Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Alayon recently released a video in which he defends Israel’s presence in the West Bank, and argues not only that Israeli settlements within the territory are legal, but that the West Bank technically should not be labeled as "occupied’, but rather, "disputed," because the West Bank was not recognized previously as being legally part of a sovereign state.
Staff writer Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic (formerly The Atlantic Monthly) was so incensed by the pro-Israel video that he was driven to use profanity on his blog as he mocked the Israeli government as trying to send the message that the world should "f— off." He further charged that the "cheesy and disturbing video" was an attempt by the Israeli government to hold onto the West Bank, even though Ayalon’s video clearly speaks of negotiating the boundaries for a Palestinian state. Goldberg began his blog posting:
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has put out a YouTube video in which the deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, the former ambassador to the U.S., argues, in essence, the following: The West Bank belongs to Israel now and forever, so f--- off.
As documented by Commentary Magazine, the accusations led to a debate on Twitter between Alayon and Goldberg. The Atlantic reporter repeated his charge that "your entire project is designed to legitimize Israel’s hold over the territories forever."
And, even though Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 and from the Gaza Strip in 2005 led to the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas taking over those areas, Goldberg clung to the liberal view that Israel needs to withdraw from the West Bank for the Jewish State’s own sake. Goldberg, from Twitter: "But my worry is about Jewish decision-making. Keeping the West Bank will bring about the end of Israel as we know it."
Below is a complete transcript of the relevant blog posting by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, with critical portions in bold:
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has put out a YouTube video in which the deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, the former ambassador to the U.S., argues, in essence, the following: The West Bank belongs to Israel now and forever, so f— off. At least, that’s what I heard. Ayalon argues, among other things, "The West Bank should not be considered ‘occupied’ because there was no previous legal sovereign in the area and therefore the real definition should be ‘disputed territory.’
Ayalon neglects to mention that the salient point about the West Bank might not be who the "legal sovereign" was 44 years ago, but that actual people of another ethnic group live on the West Bank and don’t want to be ruled - "occupied" would be another word for "ruled" - by a foreign power. To most of the world, at least (and to many, many Israelis and a clear majority of American Jews) this is what matters.
All in all, it’s a cheesy and disturbing video. Now Gal Beckerman has come along to alert us that the Ayalon video was made by the same person who earlier had made essentially the same video for the settlement movement:
The video was created by filmmaker Shlomo Blass, who was responsible for the less slick and casually racist "We Con the World" video following the flotilla raid last year.
But Bass and the foreign ministry seem to have gotten lazy since, as the Jerusalem Post first pointed out in a glancing reference, Ayalon’s video is identical, image for image and in large part word for word, with one he made in May for the YESHA Council, the organization that represents and lobbies for the settlers.
Beckerman goes on to ask:
Should we not be concerned when the foreign ministry of Israel is using the same propaganda as the settlers? Or should we just assume that their interests are one?
The answer is (b), we should just assume, at this moment, at least, that their interests are one.