu doesn’t oppose the communities of Judea and Samaria, why is he supporting the destruction of Givat Haulpana? The answer is that he and his angry constituents were set up by the radicals who run the state prosecution.
True, the leftist-dominated Supreme Court ordered the government to destroy the neighborhood. But the state prosecution gave the court’s justices no other choice.
The case regarding Givat Haulpana exposes several of the pathologies of Israel’s legal system. But by far the most glaring pathology it reveals is the politicization of the state prosecution by the radical leftists who run it.
In the event, the radical activist group Yesh Din petitioned the court in the name of a Palestinian who claimed to be the rightful owner of the land on which the neighborhood was built. Yesh Din presented the court with an affidavit in which the Palestinian claimed that the land in question belonged to him. Yesh Din then asked the court to make the state explain why, given the affidavit, the IDF had not yet evacuated the neighborhood.
On its face, the job of the state prosecution couldn’t have been more obvious. All they had to do was tell the court that the issue of ownership is contested and that the court should require Yesh Din to adjudicate ownership in the lower courts.
So, too, they ought to have rejected the unsubstantiated assertion that the IDF is required to destroy homes built on private land. There is ample precedent for both positions, including a nearly identical case regarding a neighborhood in Barkan where the land in question belonged – without question – to a private Jewish landowner.
But the state prosecution decided not to take any of those obvious positions. By not questioning the veracity of the affidavit or the assertion that the IDF is required to destroy homes built on private land without the permission of the owner, the state prosecution, which is supposed to represent the elected government, left the justices no choice. All they could do was set a date for the expulsion of the 30 families living in the five apartment buildings. And so they did.
Both the Knesset and Netanyahu seem to recognize that Israel’s elected leaders were manipulated by political radicals abusing their positions in the state prosecution to undermine the elected government. And they seem to be taking appropriate action. The Knesset has ordered the state comptroller to investigate the circumstances surrounding the state prosecution’s mishandling of the Yesh Din petition. Netanyahu has ordered the construction of 300 buildings in Beit El and 851 homes in all of Judea and Samaria. He has formed a ministerial committee that will oversee the state prosecution’s handling of future cases regarding Palestinian claims to land housing Jewish communities.
None of this solves the problem of the 30 families who through no fault of their own are slated to become homeless in the next three weeks because public officials abused their office to throw these families from their homes and divide and destroy the nationalist camp. But it may make prosecutorial malpractice a less attractive option for these homegrown Alinskyites.
The Alinsky strategy is brilliant in its cunning mendacity. And his followers in the American Jewish community and Israel have already succeeded in causing great harm. The stakes are high in both countries. The time has come for the majority of American Jews and Israelis to stop being cowed and confused by their destructive manipulations.
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