"A Settlement Freeze Is Apartheid"


As Netanyahu engages in yet another "go fuck-yourself" to the president of the United States, and continues his ethnic social engineering in East Jerusalem, an op-ed in Ha'aretz gives an insight into the forces he is coping with at home. Americans can be a little naive when it comes to many Israelis' view of the West Bank and the religious and tribal fundamentalism that courses through their discourse. But this op-ed in the liberal Ha'aretz highlights the kind of looking glass world many extreme Israelis and their Washington allies inhabit:

Once upon a time there was a black woman; her name was Rosa Parks. There were racially discriminating laws in the United States, but she continued to sit on the bus even when she was told to vacate her seat for a white person. She was arrested, which set off a process whose end saw the abolishment of racial segregation on American buses. How is it possible that one little black woman, a dressmaker by profession, could change history simply because she remained sitting? Her protest was stronger than any demonstration, op-ed piece or Knesset vote. She opted for the natural choice; that is why she was triumphant.

People get married and have children. The children need space. The children grow up and get married. The children need a house. That is known as life. No one has ever managed to stop it. But every time another evil person arises who plans to destroy us, he does not succeed. And he does not succeed in destroying life itself. 

Yes, the settler is analogizing the seizure of other people's land, slow expulsion of much of the population, erection of massive walls to contain and police them ... as the equivalent of the fight against Jim Crow. But she's not done yet:

The freeze is an edict that the public cannot tolerate.

It is not democratic, nor is it humane. It hits hard at the pockets of law-abiding citizens and embitters their lives. But at its foundation, either intentionally or by accident, is pure and basic apartheid - it is forbidden for Jews to live in certain places. It is forbidden to build. It is forbidden to develop. And it doesn't matter what the reasons are...

Despite the fury and the insult, let's not turn to violence. There is a simple, natural solution that is full of life - continuing to build. That will perhaps embarrass the prime minister in front of U.S. President Barack Obama, but that's precisely the point. A person with a manual cement mixer in Samaria can change history. Sometimes the man in the field can be a lot stronger than the great leaders. Just like Rosa Parks. 

What I notice in this op-ed is no reference at all to the Palestinians and their claims and their rights. To these settlers, Arabs are non-persons; they do not exist in their narrative so they are utterly invisible. There is no one to compromise with - just land promised by divine diktat, against which there is no appeal. Any Israeli government beholden to these people will be incapable of making peace on its own. Increasingly, it seems to me, NATO or US troops will have to intervene on the border to enforce a separation and an end to these settlements for good and all.

(Photo: Right wing Israelis demonstrate in the city centre on December 9, 2009 in Jerusalem, Israel. The protests were held in response to last month's decision by the Israeli government to halt construction of new houses in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. A 10 month moratorium on new building permits for Jewish settlers was welcomed internationally but has been rejected by both Palestinians and Jewish settlers. By Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.)