March 23, 2011
Unfortunately more histrionics and obfuscation appear on this site regarding the settlements. A definition of toxic is “causing serious harm or death”. Bloggers on this website would have you believe that Jews exercising their right of self-determination are the cause of harm and death. But is this not what the Nazis said of the Jews of Germany when they compared them to rodents. The use of vituperative adjectives when discussing fellow Jews living in Judea and Samaria should be condemned. As I have said argue the merits and legalities but do not follow the path of our enemies and resort to vile language to make a point – it only exposes the hollowness of whatever case you may think you have.
Jews have lived in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and the Gaza Strip throughout recorded history, until the 1948 War of Independence, when they were forced to flee the invading Arab armies.
Is it toxic for Jews to live in Golders Green or Borough Park? Then why should it be toxic for them to live in what was the cradle of Judaism?
In Hebron, the Jewish community existed throughout the centuries of Ottoman rule, until the massacre during the Arab rioting of 1929. Such settlements as Neve Ya’acov and the Gush Etzion block were established under the British Mandatory Administration, which allowed Jewish settlement in these areas. Even though British Mandate Authorities, particularly in the latter period of the Mandate, were not sympathetic to the Zionist cause, they nevertheless permitted the establishment of Jewish settlements in all areas west of the Jordan River, implementing the League of Nations Mandate.
As I have pointed out Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are there for multiple reasons, including:
• The land is disputed. Both Arabs and Jews have claims and since there was no other sovereign authority, Israel, representing the Palestinian Jews, had as much right to settle people there as the Palestinian Arabs. The last internationally recognized sovereign was the Ottoman Empire, a distant and oppressive ruler. Israel captured the West Bank land from Jordan that had overrun the land in 1948 when it had just emerged from the British Mandate. Gaza was captured from Egypt who had overrun it in 1948. There never was a Palestine or other country that Israel invaded and “stole the land”
• There had been Jewish communities and dwellers in the West Bank long before 1967 or even 1948. In, for example, Hebron and Gush Etzion, both sites of massacres by Arabs in which large numbers of Jews were killed. Kfar Etzion and other villages in the Jerusalem-Bethlehem corridor, fell to Arab forces in May 1948 and those captured were massacred. Sons and daughters of Jews who lived there until 1948 were the first to return after the 1967 war. Why prohibit former residents or their families from returning?
• The land belonged to Jews. Near Jerusalem, for example, Palestinians describe Gilo as a neighborhood built on “West Bank land annexed to Jerusalem” that they consider an “illegal Jewish settlement”. Suddenly Gilo, an integral part of Jerusalem proper for years, seems subject to negotiation, at least in the public mind. As to the “illegality” of Gilo, the vacant land in the Gilo area was purchased, before World War II, by a group of young Jewish lawyers, including Dov Yosef, who later became one of David Ben Gurion’s most important advisors and government ministers. When the land was taken back from the Jordanians in 1967, it was returned to its owners.
• The so-called West Bank, according to the Bible and tradition, represents the cradle of Jewish civilization, and some Jews, driven by faith and history, wanted to reassert that link. The area was called Judea and Samaria, its name in the Bible, up until 1950 when Jordan, an Arab country created arbitrarily by the British out of 77% of the Mandate for Palestine, annexed it and called it the West Bank
• The Israeli government believed that certain settlements could serve a useful security purpose as a buffer against future attacks like the ones in 1948, 1967, 1973. Contrary to the claim that the settlelements hindered the war in 1973 they slowed down the Syrian advance in the Golan. Evacuating civilian populations in times of war are common whether those civilans be in forwaerd positions or in the centre of population concentrations adjacent to strategic assets which might come under attack. One might just as well say the civilians in Tel Aviv pose a problem for the Army to be able to deploy as it wants.
• Some Israeli officials felt that building settlements, and thus creating facts on the ground, might hasten the day when the Palestinian Arabs, presumably realizing that time was not on their side, would talk peace
In most parts of the world it is not considered a disaster if someone new comes to town and buys a farm or a dwelling. Only in Arab parts of the Middle East is it an unacceptable affront for a Jew to arrive with plans to stay. And “world opinion” only accepts this sort of behavior when it is the Jew who is being rejected. If a black person is denied the right to buy a house in the community of his choice, it is considered racial discrimination. If a Catholic can’t move into a Protestant neighborhood it is religious discrimination. And Americans, including Jews, are very careful to avoid any appearance of discrimination against Muslims. But if a Jew wants to buy a place to live in the West Bank, it is considered a brutal Israeli invasion.
By violently rejecting Jewish settlement, the Palestinian Arabs are exhibiting behavior which is unacceptable, even despised in the civilized world. In this they echo most other Muslim countries that have a prohibition on Jews living there, where land transfers to a Jew can carry the death penalty. These practices should be universally condemned and rejected. Arabs insist it is unacceptable for a few hundred thousand Jews to live among millions of Arabs while Israel’s Arab citizens are almost 20% of Israel’s population.
The settlement communities did not exploit any Arab ownership or displace any Arab community or farm. The Jewish settlements have been established only on:
• Land in pre-existing Jewish communities, or
• Land that was unowned (that is, was previously controlled by Jordan and had no private owner), or
• Land purchased from established owners.
The propagandistic idea of Palestinian Arabs being “forced out” is not the case. Much land was still empty or underutilized. Many Jews bought the land or dwelling they moved to. As I have previously blogged when public land was involved, Israeli settlements were established only after an exhaustive investigation process, under the supervision of the Supreme Court of Israel, designed to ensure that no communities were established on private Arab land.
Far from being toxic the settlements are part ofthe lifeblood of Israel.