Aner Shalev
Haaretz (Opinion)
December 20, 2011 - 1:00am

It is easy to perceive terror. It is easy to perceive a terrorist wave. It is easy to discern a breach in the Jordanian border fence. It is easy to see a brick thrown into a military jeep. It is easy to discern a mass raid on a brigade base. It is easy to discern torched mosques. It is easy to detect black letters sprayed on a wall. But is it easy to understand their meaning?

It is easy to denounce terror. Easy for the political parties to condemn it. Easy for the army to condemn it. Easy for the rabbis to condemn Jewish terror when directed against the army. Easy for cabinet ministers to roll their eyes self-righteously and talk about the rotten apples that have suddenly sprouted here. Easy for the state to wash its hands of this terror. But is it easy to disclaim responsibility for its message?

To recognize terror's message, we must examine what ignites it. This terror is portrayed as revenge for attempts to evacuate illegal outposts. If such outposts, located in the heart of Palestinian population centers, cannot be evacuated even on orders from the High Court of Justice, then no evacuation or withdrawal at all is possible. So the message is the "Greater Land of Israel." But is this message coming only from the hilltop youth?

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar spoke a few days ago about the dangers of establishing a Palestinian state and said the prime minister's Bar-Ilan University speech advocating such a state should be reconsidered. After the Palestinian Authority's unilateral bid for UN recognition as a state, its decision to join up with Hamas in Gaza and the growing strength of radical Islam in the region, the idea of two states for two peoples is no longer acceptable, the education minister claimed.

If a minister who does not belong to the radical right believes there is room for only one state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, it would be interesting to hear what the more extremist ministers in Likud and the other coalition parties think. But if so, the integrity of the Land of Israel is not a message being conveyed exclusively by the hilltop youth. It's a message originating in the government that is now spreading among the public. The idea of territorial compromise, which even rightist governments ostensibly adopted, is fading away before our eyes.

An attentive ear will also discern new and even more chilling nuances. The breach in the fence at Qasr al-Yahud in the Jordan Valley and the subsequent invasion of a Christian structure along the Jordan border are a new kind of threat, directed not only inward, but also outward. The Jordan has two banks, and both are ours, the hilltop youth cried. And we are forced to remember that according to various traditions, the Greater Land of Israel includes Trans-Jordan as well.

In the geopolitical sphere, the recent revolutions in the Arab world and the doomsday prophesies about the collapse of the peace agreements Israel has signed would appear to be good news to the Israeli right. No more peace process with the Palestinians. No more withdrawals and disengagements. Only one state, from the sea to the river.

With a bit of luck, we could even have more wars and occupy more land. The chief of staff, Benny Gantz, has already hinted at a possible reoccupation of Gaza.

At a ceremony marking the end of basic training that recently took place somewhere in Israel, the keynote speaker quoted Biblical verses. The verses he chose did not come from the prophets' visions of peace and morality. Nor did he speak about our right to the land in the narrow sense of the term.

Instead, he cited maximalist verses from the Book of Joshua: "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, to you have I given it, as I spoke unto Moses ... From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the river Euphrates."

Suddenly, when they speak about one state from the sea to the river, it is no longer clear which river they are talking about. If this is the message being sent by the Israel Defense Forces at this very moment, how can we complain about the hilltop youth?


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