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Archive for March 20th, 2008

On the Matter of the Settlements

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on March 20, 2008

Uprooting 10,000 Israeli citizens from Gaza has only brought more rockets and more Palestinian attacks on Israel’s border communities. Hardly a precedent which Israel will be quick to repeat.

And yet, in the end that is the only thing that will work.

Edit: The problem is, in my opinion, that the Leaders are listening more to the Extremists, than to good sound reason. Yes, there will undoubtedly be more violence – to begin with – and it might even continue after all Settlers have been removed from areas that were allotted to the Palestinians by the UN, because the Extremists have another goal than Peace. However there is a huge reward to be won by removing the Settlements and Settlers – Israel will regain the moral high-ground. It will become obvious who exactly is doing the violence. Another positive pay-off is that when Israel is finally containing its military forces inside internationally recognized borders, she will have every right to defend herself. As I have said elsewhere: If she wants to create a bunker, and build a wall all around Israel on the inside of the Green Line, no-one can really say anything about that, it would be her right.

Settment being dozed

About the Buildings, Towns and Institutions – those can all be rebuilt inside Israel. Truly. When the Settlers were removed from Gaza, all “Jewish” buildings were demolished, at the request of the Palestinians (something most people don’t know), now to my mind that is idiotic, silly and to my mind smack of “look how mean the Israelis are, not leaving us any good houses” – I say leave the buildings intact, so the Palestinians have something to move into that is better than what they have now, if it is better.

The question is – what do we want more: Peace or continued Conflict for the sake of Land? It doesn’t matter if we are talking about well established Towns and Communities or we are talking about rudimentary out-posts. Those Settlements are illegal – and for nothing else than this fact they should be removed. What the consequences might be is actually irrelevant to the issue.


If I commit a crime and have to go to jail, whether my wife will divorce me as a result is irrelevant – she might, she might not, but that should have no bearing on whether the law should be followed or not.

I would also like to point out that LEGALLY it falls upon the Occupying Nation to remove it’s Occupants at the end of Occupation, and to not remove those citizens means that one is continuing the Occupation. If that means that it is making refugees out of it’s own citizens, that has no relevance on whether it should remove those citizens or not.

Your conclusions on this, I believe, are correct. It pains me to agree, because, as I said, there are many lives involved, but I do agree with you. There is no other way to achieve peace and stability in the region.

Gaza Pullout

Don’t think for one moment that it doesn’t pain me as well, K.

Edit: The picture above is from an article that states: A 54-year-old Israeli woman set herself on fire on Wednesday at a junction near Netivot to the east of the Gaza Strip. The woman was evacuated in serious condition to hospital with 70 per cent burns to her body, police said.

And I don’t relish those scenes that we saw in Media before, during and after the Gaza Pull-out. It is very painful. But it is a result of war. Pain, anguish, broken homes, refugees are the nature of war. I have no illusions about the Settlers’ situation when they are evacuated, but such has been the situation of all Refugees of War. It was the situation for the Palestinian Refugees in 1948, it will be the situation for the Israeli Refugees when they leave the West Bank.

War of aggression is illegal and land acquired through war of aggression is obtained illegally, and in as much as Israel goes out-side the allotted borders of 1947-48 UN Partition militarily, whether to protect Israeli Occupants or to acquire more than the allotted portion, it is in violation of International Laws. It is painful. War is always painful.

However I believe that looking at it from this perspective – the objective legal point – will make it easier to swallow. After all Torah demands that we accept the laws of the land where we reside, unless it forces us to commit idolatry, murder, or forbidden sexual relations…Israel is a part of the International Community, therefore Israel is obligated by Torah to obey International Laws.

However, and this is a big however, I believe the Israeli government and all the Israeli people have the greatest responsibility to make sure – to make sure absolutely sure – in every way possible – that they reconstruct new lives, secure lives, fruitul lives, progressive lives, for all settlers that may have to leave the Palestinian areas.

I wholeheartedly agree, K – not to do so would be a crime as well. What I would like to see is a “rebuilding” of communities inside Israel, in intervals, so the Settlers have somewhere to go when they remove themselves from Occupied Territory. After all that is what should have happened in the first place. I am not saying that this won’t take a little more time than most would like, but it will show that Israel is taking her Obligations seriously.

Another Settlement

If we keep in mind that hard pills are much easier to swallow when coated in sugar than when force fed with vinegar, and use that insight to take measures that will both give and take compassionately, I am sure that both Peoples will eventually choose peace before conflict.

However, it is a two-way street. One the one hand the Government has to lead on the other hand the People has to follow. I still think that Yitzhak Rabin was right. And I do think Mahmoud Abbas is the stronger of the two, Olmert and Abbas. It is a pity that Rabin did not have an Abbas to co-operate with. If Olmert had the chutzpah to do what Rabin did, he and Abbas would be so much closer to REAL peace than the two Peoples have ever been. I think there is one other person in the Israeli Government that could match Abbas – unfortunately she is not in line to be Prime Minister.

Another, more prosaic reason for removing the settlements is, to re-connect to one of my other Blog entries:

“I cannot see how those small dark-green patches from a point of view of strategy are not huge security problems.”

Security Problem

The Settlements are huge security problems, and more than that they are huge financial problems as they have to be packed with IDFs and other security personnel, which drains the general Israeli economy (by how much yearly I have no idea, but war is expensive, and if it’s anywhere near normal expenses during war time, about half of Israel’s GNP is used to maintain active military presences in the Occupied Territories and in Israel.) – eating money that could be used on better housing, better social security, pensions and last but not least, building good solid communities for those who choose to live in Israel, both Jews and Arabs. A Progressive Society has no room for military “adventures” beyond that which is needed to maintain a healthy defense.

One of the main pillars of Judaism, and ultimately of being Jewish is Social Justice and Social Health, not just for those who happen to be Jewish, but for all humans. This might sound like a contradiction, but Judaism is at its core Progressive. It has always had Social Justice as one of it’s main Focal points. Whenever the Prophets went after the Rulers of Israel, they had two main complaints: Idolatry and lack of Social Justice.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz suggested that those two might actually be somewhat the same. He also suggests that the current Jewish Community is Worshiping the State of Israel, rather than G-d through Torah observance. I have to agree. The Idea of Israel has become more important than what it means to be Jewish. Being Jewish means to have a sense of what is Just, not only for Jews, but for all, and to fight for that Social Justice, to practice it and to teach it.

Judaism, Human Values, and the Jewish State

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