Thursday, November 11, 2010

Israel's Withdrawl from Ghajar Part of the Creation of the Jewish State?


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Ghajar is a village in the Golan Heights, an area conquered and annexed by Israel from Syria after the Six Day War.  The village was so close to the Lebanese border that the construction of a few houses caused the village to spread into Lebanese territory.


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The village is populated by ethnic Arabs of the Alawi faith, an offshoot of Shia Islam that believes Muhammad's cousin Ali was an incarnation of God.  However, these villagers willing accepted Israeli citizenship.  They hoped that joining a stable, pluralistic democratic state would be better than staying in a no-functioning, pluralistic thugocracy (Lebanon) or joining a stable police state (Syria).

Sadly, because of geopolitics they will pay for their belief.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that Israel will withdraw from Ghajar.  While this has been a possibility for a while, Israel gave up on any negotiating with Lebanon about the protection of the villagers.  Who will take over the village?  The closest military power: Hezbollah.  Twelever Shia Hezbollah sees these Alawites as political traitors and heretics.  Most likely many Ghajaris will flee to Israel out of fear of Hezbollah.

Some are wondering why is Israel doing this.  I propose that it is part of an overall trend in Israel to reestablish the idea of the Jewish state.  Recently Israel announced plans to immigrants take an oath which states Israel is a Jewish state.  Previously, Israel abandoned settlements and occupation of the Gaza Strip because holding would eventually force Israel to absorb over a million Muslim Arabs.  While Ghajar might give territory to Israel it would not advance the cause of a Jewish state.

The Lebanese will view a withdrawal as a victory and Israel will view it as one as well.  The only ones to lose are the ones who care the most: the two-thousand villagers of Ghajar.

3 comments:

Matt said...

After the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon, the Lebanese claimed that the Israelis hadn't completely withdrawn because they still occupied a little disputed tract called the Shebaa Farms. For the first time in decades, the UN sided with Israel in this dispute, saying the Shebaa Farms were not part of Lebanon but part of the Golan Heights, which is a separate dispute between Israel and Syria. If Israel is going to use the UN's verdict to make its case on the Shebaa Farms issue, I suppose they have to abide by whatever else the UN says about the position of the Lebanon border, including the division of Ghajar, which is right next to Shebaa. The UN has been complaining about Israel's "occupation" of Ghajar. While it's true that elements of the current right-wing government of Israel have been trying to emphasize the Jewishness of Israel, I don't think that's what this is about. Netanyahu has never accepted the argument, promoted by some far-right Israeli politicians, that the Arab Triangle, with more than 100,000 people, should be made part of a Palestinian state -- an idea fiercely rejected by most of the area's inhabitants.

Catholicgauze said...

Matt,
Thanks for the comment. Isn't Ghajar not part of the Shebaa farms complex? It seems odd that Israel would go with the UN in this case when there are so many other issues.
However, thanks indeed for your comments and reminding me that the government is a coalition with multiple speaking mouths (one statement/policy does not necessarily apply to all).

Catholicgauze said...

Matt,
Disregard that whole "Ghajar outside of Sheeba farms" bit. I realize now what you are saying. Thanks again!