March 9, 2014

Israel’s Big Mistake

These words are printed in three languages, loud and clear, on big red signs beside Israeli roads leading to Palestinian-governed territories:
This road leads to Area “A” under the Palestinian Authority. Entry for Israeli citizens is forbidden, life-threatening, and against Israeli law.

The warning is unlikely to shock anyone familiar with Israel today. As those of us who live here know all too well, a trip inside one of these areas can indeed prove fatal.

Yet the term “Israeli citizens” belies a deeply unsettling truth: not all Israelis need avoid entering these areas. Israeli Arabs come and go freely, and are even encouraged to conduct business in the territories. Only Jewish Israelis are at risk of death. No less unsettling is that one encounters such signs not at distant outposts, far from densely populated Jewish towns, but on the fringes of Jerusalem and the outskirts of Tel Aviv, just a few miles from Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Israeli Jews have resigned themselves to this reality. Under the laws of our own government, areas within what we consider our ancient national homeland are simply off-limits to Jews. We are not taken aback by this circumstance, not even disturbed. When the Palestinian Authority names central streets after suicide bombers with Jewish blood on their hands, we don’t think twice about it. And when we talk about a Palestinian state, we take it for granted that Jews will not be allowed to live there—or that, if allowed, they would never feel safe enough to do so.

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