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Wo es sich christelt, da judelt es sich auch, quipped Heinrich Heine. It translates roughly: where Christians do something, so do the Jews, but with onomatopoeiac allusions to tinkling bells and doodling bagpipes. Events this week proved Heine’s dictum twice over. The clever, worldly and upwardly mobile graduates of Notre Dame have a great deal in common with liberal Jews; the pro-life protestors dragged away from the college’s commencement ceremonies have much in common with Jewish settlers on the West Bank. Orthodox Christians and observant Jews bask in the disdain of liberal Catholics and secular Jews..

For the most part, Notre Dame’s graduating class poured adulation on Barack Obama and contempt on the pro-life Catholics protesting the award of an honorary degree to a pro-abortion president.  Evidently the Notre Dame students were persuaded by Obama’s argument that supporters and foes of abortion should tolerate each other. Those who think abortion is murder should respect the opinion of those who think it is the moral equivalent of wart removal. I am reminded of Heine’s summary of mutual toleration between Christians and Jews in the Germany of 1850: “I tolerate your rage, and you tolerate my breathing.”

The protests were so all crude, so gauche, so working-class, so, well, Catholic to believe in something strongly enough to protest a (still) popular president.  To believe in anything strongly enough to make a stand is the Cain mark of churlishness. Any challenge to the sovereign id transgresses the sanctity of individual choice. It can only be blamed on poor education and deficient social graces.

As it happens, the other group of  religious offenders to come under fire this week are Israelis settlers on the West Bank of the Jordan. The clever, worldy, upwardly-mobile Jews (if that is the right word for those who have been up so long it looks like down to them) who voted for Obama and staff his administration look with undisguised contempt on the yeshiva-buchers from Brooklyn who man the religious outposts on the West Bank. The settlers are so crude, so fanatical, so intolerant, so — Jewish. Obama of course denounced them in his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu today and demanded that they stop. Like the rank-and-file Catholics whose supposed fanaticism and ignorance leads them to believe what their bishops say, rather than the faux-magisterium of the Notre Dame faculty, American Jews are embarrassed by the association with the Israeli settlers.

It is a day to be inconsolable when the elite youth of America’s flagship university pour contempt on their religion and their co-religionists who take it seriously, while the clever and successful Jews of America cheer on a president who slaps constraints on Israel at a time of great danger. Obama tried to browbeat Netanyahu into accepting a Palestinian state. At present juncture a Palestinian state would be an instant failed state either run by or unable to suppress Hamas and other terrorists who would use the territority the same way Hamas used Gaza: to pepper Israel with rocket fire. That is just what is happening.  As Daniel Pipes observes in a Jerusalem Post column today, “many Israelis, including Netanyahu, disbelieve that Palestinians will either construct a state or abandon irredentism. Netanyahu prefers to shelve “two states” and focus instead on institution-building, economic development, and quality-of-life improvements for Palestinians. To this, the Arab states, Palestinians, European governments, and the Obama administration near-unanimously respond with vociferous hostility.”

Pipes observes that liberal Jews who used to defend Israel are now relentless in their denunciations of the settlers. House Mideast Subcommittee chairman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) denounces “settler pogroms” against Arabs in the same sentence as rocket fire against Israelis from Hamas. The rotund Ackerman, who represents a liberal district on Long Island, was a president of the International Conference of Jewish Parliamentarians.

As a matter of record, I do not share the opinion of many of the religious settlers that occupying all of the historic Jewish Kingdom in its Solomonic borders is a religious obligation. I am less concerned with particular borders than with preserving Jewish lives. But there are much more practical reasons to settle the West Bank.

First, as Abba Eban said, the 1948 borders are “Auschwitz borders,” that leave Israel virtually indefensible.

Second, settlement represents the only logical riposte to the so-called Palestinian refugee problem. When Ariel Sharon talked of creating “facts on the ground,” he was responding to the most important fact on the ground, namely the maintenance of the only third-and-fourth-generation “refugee” population in the world as a weapon against the Jewish state. In the aftermath of independence a roughly equal number of Jews came to Israel and Arabs left, in one of many 20th-century population exchanges (and one of the least bloody, as a matter of fact). That should have been the end of it, except that the United Nations and the Arab world kept the refugees corralled in “camps” (settlements with much better amenities than their previous homes). The Arab demand for right of return, which has accompanied every so-called Arab peace plan, proposes to liquidate the Jewish state.

Against this, the setttlements crea te a countervailing set of facts on the ground: refuse to make peace, they tell the Arabs, and you lose territory. The more settlements, the better. Short of killing people, seizing land is the best way to give the Arab side an incentive to make peace sooner rather than alter.

To order the Israelis to stop settlements is to tell them to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. Netanyahu was precisely correct to tell Obama that negotiations would begin in earnest only when the Arab side recognized the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

Most of the 78% of American Jews who voted for Obama seem to believe that their president will work his mind-magic on the Muslim world and persuade everyone to get along. If things don’t work out this way, it will be the embarrasing, gauche, all-too-Jewish settlers from the Brooklyn yeshivas who ruined everything with their intolerance and fanaticism — sort of like the Notre Dame pro-life protestors.

The stance of the liberal Jewish community towards Israel is shameful. It recalls the torpor of the Jewish establishment during Hitler’s rise to power during the 1930s. Their moral indifferentism in the face of a mortal threat to the Jewish State is an outrage. I have much more in common with the settlers on the West Bank and the protesters in South Bend.

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