Sunday, January 07, 2007

Three Years Later: Tilley Totters

Virginia Tilley published an article promoting a One-State Solution in the London Review of Books in November 2006.

I managed to get a letter published afterwards:-

Unfair to Revenants
From Yisrael Medad

Virginia Tilley (LRB, 6 November 2003) wrote of 'settlers in "Judea and Samaria" who are indeed gun-toting religious zealots (mostly from the US)'. In the same article, she also presumed that Ariel Sharon would not support the dismantling of Jewish communities in the disputed territories.

As a resident of Shiloh, a Jewish community pejoratively called a 'settlement' populated by 'settlers', and a member of the communities' representative body, the Yesha Council, I can tell Tilley that the people here, and more properly they should be referred to as revenants, persons who have returned after a long hiatus to their ancestral homes, who number more than 250,000 (and more than 400,000 if eastern Jerusalem is included), are secular in the main. The number of Americans who live beyond the Green Line armistice demarcation boundary does not exceed 20 per cent of that population.

Yisrael Medad
Shiloh, Samaria

She replied:-

From Virginia Tilley

In accusing me of mischaracterising the settler population in the West Bank, Yisrael Medad (Letters, 6 May) misquotes my article. The full sentence read: 'Nor does the problem lie with the minority of settlers in "Judea and Samaria" who are indeed gun-toting religious zealots (mostly from the US), even if their domestic political influence is daunting.' I had meant to highlight, not obscure, the minority status of the extremists who, in stereotype, are the face of settler intransigence, while explaining why this minority has unique political leverage. Certainly the settlers are 'secular in the main'. In briefly acknowledging that many of the most militant are from the US I intended an oblique reference to their insulated origins, which have fostered a particularly chauvinistic attitude toward Arabs.

The term 'revenants' that Medad prefers for that majority (as reflecting a 'return' to 'ancestral homes' and a right to sovereignty after 'a long hiatus') indicates more graphically than I could have managed that where the land is concerned the secular settler world-view is not so very different.

Virginia Tilley
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York

Well, Tilley, now in South Africa, has forged ahead publishing this piece in the far-left Counterpunch:-

A Beacon of Hope? Apartheid Israel

Here's some of her logic:-

Still, some things are happening. The Palestinians are slowly winning the propaganda war, at terrible cost. Israel's stunning crimes in Lebanon and Gaza have turned the tide: Israel has never been such an international pariah in all its years. The Arab states finally ended the financial boycott of the Hamas government that they should be ashamed before their families and clans that they ever deployed in the first place. The heroic new international boycott movement, finally standing up to shrieking Zionist slander and charges of anti-Semitism, expands rapidly through cyber-space and into serious and principled activism. Hopeful eyes turn to Ireland's victories and bold statements from Canada.

She's angry, even at Olmert, for using the terms Judea and Samaria:-

But "areas in Judea and Samaria" is especially ominous wording. First, "Judea and Samaria" are biblical-era terms for the West Bank used by Israelis to conceptualize the West Bank as an intrinsic part of Israel. Using them in diplomatic language regarding peace negotiations signals that Mr. Olmert is now so secure in this notion that he is willing to deploy it casually as a political given. Second, Israel will evacuate only "areas" (plural) of the West Bank. Later, Mr Olmert again uses the plural form when he says that Israel "will agree to the evacuation of many territories and communities which were established therein". To everyone else, the West Bank is one territory. Now carved up by Israeli settlements, it is several territories only if those settlements remain.

Here she becomes a fan of Yuli Tamir:-

Jewish-Israeli settlers potter about peacefully in their gardens in the West Bank because they know it is "Israel". The big settlements around Jerusalem, which divide the West Bank in half, are called "neighbourhoods". Israeli government maps of the country still do not show the green line. The West Bank, as we know it, is not there for Israel.

Well, I wrote her the following:-

We've crossed pens before in the London Review of Books but your piece in Counterpunch leads me to make one comment, which I hope you will consider despite our inability to agree on much else.

You wrote: "Jewish-Israeli settlers potter about peacefully in their gardens in the West Bank".

Now, you can view our presence here as illegal or imperialistic or apartheidic or whatever. That's your privilege. However, facts are facts and as you are well aware, Arab terror (or resistance, I won't quibble with you on this point) has been the cause of death of many Jewish revenants in the areas of Judea and Samaria. Our victims have included a 5-month old resident of Shiloh, Yehudah Shoham, whose head was crushed by a rock and 10-month old Shalva Pas, killed by a sniper's bullet to the head in Hebron and 17-year old Yosef Chaim Siton of Shiloh, who was attacked while playing basketball at his highschool at Itamar, chased down and shot in the back multiple times. All were unarmed, needless to say.

Sometimes we do potter about but peace is a two-sided affair. And since Jewish civilians and many infants and children among them have been murdered by Arabs, starting in 1920 before there was a state, it would seem that in your passionate arguments against Israel, you at least display a modicum of respect for the facts.

Her e mail is: if you want to write her as well.

If she replies, I'll post it at this site.

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