Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
Even in Israel, the looming threat (or promise, for some) of the annexation of parts of the West Bank no longer makes it to the headlines every day. But it is most certainly still on the table, and Israeli government bureaucrats are hard at work preparing the maps and the legal infrastructure that would allow it to be implemented.
As the international director of Roots,/Shorashim/Judur, the Israeli Palestinian grassroots initiative for understanding, nonviolence, and transformation, I have been immersed in the issue of annexation for the last few months. Pre-politics, the preparation of human hearts and minds for deep mutual reconciliation and a future of peace – and not politics – is the realm in which we operate. However, the proposed annexation is so opposed to our values of equality, bilateralism, respect, and human dignity, that we decided that we cannot remain silent. Despite the risks, we came out with a public statement, endorsed by both the Israeli and the Palestinians members of Roots, expressing our deep opposition to any form of annexation. Here is what we have to say:
Who We Are
As activists in Roots-Shorashim-Judur, Israelis and Palestinians who live in Judea and Samaria / Palestinian Territories, we have been working together for over six years in partnership and mutual recognition. We have developed a discourse that honors the belonging of both Peoples to the entire land and that recognizes that neither side will simply disappear. We believe it is incumbent on both societies to take responsibility for each other’s needs in this land. Roots serves that belief daily by advancing changes for a better future and showing solidarity in today’s broken reality.
The path we chart constitutes a critical challenge to the ‘zero sum game’ attitude of most Israelis and Palestinians. Since the breakdown of the Oslo peace process, Israeli and Palestinian society are largely in agreement that “there is no partner for peace.” The result is the past decade of unilateral attempts to force one side’s vision on the other through creating facts on the ground or in battles at the UN. This futile dynamic is on full display in the current plan for unilateral annexation by Israel.
We understand the goal, but reject the means
Today’s political deadlock is clear to all, and Roots understands the temptation of unilateral actions as a means to achieve national goals, like gaining recognition of the Jewish connection to Judea. Nevertheless, we oppose the annexation plan. The aggression and sense of triumphalism inherent in a unilateral annexation stand in opposition to the principle of mutual respect that we see as the foundation for advancing peace and security in this land and this region.
No peace without equality
Furthermore, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s declaration dismissing the possibility of granting citizenship to Palestinians in the annexed areas sounds the alarm that even
the little steps towards attaining rights that annexation might bring are not on the table. We believe that any plan that does not put front and center the equal rights and mutual benefits that every Palestinian and Israeli deserves will not bring us closer to peace but rather distances us from it.
Accordingly, Roots steadfastly opposes the annexation plan and will continue to stand firm in our commitment to taking responsibility and advancing partnership and equality for all inhabitants of the land – within any political constellation – and will support those initiatives aiming to do the same.
We call for our respective governments to cease the power struggles between them and to serve their societies with a renewed will to create a dignified life for both the Israeli and Palestinian Peoples.