Photo: Ofer Amram
Yitzhak Levy
Photo: Ofer Amram
Photo: Erez Erlichman
Dror Etkes
Photo: Erez Erlichman

Do we need Green Line?

Religious MK, Peace Now member speak out on Yuli Tamir's controversial decision

Yitzhak Levy Dror Etkes 

Yitzhak Levy
This is what's been happening to the State of Israel for about 60 years, since it was established: We have no borders - neither blue, nor green or purple or any other color. Moreover, we're fighting for a line. This war continues and will apparently continue for many years to come before it is decided by war or through a comprehensive or phased peace agreement.


The early goal of Zionism was to settle in the Land of Israel and take it over through this activity, inch by inch. They didn't speak about lines and didn't argue over lines. They settled in the Galilee, Sharon region, central Israel and Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and in the south – and created the line. They also didn't think for a moment that's the final line.


The first line, drawn by the United Nations and referred to as the "partition borders," was unacceptable to founders of the state and was breached in every direction - 11 points were set up in the Negev desert and stretched the border from Negba to Sa'ad. In the north, the upper and western Galilee, which were out of the Jewish State's boundaries at the time, were appended.


Today there is no question regarding the State of Israel's right for the "Green Line" borders, even though this line deviates from the partition borders. The agreement that this is the legitimate border is an international one and is entrenched in a UN decision. But all this was true until the Six-Day War.


The year1967 gave birth to the purple line, which marked a larger Land of Israel, although according to biblical borders it's even bigger than that. Israeli legislation - the Jerusalem Law and the Golan Heights Law - created another line: A Green Line in addition to parts of the purple line in the north, and a new line around Jerusalem.


The disengagement from the Gaza Strip and the uprooting of Jewish communities there created yet another line, which removed the Strip from the purple line in accordance with government decisions, but not according to the Palestinians and some countries who do not view the unilateral withdrawal as a complete removal of Israeli sovereignty over the Gaza Strip.


For them, the Strip and Judea and Samaria are one and the same, and as long as there's no comprehensive withdrawal or comprehensive agreement, Gaza is still not "liberated." One can sure get confused!


What's the point?

What is the point then in bringing back one of the many lines mentioned above to textbooks as the "official line" of the Education Ministry?


Nobody was prevented up until now from printing the map with all its lines in order to study the history of the State of Israel, but in official maps they refrained from drawing lines, because there is no line. This is the truth, and even the minister of education cannot invent another truth and create a new reality. We don't have an agreed upon border, neither among Israeli citizens nor within the international community.


Minister Tamir made headlines for a day or two and perhaps scored some political points among leftists and Peace Now supporters, but her declaration has no genuine influence on the education system, because it wouldn't be able to digest this unauthentic map of the State of Israel. The Green line is simply irrelevant and out of date.


Here's some good advice for the minister: Stop with the spins and address the rehabilitation of the collapsing and failed system, which is being mercilessly undermined by cruel budgetary cuts and the loss of many values within Israeli society. This is the gist of your job.


The writer is a National Union-NRP Knesset member and former education and culture minister


חזור למעלה
Dror Etkes
There's a joke about a respected Lithuanian rabbi who in the beginning of the 19th century was asked by one of his students which religion was closest to Judaism. The rabbi thought for a moment and replied with confidence: Hassidism. In the up-to-date version of this joke, the rabbi's answer would likely be: The settlers.


This argument is further reinforced by the response of settler rabbis (including the current genius Shalom Dov Wolpe, who heads the "International Headquarters for Saving the People and Land of Israel ") to the initiative to bring the Green Line back to textbooks. In an emergency session, a religious edict was issued that completely bans the use of textbooks that include the Green Line.


We should make note perhaps that this same Green Line - that is, the armistice line signed between Israel and Jordan in November 1948 - has been erased from maps in the past.


Author and journalist Gershom Gorenberg describes in his last book, The Accidental Empire, exactly when and how this happened. Yigal Alon, who was the deputy prime minister, ordered the heads of the surveying department back on October 30, 1967 to erase the line from all maps produced from that point on.


We're apparently talking about one of the most meaningful decisions taken by a single Israeli politician since the state's establishment: It created, or at least greatly contributed to creating a situation where generations of Israelis who graduated the national education system do not know what the sovereign territory of their country is.


This is because Israeli governments, which for good reasons never officially annexed 99 percent of the West Bank, did everything in order to append them in practice to the State of Israel's territory.


The decision to erase the Green Line from Israeli maps also contributed to an almost absolute distortion of two completely different terms that are often mixed up around these parts: "The State of Israel" and "The Land of Israel."


The former is a modern geopolitical term with clear borders, while the latter is a religious-historical one whose geographical borders have remained undefined over most generations. The confusion between the two terms is the platform upon which the local, sparse discourse takes place regarding the future of Israel's' control over the West Bank and its Palestinian population.


Political agenda

Minister Tamir's decision to add the Green Line to textbooks reflects no doubt a political agenda, but it isn't more or less political than Yigal Alon's decision to erase the line, or from the decisions of his successors in the past 40 years to maintain this practice.


All these decisions reflect first and foremost the common perception regarding the role of the modern state as a major player in molding its citizens' identity. And what contributes more to molding it than a demarcation of their cultural and educational horizons. It's obvious that the depth and width of these horizons have implications that politicians are interested in using in order to advance their own political agenda.


And another anecdote in conclusion: In the years 1930-1905, a sharp argument divided the Zionist movement. At its heart was the familiar issue known as the east Africa plan, which by mistake is referred to the Uganda Plan (even though we're talking about territory that is part of neighboring Kenya.)


The camp that backed Jewish autonomy in east Africa included, among others, most representatives of the Mizrahi, the Zionist-religious branch. This branch later gave birth to the fundamentalist "Gush Emunim settlement movement.


Had the Uganda Plan been implemented, as the settlers' spiritual father figures wanted, the rabbis of "religious Ugandaism" could have been issuing today religious edicts banning the use of books that include the equator. After all, the problem was and remains one and the same: They don't like lines of any type or color.


The writer coordinates the settlement follow-up project for Peace Now


חזור למעלה

פרסום ראשון: 12.14.06, 10:10
 new comment
This will delete your current comment