Some in the White House and in the international community are up in arms because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an inconvenient truth through video on YouTube this week.
His message was clear—uprooting Jewish communities from the West Bank to make way for a Palestinian state is tantamount to “ethnic cleansing.”
Netanyahu’s most pointed remark was the reason for his video address: “Ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd. It’s about time somebody said it. I just did.”
His response was directed against international criticism that building Jewish homes in already existing West Bank Jewish communities represents an “obstacle to peace.” Sadly, this is a position held by some in our own government.
He went on to say, “I think what makes peace impossible is intolerance of others. Societies that respect all people are the ones that pursue peace. Societies that demand ethnic cleansing don’t pursue peace,” Netanyahu stated in the video.
The removal of Jews from territories to form a Palestinian state fits the definition of ethnic cleansing pretty well, and it’s clear that Netanyahu embraces a larger vision for Arabs and Israelis living side-by-side in peace. He conveyed this belief in his video saying, “I envision a Middle East where young Arabs and young Jews learn together, work together, live together side by side in peace …”
Remembrances of Israel’s 2005 evacuation from the Gaza Strip underscore the importance of this video statement. Immediately after the final Jews departed, Palestinians ransacked Israeli structures and looted not only multi-million dollar high-tech greenhouses left there with the well-intended aim of helping the local economy, but also went as far as setting synagogues on fire.
Most concerning, however, are statements from Washington criticizing Netanyahu for his accurate “ethnic cleansing” statement instead of tackling the real obstacle to peace: the Palestinian refusal to recognize the existence of Israel, and their drive to create an extremist-led, Jew-free Palestinian state.
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