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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail