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Jul 28, 2012 6:28 pm


Settlements Yesterday, Settlements Today, Settlements Tomorrow!



The New York Times did us all a favor last week when it published the blunt declaration that "Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay." It was an op-ed by Dani Dayan, described as chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, which is how Israelis and their fanatical supporters, Jews and evangelical Christians, refer to Palestinian occupied territory on the West Bank of the Jordan River. Dayan writes:

 

Israel legitimately seized the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria in self-defense. Israel’s moral claim to these territories, and the right of Israelis to call them home today, is therefore unassailable. Giving up this land in the name of a hallowed two-state solution would mean rewarding those who’ve historically sought to destroy Israel, a manifestly immoral outcome. . . .

[W]e aim to expand the existing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, and create new ones. This is not — as it is often portrayed — a theological adventure but is rather a combination of inalienable rights and realpolitik. . . .

Our presence in all of Judea and Samaria — not just in the so-called settlement blocs—is an irreversible fact. . . .

And consequently, instead of lamenting that the status quo is not sustainable, the international community should work together with the parties to improve it where possible and make it more viable. . . .

While the status quo is not anyone’s ideal, it is immeasurably better than any other feasible alternative. . . .

The settlements of Judea and Samaria are not the problem — they are part of the solution.

So the status quo is "is immeasurably better than any other feasible alternative." Easy for Dayan to say since it is not his rights that are systematically trashed by the Israel's occupation force. He is not completely under the arbitrary rule of the Israeli authorities. He was not evicted from his home or cut off from his farmland. He is not detained for hours at checkpoints. He won't be rousted from his bed and held in solitary confinement indefinitely without charge or trial. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Dayan makes much of the threats that Arab leaders voiced against Israel before the June 1967 war, but he omits the fact that not one Israeli political or military leader thought there was an actual threat from Egypt, Syria, or Jordan, which Israel attacked to launch the war. And unsurprisingly he overlooks the systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, including massacres of civilians, that began in December 1947 (with abuses and land dispossession starting much earlier) and the attack (aided by England and France) on Egypt in 1956. There was also Israeli provocation in the months leading up to the 1967 war. (Also see this and this.)

Why is the Times’ publication of this op-ed a favor? It allows us to see in full display what we’re dealing with in Israel. All the blather about democracy and human rights that issues from the Israeli government and its supporters is revealed as just so much rubbish.

We are fortunate that Jeremy R. Hammond, author of the excellent short work The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination, has written a concise, virtually point-by-point rebuttal of Dayan: "Wiping Palestine Off the Map: The New York Times’ Racist Editorial Policy." Hammond writes:

It is one thing for a newspaper to publish an op-ed in which a writer expresses his own personal opinion on a topic. It is quite another for the editors to exercise such extreme prejudice by allowing their publication to be used as a mouthpiece for a person who spews lies and hatred. People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Dayan simply makes up his own history to justify Israel’s policy, and the Times editors have no problem at all publishing his fictions. . . .

And both Dayan’s and the Times editors’ understanding of international law is sorely lacking. The argument that if a war is fought in “self-defense” that a country may therefore acquire territory from its enemies has no basis in international law, in no small part due to the simple reason that every aggressor nation claims its wars are launched in “self-defense”, Israel’s ’67 war being no exception. . . .

The fact that it is completely uncontroversial that every inch of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is under international law “occupied Palestinian territory” is apparently not relevant to the Times. There is not a nation on planet Earth that rejects the international consensus that Israel’s settlements are illegal, a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, apart from Israel itself. . . .

[P]ermitting Israel to steal even more land with impunity means rewarding an aggressor nation that has historically sought to destroy Palestine and has occupied and illegally colonized Palestinian territory, oppressing the Palestinians who call that land home, for more than four decades—a manifestly immoral outcome.

I urge you to read Hammond's full article.  

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