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Monday, May 25, 2009



Settler Politics

Hanoch Daum Photo: Rafi Deloya

Are settlements the problem?

Past experience shows that evacuation of Israeli settlements changed nothing in region
Hanoch Daum Published: 05.23.09, 16:26 /

Israel Opinion

Somehow, the settlements are again the most burning and problematic issue in the Middle East. The Netanyahu-Obama meeting reintroduced this matter. As if this is the problem around here. As if the entire mess stems from the settlements. As if all we need to do is to remove Migron or Kalgaron for quiet to prevail. If only we evacuate another settlement unilaterally, life in the Middle East will change for the better.

Give and Take

Yesha heads, Barak meet on settlement construction / Efrat Weiss

West Bank settlement representatives call meeting with defense minister to discuss freeze in settlements construction, 'quiet expulsion' of residents. Barak: Illegal outposts hurting Israel, undermining settlement movement

And so what if history proves otherwise. So what if the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza led to more bloodshed and by now has enabled Hamas, at any given moment, to place tens of thousands of Israelis under the threat of Qassam rockets.

I am not a member of the Greater Israel camp. I assume, with some regret, that one of these days we shall have to renounce this vision, and I’m hopeful that the settlement blocs that remain in our hands will comprise as many Jews as possible. Yet according to all indications, that day, where we shall reach an agreement with someone on the other side, is so distant that it is completely unclear why this issue has become so urgent at this time.

After all, it has been proven already that even when Israel evacuates settlements nothing happens, and it was also proven that when an Israeli prime minister offers the Palestinians a withdrawal from 98% of the territory, including east Jerusalem, there is nobody on the other side that would sign such deal. It is clear to all of us that even if there is someone out there who decides to sign, Hamas will not feel bound by the agreement and will continue to fight us, under more convenient circumstances.

For a long time now I’ve wanted to build a house in my community, located in Gush Etzion. It isn’t an isolated settlement or a controversial community. Even according to the leading leftists, I live in a settlement bloc that will be annexed to Jerusalem in the future. Even within the framework of the Geneva Accord, the one signed by Beilin (strange that we’ve seen wars around here since then,) our community is on the Israeli side.

No permits

Yet despite all of this, there is almost no construction in my community. There is plenty of space, under Israeli ownership, yet there are no construction permits. Every apartment that becomes available here draws dozens of interested buyers, prices are going up, and a new house here has become something that only people with quite a bit of money can afford.

It is important to note that quite a few people want to buy a house in Gush Etzion for reasons that have nothing to do with ideological motives. For a religious family, there is something very appropriate about this way of life: A religious community, religious education, synagogues, proper companionship, and great proximity to Jerusalem. Not that there is anything wrong with people who have a political agenda, yet this is not the reason why so many people wish to build a house here.

This is the farthest thing from building a new settlement. We are talking about children who got married and wish to live near their parents. There is no shortage of space for new homes. The only thing missing is the defense minister’s signature.

Last update - 00:17 01/01/2009

Only settlers are taking Obama seriously in Israel

By Gideon Levy, Haaretz Correspondent

Tags: ISrael News, Barack Obama

The acute shift in the United States' attitude toward Israel interrupted the public in the middle of its springtime nap. This nonstop sleep has continued for at least a decade. Sleep? Heck, this has been a coma.

Only one group of people has opened its eyes and gone to work - as usual, the settlers - while the other segments of Israeli society are entrenched in an awful state of apathy and inaction. Tzipi Livni is spending leisure time on a jet ski in Eilat, Meretz is still preoccupied with the pope's visit, the New Left Movement has been shelved, Peace Now is making do with counting the number of new homes built in settlements, authors are selling new books and celebrating birthdays, most of the media is busy with stupefying absurdities, and silence casts a shadow over the abyss.

Israel is arguably standing before the opportunity of a lifetime, yet there is not even a hint of real public debate. The town square is empty - for years it has been devoid of demonstrations and protests, neither for nor against, completely empty. The frightening indifference dragged us into wars, and the no-less horrifying indifference could lead us to miss a rare opportunity for peace.

Barack Obama has made Israel an offer it cannot - and must not - refuse, yet Israel fails to wake up. Where are those 57 percent of Israelis who said in the latest Haaretz poll that they support a two-state solution? What do they think? That this solution, which they allegedly support, will fall from the sky, without lifting a finger, without making waves among the depths of society, waves that will put such a grandiose process in motion? Where are the protests against the anti-peace position of our elected prime minister, who continues with his hackneyed we-will-not-divide-Jerusalem and we-will-not-come-down-from-the-Golan?

Isn't it time to stop saying one thing to a pollster and then continue napping? We have demonstrations only when factories are closed, albeit this happens too rarely. Yet there are no demonstrations to protest a country in danger of closing; a country already ostracized among wide swaths of international public opinion; a country up to its neck in its corrupting, brutal settlement enterprise; a country threatened by potential dangers including the shattering of its vital alliance with the United States.

Settler leaders are already running to and fro, disseminating their demagogic and ridiculous claims like "natural growth," along with their standard campaign of fearmongering and threats. The response is nothing. Silence and deep sleep. The field is left completely abandoned to their shenanigans. With the exception of a few determined, yet insignificant, outcast groups on the left, the settlers are the only active element in our society. This is how they will once again succeed in sowing fear and extorting the majority that is allegedly fed up with them (in polls, and only in polls), just as they have done these past 40 years. Tel Aviv will decide the fate of the settlement of Ofra, and Tel Aviv is lying in a coma, not responding, not answering, looking on at the developments with indifference.

Obama's first achievement - restoring the occupation and settlements to their rightful place on the international center stage - has already been noted to his credit. But he has not succeeded in bringing these issues to the center stage of public consciousness, which will ultimately determine its future.

Israel's poor have yet to internalize the connection between their poverty and the massive resources being futilely poured into the criminal settlement enterprise. The seekers of peace and justice still do not understand the momentous opportunity for change standing before Israel. The talk of the day is about the professional basketball finals and the final round of the reality TV show "Survivor." Even the final of "American Idol" attracts greater interest. And yet nobody talks about the real final round, the last round of the occupation, perhaps the final of all wars.

What happened to the days when "the future of the territories" was the topic of conversation during every family gathering on Fridays? Where are the days when a massacre that we did not directly commit was enough to bring hundreds of thousands onto the streets? They came, and they went. A stranger who stumbles on this place would hardly believe it: A fateful opportunity is liable to be missed due to public indifference.

This is perhaps the last boarding call to a flight whose destination is a better future, and the passengers are stuck in duty-free. Just another fragrant perfume at a can't-miss price, just one more bottle of whiskey at a discount, taking their time, delaying and delaying, all the while missing out on the real deal, the best deal.

One cannot sit at home, stare at the television, take vacations and leave our future in the hands of a tiny group of politicians and generals. People must wake up, make their voices heard, take action, all before it's too late and the plane leaves the terminal, once again without us.

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