Last week the Forward published an editorial calling for Israel to implement a settlement freeze:
Whatever the status of Jerusalem, outlying West Bank communities such as Ariel and Betar Illit are settlements by anybody’s lights, including Israel’s. The new construction announced there last month is a direct slap at the Road Map and its author, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made clear in her angry remarks in Jordan just after the new construction was announced.
It’s important to acknowledge that the question of new Israeli construction in the West Bank is not a matter of intrinsic right and wrong, of moral vs. immoral behavior. Violating the Road Map agreement by building new apartment blocks can hardly be compared with violating it by bombarding Israeli towns and deliberately killing and maiming civilians. Israelis are not wrong to question the international outcry that greets every new West Bank housing start.
At this moment in history, however, new construction in the settlements, whatever its moral valence, is foolish and self-destructive. Israel’s political and defense leaders see their country’s survival as dependent on separating from the Palestinians by withdrawing from the West Bank.
Jerusalem maintains that the Palestinians must honor their Road Map commitment to stop incitement and break up terrorist gangs before Israel needs to begin acting on its commitments. The way things look now, though, that may be backward. Israel needs to help Abbas win back control by first honoring its own commitments.
This week, in an article at FrontPageMagazine.com, P. David Hornik fires back, listing what he describes as inaccuracies and rejecting the Forward’s overall premise:
The Forward warns darkly of “a spurt of new construction . . . under way in Israeli settlements in the West Bank”actually bids for about 2,000 apartments about half of which will be in Jerusalemand says this “development should be alarming to anyone who cares about Israel’s welfare.” What should really be alarming to anyone who cares about Israel’s welfare is that there are still Jews who think Israel can win peace by making Judea, Samaria, and part of Jerusalem off limits to Jews.
[I]t all gets down to that root of all evils – those “settlements” – and Israel doesn’t even have a right to demand an end to incitement and terrorism without first stopping its own diabolical “natural growth” in places like Ariel, Betar Illit, and Jerusalem. The Forward stays faithful to all the self-negating axioms of the Left that, in the form of the Oslo process, got Israel surrounded by terrorist gangs in the first place. It can’t give up the idea that Israel brings terrorism upon itself and could still appease its way into its enemies’ hearts.