US congressman wants Israel to be narrower than his district – opinion

Democratic lawmaker Andy Levin wants Israel at its most populated midsection to be narrower than the Bronx. Did he ever meet the neighbors?

By Stephen M. Flatow

A Michigan congressman is complaining that he is being subjected to “ad hominem attacks” because his pro-Palestinian positions have been criticized. But there’s nothing ad hominem about pointing out that this congressman wants to reduce Israel to a size that will be barely one-third the width of his own congressional district.

The congressman in question is Democrat Andy Levin of Michigan, who is closely associated with J Street and advocates forcing Israel back to the nine-miles-wide pre-1967 armistice lines.

In fact, Levin is so deeply devoted to making Israel just nine miles wide that he is the lead sponsor of a bill called the “Two-State Solution Act.” The bill demands the creation of a Palestinian Arab state next to Israel, in what he calls “the occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Sec.5 (a) of the Levin bill defines those territories as “the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

Those are the areas that Israel captured in the 1967 war, which means that if the state of “Palestine” is established, Israel will return to being nine miles wide at a point a few miles above Tel Aviv, as it was prior to 1967.

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By way of comparison, Rep. Levin’s district, the 9th Congressional District of Michigan, is about 25 miles wide. His district is in a suburb of Detroit, which is about 45 miles wide.

So, Congressman Levin wants Israel to be reduced to one-third the width of his district and one-fifth the width of Detroit.

It’s not hard to understand why Israelis are less than eager for that kind of “solution.”

Recall that on the eve of the Six-Day War, Israeli mothers living along the heavily populated coastal region refused to let their children go to school for fear that an Arab tank column would cut Israel in two, possibly leaving their children on the Arab side. That’s how precarious those borders were—and would be again.

A former president of AIPAC circulated a letter criticizing Rep. Levin’s positions on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

A leftwing political activist named Sophie Ellman-Golan noticed the letter and complained about it on Twitter, and now some media outlets are presenting it as if the ex-AIPAC leader did something wrong.

Ellman-Golan appears to be based in Brooklyn, New York. So let me put this in terms that will illustrate my point clearly for those who are familiar with the geography of New York City: nine miles wide means that Israel would be narrower than the distance from the Verrazano Bridge to JFK Airport. Narrower, even, than the Bronx.

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According to Ellman-Golan, supporters of Israel are “scared of progressive and increasingly outspoken Jewish voices like Andy’s.”

Actually, no. What they’re scared of is exactly the same thing that Israeli mothers were scared of on June 4, 1967—they’re scared of Israel being sliced in two by an Arab tank column and its coastal cities and Ben Gurion Airport coming under fire from missiles and rockets.

It’s easy enough to sit in Brooklyn and send out angry tweets. It’s harder to sit in a house in an Israeli coastal town and worry about the country’s midsection being overrun in a matter of minutes.

Especially when Israel—unlike Brooklyn—is surrounded by a Syria with chemical weapons, a Lebanon where 150,000 Hezbollah rockets are stationed and pointing at Israel, and a Palestinian Authority which declares every day, through its official media, that Israel should be destroyed.

I don’t claim to know whether Congressman Levin genuinely believes that Israel should be made nine miles wide or whether he is just trying to be responsive to campaign donors who believe that.

And I don’t claim to know whether Sophie Ellman-Golan really wants Israeli mothers to be reduced to quivering in fear when their children leave for school each day, or perhaps she just hasn’t given much thought to what a Palestinian state would mean for ordinary Israelis.

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What I do know is this: those who mouth the slogan “Palestinian state” or “two-state solution” need to stop and think for a moment about what the map would look like if such a state is established, who the neighbors are, and the grave danger that would pose for Israel’s mothers and children.

Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”

This essay originally appeared on and is reprinted with the permission of the author.