Posts Tagged settlements
Nathan Diament from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America writes on uniting Jerusalem in the Atlantic. Some of the arguments that he uses (which are by no means his original material) really tend to bother me; the more religiously motivated Jews have a way of making extremely disingenuous attempts to sound like they are reasoning objectively, when they are quite transparently creating these arguments after-the-fact as a way to justify their ideological beliefs.
The reality, however, is that Jerusalem today is a demographically intertwined city. To be sure, there are neighborhoods, particularly east of the security barrier, where Jews seldom venture. But modern-day Jerusalem is far more an interwoven checkerboard of Jewish and Palestinian enclaves. The Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, for example, lies between the Jewish neighborhoods of Talpiot and Gilo, while the Arab neighborhood Sheikh Jarrah lies between the Old City and the Jewish neighborhood of French Hill. Separating these neighborhoods between two countries would create an unwieldy and unsustainable border.
What he is saying has some truth to it, but only if you are trying to draw a line that cuts every Jewish neighbourhood from every Arab neighbourhood. If there is some wiggle room so that maybe some Arab neighbourhoods are absorbed into Israel and others are handed-over, then there is no longer such an issue with dividing the city. After all, Diament is pretty adamant that keeping the Arabs in Jerusalem is a good thing (look at this map to see what I mean, although it has been carefully designed to make the Israelis look bad so don’t read too much into it). Also, it’s not a coincidence that some of the Jewish neighbourhoods cut Arab neighbourhoods off from one another – in many cases, that was why they were placed there.
The other argument that really irks me is the one below (emphasis mine):
One significant reason against dividing Jerusalem is that many of the Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem wish to remain under Israeli sovereignty. Recent polling indicates that, despite the fact that municipal resources and services have not been evenly allocated between Jewish and Arab Jerusalem segments of the city, a plurality of Palestinians residing in eastern sections of Jerusalem would move from Palestinian Jerusalem to Israeli Jerusalem, if given the opportunity, should the city be re-divided.
The hypocrisy in this this argument is unbearable. Diament is not for a second criticising the poor treatment of Arabs in Jerusalem or demanding that they are allocated resources evenly, and yet he is trumpeting the fact that even though we treat them badly, we’re not quite as bad as the alternatives. Now that’s a hasbarah line that can sell!
Israel: sure we treat our Arabs badly, but we’re still slightly better than an Arab dictatorship.
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you truly believe in uniting Jerusalem, then start working to unite it. That means reaching out to the Arabs and including them in Israeli society; it means advocating for equal treatment and equal allocation of municipal resources; it means finding money to make up for the years of neglect and bring their infrastructure up to the same standards as the Jewish residents; it even means allowing Arabs to buy land in Jewish areas.
If you aren’t comfortable doing that but you are still adamant that we cannot cede one inch of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, then the reality is you are not arguing for a united Jerusalem, just a Jewish-controlled but segregated one. That is something that I am a little uncomfortable with. Of course, this is in fact what Diament wants. He reveals his true argument near the end of the piece.
Proposals for joint sovereignty, deferred sovereignty, or even divine sovereignty ignore the deep-rooted significance of the holy city. The search for a “split the difference” compromise also ignores the fact that the Old City of Jerusalem has been the national capital of the Jewish people for the past 3000 years and is Judaism’s holiest site, while it is Mecca that plays that role for Muslims. The international community would never expect the Islamic world to cede sovereignty over Mecca; the Jewish people ought to be accorded no less respect with regard to the Old City of Jerusalem.
See, what he does right there is say that our claim over Jerusalem is stronger than their claim because it’s our number one whereas they have their number one already. That’s not quite how religion works. I don’t see many Jews saying “well, I guess the Mearat Ha Machpelah is less important than the Kotel, so we can give them that one and keep the more important one”. You can’t barter over who the site is more holy to, it’s holy for both and that’s pretty much as far as you’ll get.
Plus the Mecca comparison doesn’t hold up. Fortunately for the Muslims, Mecca is not claimed by two other religions. That said, I can definitely see a future where Shiite Muslims start demanding that Sunni Muslims cede control over Mecca and it’s administered by a joint Muslim authority rather than just Saudi Wahabbis.
The point is, Diament does not really want to keep the Arabs in Jerusalem and he doesn’t really want a united city. He doesn’t particularly care whether or not Muslims have access to their holy sites, which are not quite as holy to them as they are to him anyway, or so he says. No, he believes that Jerusalem was given to us by God and that means it should be a Jewish -controlled city. Arabs can live there if they want, but they can’t expect us to make it easy for them, they should just be grateful that they aren’t living in Syria or something like that.
Ironically, there is one point that he was completely right about, only he doesn’t seem to be doing much to change this:
One reason peace in the Middle East has not yet been possible is because most efforts to achieve it have been aspirational but untethered from reality
When I heard about this committee to retroactively legalise settlement outposts, I definitely raised an eyebrow (and possibly died a little inside, but hey).
Luckily, it doesn’t look like the thing has any legs. Or teeth, or other assorted body parts. Bibi made this pretty clear by telling the settlers not to expect much. Even right wing stalwart Benny Begin is vocally opposing the idea of the committee.
So who is left promoting this PR disaster that undermines the fabric of Israeli society and rule of law? None other than Danny Danon aka the nicest thing Israeli parliament ever did for Palestinian extremism.
Who even needs an anti-Israel media campaign when you have a deputy speaker of the Knesset travelling the world who is guaranteed to say the wrong thing at the wrong time at every opportunity?
On Friday officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau told settler leaders not to expect too much from the committee.
Somewhat surprisingly, Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin has come out against the proposed body, arguing that it is immoral to steal land for settlements.
Last night Yesha Council of settlements head Danny Dayan told Haaretz, “It often seems as if the prime minister has conceded his authority to control two executive branch bodies: the Attorney General’s Office and the Civil Administration. The ministers must take action to restore the authorities to their original format.”
I was just linked to the below video from The Atlantic and the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. It’s brilliantly done, very simply and clearly explaining the whole concept of land swaps and going through the possible options and the difficulties that they create.
Want to talk to me about “resistance”? Read this:
Before entering the house, the suspects noticed Yoav and Elad Fogel in the home’s window. Yoav [age 11] and Elad [age 4] were the first to be stabbed after the suspect entered the home. The suspects then entered the parents’ room. Ehud and Ruth tried to fight off the attackers, but were eventually overcome and stabbed to death. Ruth was also shot, but due to the weather at the time of the murder, the gunshots were not heard. The suspects fled the home, fearing that the gunshots had been heard.
Outside of the home, the suspects realized that their gunshots had gone unnoticed and they had not yet been discovered. Amjad Awad subsequently reentered the home in order to steal an additional M-16 rifle that was there. Back inside the parents’ room, Awad noticed three-month-old Hadas and stabbed her to death. While leaving the home once more, the suspect noticed that there were more children but apparently figured that he was running out of time. The lives of Roi Fogel, 8, and Yishai Fogel, 2, were spared.
I’m actually speechless. All I can do is read-over that sentence again.
“Back inside the parents’ room, Awad noticed three-month-old Hadas and stabbed her to death. ”
And as if that wasn’t bad enough:
According to a senior Shin Bet official, despite the suspects’ young age, Hakim and Amjad “described what they did with self-control and did not express regret over their actions at any stage of the investigation.”
I say in all seriousness that these are not the actions of human beings. There is no humiliation or provocation imaginable to justify murdering children in person and in cold blood. It takes an inhuman bloodlust to stick a knife into a three-month-old baby.
For those of you who aren’t squeamish, the family decided to release photos of the victims so that the crime could not be downplayed as these things usually are.
I didn’t say anything in the last couple of days about the Israeli settler family who were murdered as they slept, or the Israeli government’s response – announcing 500 new units to be constructed in the 3 blocs that almost everyone agrees Israel will hold on to in any final-status agreement (see HERE). This is a huge issue though, and would have received a lot more coverage if the Japan earthquake weren’t overshadowing it all.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Bret Stephens has written an extremely eloquent piece on some of the implications of this saga and the reactions to it, in the context of the broader issues. He argues that the world jumps to criticise Israel for acts of little or no consequence (like construction in an area that they realistically will never withdraw from), whilst giving a “free waiver” to any Palestinian crimes (like butchering children as they sleep), dismissing them as “understandable”, given the alleged severity of Israel’s actions.
I have a feeling that years from now Palestinians will look back and wonder: How did we allow ourselves to become that? If and when that happens—though not until that happens—Palestinians and Israelis will at long last be able to live alongside each other in genuine peace and security.
But I also wonder whether a similar question will ever occur to the Palestinian movement’s legion of fellow travelers in the West. To wit, how did they become so infatuated with a cause that they were willing to ignore its crimes—or, if not quite ignore them, treat them as no more than a function of the supposedly infinitely greater crime of Israeli occupation?
…It is precisely in this sense that the frenzied international condemnation of Israeli settlements and settlers does the most harm. Having been accorded the part of George Orwell’s Emmanuel Goldstein—perpetual target of the proverbial two minutes of hate—they have drained whatever capacity there was to hold Palestinian actions to moral account, to say nothing of our ability to understand the nature of a conflict that is more than simply territorial. The demonization of the settlers has made the world not only coarse but blind.
Much of the conversation that I’ve seen from left-leaning Zionists has been condemnation of the new settlement policy whilst almost overlooking the actual horror of the event. An act as barbarous as this cannot possible be looked-on with anything but disgust.
So Fiona Byrne, the mayor of Marrickville Council, when justifying why her council decided to boycott Israel, said:
Last week at least 165 Israeli professors signed a petition declaring a boycott on activities at the Ariel University Centre in the occupied West Bank declaring Ariel an “illegal settlement” which has the intention of preventing the Palestinian people from establishing an independent state.
Remember this little nugget of wisdom from this post:
The movement is not one that is happy to negotiate and find halfway ground – its rhetoric is all-or-nothing. When Israelis partially support anything in the BDS ideology, the BDS leaders tend to use it to justify themselves by saying “I’m agreeing with this Israeli, only extending it a little further” rather than moderating their views.
See? These “we support BDS, but only to a certain extent” initiatives are only ever counter-productive. They are all-or-nothing, the only way to deal with them should be to decry the whole movement.
Also, note that she affirms that they are not a one-state solution movement, but very carefully avoids saying what they do actually believe on the subject:
A handful of people have assumed that Marrickville Council’s support of BDS implies that we support a one-state solution to the conflict. This is not at all the case. The BDS is not an anti-Israel resolution. It is about identifying institutions that directly support the occupation of Palestine, and choosing not to do business with them.
And as for it not being an anti-Israel resolution, she goes on to say:
Many Australians remember how international boycotts and sanctions of South African goods in the 1980s helped to bring an end to apartheid. It is no accident that Archbishop Desmond Tutu is today one of the most outspoken critics of Israeli policies in Palestine and one of the principal advocates of the BDS movement.
Without going into too much detail, the Apartheid comparison is completely inapplicable and makes it very clear that this IS an anti-Israel resolution and they ARE advocates of a one-state solution. I will explain this later when I’m not sitting half-asleep in an airport lounge.
Chief Palestinian Authority negotiator Saed Erekat came out today and said that peace talks are now over. As if this were actually news:
“The talks [with Israel] have ended,” Erekat declared. “The government of Binyamin Netanyahu is trying to scrap all what was agreed upon in previous sessions of negotiations. They want to take us back to point zero.”
He added that the Netanyahu government’s platform was based on settlements, dictates, walls, incursions, assassinations, sieges and closures.
The talks have ended and it’s time for the Palestinians to make decisions, he said without elaborating.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu himself seems to disagree with Mr Erekat – coming out and saying that actually, Israel would have committed to another settlement freeze, but the US wouldn’t promise not to ask for more when (and this is definitely not “if”) the peace talks failed again. He re-iterated that he wants peace and it’s actually Erekat’s camp that’s holding everyone up:
Israel was willing to extend the settlement freeze for another three months but decided not to “because the US said that what would happen is that we’d end up spending a lot of political capital, and on the 91st day, they [the Palestinians] would ask for more,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday during a speech to foreign journalists.
Netanyahu reiterated that “no coalition will prevent me from pursuing a peace that I believe in. If I move forward with a peace agreement, it means I believe in it, and I can get the support of the Israeli public.”
Speaking about the Palestinians, the prime minister said, “I hate to use cliches, but this is a cliche I have to use. The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
He added, “There is no shortcut for negotiations, the only way to get to peace is negotiations.”
On the other side of things, an Iranian newspaper has called Wahhabism, the Saudi Arabian brand of Islam, the “dark side of Islam“. They even had that awesome picture above with the half Saudi and half Israeli keffiyeh, just to show how Saudi Arabia is in league with the Jews. Makes sense, right?
Well probably not for close Saudi ally Egypt. See, Egyptian sensors have stalled their decision on whether to classify upcoming Hollywood flick Fair Game because there is an Israeli actress in the movie, which apparently doesn’t sit well with Israel’s closest ally in the Arab world and one of only two Arab countries to recognise Israel. Seems fair enough to me, those Israelis can’t really act.