With the annexation of the West Bank now set to take place in the not-so-distant future, it seems likely that Israelis that share Daniella Weiss’ vision will continue to push for the annexation of more and more territory until Greater Israel takes shape.
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — A well-known and controversial Israeli settler-activist, Daniella Weiss, recently told Haaretz that her vision of a future Israel, following the impending Israeli annexation of Palestine’s West Bank, includes parts of Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Iran. Weiss — former mayor of the illegal West Bank settlement of Kedumim — claimed during the interview that this vision of a future “Greater Israel” was not “extreme” but a “basic Jewish approach” and was “the only way to continue Zionism.”
Interviewed by Haaretz columnist Bradley Burston — who personally opposes illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank — Weiss expounded at length on her role in making a “two-state solution” impossible by founding and expanding settlements throughout Palestine’s West Bank.
Early on in the interview, Burston told Weiss his feeling that the settler movement had “ruined” the Israel he had wanted to see and continues to threaten the country’s safety and existence. Weiss responded that — though Burston’s views aggravated her — she was “more satisfied that my philosophy has had the upper hand” in influencing past and current Israeli policy and that the settler movement “had blocked the option of a two-state solution.”
Weiss — who still lives in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim, which she helped to found in the 1970s — was then asked if she would support giving Palestinians living in the West Bank voting rights in the increasingly likely event that the West Bank would be annexed. Weiss responded:
The land of Israel is only for the Jewish nation as far as sovereignty is concerned. Arabs can live here, have their rights, human rights, they can have their education and culture but not sovereignty.”
Netanyahu vowed to annex the West Bank, but why stop there? Haaretz columnist @BradleyBurston went on a West Bank tour with a settler leader whose vision of Israel's future borders include Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and even Iran | WATCH https://t.co/SssfCjI6tZ pic.twitter.com/Jit4MQsB1t
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) April 7, 2019
Burston then asked Weiss about how young American Jews are increasingly critical of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the settler movement. Weiss responded:
People say to me, ‘Why don’t you explain to the Jews in the United States what exactly is behind your thinking?’ I explain…but, I’m laughing because [of] the right word for it, you have to brainwash all the time. You have to say it, explain it, live it, cope with it. My husband says to me, ‘Why do you speak to your children all the time about Zionism, pioneers and Judea and Samaria [Israeli term for the West Bank], settling and settling … Because this is the only way to continue Zionism.”
Later, Weiss stated — in speaking about how a two-state solution is now impossible in practical terms as a result of the presence of half a million Jewish settlers in the West Bank — that she wants “to have for the Jewish nation all the promised land from the Bible, from the Euphrates to the Nile, and I’m sure it will be.”
When Burston asked Weiss “What about Southern Lebanon?” Weiss responded, “It is a part of it [the “promised land”], all of it [Lebanon]. Even parts of Syria, part of Iraq, part of Iran. It’s huge.” Burston then asked how she would convince others that this vision of a “Greater Israel” was a good idea, prompting Weiss to respond that she had already convinced many and that “many people believe it,” adding that this view was not “extreme” but a “basic Jewish approach.”
While Weiss may seem convinced that her vision of a greater Israel is a “basic Jewish approach,” it seems to be divorced from the reality of an increasing number of Jews outside of Israel who have grown increasingly critical of Israeli encroachment and Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, let alone plans for Israel to annex parts of various neighboring countries. Indeed, it goes without saying that plans to establish a “Greater Israel” would necessarily trigger a war with nearly all of the sovereign states named by Weiss as forming part of what she termed the “promised land.”
Middle East Pac-Man game
The impending annexation of the West Bank, recently promised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should he win re-election, has brought the rhetoric of settler activists like Weiss into public view. However, Weiss’ vision of a “Greater Israel” has long existed among an extremist, yet influential, minority of Zionists.
Prominent groups in the early days of the Zionist movement, including the World Zionist Organization and Zionism “founding father” Theodore Herzl, argued that a Jewish state in the Middle East should extend from the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates river, encompassing areas of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.
While the idea continued to be influential among far-right Zionists leading up to and well after Israel’s founding, the creation of the Yinon plan in 1982 by Israeli military strategist Oded Yinon gave rise to a roadmap for achieving “Greater Israel.” Per the plan, whose origin notably coincided with the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon, Israel’s regional superiority in the Middle East would be secured by balkanizing the entire Arab world into smaller and weaker sectarian states. The plan called for the partition of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt into various sectarian statelets, with parts of these countries being subsequently absorbed into “Greater Israel.”
In recent months, proponents of a “Greater Israel” were given a boost by President Donald Trump’s de facto recognition of Israel’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights despite international condemnation of the move. The Golan Heights, which were annexed by Israel in 1981, were part of the large state envisioned by prominent Zionists like Herzl and their ideological descendants.
With the annexation of the West Bank now set to take place in the not-so-distant future, it seems likely that Israelis that share Daniella Weiss’ vision will continue to push for the annexation of more and more territory until Greater Israel takes shape. However, that path will undoubtedly lead to large-scale regional war, as countries like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran are highly unlikely to cede large swaths of their territory to the ambitions of those like Weiss without a fight.
Top photo | A photo of Daniella Weiss. Credit | Alex Levac | Haaretz
Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.