The Europeans and the Americans are condemning us…again. The United Nations is upset with Israel…still. The Arabs are adamant – it’s the settlements that are the deterrent to peace.
It’s not the settlements. It’s the rockets; it’s their intransigence. It’s their stones, their firebombs, their knives. It’s our naivete, it’s our inability to stick to our convictions and demand peace for peace. It’s their tendency to use violence and our tendency to make excuses for it. It’s their media and it’s our media. It’s their cultural norms and it’s our cultural norms. It’s their leaders and it’s our leaders. The one thing it’s not, is the settlements.
There were NO settlements in 1948 when the powerful combined forces of more than five nations invaded the newly declared State of Israel. The goal was clear – they said it with their own mouths at a time when politically correct was a non-existent concept, genocide was still fresh on the minds of most humans, and the Arabs weren’t smart enough to temper their English messages. They would, they promised – push the Jews into the sea. That’s right – the sea. Human beings can’t live in water (ask Tevye). It was a promise to murder the Jewish inhabitants of Israel – then…and now.
They geared themselves up for another war just 7 years later – in 1956. Because it wasn’t about settlements, it was about Jews living in the land of Israel. And 11 years later, in 1967 because in our audacity to refuse their demand that we leave and worse, was the subtle truth, backed by history. We had the nerve to suggest that we had not only the same right, but perhaps even more of a right to our ancestral homeland than they had to a land in which some of their grandfathers came to as nomadic tribes or tenants paying rent to absentee landlords who lived in distant lands.
The settlements are a product of their own choice and realities on the ground that they created. Jordan occupied the West Bank for 19 years and no move was made to establish a Palestinian state. And here’s where many would make the argument that Jordan, cut from the Palestine Mandate with a huge population of Palestinians was and is, essentially Palestine. But I won’t bother. What I will say is that Jordan chose war in 1967. They took a gamble – and lost. Again and again, the Arabs waged a war and then cried and whined over the results.
The only thing that has changed in 66 years (more if you track history before 1948), is the terminology. In 1948, it was to wipe Israel off the map of the world. By the early 1990s, they had gotten smarter. They understood that only in Arabic could they promise to make Israel Judenrein. They targeted not the “people” but the dream. Jews, have a right to live – just not in Israel.
The “new” Arab message was massaged: Zionism is racism; settlements are evil. There would be peace, no, sorry – there would be hudna (temporary ceasefire lasting 10 years between Muslims and infidels), if not for the settlements. Settlers are legitimate targets because they chose to live there.
American governments, especially the most recent ones – Carter, Clinton and Obama, bought this line and the Arabs got smarter. They learned that if you “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” – the deeds and the facts matter so much less. The Europeans, always happy to push their problems onto others have believed that their own cultural clashes will be eased if they join in the Israel-bashing. The greater the danger in Europe, the louder they scream at us. As for the United Nations…never mind.
What is stupid is how Israelis have fallen for this ridiculous masquerade. Let’s not talk about the weekly and sometimes daily stoning of the light rail in Jerusalem. Sh!!!! It’s a secret and if we close our eyes, it doesn’t exist. Those rockets – it’s only a building…wow, that close to the school? Sh! Let’s pretend that was the last rocket or let’s build a better defense system so that they won’t get through. So, it’s okay to shoot rockets at 4 million people because…hey, Iron Dome!
For decades, they attacked us – in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv. In Netanya. In Haifa – not settlements, except in the honest minds of the Arabs. Because that while the Arabs understand that Tel Aviv is as much as settlement as Ofrah, Beit El, Maale Adumim and Efrat, the Israelis are still closing their eyes and believing that Iron Dome erases the existence of rockets; rock-proof windows erase the threat of rocks; avoiding the West Bank means you’re safe (until the rocket explodes in Haifa and the bus explodes in Tel Aviv).
In 1989, suicide bombers attacked a bus near Kiryat Yearim – 16 dead. Not a settlement. Why?
In 1995, it was four suicide attacks – Jerusalem, Beit Lid (near Netanya), Ramat Gan (near Tel Aviv), and Kfar Darom (settlement). One out of four? In 1996, it was Ashkelon, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (twice). Seems to me the safest place to be was the settlements.
In 2001, there were 40 bombings…Or Yehuda, Kfar Sava, Netanya, Jerusalem…the list is long, the number of dead agonizing for the entire nation. The vast majority of those 40 attacks had nothing to do with settlements and everything to do with Israel.
In 2002, 47 suicide bombings…five in settlements (mostly in Efrat). One was on his way into Jerusalem to attack a bus when a Bedouin policeman stopped him. The Arab detonated just outside Jerusalem. I heard the explosion. The Arab drove past my home, my settlement to kill Israelis in Jerusalem because clearly, the Israelis in Jerusalem pose a greater threat and are a more desirable target than my peaceful city overlooking the Judean hills. My city, my settlement.
This “Jesus complex” that they died for “us” is just wrong. All the victims of Israel’s long conflict with the Arabs…Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians, etc. – all died for the same reason. The. Arabs. Do. Not. Want. Us. To. Live. Here.
They even attacked us in Munich in 1972, in Buenos Aires in 1994, in Bulgaria in 2012. In Paris. In Belgium. Poland. Germany…were all these connected to the settlements?
If you open your eyes, you will see that as the Arabs continued to get smarter; we continued to get dumber. Instead of listening to the media, the left, the politicians, have you bothered to listen to the Arabs?
We shall never stop until we can go back home and Israel is destroyed… The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediations… the goal of this violence is the elimination of Zionism from Palestine in all its political, economic and military aspects… We don’t want peace, we want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else.
- As quoted in the Washington Post (March, 1970).
A long time ago, right? But note that it was four years after the 1967 war, years after the first settlements had been established and not a word from Arafat about them. The end of Israel, he promises, not the settlements. Maybe he was having a bad day and just forgot?
Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations… We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel.
- As quoted in The Times, UK (August, 1980).
Ten years later, same message.
And, in 1996, Arafat laid out his plan – it was brilliant. And we fell for it – as proven nearly daily on a number of Israeli websites. Arafat admits the truth – but we, like so many, are just too blind, naive, and stupid to understand the clear message he gave us.
The PLO will now concentrate on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps… We plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. Jews will not want to live among Arabs. I have no use for Jews. They are and remain Jews. We now need all the help we can get from you in our battle for a united Palestine under Arab rule.
- As quoted in the Jerusalem Post, 1996
Jews, not Israelis and not settlers. Jews. Arafat was honest – if only the Israeli left could be nearly so.
The main difference between 1996 and now has never been a sudden awareness with the Palestinian camp that Israel is here to stay and they have to adjust their goals. Rather, what has changed is the utter stupidity of the Israeli political leadership on the left, center, and even some of the left-leaning rightists who believe that Abbas or Haniyeh are any different. Or that towards the end of his life, Arafat suddenly woke up and saw the dove of peace fluttering outside his window. Didn’t happen then…hasn’t happened now.
Palestine is from the sea to the river, from Rosh HaNikra to Rafah. The siege will not change our belief, wars don’t cause people give up resistance and resistance leaders. We will not recognize! We will not recognize! We will not recognize Israel!”
- Ismail Haniyeh, December, 2010 in a rally in Gaza
Of course, we all admit that Ismail Haniyeh is a lunatic, an extremist. No one can take him seriously and you can’t call him the voice of the Palestinians, right?
Wrong. According to a recent poll (September, 2014), Haniyeh would receive 61% of the total Palestinian vote, to replace Abbas as President. Haniyeh, like Arafat back in the day, is being honest – too honest for most Israelis, Europeans and Americans who continue to beat the drums and claim it’s the settlements.
No, it’s not.
It never was – not in 1964 when the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded, not in 1948 when they chose war. Not 10 years ago, not 5, and not now. It was NEVER about the settlements.
What has changed is not the goal, but the rhetoric because what the western world has failed to do, the Arabs mastered long ago. It is the science of rhetoric; the belief that you can fool all of the people some of the time. In desperation, people will believe words over logic and someone “sincerely” stating something over pictures.
They shot 5,000 rockets at us just a few months ago. Not one rocket hit a settlement (unless you count the rocket that almost hit the Bedouin encampments not far from Maale Adumim) and about 4,995 of them were never aimed at a settlement in the first place. They danced in the streets when they hit Tel Aviv – that is their goal, their victory, their truth.
Ayaan Hirsi Li (Google her) spoke before the President’s Conference a few years ago and in the middle of a debate between left wing American speakers and left wing Israeli speakers, she quietly took the microphone and said the truth,
Arafat succeeded in his promise. With the help of successive generations of Israeli leaders and the Israeli media, Israel has been divided into two camps. When a Jew is shot over that absurd marker on the map, when a Jew chooses to live to the east of Jerusalem and not the west, violence becomes their own fault. Rockets and rocks don’t exist unless they score and someone is seriously injured or dies.
Only when the attack is beyond horrific, as with the Fogel family massacre, does Israel begin to think that maybe what drove the Palestinian to murder little Hadas Fogel wasn’t because she was a settler.
But sadly, the stupid returns quickly. The outrage that the Palestinian Authority, against all evidence – including bloody footprints that led to the Palestinian village – were quick to blame Thai workers fades as soon as Abbas issued a mediocre condemnation that the left is so desperate to hear. Validation that the targets really were settlers so it isn’t so bad.
“We repeat today that we are with the establishment of a Palestinian state on any liberated part of Palestinian land that is agreed upon by the Palestinian people, without recognizing Israel or conceding any inch of historical Palestine.”
- Ismail Haniyeh, 2011
The truth of the Arab-Israeli conflict is that it has never even been about land, or to be more accurate, part of the land. They will never settle for Gaza, which they already have, and the West Bank. They will never settle for the Galilee or East Jerusalem. They will only settle when they have it all – Haifa and Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheva, Netanya and Eilat.
They’ll accept any piece we are willing to give them…and continue working to take whatever we won’t. Until Israelis are ready to accept that truth and begin negotiations from THAT standpoint, there will never be any movement towards any long term understanding.
It is NOT about the settlements, stupid. It is about Israel. It always has been and always will be. They do not accept us here – not then, not now. The only question is will they ever.
It is about Israel, stupid.
First published at Times of Israel.