Dror Etkes is a great cook: He mixes a little truth, plenty of demagoguery, spices it up with simplistic combination of history and philosophy, and tops it off with excessive liberal sentimentality. In his piece against the JNF law, which I indeed had the privilege to initiate, but which was also supported by more than 64 Knesset members of all parties, he attempted to sell to the public half-truths and false interpretations on a blatant post-Zionist platter.
One cannot argue with facts. Over a period of 100 years, millions of Jews worldwide donated (and continue to donate today too) tens of millions of dollars for one and only purpose: Ensuring that land in this country is in Jewish hands. Perhaps this is not politically correct, and perhaps this is also archaic in the eyes of Dror Etkes and his friends, but those millions of Jews have the right to think this way and want this. Any other decision would betray their trust and constitute a daylight robbery.
In the view of all these Jews, a Jew is someone who is defined as such by the Law of Return. Therefore, Etkes' claim as if those who are not Jewish in accordance with Jewish law will enjoy JNF land is baseless. Even an immigrant from Russia, whose grandfather only was Jewish, and who moved to Israel on the basis of the Law of Return can be awarded JNF land, because he is defined as Jewish by the Law of Return. Even if these definitions are not perfect and present other problems such as conversion and intermarriage, these are the commonly accepted definitions by Israeli society for the time being.
Yet what most Israeli society should be disturbed by is the grave phenomenon whereby a citizen of this country, who speaks Hebrew and (still?) views himself as a Zionist, adopts with such enthusiasm the most radical Palestinian narrative. How can he so easily view all of us as the children of immigrants who don’t quite belonging to this country, while he views the Arabs, all of them, as having lived in this country for generations?
Synthesis of democracy and Judaism
The overwhelming majority of Knesset members, who represent all the various public sectors and views, are unwilling to give in to the intellectual terrorism that Etkes and his friends are attempting to force on us, as if this country is only democratic but not Jewish. As if equality means erasing its entire Jewish identity, Zionist roots, and Land of Israel heritage. As if Arab singer Umm Kulthum and Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer are one and the same and the Star of David and Muslim Crescent have equal place in the country's character.
An overwhelming majority of Israel's citizens, with the exception of a handful of radical leftists, wants a synthesis of democracy and Judaism that does not blur the priority and preference to be accorded in the future as well to Jews, the Jewish nationality, and to Jewish tradition.
In the past, when Dror Etkes' movement, Peace Now, was slammed for not condemning Palestinian terrorism, violence by Israeli Arabs, or the ongoing land robbery in the Negev by the Bedouins, the movement's spokespersons made sure to emphasize that the organization views its mission as enhancing public awareness with regards to the settlements in Judea and Samaria, and nothing beyond that.
Yet as of late, their voice is increasingly being heard against the Judaization of Jerusalem, against targeted killings, against the razing of illegal Arab homes, against the last war in Lebanon, and in favor of a Golan withdrawal, the division of Jerusalem, and budgetary preference to the Arab sector.
Now, its leaders are adopting a radical position against a law pertaining to JNF land, which is located west of the Green Line they cherish so much. How is that connected to Judea and Samaria communities? How is that connected to their agenda? Is the post-Zionist secret of Peace Now finally out?
The writer is a Knesset member and chairman of the National Union-NRP Knesset faction