Thursday, August 6, 2015

Moshe Ya’alon: a can of gas, a fire and a plan

As a Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon is responsible for defending his country against external threats. But as Israel’s Defense Minister, he’s got another job. He’s the governor of Judea-Samaria.

But he’s not just a ‘governor’. He’s a military governor.

He’s got that job because Judea-Samaria isn’t like the rest of Israel. It’s not governed by civilians the way a US county or state are governed. It’s governed by the military.  

Judea-Samaria is part of Biblical Israel. It’s an integral part of the Jewish homeland. According to an International Agreement reached in 1920 at San Remo, Italy, Judea-Samaria and all of today’s Jordan was to be given over to Jews to reconstitute their Biblical national homeland. But by 1922, when the San Remo Agreement was to be ratified by the League of Nations, the British convinced the League of Nations that 78 per cent of the land set aside at San Remo for this reconstituted Biblical homeland should be given instead to Arabs. Judea-Samaria ‘disappeared' with that 78 per cent.

Judea-Samaria returned to the Jews in 1967. Israel re-assumed control of Judea-Samaria after successfully defending itself against an all-out Arab attack to destroy Israel.

Funny thing about Judea-Samaria: if the Arabs hadn’t attacked Israel in 1967, Judea-Samaria wouldn’t now be in Israeli hands. Some say this is one of the miracles G-d has used to bring Israel back to the Jews.

Since 1967, Israel’s governments haven’t thought about G-d. Instead, they’ve been afraid to annex Judea-Samaria into Israel.

Actually, they’re conflicted. On the one hand, they won’t give up Judea-Samaria. They’ve kept it. But then, they’re too afraid of world opinion to make that decision permanent.

Because of this ambivalence, Israel’s governments have chosen to do nothing about the legal status of Judea-Samaria. On one level, this is why the military still governs Judea-Samaria: until Israel‘s civilian leadership decides what to do with it, the military is stuck with it.  

This is where Moshe Ya’alon comes in. He’s the top man in Israel’s military. Since Judea-Samaria is under military control, he becomes its governor. That’s why he rules with military law, not civilian law. That’s also why he can use ‘administrative detention’ to arrest and intern anyone without being required to file formal charges or allow a proper trial. Military law allows for it.

Originally, administrative detention was used exclusively to deal with a hostile Arab population caught in Judea-Samaria after Israel had won it back in the 1967 War. It was necessary for the defense of Israel because Arabs living there were still at war against Israel’s existence.

That war hasn’t ended. Unfortunately, Israel’s military isn’t allowed to win that war. Therefore, the only thing the military governor (Ya’alon) can do is try to manage that war. These days, that means keeping both Jews and Arabs intimidated enough to stay away from each other until Israel’s civilian leadership decides whether to keep it or give it away.

That’s a losing proposition for the military. Wars aren’t ‘manageable’. They’re won--or lost.

Judea-Samaria is no exception: those Jews who want Judea-Samaria to become part of our Biblical homeland hate the military governor (Ya’alon) for pointing guns at them, knocking down homes and arresting them. Arabs who demand that Judea-Samaria be 100 per cent Arab also hate him--for pointing guns at them, knocking down homes and arresting them.

What’s he supposed to do? Religious Zionists blame him for  Jewish Jew-hate because he’s the guy holding a gun at them. But he’s military. That’s his job, given the war-status of Judea-Samaria.

(Some people reject this idea that Judea-Samaria has a ‘war’ status. I say, they’re wrong).

Moshe Ya’alon has a problem. He’s like a man who’s been hired to hold a can of gasoline over a fire. His job is to keep that can intact. It’s a dirty, dangerous job.

As long as the fire at his feet is low, he’s fine. As soon as that fire leaps, he’s in trouble.

If this is a proper metaphor for what’s happening in Judea-Samaria, we can certainly feel sorry for him. His can of gas could explode at any moment.

But then, Moshe Ya’alon is a smart man. Would a smart man just stand there holding a can of gasoline over a fire waiting for it to explode? Of course not. He’d try to do something to help himself. He’d try to control--or manage--that fire.

Moshe Ya’alon has a reputation. He doesn’t look to solve the Arab-Israel conflict. He looks to manage it (Noam Sheizaf, “Defense Minister Ya'alon: I am not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict”, +972, October 24, 2014). He does that because he believes that managing the fire is easier than trying to put it out.

He has only two ways to manage the Judea-Samaria fire: stomp down hard on the Arabs in Judea-Samaria; or, alternatively, stomp down hard on the Jews there.

For years, Arabs have complained Ya’alon stomps on them. The gentile world sides with the Arab. This causes grief for Israel.

Now, Ya’alon has a new plan to manage that fire. He’ll stomp on Jews.

Ya’alon fools himself if he believes that stomping on Jews in Judea-Samaria will be good for Israel. He’d be better off believing the Biblical Promise to his forefathers that Israel belongs to Jews, not Arabs. He’d be far better off acting on that belief.

Is he smart enough to see that?

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