Has Israel Become A “Zone Of Interest?”

Has Israel Become A “Zone Of Interest?”


Leonard Zwelling



This one is hard to write.

The links above are to two articles of great relevance to those of us who both value the state of Israel and cling to the notion that the Jewish people will do the right thing, because right now it appears that the state of Israel is in utter turmoil and too many Jews are not doing the right thing.

The Zone of Interest is an Academy Award-winning film about the German family that lives just outside the walls of Auschwitz. The camp commander and his wife and five children seem to live idyllic lives of swimming in the river and tending to gardens. But the sounds heard over the pictures are of trains, gunshots and barking dogs. In the distance is a smoking, fiery chimney.

The point cannot be lost on anyone. Just on the other side of the wall is hell itself. In fact, the film begins in total silence with a black screen. You are descending into hell. Be warned.

I fear that is happening in the West Bank as well as indicated by the long piece in The New York Times Magazine on May 19 by Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti. Yes, I don’t mean Gaza which is an absolute mess thanks to no one doing the right thing.

Since 1967 Israel has over seen the governance of territory the rest of the world claims is not theirs to govern. Furthermore, Jewish settlers are not only occupying more and more of this territory, but also are becoming ever more violent towards their Palestinian neighbors who also lay claim to the land. These Jews have been violent before. It was one of these Jewish extremists who killed Prime Minister Rabin in 1995 when he tried to implement the Oslo Accords. These Jews believe that the West Bank is really called Judea and Samaria and is part of ancient Israel and not up for negotiating with the Palestinians.

This article, while lengthy, is worth the read. It shows how deep the level of complication is in trying to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even beyond the war in Gaza. Large swaths of the Jewish population believe that Israel must be “from the river to the sea.” And these people are way more extreme than any of the students demonstrating on American college campuses.

What becomes clear in watching this film and reading this article is that some of the Jews currently in Mr. Netanyahu’s cabinet would deal with Palestinians the way the Germans dealt with us and that simply is unacceptable.

The United States needs to demand that Israel return to the bargaining table with the Palestinians if the Americans can find a viable partner with whom the Israelis can negotiate. It is not the current Palestinian Authority and it is not Hamas.

Absorbing the film last night and the article this morning has depressed me completely. How can we make the mistake of dehumanizing other people with whom we have a dispute? We cannot.

Hamas attacked Israel. That fight is a just fight even as Hamas’ use of its own people as human shields while hiding in underground tunnels ups the casualty numbers.

The West Bank, where Hamas is a presence, is another matter. There are now 500,000 Jewish settlers on land that is not yet Israeli. There is no viable police or military presence maintaining order in the West Bank and the Arab population there is getting ever more desperate. The violence will spill over no matter how high Israel builds the walls around the West Bank.

Israel cannot become a Zone of Interest next to a violent West Bank. It is up to the rational people of Israel to replace its current irrational right-wing government and move on to peace making. True international leadership would help. That’s been missing since 2000.

A lot has happened since Yasser Arafat rejected Ehud Barak’s offer for a Palestinian state in 2000. None of it is good.

Read the article. See the film. Cringe.

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