2004 June 06 Sunday
Jeffrey Goldberg on the Palestinians And Israeli Settlers

Laura Rozen rightly calls Jeffrey Goldberg's New Yorker piece on Israel "one of the richest and bleakest pieces from Israel I've seen". In a long multi-part set of articles which I encourage you all to read in full Goldberg exposes the depths of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israeli Jews and also the deepening divisions among Jews.

Sharon seems to have recognized—belatedly—Israel’s stark demographic future: the number of Jews and Arabs between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea will be roughly equal by the end of the decade. By 2020, the Israeli demographer Sergio Della Pergola has predicted, Jews will make up less than forty-seven per cent of the population. If a self-sustaining Palestinian state—one that is territorially contiguous within the West Bank—does not emerge, the Jews of Israel will be faced with two choices: a binational state with an Arab majority, which would be the end of the idea of Zionism, or an apartheid state, in which the Arab majority would be ruled by a Jewish minority.


Sharon is considered to be one of the most effective fighters in Israel’s history (he is certainly thought to be one of the most brutal). He came to power promising to use force in order to end Palestinian violence. But he has not succeeded. What he is proposing now is a two-pronged survival strategy: the building of a security fence separating the Arabs of the West Bank from Israel; and a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, which will remove more than a million Palestinians from Israel’s direct control.


Modest though these measures seem to many Israelis (they are seen as comically parsimonious by most Palestinians), to the settlement movement they are a betrayal. The borders of Israel, in the view of Jewish religious nationalists, are drawn by God, and one does not negotiate with God. So the settlers have, golem-like, risen against one of their creators, and pledged to stop any attempt—including Sharon’s provisional attempt—to disentangle Jews and Arabs. The settlers reject the idea of a demographic crisis. They still see themselves as Sharon once saw them—as the avant-garde of Zionism, heirs to the pioneers of the early twentieth century who restored the Jews to Palestine. But, should they somehow prevent the emergence of a viable Palestinian state, they may well be the vanguard of Israel’s demise as a Jewish democracy.

Keep in mind that this is all playing out against the backdrop of heightened anger on the part of Muslims the world over toward the United States and the West as a whole. Al Qaeda operatives are trying to kill large numbers of people in the United States and in European countries or anywhere else they can target their enemies. The Iraq occupation is not going swimmingly. There are Al Qaeda operatives launching attacks on non-Muslim oil workers in Saudi Arabia and the terrorists might start blowing up actual oil pumping facilities there. We live in pretty interesting times that look set to get even more interesting.

Palestinians are cast in the minds of some settlers as descendants of the ancient Amalekite tribe.

Some settler leaders see in the Palestinians the modern-day incarnation of the Amalekites, a mysterious Canaanite tribe that the Bible calls Israel’s eternal enemy. In the Book of Exodus, the Amalekites attacked the Children of Israel on their journey to the land of Israel. For this sin, God damned the Amalekites, commanding the Jews to wage a holy war to exterminate them. This is perhaps the most widely ignored command in the Bible. The rabbis who shaped Judaism could barely bring themselves to endorse the death penalty for murder, much less endorse genocide, and they ruled that the Amalekites no longer existed. But Moshe Feiglin, the Likud activist, told me, “The Arabs engage in typical Amalek behavior. I can’t prove this genetically, but this is the behavior of Amalek.” When I asked Benzi Lieberman, the chairman of the council of settlements—the umbrella group of all settlements in the West Bank and Gaza—if he thought the Amalekites existed today, he said, “The Palestinians are Amalek!” Lieberman went on, “We will destroy them. We won’t kill them all. But we will destroy their ability to think as a nation. We will destroy Palestinian nationalism.”

Hint to Lieberman: The Palestinians are Muslim Arabs. Understand what they are today using all of the literature and social science research at your disposal. It is a lot harder to do that than it is to read some ancient text verses. But it will provide much more useful insight.

The more extremist factions of Jews may respond to forced abandonment of remote settlements by blowing up the Dome of the Rock.

In a speech delivered last December, Avi Dichter, the chief of the Shabak, warned that an Israeli withdrawal from Biblically important lands could heighten the desire of some Jewish extremists to destroy the Dome of the Rock. (The Muslim mosque and shrine that cover the site now are in the way of the imagined Third Temple.) “Jewish terrorism is liable to create a substantial threat, and to turn the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians into a confrontation between thirteen million Jews and one billion Muslims across the world,” Dichter said.

If we live to see the destruction of the Dome of the Rock we will live in extremely interesting times. I personally am not that interested in being able to live through the sort of interesting and complex and deadly conflict that would likely follow. But we may well get the opportunity to see some epic history as it unfolds just as our parents and grandparents did during the 1930s and 1940s.

Israeli soldiers can not enforce occupation rule without killing some children.

In Gaza three years ago, I witnessed Hamas gunmen firing at Israeli jeeps from behind a screen of children throwing rocks. The Israelis, faced with the choice of retreating or returning fire, returned fire. They hit at least two children with rubber-coated steel bullets, injuring them seriously. This shoot-out took place during school hours. Almost five hundred Palestinian children under the age of eighteen have been killed by Israelis since 2000. Not all of them were shot by soldiers who were under fire. Palestinian children, even those throwing stones, are not in themselves threats to armed soldiers in tanks, and many were simply bystanders.

If settlers didn't insist on living in Gaza the Israeli Army would not have to injure and kill Palestinian children as often as they now do. That'd be an improvement at least on that score.

Occupation rule in the face of an on-going insurgency results in dehumanization and moral corruption.

Critics accuse the Army of only sporadically prosecuting human-rights abusers. Dror Etkes, of Peace Now, sees a more intransigent problem. “This is not an issue of a few rotten apples,” he said. “It’s the crate itself that is rotten. The Army is operating deeply in the occupied territories because it has to defend the settlers. This part of the conflict is a war to defend the privileges of the settlers, and there is no way for the Army to do this elegantly. It’s like the French in Algeria. No one has ever succeeded in doing this without dehumanization.”

I think the IDF is being asked to do more than it is reasonable to expect any army to do well. They are supposed to protect themselves and settlers against killers and widespread hostility while also being fair to the occupied population. They are not all selfless geniuses with brilliant gifts at handling people. They are just average soldiers mostly in their late teens and twenties.

This is a religious conflict combined with conflict about competing claims on land.

There remains a moral gulf between the most zealous settlers and the most extreme of the Palestinian Islamists. Small cells of settlers have shown themselves to be capable of committing atrocious acts of violence, but the main institutions of the settlement movement have not endorsed the sort of violence against Arabs that members of many Palestinian factions commit against Jews.

Still, there are similarities. Like the theologians of Hamas, the ideologues of the settlement movement have stripped their religion of all love but self-love; they have placed themselves at the center of God’s drama on earth; and they interpret their holy scriptures to prove that their enemies are supernaturally evil and undeserving of even small mercies. And, like Hamas, which would build for the Palestinians a death-obsessed Islamic theocracy, the settlers, if they have their way, would build an apartheid state ruled by councils of revanchist rabbis.

What, religious people in the 21st century? Science hasn't wiped out all beliefs about the supernatural? Humans still enjoy feeling morally superior to their enemy? Human nature hasn't miraculously changed to eliminate deep-seated conflicts? So much for the "End Of History". Someone tell Francis Fukuyama.

As Goldberg reports, settlement construction continues on the West Bank. Where the line should be drawn to separate the Palestinians and Israeli Jews can be debated. But the continued existence of two overlapping and deeply conflicting claims of sovereignty will only increase the bitterness and hatred on both sides. The Palestinians are not ready to accept the continued existence of Israel regardless of whether the remote settlements are abandoned. The vast bulk of setttlers and their supporters are unwilling to accept that non-Jews can have a state on lands which they see as given to Jews by God.

Will Sharon even manage to force the settlers out of Gaza? Will the wall separating the West Bank and Israel be completed? Will that wall take in so many settlements that it will seem like a land grab more than an act of self defense?

Israel's electoral process gives small religious parties an out-sized amount of influence on politics far in excess of the number of people who vote for those parties. Israel could position itself as more clearly the party engaged in self defense if only the majority of Israelis could get enough control of their own government to force an evacuation of the remote settlements along with a border wall path didn't extend too far into the West Bank.

The denial of demographic reality in Israel has parallels in both Western Europe and the United States where immigration and reproductive trends are causing large changes in ethnic make-ups of countries. California is projected by official state demographers to be 54% Hispanic by 2050 and looks set to become more Latin American with all the negative connotations that entails. Europe looks set to become more Islamic and less free. Therefore Israelis have no monopoly on denial of reality when it comes to demographics.

Jeffrey Goldberg consistently writes good stuff. See my previous posts Jeffrey Goldberg on Islamic contempt and anger, Jeffrey Goldberg on Hezbollah, and Jeffrey Goldberg On Terrorism and Intelligence Work

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 June 06 05:29 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis

A Berman said at June 6, 2004 8:33 PM:

There is also a tradition in Judaism to consider Amalek as a way of doing things. The Amalek attacked the tired Israelites from the rear, raiding the stragglers, the old and the lame. The mandate to eliminate Amalek can be considered a mandate to eliminate people who think and act like that from the land of Israel. Thus, the Settlers who call Palestinians "Amalek" are saying that it is impossible to live intermingled with such people and that they should be removed from the land of Israel. This is not an unreasonable conclusion about Arab culture.

Their claims come from experience, and the Biblical quotes come after the experience, not before.

Randall Parker said at June 6, 2004 8:54 PM:

Andy, The settlers take houses and land from the natives. The natives not surprisingly want to kill the settlers. Try getting your olive groves chopped down or your buildings taken and see how you feel about the people who do it and the government that supplies troops to help them keep their stolen gains.

Leave aside the obvious problems with Arab culture and Islam for the moment. What the settlers and the Israeli government are doing by taking land owned by others and by destroying the property of others is by itself morally wrong. I have a hard time seeing how the settlers are justified just because they think God gave their ancestors the land a few thousand years ago. I'm not religious and so the argumetn carries no weight with me.

Granted, the Arabs hate the Jews in Israel for other reasons aside from the stealing of the land. But the theft of the land and the many indignities and rights violations visited upon the Palestinians are making the situation worse.

I know of a Catholic order that went to court in Israel to regain a building they had taken from them by settlers. They got a court order that the theft was unlawful. But the Israeli government will not enforce the court order by evicting the settlers.

A Berman said at June 7, 2004 5:51 AM:

I understand your points, Randall. But it is overly simplistic to claim "The settlers take houses and land from the natives."
I'll just throw a few random points:
1) I will not try to excuse the unlawful taking of property such as what was done to the Catholic order, or of cutting down olive trees. I am speaking only of the process of taking land and compensating the owners, which (I believe, please correct me if I'm wrong) is the primary method of settlement in the area.
2) Many of the "settler" areas had Jewish populations going back hundreds of years until murderous anti-Jewish riots, such as in Hebron.
3) This is not, as some people think, a question of two petty tribes arguing over a speck of desert. Ownership of this land has tremendous ramifications. When Bethlehem was turned over to the Muslims in 1993, it was 80% Christian. It's now 15 percent. The Bahai temple operates safely in Jerusalem while Bahai are murdered in Iran. There's a nice Mormon Center in Jerusalem as well. On the other hand, Arab Muslim culture to a large extent depends on erasing the existance and memory of other cultures. One of the best ways to find ancient Hindu temples in India is to look for the mosques. The Jewish State is a far better guardian of the area for all the religions than the Muslims.
4) Taking land and compensating people for it has been done throughout history and is still being done.

mal said at June 7, 2004 8:40 AM:


The Goldberg Manipulations
by Andrea Levin

gc said at June 7, 2004 11:05 PM:

What the settlers and the Israeli government are doing by taking land owned by others and by destroying the property of others is by itself morally wrong.

few objections to this frame..

0) The Palestinians lost several wars, wars that they started with their buddies (including 1967). Most of the time you forfeit the right to dictate your borders when you lose a war. It is Israel's suicidal leftism that prevented them from ending the conflict at one stroke. They should simply have ignored the UN, deported the Palestinians, and presented the world with a fait accompli. Everyone would have been happier in the long run. But they were too wimpy to do it, and now it's been drawn out so long and so publicized that it is not really a political option (unless the Palestinians launch a megaterror attack like the attempted one at Pi Glilot).

1) What is the statute of limitations here? The Arabs/Muslims did not gain 22 states by playing patty cake. Islam spread by conquest and murder well into the 20th century.

2) I judge conquest - in part - by the use the conquering group puts to the spoils. The USA has done a much better job with the land we won from the Mexican-American war than Mexico would have done. Australia did a better job with Australia than the Aborigines would have. And the Israelis have done a much better job with their tiny, barren patch of desert than all the Arabs combined (despite all their oil wealth).

3) Concerning conquest: The Palestinians want to conquer all of Israel. They will not stop till

a) they achieve that
b) they are fenced in
c) they are deported.

The Palestinians want an end to the "zionist entity". It really is kill or be killed. Unilateral disengagement might work, but transfer would have worked had it been pursued before the conflict became Vietnamized.

Israel's stupidity is in doing this half-ass and dragging it out for decades. Fish or cut bait. They should have either deported the Palestinians into Jordan (which is where they belong, anyway, according to both the Mandate and the location of their coracialists) or they should have built a fence LONG ago.

Randall - I do agree that the neocons have allowed their affinity for Israel to cloud their foreign policy decisions. I think it's quite arguable that we should cut off all aid to everyone (including both Egypt *and* Israel). But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater or subscribe to a naive leftist frame on this issue. The Palestinians would wipe out the Israelis, but can't. The Israelis could wipe out the Palestinians, but won't. That is really the long and short of it.

Criticizing the Israelis for taking military measures and/or the land of the Palestinians is somewhat like criticizing South Africa under apartheid. One can feel quite justified and righteous in doing so, sometimes, especially if fresh off an account of the ruling group's brutality (thanks to the ruling group's free press).

But if the Arabs get the whip hand, Israel will descend into chaos and murder just as surely as South Africa is (and Zimbabwe did). It will be more political and less anarchic than the South African murder situation, but it will nevertheless be yet another situation in which racial leftism triumphed and brought down a society. The result will be what is happening in South Africa: a situation worse for *both* the blacks and the whites, a situation worse for *both* the Israelis and the Arabs.

Randall Parker said at June 7, 2004 11:41 PM:


I haven't started looking at the Arabs in any more favorable a light. Yes, I quite realize they want to wipe out Israel. What do you think you are telling me that I do not already know?

But Israel is not blameless here. If Israel was doing things to the Arabs only out of necessity to stop terrorists and to reduce the military threat I'd be very forgiving of mistakes their military makes. But that is not the case. The Israeli soldiers who interrupt the lives of the Gaza Palestinians do so in order to protect a mere 7500 people against a population that is more than two orders of magnitude larger. Israel has put itself in a position that makes it easy for those who want to hate it to villify it. Israel has put itself in a position where less clear thinking and easily swayed people can more easily be convinced to be against it. Israel's policies toward the Palestinians are both immoral and unwise.

As for your South Africa analogy: All the more reason to put the Palestinians on the other side of walls. Scattering a bunch of settler communities into the middle of the demographic deluge of Muslim baby makers is a recipe for a repeat of South Africa or something worse.

The analogy with South Africa is truer than you realize: The whites in South African should have made an area that was defensible with a clear border where the whites were on one side in their own country and the blacks were on the other side in their own country. Instead the white South Africans went for half way measures, tried to hold on to everything and basically lost everything. Now South Africa is going down the tubes.

We agree about the stupidity part on Israel's part.

Look, I'm tired of defending Israel while it shoots itself in the foot for decades running. I'm tired of defending it when it is partially to blame for its predicament. I am not putting a leftist frame on this issue. I'm sticking to my own principles and refusing to defend their actions just because I oppose their enemies. The Israelis are making the situation worse for both Israel and the United States by conducting their policy in the Territories in ways that are a boon for Jihadist propagandists.

My critique of Bush and his policy moves runs along similar lines at this point. With friends like him who needs enemies?

Randall Parker said at June 8, 2004 12:36 AM:


You state:

This is not, as some people think, a question of two petty tribes arguing over a speck of desert. Ownership of this land has tremendous ramifications. When Bethlehem was turned over to the Muslims in 1993, it was 80% Christian. It's now 15 percent.

Excuse me, but you are naive. The Israelis have screwed over the Christian Palestinians for decades running. They have taken their land. They have interrupted their lives. They have visited upon them the same humiliations the Israelis have visited upon the Muslim Palestinians. Yes, the number of Christians has gone way down. Why do you suppose that is? Before Arafat the Christians wanted to escape from Israeli rule and Christian groups in the West have for decades running helped them leave.

Oh, and then Israel signed Oslo and delivered the Christians to Arafat's rule so that Arafat could screw them over and ono top of the Israeli shafting. Stop and think about that from the perspective of a Christian Arab. Did they negotiate Oslo? No. Did they benefit from Oslo? No. Why did Israel allow the Christian Arabs to go under Arafat's rule? Because the Israeli leaders saw an imagined benefit for Israel. The Israeli leaders thought that Arafat would control the terrorists and Israel would therefore benefit. What happened to the Christians was irrelevant to the decision makers in Israel.

Back in '67 the Israelis could have cultivated an alliance with the Christians and treated them better. A road not taken. Too late to take it now. Most have left. The rest are bitter. You won't read about this in the American mass media. But if you know the right Christians who have connections into the area who have been there they will give you an earful. But lots of naive Christian Zionists in the West are too ignorant and wearing rose-colored glasses when they look at Israel. They are oblivious to all this.

As for your figures: They appear to be web myths. Yes, the Christian population has dropped but over a much longer period of time and the pro-Israel sites skew their figures to make it look like all the exodus is due to Arafat. Surely Arafat make things worse and accelerated the decline of Christians in the Territories. But there is an obvious propagandistic skewing of the figures at work here. Bethlehem was 80% Christian back in 1948 but already down to 60% by 1990. Part of the shift has been due to differences in birth rates and part from exodus. Here from the Middle East Quarterly is a perhaps more accurate take on the population changes.

The transfer of power of Bethlehem from Israel to the Palestinian Authority just before Christmas 1995 inspired a spate of articles[1] on Bethlehem's diminishing Christian presence. They noted that a place not long ago 80 percent Christian is now but one-third Christian. For the first time in nearly two millennia, the most identifiably Christian town on earth has lost its Christian majority. The same changes have taken place in two other famously Christian towns, Nazareth and Jerusalem. In Nazareth, Christians went from 60 percent of the population in 1946 to 40 percent in 1983. Jerusalem Christians in 1922 slightly outnumbered Muslims (15,000 versus 13,000);[2] today, they number under 2 percent of the city's population.

Well, what happened to the Jerusalem and Nazareth Christians?

This guy claims that there has been a faster exodus in the last few years from 2000 to 2003.

In the last three years, several thousand of Bethlehem's Christians, perhaps five percent of the population, have left. They have gone for many reasons. One is simply that life is very, very harsh under the intifada and Israeli military action. Another is the rising power of radical Islam.

To Israel's credit Israel has let some Christians leave the Territories for Israel proper. I do not know how many have been allowed to make that shift.

A Berman said at June 8, 2004 11:10 AM:

Randall, you have good points as always. As far as making an alliance with the Christian Palestinians, while I sympathize with their plight, I suspect that such an alliance back then would have been far more difficult than you imply or that Christian Palestinians are willing to admit. Could the Israelis have physically separated the Christians from the Muslims in the West Bank? What do you think the reaction would have been from the world back then? Israel wasn't even allowed to build permanent housing for Palestinians without a UN condemnation back then! Note that the Israelis did have a long-running alliance with the Christian Phalangists in Lebanon, so Christian/Jewish alliances were certainly possible. Also note that you are talking about a time when even the Catholic Church had not recognized the State of Israel. Simply put, I don't know that it was so easy to see that "road not taken."


Ted said at June 8, 2004 11:46 AM:

[ParaPundit editing note: I cut this down since this poster Ted copied an entire article into the comments and didn't even include an attribution for the source let alone a URL. It is by Andrea Levin from the IMRA site. The article can be read here: On CAMERA: The Goldberg Manipulations- "Among the Settlers" by Andrea Levin]

The New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg is not known for dishonesty; he's
recently won awards for daring stories on Hezbollah and Iraq. But a May
31 piece entitled "Among the Settlers: Will They Destroy Israel?" is so
distorted, included being sloppy with facts, as to raise questions about
his other writing.

The title signals the thrust of the piece and rightly indicates there
will be little interest in balanced or thorough consideration of the
genesis, purpose and legality of the settlement enterprise. Instead
readers find a 24-page spread, rich in stereotypes and heavily devoted
to lurid portraiture of Jewish residents of the West Bank and Gaza. A
number appear emotionally unstable and many are physically repellent --
one has "fingernails [that] were chewed and dirty," others are "sallow"
and "sour-faced." The opening "Zealots" section has one after another
spewing vile language and fierce anti-Arab sentiment.

[ParaPundit cut out a large chunk here. Go to the URL to read the rest]

Likewise, suggestive of both the casual incendiary tone of the piece and
Goldberg's shoddy approach to accuracy is his repeated charge that
Israel is practicing "apartheid" in areas "across the Green Line." He
explains the system is "apartheid, because two different ethnic groups
living in the same territory are judged by two separate sets of laws."

One wonders whatever happened to the touted fact-checkers at the New
Yorker. In the West Bank, there are different laws not on the basis of
ethnicity but of nationality. The Palestinian Autonomous areas have
their own legal system, mainly inherited Jordanian law and new law
introduced by the Palestinians themselves. Moreover, if Israel moved to
extend its own legal system to the territories, that would constitute
annexation, which both Palestinians and Israelis oppose, and would be
universally condemned. The areas under emergency Israeli military
control are, as Goldberg notes, "temporary." To bring the charge of
"apartheid" in circumstances involving the Israeli military's recent
counter-attack against a terrorist onslaught unprecedented in the
nation's history is, yet again, highly distorted.

"Among the Settlers" is one of those accounts that says much more about
its author than its subject. It is a gaudy display of twisted Jewish
assault on caricatured "other" Jews and intellectually dishonest
generalizations about the representative significance of those "others."
In occasional moments of professional integrity, Goldberg introduces
facts - such as the very small percentage of settlers represented by his
featured "representatives" - and those facts demonstrate less the
strength of a zealot threat to Israel than the weakness of Goldberg's
zealot journalism.

Randall Parker said at June 8, 2004 12:07 PM:


If you are going to copy the entirety of Andrea Levin's rebuttal into a comment post couldn't you at least attribute its source and even include the URL to make it clear you are not saying these things but getting them from somewhere else?

As for Levin's lame rebuttal, I don't have time for all of it but a couple of absurdities stand out:

One wonders whatever happened to the touted fact-checkers at the New Yorker. In the West Bank, there are different laws not on the basis of ethnicity but of nationality.

Oh, well, that is different and therefore then? How does that logic work? And is it even different than what the whites in South Africa were trying to accomplish? Weren't the white South Africans trying to create tribal nations that would make the blacks in them no longer South African?

But even that is besides the point. Does it matter whether these people living in the West Bank are different nationalities? If it does and if it requires the two nationalities to live according to different systems of national law then why are they together in the same territory? Isn't that crazy?

Then Levin says:

To bring the charge of "apartheid" in circumstances involving the Israeli military's recent counter-attack against a terrorist onslaught unprecedented in the nation's history is, yet again, highly distorted.

The "apartheid" isn't a consequence of recent changes in circumstances. The attempt to create a patchwork checkerboard of different territories under different legal systems has been getting built up for decades.

The attempt to thoroughly intertwine nationalities and legal systems is folly. Stop and think about it. Just stop and think about doing it somewhere else where there is less hatred. Even done somewhere else with more favorable conditions it would already obviously be monumentally stupid. But to do it with Jews and Muslims in a territory in the Middle East is foolishness on a breathtaking scale.

gc_emeritus said at June 8, 2004 4:38 PM:


re: Gaza


RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Mustafa used to fear little but a periodic Israeli army raid as he dug arms smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip for the Palestinian revolt. Now he has to worry about the neighbours too.

Running guns and contraband through tunnels into Rafah refugee camp from nearby Egypt was once both profitable and patriotic in Palestinian eyes. It put rare cash into a poor economy and fuelled “resistance” to Israeli occupation in Gaza. But communal support for the smugglers has cooled as Israeli forces have razed more and more parts of Rafah said to be hiding tunnels. With 13,000 people now homeless, many of whom say they concealed nothing, residents are turning on the tunnel men.

“Many people now oppose our work. I know of cases where people have noticed others digging a tunnel and they have assaulted them,” said Mustafa, a veteran Rafah tunnel builder who declined to give his family name.

Residents have staged no public protests against the tunnel networks for fear of seeming disloyal to the uprising in Rafah, which is dominated by militant factions. But the tunnel issue has become the talk of the town, with many residents privately urging tunnel builders to cease, and threatening them and their families if they do not. ... Some tunnels have been blocked off by irate residents concerned their adjacent homes might be bulldozed or blown up during the next Israeli army sweep.

Many in the sprawling cinder-block camp of 80,000 people fret that the spread of tunnels has given raiding Israelis leeway to flatten any housing in their way.

U.N. refugee agency figures put the number of demolished houses at 1,300 since the uprising began in 2000. The Israeli army says it has found and destroyed 90 tunnels in that time.

“Tunnels are harmful,” said Mariam Abu Shaqfa, 50, whose house was severely damaged in last month’s incursion even though, she insisted, there were no tunnels in her district.


Point being, they are not just demolishing houses for no reason. The Palestinians have been smuggling guns in through tunnels in Gaza for years now, and using those guns to support the whole intifada. This is not just a question of protecting the settlers in Gaza.

gc_emeritus said at June 8, 2004 4:43 PM:

One wonders whatever happened to the touted fact-checkers at the New Yorker. In the West Bank, there are different laws not on the basis of ethnicity but of nationality.
Oh, well, that is different and therefore then? How does that logic work?

I'd say it's similar to our situation in the US. Illegal aliens are of a different nationality than American citizens, and hence the law applies differently to them.

That is *very* different from, say, a law that treated Hispanic Americans and other Americans differently. So the ethnicity/nationality distinction is important.

Randall Parker said at June 8, 2004 5:47 PM:

GC, I know the Israelis have to stop the smuggling thru tunnels into Gaza. But most of the Israeli troops in Gaza are there for the settlers. Most of the disruption of Gaza life is done for settler security, not for border control. That is even more so the case in the West Bank.

As for apartheid, patchwork legalities, and all that: The Palestinians are literally governed by a different set of laws and courts even for comon stuff. We do not have legislatures passing a different set of laws for immigrants. Most laws are the same but there are some rights (albeit unfortunately a dwindling set) reserved for natives.

Noah Millman said at June 9, 2004 7:25 AM:

IMHO, Israel made two mistakes in the 1980s that it is still paying for. The first was not killing Arafat during the Lebanon war. The second was implementing Sharon's plan for expanding settlements beyond the Allon Plan areas and deep into Arab-dominated areas. The entire purpose of the latter was to make it impossible to turn over any of Judea and Samaria to Jordan or any Palestinian entity. The only settlements created during the Labor years that would be difficult to annex to Israel in the case of a settlement were Netzarim in Gaza and Ariel in Samaria. Netzarim was founded on an old Jewish settlement from the pre-state period that had to be abandoned due to Arab attacks; Ariel was founded to secure a key strategic high point for Israel as a line of defense against invasion from the east. Ariel can and will be incorporated into sovereign Israel under any pullout plan; it'll be a bit exposed out there, but annexation will not require taking large amounts of Arab land or incorporating large numbers of Arab Palestinians into Israel proper. Netzarim will be abandoned. But there is no great emotional tie to Netzarim or the other settlements in Gaza; Gaza is not the Jewish heartland. By planting Jewish communities all through Judea and Samaria, Sharon created a much bigger problem, and he still doesn't know how to solve it. Israel cannot hold onto this land without extending citizenship to its inhabitants. But withdrawal is creating a crisis because this is the heartland of historic Israel, and the people who have settled there, in the isolated settlements, are highly ideological and likely to resist. The vast majority of the settlers live in areas that will be easy to annex to Israel without disrupting Palestinian life - Ma'ale Adumim, the Jerusalem suburbs, the Etzion bloc, the seam-line settlements east of the Sharon region, even Ariel. Another bunch live in the otherwise empty Jordan Valley; they are there for security reasons, and again do not disrupt Palestinian life. But all through Judea, Samaria and the Binyamin region there are small Jewish villages that are inhabited by thousands, even tens of thousands of Jews who are hated by their neighbors and hate them in turn, and require a huge IDF presence to defend them, even as they break the law by abusing their Arab neighbors, stealing their land, destroying their crops and trees, and even, in a few cases, committing violence against people and not just property. They are a real problem, and saying "not all, or even most, of the settlers are like that" - which is true - is no answer.

Had Sharon not build this network in the first place, it could not have been expanded in the 1990s even as Oslo progressed. The only real hard-core ideological settlement from the Labor years was Hevron, and frankly it would have been very hard for any Israeli government to forbid Jews from settling in Hevron, given the holiness of the city. But one city would have posed a much smaller problem than subjecting a whole population to this kind of treatment.

All that said, one reason an accommodation of some kind has never been possible with the Palestinians is the "leadership" of Yasser Arafat and the PLO. Look what happened to the situation in Turkish Kurdistan when Occalan was taken down. Relations between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis were very different in 1982 than they are today. A major part of the point of the Lebanon war was to take the PLO out of the equation, which should have opened up even more possibilities on the Palestinian front. But Israel didn't actually take the PLO out of the equation, and in the 1980s the PLO systematically murdered any Palestinian Arab leaders willing to deal with Israel. If Israel had detroyed the PLO thoroughly in Lebanon *and* made more serious overtured to the Palestinians in the early 1980s, things might have been different. But they also might not have been; it's hard to know. And it's clear that Begin would have faced huge pressure from the Reagan Administration not to kill Arafat; had they ignored that pressure, and gone ahead anyway, what would have been the consequences for Israel and its relationship with the U.S.? Hard to know.

In any event, the worst consequence for Israel of the profound alienation between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs is not the security situation in the territories, nor the dim prospects for peace, nor the inflamation of the region. The worst consequence has been the radicalization of Israel's Arab citizenry, with all the consequences that flow for the prospects for stable democracy. Israeli Jews now fear to go to the triangle region of the Galilee - an area in sovereign Israel, whose Arab residents are citizens, but where Jews do not feel safe to go. Oslo and the Oslo war have made Israeli Arabs increasingly identify with their cousins in the territories rather than with other Israelis - but they have no intention of giving up their Israeli citizenship. This is a huge problem for Israel, and it is getting worse, not better. I think there are structural changes Israel could make to its government that would make it more possible to hold together and win the loyalty of the disaffected Arabs - basically, devolution of some power to regional governors and ending or curtailing the impact of proportional representation in the Knesset - but it would have been much better to implement such changes a generation ago. So that's another opportunity missed, which Israel is still paying for.

ted said at June 10, 2004 5:23 AM:

[ParaPundit Edits: Look Ted, stop copying full articles into the comments of my site. You are violating copyright law. You are being rude. You are not even including a link or any indication that this is not your writing. Cut it out! I cut it down and include the link to the Jerusalem Post where it came from
Barbara Sofer: Reporting Liberties (JPost requires free registration and ParaPundit encourages you to register)]

Let's set politics aside. Whether you think Israel should expand, maintain, or abandon Jewish presence in downtown Hebron or Kissufim isn't the point.

The question is why a highly regarded journalist from one of the world's most respected magazines allows himself liberties reporting on Israel that he would never allow himself reporting elsewhere.
New Yorker magazine staff writer Jeffrey Goldberg's provocative article "Among the Settlers. Will They Destroy Israel?" appeared in the May 31 issue. It's 17,000 words long. Goldberg used to live in Israel, and he speaks Hebrew. He is a winner of an award by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center for Public Integrity. The New Yorker isn't just another cable station that sends in a rookie correspondent for two days of the conflict, nor is Goldberg a clueless reporter who doesn't know Joshua from Jesus.

ted said at June 10, 2004 5:24 AM:

[ParaPundit Edit: Again Ted, stop copying full articles without attribution into the comments of posts. You are violating copyright law at least on some of them and you are not even bothering to attribute them to their real authors. I can't find this one on the web. So I cut this down and can't offer readers a link to the original source.]

4. Israel has been a pariah among the nations from time immemorial. The difference between the past and the present is that now we have the opportunity to defend and protect ourselves. That seems to bother many people, including, surprisingly enough, some Jews.

5. G-d forbid that Israeli "democracy" should evolve (or devolve) into a similar situation such as was the Weimer Republic of the late 1920s and early 1930s, which led to the rise of Nazi Germany. I prefer an existent, "less democratic" Israel to an "Israel that was" but "is no longer."

Goldberg concludes, "Today, the Jewish claim to the West Bank and Gaza is one of appetite, not of starvation." Jewish "starvation" was the direct result of a massive attempt to annihilate our people, an attempt which, thank G-d, failed. Our appetite is hearty, but we desire only what is ours -- our "appetite" for Judea, Samaria and Gaza is, perhaps, similar to an American appetite for Philadelphia and Boston . Except, of course, that the American appetite is only 250 years old. The Jewish appetite is 3,700 years old. As the "former leftist" Ya'acov Rotblit, an icon of the peace movement" whom Goldberg quotes, says, "But why shouldn't a Jew live in Hebron?"

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