FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Caution: Settlers Ahead

by HANNAH MERMELSTEIN

“As a Jew, I was ashamed at the scenes of Jews opening fire at
innocent Arabs in Hebron. There is no other definition than the term
‘pogrom’ to describe what I have seen.” This quote from Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert came just before I returned to Palestine two
weeks ago. In Syria and in Lebanon, I watched as Al Jazeera
correspondents reported live from Hebron, showing settlers burning
houses and soldiers standing by and watching.

One of my first stops upon return to Palestine was to the Salfit
region in the north, quite far from Hebron, to visit friends. I
wasn’t thinking about the settlers. I visited a friend whose house is
surrounded by the Wall, and asked how things were going. “They,” she
pointed towards the settlement behind her house, “have attacked us
twice this week.” In the middle of the night, the family had woken to
the sounds of stones hitting their house. This has happened before,
but not usually twice in one week. No settler has ever been punished
for throwing stones at their house, though they have broken windows
and water tanks.

I stayed in the area and woke up in the morning to the news that
settlers had attacked a nearby village, spray painting racial slogans
and stars of David on the village’s mosque. I have seen stars of
David painted by settlers before, mostly on the walls of Palestinian
shops and homes in Hebron, but I am still taken aback each time I see
it. Do they not remember Kristallnacht? Or do they specifically
remember Kristallnacht?

Another friend told me she had been on a bus the week before that was stopped by Israeli soldiers. “You should turn around and go a
different way,” said a soldier to the driver. “There are settlers up
ahead waiting to attack.” So the bus turned around, went a different
way, and narrowly avoided a different attack by a group of settler
women gathered on the side of the road with stones.

Somehow this story is the most frustrating to me. When settlers
attack, Palestinians get punished / sent home / re-routed. It is as
though the settlers are a natural phenomenon. They could place a sign
in the road saying, “Caution: Settlers Ahead” and it would seem as
natural to the soldiers as a sign saying “Caution: Storm Conditions
Ahead” or “Caution: Road Curves Ahead.” It is as though the condition
of settler attacks is unpreventable.

Of course, it is easier for a soldier to re-route a busload of unarmed
Palestinian people largely accustomed to occupation than to move a
group of armed settlers used to getting their way. But if the Israeli
government, with the 4th largest military in the world, wanted to
control a few (or a few thousand) extremist settlers, I am confident
that they could. This is not about a natural phenomenon, an
inevitable occurrence, an inability of the Israeli government to reign
in their population. It is a lack of will.

So when the prime minister of Israel says that he is personally
offended by the settler attacks, when he calls them pogroms, one
wonders why the Israeli soldiers largely stood by and watched, or even
accompanied the settlers on their attacks. One wonders why the
perpetrators are not in prison (unless they also attacked soldiers).
One wonders why the settlers have not been removed. And the answer is simple: These settlers serve the interests of the Israeli government.
I am not sure the government is always thrilled when the situation
gets out of control like this (and then reflects badly on Israel in
international media), but in general, having a small group of
right-wing extremists deflects attention from the root causes of the
problem, and deflects responsibility from the government.

Indeed, many Israelis view these settlers with disgust, and think, “If
only these people would move out of the West Bank, we would have
peace.” The settler movement often retorts, “What is the difference
between land we came to control in 1948 and land we came to control in 1967?” Their conclusion (that Jews should fight for exclusive control
of all the land) is quite opposite from mine, but the analysis is the
same.

And this is why there are three Israeli soldiers for every Israeli
settler in Hebron. Because if the settlers were to be removed, and
“peace” did not magically appear, then people might start to ask,
“Wait, is there another problem?” People might start to realize that
occupation is not defined solely by presence of settlers (Gaza is
experiencing the worst of occupation right now, though the settlers
left more than three years ago). People might start to realize that
there are Palestinians inside Israel who are treated less than
equally, to say the least. People might start to realize that half of
the Palestinian population has never set foot in any part of
Palestine, and that more than two thirds are not permitted to live in
their original villages. In other words, people might get to the core
of the issue.

The ideological settler movement is, in many ways, holding together
the fragile house of cards that is Israel. It has worked for a while,
but it will not work forever. In front of this house we can add one
more sign: “Caution: Collapse of Zionism Ahead.”

P.S. While settlers are not jailed, these Israelis are:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNjggLhQo6w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail