Monday, July 20, 2009

In the Interest of Wine and View

"[Israel has to keep the Golan] for strategic, military and land-settlement reasons. Needs of water, wine and view." - Uzi Arad, Benjamin Netanyahu's national security advisor in an interview with Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz.

This is old news already, I know. The interview was published the weekend before last, but I felt I had to mention how ridiculous, dangerous and weird this statement is. It's no better in the original Hebrew ("מסיבות אסטרטגיות, צבאיות והתיישבותיות. צורכי מים, נוף ויין").

I disagree with his assessment that Israel needs the Golan Heights for strategic and military purposes, but I accept it as a legitimate consideration. We'd be safer if we had peace with Syria and no Golan, in my opinion, but those who either don't trust the Syrian regime or don't believe it will last long have some good arguments. Water needs are also an important issue, though I'm sure we can come to a satisfying settlement on this with Syria.

Land-settlement. Now that's where things start to get problematic. Sure, Israel is a small country, but it has plenty of uninhabited lands in the nearby Galilee and especially down south in the Negev. The Golan may be more fertile than the Negev, but since we aren't an agrarian society, it doesn't really matter.

And now for the really outrageous reasons to stay on the Golan. Wine and view. Excuse me? Yes, you heard correctly. Wine and view are more important to Uzi Arad than the lives that may potentially be lost in a future war with Syria. Never mind that peace may also prevent future clashes with Hezbollah. We want out tasty wines and beautiful views!

The Golan is breathtaking and its wines are of high quality. Still, it isn't like Israel proper is an ugly, wineless piece of territory. We'll make do with the wineries of Mount Carmel and the scenery of the rest of Israel, in exchange for peace. Or at least we should. The government and most Israelis seem to disagree with me.

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