FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Israeli Exception: Gilo and East Jerusalem

In 1987, the conservative author Midge Decter described her association with Israel and those willing to place it above conventional judgment.  ?We know ourselves to be bound by ties so deep, so essential, so unconditional, that they are beyond daylight examination.  To be a Jew is not an act, it is a fate.  The existence of Israel is absolutely central to that fate.  The rest is mere details ? knowable, unknowable, makes no difference.?

This vein of thinking can be gathered from Israel?s \ leader David Ben-Gurion in a New York Times Magazine article in December 1960.  On that occasion he was defending the illegal abduction of the war criminal Adolf Eichmann, who had been nabbed by Mossad agents from Argentina.  ?I know they [the abductors] committed a breach of the law, but sometimes they are moral obligations higher than formal law.?

This idea of Israel, and Jewish fate, being placed in the realm of an obligatory ?higher law?, does lend itself to various, dangerous implications.  Decter?s observations resonate with the recent decision by Tel Aviv to allow 900 new homes to be built in East Jerusalem in the sprawling Jewish neighbourhood of Gilo.  40,000 Israelis are already resident there.  President Obama has gone so far as to see the move as ?dangerous?.  The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon has publicly seen the gesture as one that undermines the peace effort.

International conventions and views, which tend to find such settlements illegal, are considered inapplicable by the rank and file in Tel Aviv.  The law of nations, that seemingly abstract body of customs and norms that are often more honoured than people might realize, are cast aside as undue hindrances to the functioning of the state.

The perceptive social theorist, Zygmunt Bauman, claims that Israeli policy persists in being made in the shadow of the Holocaust.  The narrative of threatened existence girds such policies, whether they be ruthless measures against the Palestinians, or the issue of constructing more settlements. A state of affairs like an ?indivisible? Jerusalem are created, an assertion of something supposedly non-negotiable.  Lines are drawn across borders, and there is a stubborn refusal to budge.

The momentum on the construction of new homes is relentless.  Palestinians continue being evicted from homes in East Jerusalem.  Consensus seems to exist across the political spectrum in Israel on the subject of Gilo.  From the governing Likud party, we have comments such as those of Knesset member, Danny Danon.  From a cornerstone ceremony in East Jerusalem, Danon was defiant: ?I am relaying a message to President [Barack Obama] – take your hands off Jerusalem.?
The centrist Kadima Party, headed by Tzipi Livni, is not too keen to challenge this view.  On his recent visit to Israel, the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner was told on no uncertain terms that a freeze over such settlements as those in Gilo would be out of the question.  Even the dovish Meretz party is happy to throw in its lot with the view that such construction is not only necessary for Israel, but harmless to the Palestinians.  Laura Barton, city councilor, told Israeli radio that Gilo was ?within the consensus in Israel.  Building there doesn?t harm the Palestinians at all? (Toronto Star, Nov 19).

Arab states are hoping that the recent disagreement between Israel and the US bodes well for revitalizing the peace talks.  The Syrian government newspaper Al-Thawrah saw the ?new? US-European position as ?positive by any standard? (Nov 19).  Whether the antagonism translates into genuine political action remains to be seen.  The Palestinians will simply continue something they have gotten quite expert at: waiting, as the situation gets relentlessly worse.

BINOY KAMPMARK was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He currently lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail