Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Whither the Golan?

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the Israeli news sites about the future of the Golan Heights. Ever since the conclusion of the Hezbollah war, this piece of territory seems to keep popping up in the agenda in way that it hasn't for some time. A few weeks after the war the possibility of returning the territory to Syria was raised by a minister from the ruling Kadima party. After that it seemed like everyone was throwing in their two cents on the subject. So being one to always follow a crowd its my turn to weigh in.

I remember when I visited Israel on Birthright in 2004 they shlepped us up north to visit the Galilee and the Golan. At Kibbutz Misgav Am the fowl mouthed security coordinator explained that the Golan would be the next item on the agenda. This always seemed non-sensical to me because I assumed it wouldn't come up on the agenda until the Palestinian issue was resolved, which of course could take until the next millennia.

However, lo and behold Ha'aretz publishes an article calling for Israel to withdraw to the International border. This article amazed not because of the position it argued, which in itself is not at all radical or original. But rather that the author believed that the Israeli public would accept a withdrawal from the Golan in the near future.

From my experience with Israeli society there is one issue that seems to unify Israelis of all political spectrums, and that is there determination never to give up the Golan. The attachment to the land is to strong and the distrust of the Syrians is to great for most Israelis to even begin to think about leaving. Furthermore, there is so little incentive for Israel to withdraw that its amazing this could even scratch the surface of the political radar. There's a good reason there is an Israeli saying "Another Lefty With the Golan." Or as my honorary Israeli mother would say "Over My Dead Body"

What I really think Israel needs to do, is to give Syria alternatives to regaining the Golan. Whether the alternative is economic or political I believe it exists. Jews and Israeli's only need to be creative enough to discover it.

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