I sat on these two stories for days because I wondered if there was any point to posting them. If you announce that the sky is blue, what’s the point of announcing that it’s still blue two weeks later? What was the point of announcing it the first time?
But, as I’ve seen on other social justice sites, sometimes you need to have the same discussions over and over and over again. So:
Jewish settlers in the West Bank have taken posession (sic) of tens of thousands of acres of land, some of it privately owned by Palestinians, an Israeli human rights group said on Thursday.
A report issued by B’Tselem, a human rights organization said some settlements had appropriated land up to two and a half times greater than their own designated area either by fencing it off or by intimidation.
Asked about the B’Tselem report, the Israel Defense Forces said it had established security zones around settlements after they had been attacked repeatedly by Palestinians and dozens of Israeli civilians had been killed.
“The use of these zones has been approved a number of times by the Supreme Court. Any building in these zones is illegal,” the IDF said.
Government officials were initially not available to comment on the report but a spokesman for the settlers said the land annexation was an authorized security measure.
“It must be clear to B’Tselem that if their demands are heeded, it will be easier to murder Jews,” Yesha Council spokesman Yishai Hollander said.
Palestinians say settlement building denies them land they want for a contiguous state and a U.S.-backed peace “road map” calls on Israel to halt all settlement activity in the West Bank.
In a summary of the 58-page report, B’Tselem said two main means were used to secure land.
“Settlers, and sometimes members of Israel’s security forces violently attack and harass Palestinians who venture near settlements, erecting fences and other physical and electronic devices around the land, blocking Palestinian access.”
Those of you who feel swayed by Hollander’s assertion that treating Palestinians like humans will make it “easier to murder Jews” should read Naomi Klein’s excellent essay “Sharon’s Best Weapon.” Here’s a sample:
For Ariel Sharon, it is the fear of anti-Semitism, both real and imagined, that is the weapon. Sharon likes to say that he stands up to terrorists to show he is not afraid. In fact, his policies are driven by fear. His great talent is that he fully understands the depths of Jewish fear of another Holocaust. He knows how to draw parallels between Jewish anxieties about anti-Semitism and American fears of terrorism. And he is an expert at harnessing all of it for his political ends.
The primary, and familiar, fear that Sharon draws on, the one that allows him to claim all aggressive actions as defensive ones, is the fear that Israel’s neighbors want to drive the Jews into the sea. The secondary fear Sharon manipulates is the fear among Jews in the Diaspora that they will eventually be driven to seek safe haven in Israel. This fear leads millions of Jews around the world, many of them sickened by Israeli aggression, to shut up and send their checks, a down payment on future sanctuary.
The equation is simple: The more fearful Jews are, the more powerful Sharon is…. For Sharon, Jewish fear is a guarantee that his power will go unchecked, granting him the impunity needed to do the unthinkable: send troops into the Palestinian Authority’s education ministry to steal and destroy records; bury children alive in their homes; block ambulances from getting to the dying.
And before any wise guys pop up to remind me that Sharon has been in a coma for the past two years, Olmert’s government – and perhaps Livni’s, if she’s elected – functions/will function in the exact same way. The Israeli government terrifies its own citizens, and the rest of world Jewry, by rubbing an either/or fallacy in our faces: either we take over Palestine, or the Palestinians kill us. Choose now, kids!
And they’re helped along by incidents like this:
Muslim Immigrants Attack Three Jewish Teens in Paris
Three Jewish teens were attacked by a group of Muslim African immigrants in Paris on Saturday evening, a French police spokeswoman said Sunday.
The Jewish teens, ages 17 and 18, who have been identified as Dan Nebet, Kevin Bitan and David Boaziz, are leaders of the Bnei Akiva youth group in Paris’ 19th District.
Thiery Nebet, Dan’s father, told Haaretz over the phone that according to what his son had said, as they were walking down the street, “Four or five Arabs of African origin started to throw walnuts at Kevin. When he went up to them to ask them why they did it, they surrounded him and knocked him down. Kevin and David moved in and very quickly more Arabs joined in and started to beat the three with their fists and with chains.”
According to the chairman of the Jewish Students Union in France, Raphael Haddad, barrages of stones were thrown at the three teens during the attack. Haddad also said the incident occured on Petit Street in the 19th District, not far from where a 17-yea-ar-old Jewish youth was attacked and seriously injured by immigrants on June 21.
(Note: the article isn’t clear on this, but it suggests that the youths were wearing kippahs at the time, thus identifying themselves as Jews.)
A lot of white readers may be tempted to interpret this as yet another example of those poor backwards uneducated violent Muslims. Don’t. First off, according to the report I talked about last week, a minority of Muslims commit anti-Semitic hate crimes.* Secondly, this isn’t a Muslim or Arab problem. Many, if not most, world cultures view Jews as a monolithic, powerful, and malevolent force that needs to be contained. The fact that some groups express their hate through vandalism, others through legislation, and others through violence is irrelevant. As many of you know, anti-Semitism doesn’t function by keeping Jews constantly subjugated; rather, it works by calling attention to Jews in positions of power, whether they’re medieval tax collectors or the modern state of Israel, and encourages oppressed peoples to train their anger on any Jews at all, anywhere, instead of the Gentiles actually running the show. (Notice how no one ever suggests that the US is influencing Israel, rather than the other way around?) This is why Jews were blamed for the Iraq war, September 11th, and even WWII. This is why we’re blamed for poverty and racism in America.** This is why French Jewish teenagers are attacked by North Africans because Israelis are stealing Palestinians’ land. Periods of safety and prosperity are followed by periods of violence. The myth of the all-powerful Jew permeates everyone’s consciousness, whether they know it or not.
And it sickens me that the Israeli government exploits this fact. But we shouldn’t have to pass loyalty tests to avoid being blamed for it. We shouldn’t have to downplay our pride in our heritage in order to be trusted. And we certainly shouldn’t have to prove that we’re good Jews, or exceptions to the rule, in order to live our lives.
(Cross-posted at Alas, A Blog)
* Edited for clarity.
** See Emily Nepon’s review of “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere” in Make/shift 2, and S. L. Wisenberg’s essay “At the Rose of Sharon Spiritual Church.”