Do you know the Chassidic story about the rabbi and the goat?
A congregant comes to the rabbi for advice, complaining about the unbearable conditions at his tiny, cramped home. The rambunctious children are fighting. His wife is a hoarder. Everything is stuffy and grim. The Rabbi tells the man to buy a goat and keep it in the house. A week later the poor man comes back incensed. The goat is unbearable. It’s noisy and smelly. It eats everything. Rabbi, help! The rabbi cups his chin and says: well, go ahead and sell the goat. A week later, the man returns happy. Thank you, rabbi, he says, I got rid of the goat and life is wonderful! The house is spacious, the children are quiet, and it even smells good.
I don’t know if Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump intended to use the idea of West Bank de-jure annexation to distract from the ongoing de-facto annexation through settlement construction. What I know is that many were distracted by the annexation goat, both in Israel and in the United States.
Not us. Not Shalom Achshav.
While we are obviously concerned about the possibility of formal annexation, our mission for the past four decades has been to fight the informal, creeping, de-facto annexation of the West Bank. Day in and day out, we witness what it does to the Palestinians, to our democracy, and to the prospects of us reaching a peace agreement with our neighbors. We know how badly it stinks.