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Israeli Settlements - What's wrong with this picture?


I believe that Jews and Palestinian Arabs should be free to live anywhere in the Holy land. I also believe that the Palestinian cause was harmed first by the other Arab countries and now by its own Palestinian authority or lack thereof. The former, for fomenting hatred and picking up the tab for the Palestinian cause, only to deny them absorption into their respective countries and to reduce their lot to tent cities of needy people in the eye of the world, depriving them of their dignity and self respect. The latter for still using their cause as a pawn to achieve dubious goals and for fanning the flames of hatred among them and for inciting terrorism.

I also know that Israel has not annexed any of the territories it won in the Six Days War except Jerusalem, and I have been asking myself for sometime now, why so? Was it a grand strategy to negotiate land for peace, or just a way to mitigate a de facto annexation? And hence my confusion about 'settlements'. I recently came close to signing a petition denouncing settlements that is being circulated in the US, reflecting the opinion of a bloc of over 10,000 people. I fell short of signing, because of some of the petition's unsubstantiated claims. Therefore, I went out of my way to read some pros and cons that have already been debated on the subject of settlements; from a legal and international point of view, as well as the emotional and economic perspectives for both sides of the issue. Are they illegal? Are they prohibited by the Geneva Convention? On and on, a drone of legalese that loses the main points and couches them in terminology that dehumanizes the issue and its core problems. It is after all, about people and aspirations.

Some Israelis oppose evacuation, arguing, "How can Israelis uproot Jews from their homes and businesses? How can we†allow the uprooting of Jews†from their homes, businesses and†from their own land? We need the settlements for security reasons!"

What's wrong with this picture?!

To combat a Judenrein Palestine, do we need to sanction settlements that are enclaves, that segregate Jews from the rest of the local population and call that an integrated society? Upscale Jewish Ghettos of the 21st century! Is the notion of Jews living in Palestine, and Arabs living in Israel, steeped in segregation and division? Is that all we can hope for the future, 'separate but equal' as we once called it in the US; only to wake up to the rioting of the 60's and to the civil right movement to redress the basic flaws in the original status quo assumptions.

Here is a thought: why not open the settlement doors to Arabs as well? Why not expand them and allow city by city integration; creating condominium communities that can also defend themselves if the local authorities cannot do it, on their behalf; since now they have a vested interest in doing so? The process will create a better life for all concerned and choke off and squeeze out terrorists from their midst, a city and a town at a time.

Why not create integrated Kibbutzim (cooperatives) that show the Palestinians the "how to," and bring† them up into the 21st century agricultural innovations, and again find ourselves truly living side by side, as the new frontier pioneers.

If you shed the fortress segregated† mentality, no one, and I repeat no one, will dare to dislocate you because you are now a true citizen of whatever that entity ends up being (one state or two states), and not just a snobbish intruder (or occupier or ... choose your own term that fits) in the land.
What's wrong with this picture?

Settlements are legally permitted as security zones for self defense purposes. I am no military strategist. I cannot understand how a mile wide area, of beach front property, in Gaza, that is encircled by a million Arabs can be called a defensive settlement or a security zone? Apparently a hawk such as Prime Minister Sharon does not agree with such an assessment either, and sees it as a drain on defensive resources and not the other way around.

How many more lives do we need to lose before we come to our senses and understand that neither segregated settlements, nor the outright annexation of all the territories, are the answer to peace in† the Holy Land. And yet we, as Jews, should still have the right to live anywhere we wish to in the Holy land.

Israel Bonan

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000275.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

by israel bonan @ 04:34 PM CST [Link]


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Replies: 6 comments

Peace be with you. I am so sorry for all you have endured, and continue to suffer. America is your friend, despite the hateful things you may read. It has just taken some time, to find our voice.

After 9/11, I was horrified to see accusations that jews fled before the attack,conspiracies that you planned and profitted from it. When the Saudi prince handed the Mayor those millions and insulted you, Guilliani told him to take his money back to Saudi.

At a national press conference where hundreds of states and countries were represented, you were told no questions would be heard or responded to. Not one person, stood to your defense. I apologize and wish you comfort and strength.

I now understand, that nazism never died. It only changed it's language and countries. The same hate, brutality and jealousy has lived since the days of Sarah and Hagar. And amid all this, are the women and children.
WE will not allow these attrocities to continue and will fight to the end if need be. We keep you in our hearts and prayers.

Do NOT let anyone see your facilities! You can trust our president. He will be your ally, as you have been ours.

Posted by Brenda Bailey @ 07/04/2004 10:55 PM CST

In response to the article "Israeli Settlements-What Wrong with this picture?, I am shocked at the authors naievity. The settlements are not protected by soldiers and guards because that is how their occupants choose to live, but rather due to the very real threat of terror coming from their Palestinian neighbors. Integration is a very noble concept, though unfortunately due to the levels of hatred (on both sides)not a plausible one at this time. Remeber, the settlers are simply trying to reclaim the land of The Jewish forefathers, land they believe was given to the Jewish people by G-d!

Posted by Sam Hyman @ 07/05/2004 02:56 AM CST

Dear Israel,
Your idea is interesting, because it illustrates that there is an underlying well of good intentions that may one day be tapped in order to help bring peace. Unfortunately, illustrates the depth and breadth of misconceptions about the Middle East and about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which exist among foreigners, even those with some background in the Middle East.

The Middle East is not the USA. It is not a multicultural pluralistic society. In particular, Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews mix like oil and water.

There are two examples of "integrated settlements": Jerusalem and Hebron. I don't have to tell you that in each case, Jews and Arabs live in separate quarters and do not mix. In Hebron, the Jews can live only under the protection of a huge contingent of IDF soldiers, who often have to safeguard Palestinians against the fanaticism of the settlers, as well as protected the Jews. Can you imagine this horror replicated in all the settlements?

Separate communities are the norm in Israel proper as well. Attempts to integrate education have been stymied both by resistance of Jewish residents and by government interference. There is a single truly integrated community in all of Israel - Neve Shalom. it is a great model, but it has not been imitated as yet.

Separate communities were the norm under Turkish and British rule as well. The Jews did not live in Arab towns and Arabs did not live in Jewish towns. In large cities, each kept to their own Jewish, Muslim, or Armenian or Christian quarters.

When your family lived in Egypt, how many Arabs lived on their street?

Assuming that your idea is desirable, there is a long road to travel before we can get there. The separation is not an accident. It exists because of animosity and because of cultural incompatibility. Jews cannot even pray in proximity to Muslims, as at the Wailing Wall or in Abraham's Tomb, without the risk of violence. Integrated settlements are not a solution to the problem of animosity. The animosity must be overcome before we can integrate our towns and settlements or decide on any other cultural model that might be suitable for coexistence.

Shalom wa Salamaat,
Ami Isseroff

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 07/06/2004 07:26 PM CST

I don't think "integrated" settlements would work. In the classroom, Israeli children are taught peace. The Israeli news meadia blares out"peace." Arab children are taught the Jew is the enemey and "Palestine" is the whole of Israel. In 1967, the cultural expectation among the conquered was to be expelled. Israel in "being nice" showed weakness in this cultural context.
Two States is not a solution either. Israel must be thought of in a different context than the US, especially in area of national security and tolerence. I think it's time for Israel to dump the guilt. The Arabs will respect this, because it is a sign of srength.

Posted by Devorah @ 07/13/2004 06:12 AM CST

I find it very sad that people on both sides can't find a way to stop the killings and change the education system to not include racist ideas. Both sides claim to be Brothers & Sisters of One God. It's the duty of the good religious people on both sides to curb the loop of political hatred that has no end under the control of politics. God's love in our hearts teaches us to show love to all man kind. I wish both sides could see it's not the religions of either side that is the problem, maybe then the good meaning religious people on both sides could work together and put a stop to either Jewish or Palestinian children being killed. What ever faith we are, God made us all. God Bless the Muslim's and God Bless the Jews.

Posted by Muhammad Daud @ 07/24/2004 03:11 PM CST

I have a few comments, the first of which is this site needs to be updated in light of the withdrawal of israel from the Gaza Strip. Sharon has demonstrated time and again now his commitment to peace and a Palestinian state. However, as I write this on the evening after Sharon's second and traumatic stroke, we know not what will occur in its wake. Second, the true path to a peaceful compromise is a return to the 1967 borders with an exception to certain settlements to be determined by the government. These settlements will be compensated foot for foot in Gaza-adjacent land. Finally, the infastructure must be built up in the West Bank and Gaza prior to any formal state being born because without these, the state would simply crumble.

Posted by Charley @ 01/05/2006 06:27 AM CST

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