I will not be exposing any state secrets by noting that Miki Makhlouf Zohar, a member of the Likud Knesset faction, is not the sharpest tool in the shed, or as the kids say nowadays, "His wit’s as thick as a Tewkesbury mustard" (Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 2).
His proposed solution to the conflict, annexing the West Bank without giving its residents the right to vote and be elected had been previously tested in different countries, but was not very well accepted. The last failed attempt was in South Africa. It was called the apartheid.
Okay, said MMZ. I understand the problem. I have an alternative solution: if they joined the army or the national service, they will be able to vote. But trust me, they would rather give up the right to vote than contribute to the country.
Zohar's comments flooded the networks with an overwhelming amount of comments, from enthusiastic praise to curses and insults. For a day or two, it seemed Zohar was actually defeating his fellow comrade Oren Hazan in the fight over the network's blabbermouths. I, however, was more disturbed by another, equally troubling doubt: Is there a grain of truth beneath his pile of nonsense?
I'm afraid there is.
Let's start with Zohar's proclamation that the two-state solution is dead. Unfortunately, this statement is correct. It is certainly correct in terms of cost/benefit: the political cost of signing such an agreement for the heads of government on both sides will be infinitely higher than the benefits garnered. No leader would dare pay it.
The real debate in the Israeli political system is waged between those who say enough with the ambiguity and that it's time to annex, and those who are forcefully holding onto the current situation. Bennett versus Netanyahu. This is a tactical argument, not an ideological one.
Neither of them wants to reoccupy Ramallah and Nablus. Bennett wants to legally enforce Israeli control over most of the West Bank; Netanyahu prefers to do it subtly. On this point, MMZ was aiming for greatness. When Israel annexes the West Bank, he added, it will offer those annexed a deal: the right to vote for the Knesset in exchange for military or national service.
In order to analyze this issue we have to backtrack to Israel in its early years. At the time, Ben-Gurion made a series of historical decisions whose fruits we are reaping to this day. But he also made decisions that in the long run, turned out quite miserable. One of them was the partial draft: he exempted religious girls, ultra-Orthodox boys and Arabs from the draft (he did order the draft of religious boys, Druze boys and Bedouin boys). This division erected walls between the different sectors and left large parts of Israeli society outside the communal tent.
This situation could not be maintained forever. The first to rebel were the girls from the Religious-Zionist sector. They enlist to the army, to combat units as well, in increasing numbers, and scorn the phony, condescending patronage of the rabbis and religious activists. These were followed by young Haredim, who were fed up with the moral and material poverty imposed upon them by the rabbis. Next came the Christian Arabs, a minority within a minority, and here and there, some Muslims trickled through as well.
These young men and women are valiantly fighting against a tremendous coalition that starts with the most extreme Orthodox factions through the United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Bayit Yehudi rabbis, all the way to the Joint List.
The fight against the draft is visible, crude and violent. In any regulated country, the government would back the people who wished to enlist. Not here they don't.
Before MK Zohar and friends annex the West Bank's population, they should ask themselves what they have done for the Israeli citizens in Nazareth, Sakhnin and Umm al-Fahm.
As far as they're concerned, these places would also become occupied territories, under military rule. A series of draconian laws would then seek to expel the representatives of the Arab sector from the Knesset, or at least, leave them in place as token zombies.
Arabs will have to swear their allegiance to the Jewish State of Israel on a daily basis; Jews would be exempt from swearing allegiance to the democratic State of Israel.
"From the wealth of our land there shall prosper / The Arab, the Christian, and the Jew," promised Ze'ev Jabotinsky in his East Bank of the Jordan poem. Not for Zohar and friends, they won't.