What Happens Next Time There’s a Land Grab?

Benjy Cannon
on January 22, 2016

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Yesterday, Israel confirmed reports that it plans to expropriate 380 acres of land in the Jordan Valley. The US condemned the report, and called Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution into question. Palestinians are, justifiably, outraged. Sound familiar? News reports echoed the depressing deja vu by pointing out that it’s “Israel’s largest land appropriation since August 2014,” a whopping eighteen months ago.

The move comes on the heels of Ambassador Dan Shapiro’s critique of Israel’s settlement policy. He made the case, as the US has been making for years, that Israel’s settlement policy is totally at odds with its stated commitment to a two-state solution. They made that case eighteen months ago, when Israel last appropriated land, and they’re making it this week. What will it take for the reaction to be different next time around? For the United States to ground their concern with the settlement movement in actions, not just words?

Eric Yoffie has a great op-ed in Ha’aretz yesterday calling on the Israeli “Center-Left-anti-occupation coalition” to take their case to the United States. He affirmed American Jews rights’ to engage in debate over Israeli policy, and harshly criticized the progressive Israelis’ tendency to mute their concerns about Netanyahu’s policies when speaking in the United States

He makes an important point. The United States needs to hear from the Israelis in addition to the American Jewish community — both of whom overwhelmingly oppose the occupation and settlement movement. If we’re to put a dent in this government’s steady march towards a bi-national outcome, we’ll need to go at least as far as the grand coalition Yoffie calls for. The American government needs to hear from the expansive litany of Israelis, from security experts to religious leaders, who are committed to preserving Israel’s Jewish and Democratic character. Then, maybe in eighteen months time, the Israeli government won’t make its next land grab with such impunity.