ביטע נישט ווארפן שמוץ אויף דער ערד
"How I Hoped to Turn My Body into Slivers to Tear the Sons of Zion to Pieces, and to Knock with Their Skulls on the Gates of Paradise"
An Al-Hesbah subscriber calling herself Umm Hamza Al-Shahid wrote a message titled "Secure Yourself a Chandelier under the Throne [in Paradise]," in which she encouraged Muslim women to carry out suicide bombings. Following are excerpts:
"The souls of the martyrs dwell inside the bellies of green birds [that roost] on chandeliers hanging from the royal throne [of Allah in Paradise]. They roam freely in Paradise, and then come to roost on the chandeliers... Sister... [think] what a [wonderful] life that is, how [wonderful] Paradise is, and what we miss living here [in this world]... You know that a martyr does not die. He lives, and will never know death, for it is said [in Koran 2:153]: 'And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, [they] live, but you do not perceive [it].'
"You surely ask: 'What is the way to martyrdom for me, as a woman?... How can I find the way?' Before I answer, let me say: Has it occurred to you that the very first Muslim who had the privilege of becoming a martyr was a woman, [namely] Sumayya bint Khayyat? She was cruelly tortured by the leader of the infidels, the bitter enemy of the faith, Abu Jahl, but remained steadfast in her religion and faith... She spat in his filthy face, leaving him no choice but to draw his sword and stab her, and then her pure body was cast in the desert of Mecca, while her pure soul ascended to Paradise... Take her example, sister. She had the honor [of becoming a martyr] before the [first] man had [this honor]. Allah does not prevent us from... following in her footsteps.
In another posting, headed "Indeed, Men Do Not Have a Monopoly [on Martyrdom]," Umm Hamza Al-Shahid described the last moments of a woman suicide bomber: "She recited the morning prayer... and then sat invoking [the name of] Allah until dawn. In her mind she heard the words of a brother who had [chosen] the path [of martyrdom]: 'Even if I had died while praying,(3) I would have regretted having missed the opportunity to die as a martyr [in a war] for the sake of Allah.' She went out and walked silently... her [soul] filling with a deep and confident tranquility. She fingered the explosive belt hidden under her clothes to make sure that it was tightly fastened. She went on. Then a crowd of filthy Jews appeared in the distance and she hurried to meet them. She managed to slip into the crowd without anyone noticing her. Her heart palpitated, not out of fear of the despicable [Jews], but because her momentous meeting with Allah was drawing near. It seemed to her that the sky shone lighter and brighter than before. She penetrated deeper into the crowd, her breath coming in spurts and the spark of death shining in her eyes, and... Allah Akbar! The explosion rang out loud, violent, deafening and destructive. The body parts of the Jews scattered everywhere, and the black blood spilled on the soil of the Prophets, while her pure soul ascended to heaven, to the chandeliers [of Paradise, an abode of] light, peace and eternity."(4)
A subscriber calling himself Sayf Allah [Sword of Allah] posted a link to a video, accompanied by a message titled "To [Women] Who Seek Martyrdom": "To our sisters on this dear forum, and to all [sisters] everywhere who are devout in their faith, here is a simple video about several women who became martyrs and who, [their final testaments,] urged others to [wage] jihad."(5)
The women's forum on the Islamist website Al-Shumoukh featured an excerpt from a book titled Jihad and Combat in Shari'a[-Based] Policy (Al-Jihad Wal-Qital Fi Al-Siyassa Al-Shar'iyya), by Dr. Muhammad Khayr Haykal, which included the following: "Martyrdom for the sake of Allah is one of the values that Islam glorifies and which confers prestige on the one who implements it... Through [martyrdom], one receives eternal life and avoids death, which is the lot of everyone else. The gates of Paradise open [before the martyr], and the life in this world goes on while the martyrs [bask in] the pleasures of Paradise... After their souls leave their bodies, Allah builds them palaces."(6) "A Woman... [Usually] Dreams of a Husband, a Large House, Children... But There Are Other Women... Jihad Fighters... Who [Sacrifice] Their Souls alongside the Men"; "She Donned a Shroud, Strapped on the Explosive Belt, and Left... That Was the Pivotal Moment in her [Decision] to Meet Allah as a Martyr"
A subscriber calling herself Rabab Khatem wrote under the heading "Women Jihad Fighters in Modern Times Will Go Down in History": "For a long time, I have been thinking about that woman who left everything, abandoned the sweet pleasures of this world... gave up her soul and her money in order to prove herself [equal] to men... [and to prove] that the religion of Allah is more important than her [own life]... I tried to find other women like her among my people, but found only flashy TV hosts, dancers, singers, etc., who present themselves as role models for mankind, and indeed serve as role models for those who wish to follow their [unworthy] example... I have been planning to write about her for a long time... I looked for the most beautiful words that have been said about her, and found many, but none as wonderful as the those written about her by the forum subscriber Louis 'Atiyyat Allah [under the heading] 'Lament for a Muslim Woman Knight':
"'...As I write these words, my sorrow that I am not among you sears my heart. I wish I could be among you, for that would have been an immense privilege. What value is there in a pleasant life that ends in the grave, without glory that will go down [in history, and without] having faithfully served Allah's religion... [The woman knight] said: Allah, accept my blood today and be pleased with it... A woman in this world [usually] dreams of a husband, a large house, children... However, there are other women – praise them – who have decided [to sacrifice] their souls alongside with men, and are undoubtedly jihad fighters...
"The women of the courageous Chechen people have sacrificed their children and their money... They joined the march of the martyrs; they refused to [accept] oppression, and as the enemy intensified its [cruel oppression], their steadfastness and [readiness for] self-sacrifice grew ever stronger... One woman was apprehended by the Russians, and a senior Russian officer violated her honor... She swore revenge... She started preparing, counting the days until she would sacrifice her most valued possession for the sake of religion and honor. She donned a shroud, strapped an explosive belt around her body and went to him; and when the moment came, she approached him, and it was then that she consummated [her resolve] to meet Allah as a martyr...
Essentially, McCain would continue the disastrous policy currently being
pursued by the Bush administration, which (as John Hinderaker recently observed at
PowerLine) has now relieved the Palestinians of the "roadmap" prerequisite that
they end terrorist attacks against Israel before further negotiations can
Sir, - David Forman's history of the Altalena affair was a bit off the mark ("Israel's fifth column," UpFront, January 18). His chronology was skimpy, misleading and ignored certain elements.
Already on May 15, after midnight, Menachem Begin informed Yisrael Galili, of the new Defense Ministry, of the existence of the ship Altalena and even suggested that the Hagana purchase it. On May 17, Mossad agent Z. Schind informed Galili that they had been aware of the ship's existence for some time and suspected the British knew of its existence. The chain of events as described by Forman implied that David Ben-Gurion was surprised only on June 11; which was not the case.
But, more important, Forman wrote that "Begin refused to respond to the ultimatum, making a clash inevitable; whereupon Ben-Gurion issued the order to open fire on the Altalena."
It would be more correct to have written that faced with an ultimatum which contradicted the terms of the agreement Begin had concluded with Galili to land the boat at Kfar Vitkin, Begin sought to communicate with Ben-Gurion. IDF troops then opened fire at Kfar Vitkin beach, killing two Irgun men, whereupon the Altalena upped anchor and set sail for Tel Aviv. There, Palmah men opened murderous fire on the ship and at men swimming in the water.
Fourteen more Irgun men were killed at that location by small-arms fire. Ben-Gurion then ordered a cannon to fire on the Altalena, even though Begin had withheld return fire from the boat.
In writing "While there is much debate as to whether the confrontation could have been avoided," Forman avoided the main question: If Begin initiated informing the new government about the ship; had agreed to a major compromise over the distribution of the weapons; had agreed to land at Kfar Vitkin, a Mapai moshav, and almost 90 percent of the arrivals had disembarked and already set off for Netanya - why did Ben-Gurion need to use military force, seeing Begin had proved that, in deliberations, he was willing to seek national unity?
Could it have been that he was seeking to destroy Begin and the Irgun as a political force, or even eliminate Begin altogether?
(1) The research and work undertaken by Israel Academia Monitor involves a great deal of time and effort and therefore over the last three years we have sought donations from readers to help us in our task.
(2) Because we are a small not-for-profit group based in Israel we sought an American partner NGO in order to help American donors gain tax-deductible status on their donations.
(3) During the last couple of years the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, under the chairmanship of Daniel Pipes, received small donations on our behalf, taking a commission for this.
(4) However, since our first ever really sizeable donation was pledged last summer, Dr. Pipes has refused to pass this on to Israel Academia Monitor, nor has he handed over another smaller payment donated to Israel Academia Monitor in December, despite our repeated requests and pleas to do so.
(5) Instead in recent weeks Dr. Pipes has written us threatening emails with ultimatums in an attempt to seize control of Israel Academia Monitor.
A false message is being circulated supposedly in the name of "Israel Academia Monitor" attacking Daniel Pipes, supposedly in the name of the "Directors of Israel Academia Monitor." The message was sent out by Dana Barnett alone, who was fired from editing Israel Academia Monitor and is not authorized to commission work on behalf of Israel Academia Monitor, to represent it, or to solicit or accept donations on its behalf.
The message she circulated contains false information.
It does not represent the point of view of anyone else besides Barnett.
"Wörterbuch der 'Vergangenheitsbewältigung'" by Thorsten Eitz and Georg Stötzel is a new dictionary that highlights Nazi words to avoid
...To modern German ears, "Endlösung" will forever be associated with Hitler's genocidal "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," while "Selektion" is now verbum non grata due to its use to refer to the death camp practice of "selecting" inmates to be executed.
Now a new dictionary examines just what roles such terms play in the collective German psyche. The "Wörterbuch der 'Vergangenheitsbewältigung'" ("Dictionary of 'Coming to Terms with the Past'") examines around 1,000 words and phrases -- everything from "Anschluss," used to refer to the 1938 "annexation" of Austria, to "Wehrmacht," the name of the Nazi-era armed forces -- looking at how the meaning and usage of the terms have developed since the end of World War II.
...For many, the simple power of the words and their associations made them literally unspeakable. That applied especially to victims of the Nazis. "Survivors simply couldn't bear to hear the word 'Lager,'" says Stötzel, referring to the German term for concentration or death camp.
Another reason for avoiding Nazi terms in public discourse is the fact that the speaker runs the risk of being accused of harboring Nazi sympathies...Just using the same rhetorical techniques as Joseph Goebbels, king of Third Reich propaganda, and other leading Nazis can land you in hot water. Former Vice Chancellor Franz Müntefering found this out the hard way in 2005 when he described hostile foreign investors as "locusts." Müntefering, who belongs to the left wing of the Social Democratic Party, was criticized for comparing people with animals, a trope considered deeply problematic due to the Nazi practise of portraying Jews as parasites and vermin.
...But perhaps the taint of at least some Nazi terms may fade with time. Take the word "Mädel," for example, a dialect word for "girl" which was favored by the Nazis. Its Third Reich connotations appear to be lost on young Germans today, many of whom use the word -- often ironically -- without a second thought. "Young people don't know it was used by the Nazis," says Stötzel.
Israelis seem to have lost their belief in the rightness of our cause...How did we get to this situation, and how do we get to a better place?...Huge energies, vast resources and endless creativity were poured into the settlements in territories conquered in 1967.
...I recently read David Shulman's Dark Hope, which is an eyewitness report on the abominations committed in the West Bank in the name of the Jewish people...my contention [is] that they are profoundly, dangerously wrong in mortgaging the entire Zionist enterprise to the cause of the settlements. In so doing, they have unintentionally caused grievous damage to the rightness of our wider national cause, on two levels.
First, the perception of the essential rightness of our cause by the nations of the world...It is criminally foolish to underestimate or scoff at its importance. Maintaining it is tough, as our enemies market the calumny that Israel is merely a colonial implant, another apartheid South Africa, or, at best, Europe's export of its Jewish problem to the Middle East. The most important proof in the arsenal of our enemies is precisely the settlements, and the accusation that we are stealing the land and livelihoods of our neighbors...
SECOND IS the impact settlements have had on our internal consensus and belief in the rightness of our cause...The settlements thus undermine both the external perception others have of us, and our own internal perception of the rightness of our cause. As such, in utter contradiction to the intentions of so many of their residents, settlements wind up weakening rather than strengthening us, and seriously endangering the existence of the one Jewish state we do have.
There is a bizarre, paradoxical connection between the settlers' yearning for the whole land of Israel and the Arab demand for a single, secular, democratic state of all its citizens: Both would have the consequence of destroying Israel.
WITHDRAWING from the settlements will not appease our enemies, nor should we leave unilaterally, without guarantees, safeguards and milestones. But withdraw we should...We have to relinquish our profound internal split over Greater Israel in order to unite effectively in favor of pre-1967 Israel (plus minor, negotiated additions). Our shared belief in the rightness of our cause - without which we shall fall - cannot be rebuilt so long as we are occupying and dispossessing another people.
It will be tragic to leave the sites associated with our cherished collective memories...
Amos Elon's characterization of the Hasmonean Tunnel incident in 1996 and Ehud Olmert's role as "recklessly provoking a riot" in connection with it is unfactual and an example of imbalanced writing on the Israel-Arab conflict ("Olmert & Israel: The Change", Volume 55, Number 2, Feb. 14).
In the months leading up to the opening of an exit within an enclosed building thus permitting visitors to enter the existing tunnel near the Western Wall and exit at its northern end, Shimon Peres had granted the Muslim Waqf administration permission in January 1996 to construct an underground mosque at the southern end of the Temple Mount and in exchange, the tunnel would be opened. As early as September 1995, the imminent opening of the tunnel became a matter of public record when it was included in a report of UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor who was informed that a northern doorway leading to the Via Dolorosa would be built in the near future.
Israel scrupulously kept the terms of the arrangement but the Arabs reneged. If there was provocation, it was in the Arab refusal to keep, yet again, to an agreement reached with Israel.
Many bloggers really don't write much at all. They are more like impresarios, curators, or editors, picking and choosing things they find on line, occasionally slapping on a funny headline or adding a snarky (read: snotty and catty) comment. Some days, the only original writing you see on a blog is the equivalent of "Read this.... Take a look.... But, seriously, this is lame.... Can you believe this?"
No matter what Israel does, the rockets from the Gaza Strip just keep coming. Young men like Abdul are the reason why.
...It's a long journey through the pitch-dark night as the taxi heads towards the secret rocket factory in the Gaza Strip. Since Abdul* and his two friends got in, it has become a life-threatening trip. The young men produce rockets for the Islamic Jihad. Day after day, their rudimentary bombs land on Israeli villages, fields and kibbutzim...
...Qassams are primitive missiles lacking any guidance system. Building one is "child's play," Abdul says: One of the team welds the rocket casings together from metal pipes, while another fills the warhead with up to three kilograms of TNT. Abdul's specialty is the last step: the rocket propulsion. He and his mates brew up the fuel out of a mixture of glucose, fertilizer and a few other chemicals, which is used to fire the rockets at distances of up to nine kilometers. Right at the end, he inserts the detonator cap, which makes the missile explode on impact. They hide the finished rockets in depots, which the launch commandos can then freely avail themselves of...
...The team can make up to 100 rockets per night shift, but today it won't be more than 10. Instead of the usual 12, only three of Abdul's men have turned up tonight. "The other guys are over in Egypt, shopping," he says...The presence of smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border have ensured that there is never a lack of supplies. "The TNT comes to us from Sudan via Egypt." Other elements arrive by boat across the sea to Gaza. "We get some from Eastern Europe." The raw materials for one large rocket cost up to €500. The money to finance the operation comes the same route as the materials. "The Israeli blockade doesn't affect us; it's just intended to plunge the people into misery."
...The rocket fuel in the cauldron is ready: a thick yellow dough. Abdul carries a spoonful outside and put it in the fire on which the tea is brewing. A flame darts up, the nitrate-sugar mixture fizzes and bubbles as it burns off. It smells like fireworks, Abdul is pleased. The mixture is ready and is poured into a plastic tube, where it is to cool down. A fuse with a long wire is embedded in the mixture, with which the rocket can be ignited later. Once the fuel has set, the plastic tube will be cut away and the yellow fuel cylinder will be placed in the Qassam casing.
Now that the first Qassam rocket of the night is practically finished, Abdul has become quieter. "Today the clouds are protecting us from the Israeli drones."...
* Name changed
(IsraelNN.com) Arabs in Gaza used fake Israeli money to pay for supplies they bought in Egypt after the fall of the barrier at the Rafiah border, according to the Hebrew newspaper Maariv. On the other hand, many Egyptian stores sold food that was beyond the expiration date.
Fake shekel notes of 100 and 200 shekels were printed and sold to children during the expulsion in the summer of 2005, explained one Gaza resident. After two days of being given fake money, the Egyptian shopkeepers realized the scam and began checking the currency.
Rabbi Shalom Rosner, a seven year SBMP faculty member, is leaving YU for aliyah and Yeshivat Reishit Yerushalayim in Beit Shemesh. Rabbi Rosner will be starting a Masmidim program at Reishit, a move that the yeshiva hopes will attract higher caliber students.
...Assistant Dean of Judaic Studies Rabbi Daniel Rapp affirmed, "Obviously, I am saddened by the news. Rabbi Rosner is a first-class talmid chacham and rebbe. While SBMP feels the loss, I am personally happy for him and his family and wish them all the best."
SBMP faculty member Rabbi Ezra Schwartz said, "I am really happy for Rabbi Rosner. He has an opportunity to fulfill the dream and mitzvah of Yishuv Ha-aretz. On a personal level, I will miss his presence in the BMP Beis Medrash." Rabbi Schwartz added that he is "excited that Rabbi Rosner is taking his talents to Eretz Yisrael, and look forward to seeing his talmidim from Reishit when they return to study in one of our YU Batei Medrash."
The departure of Rabbi Rosner means that SBMP must now replace one of the most popular teachers in its program's brief history. Rabbi Rosner's shiur - along with Rabbi Meir Goldvicht and Rabbi Shmuel Marcus - is closed out this semester.
...Though Rabbi Rosner told The Commentator that he is excited for his new opportunity, he will miss his students and friends at Yeshiva. "I love my students and will definitely miss all of you, and hopefully I will see you all in Israel."
SPIEGEL: Should Israel negotiate with Hamas?
Ayalon: Our official negotiating partner is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected by two-thirds of his people. With Hamas we should not have direct talks but rather through a third party like Egypt, for example. If we are negotiating the release of abducted solder Gilad Shalit with Hamas, then I see no reason why we should not talk to them about a cease-fire in order to save the lives of the children in Sderot.
SPIEGEL: Do you think compromises with Hamas are possible?
Ayalon: Hamas is not a monolithic organization. Within Hamas, there are a variety of opinions and ideologies. I think it is likely that the pragmatists within Hamas are interested in returning to last year's Mecca agreement with Fatah ...
SPIEGEL: ... which gives President Mahmoud Abbas the right to negotiate with Israel.
Ayalon: I believe Hamas leaders like Ismail Haniya in Gaza or Mousa Abu Marzook in Damascus are capable of such a step.
SPIEGEL: You are saying that Israel has to give the Palestinians hope for their own state during the negotiations. And yet even the settlement outposts in the West Bank, which are even illegal under Israeli law, still haven't been dismantled.
Ayalon: Regarding this point, the international road map is unequivocal: Israel has to evacuate all outposts. If Abbas is expected to fulfill his commitments, then Israel must fulfill its obligations too. All outposts must disappear -- if possible with the consent of the settlers, and if not then by force. If we do not fulfill our road map commitments, there will not be negotiations. And if there will be no negotiations, then the Labour Party has no business staying in this government. We have to freeze all settlement activities east of the security fence.
SPIEGEL: That would mean that settlement building could continue in East Jerusalem. Didn't you demand in 2002 -- in your initiative with Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh -- a partition of Jerusalem?
Ayalon: I only said what should be done immediately, which is a freeze of settlement building. The status of Jerusalem will be decided upon only at the end of the negotiations. Here, the Ayalon-Nusseibeh Formula is the only way to reach real peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Weizmann vs Herzl
Sir, - Yehuda Avner's "Chaim Weizmann's tea with Mussolini" (January 23) was fascinating. At Weizman's 1934 meeting with Mussolini in Rome, Avner quotes Mussolini: "So what about Jerusalem - what do you say about its future?" Weizman replied: "One thing has to be made abundantly clear - if Jerusalem does not become a Jewish capital it cannot become an Arab capital. Jerusalem is the confluence of three religions. But it must be noted that the sanctity of Jerusalem for Muslims is something of a recent invention, whereas for the Jews Jerusalem is the City of David and, of course, for Christians it is the center of their holy places."
It is interesting to compare this with Theodor Herzl's ideas about Jerusalem, as expressed less than 40 years earlier in a diary entry dated May 7, 1896. Herzl related a meeting with an associate, who reported that the sultan of Turkey had declared he would never give up Jerusalem. The Mosque of Omar must remain forever in the hands of Islam.
Herzl's response: "We can get around that difficulty. We shall exterritorialize Jerusalem, so that it will belong to nobody and yet everybody; and with it the Holy Places, which will become the joint possession of all believers - a great condominium of culture and morality" (The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Gollancz London 1958, page 127). Two years later, in Jerusalem, on November 2, 1898, Herzl wrote about his "idea of restricting the Old City to humanitarian institutions, cleaning it up, and building a New Jerusalem which could be viewed from the Mount of Olives as Rome [is] from the Gianicolo."
Ethnically driven violence intensified in Kenya on Sunday, and police officials said at least 19 people, including 11 children, were burned to death in a house by a mob.
Even the Kenyan military, deployed for the first time to stop antagonists from attacking one another, has been unable to halt the wave of revenge killings.
More than 100 people have been killed in the past four days, many of them shot with arrows, burned or hacked with machetes.
Talk to Democrats in D.C., and it’s amazing how many who know the Clintons well, many of whom worked in the Clinton administration, are eager that they not return to the White House.
The world's strangest guided tour highlights the abuse of Palestinians
Yehuda Shaul is a religious Israeli who served in the army. Now he runs guided tours highlighting the abuse of Palestinians. It's controversial and dangerous work – so hy does he do it? Donald MacIntyre finds out on a unique tragical history tour
It starts in Shuhada Street, which runs through what is now the settlers' security zone, the rows of empty Palestinian shops and houses boarded up with steel shutters, many daubed with Stars of David to show who is in charge here. The only permitted vehicles are those of the settlers and the Israeli military.
Shaul is seeking to demonstrate to his visitors that the settlements and the formidable military apparatus which protects them have violated the human rights of the Palestinians who live – or increasingly no longer live – in what was once the teeming Arab city centre.
But his every footstep is dogged by another religious Jew conducting a non-stop monologue designed to drown out Shaul's explanation of what his visitors are seeing. "Yehuda Shaul – he helps the Arabs," Baruch Marzel tells them, before making clear his view of the two-state peace deal with the Palestinians which the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, US President George Bush and a majority of the Israeli public say they want. "Do you think if there is going to be an agreement that you will be allowed to pray at this tomb? Only because there are Jews living here can you visit the tomb. He isn't telling you about the 40 terrorist attacks there have been on Jews here. You can visit our Hebron centre and learn the truth about Hebron, not the lies Yehuda Shaul is filling you with."
American-born Marzel – a man to whom the term "right-wing extremist" hardly does justice – had lain in wait for the tour bus near the grave of his fellow settler Baruch Goldstein, who walked into a mosque at the tomb in 1994 with an automatic assault rifle and shot dead 29 Palestinians as they prayed. Marzel, who has a police record for attacks on Palestinians, was a prominent figure in the far right Kach group which was designated a "terrorist" organisation in both Israel and the US after issuing a statement praising the Goldstein massacre. Seven years ago, Marzel held a macabre graveside commemoration for Goldstein, who had been lynched by enraged survivors after the attack. It was a "big party", Marzel said, to mark the anniversary of Goldstein being "murdered by the Arabs" – a somewhat incomplete account of the day in question.
Shaul struggles to conduct his tour against Marzel's noisy filibuster. At one point, Shaul walks across the street to a watching senior police officer and asks him to move Marzel on; the officer replies, "You can carry on. He's not stopping you." When Shaul then turns to Marzel himself and tells him quietly: "You are disturbing us, please can you move?" Marzel replies defiantly: "No. This my house."
This tense little scene underlines – in miniature – one of the looming obstacles facing the current Israeli-Palestinian talks in the wake of this month's visit by President Bush. It is impossible to imagine any final peace deal which does not put Hebron – 12 miles east of the "green line" that marked Israel's eastern border until the Six Day War, and the site of some of the first Jewish settlements on Palestinian land which followed that victory – in the heart of a Palestinian state. When Marzel says "this is my house" it is an understated but forceful reminder that the Hebron settlers may prove the toughest to remove – as they would surely have to be if the occupation is ever to end – of any in the West Bank.
Marzel is not alone in stalking Shaul. Enjoying the sport alongside him is Ofer Ohanna, the settlement security officer, who on a previous visit has goaded Shaul about a recent haircut. Noticing that the (heterosexual) Shaul had sheared off the pony tail which, along with his beard, black velvet kippa (or skullcap) and habitual sandals, has – ironically – long served to make him look like the more hippyish kind of settler, Ohanna had told him he had done it because "your boyfriend wouldn't go to bed with you if you didn't cut it off". Today, another prominent settler, Moshe Ben Batat, marches up to Shaul and demands more chillingly the date of his "mother's remembrance day" because "your mother threw you out of the house and committed suicide". (One – and only one – part of this is true. Shaul's mother did commit suicide, but during a post-natal depression – when Shaul was four years old.) Later still, the vociferous group of Shaul-stalkers is joined by David Wilder, the US-born spokesman of the Hebron settlers. Saying that Shaul's tours are "very dangerous", he adds that Shaul "feeds the enemy and plays into their hands" by criticising the settlers. Wilder sums up his view of Shaul: "Hamas with a kippa."
The man who attracts such hatred from the Hebron settlers has, at only 24, already led a remarkable life. He was described by the celebrated Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, to whom he acted as a guide in the city two years ago, as "one of the righteous this country has". He was a co-founder of Breaking the Silence, the growing group of dissident ex-soldiers – the core of whom served in Hebron at the peak of the intifada like him – who have testified on the persistent abuses they say the military has committed during the years of warfare.
Stationed in Bethlehem in the last few weeks of his military service he had "an enlightened moment" in which he says he began to understand what one of the group's later publications would call the "terrible moral price" exacted by the occupation from the young soldiers who serve in the West Bank and Gaza. Then and over the time that followed, Shaul began to find himself "in the very terrifying place [where] there is no justification for 90 per cent of the actions you took part in".
Since then he has become a political guide to, and activist in, the part of Hebron which was once its Arab commercial and cultural heart but which is now overwhelmingly dominated by the presence of 800 Jewish settlers. He has conducted or organised more than 200 tours of Israelis – including school and college students in their year before Army service – and foreigners. Last October, he and another ex-combat soldier, Avichai Sharon, briefed the international Middle East envoy Tony Blair on the daunting problems of inner-city Hebron.
To understand what led him to this unusual vocation, you have to climb with Shaul to look over the Palestinian city from a vantage point close to the old Jewish cemetery. As the afternoon muezzins ring out from the mosques, Shaul points out the red-roofed house where his unit's snipers and machine gunners were posted after giving the Palestinian family who lived in it half an hour to leave. At the peak of the intifada in 2002-03, with Palestinian gunmen using mainly assault rifles to shoot towards the settlements to their south at night, the Israeli soldiers were firing back grenades from machine guns.
"A grenade is not a bullet," Shaul explains. "It hits something and explodes, kills everyone in a radius of eight metres and injures everyone in a radius of 16. Secondly a machine gun is not an accurate weapon. You aim it a bit to the left and a bit to the right. If you're a real good operator you'll probably hit your target the fifth time."
Briefed initially by his platoon commander on the task, Shaul says he "freaked out. You still have a sense of a mission, of black and white, and I'm like, 'What's going on here? I'm supposed to shoot grenades into a city where people live?' The first night, you aim in the area of the target and you pull the trigger and you let it go as fast as you could and inside you're praying that the least amount of grenades were fired because if you pull the trigger for a minute around 60 grenades are out."
But as the week wore on, he says, it became "the exciting moment of the day. You're bored. You're stuck in this house. You don't go out. You play it like a video game with your joy-stick on top of the city – boom, boom, boom."
Shaul has no direct evidence of casualties from the salvos he fired – the "worst thing I did" – though he assumes there must have been injuries at the very least. It is something "you would prefer not to think about". And, yes, Palestinian snipers did indeed claim the lives of Jewish victims from the settlements – five since 2000. But Shaul says that the fire to which the military mainly responded in the way he describes habitually fell well short of the settlements.
The Israeli military employed draconian measures in Hebron during the peak of the intifada to protect the settlers – whose right to live in the city is not recognised in international law. These included imposition of curfews in the city centre (377 days in the first three years of the initifada), checkpoints (the UN counted more than 100 in the Israeli controlled sector of the city in 2005), comprehensive house-to- house searches in which Shaul says Palestinian families were sometimes locked into a single room while soldiers grabbed some sleep elsewhere in the house, and a refusal to intervene in many cases when settlers attacked or threw stones at local Palestinians.
According to a report earlier this year from the two most respected Israeli human-rights organisations, B'Tselem and the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), "violence, arbitrary house searches, seizure of houses, harassment, detaining passers-by, and humiliating treatment have become part of daily reality for Palestinians and have led many of them to move to safer places". And while armed violence has significantly reduced inside the city, most of the restrictions on movement within the area of the settlements have remained. Shaul draws comparisons with other West Bank cities. "Does the IDF [Israeli Defence Force] have posts inside Nablus all the time? No. Inside Jericho? No. Inside Hebron? Yes. Why? Because you have the settlements here. H1 [the outer area of Hebron] is like all the rest of the Palestinian cities and H2 [the centre] is a ghost town; it's missing from the frame."
After a 13-year-old process of closures and segregation which began – ironically – with the Goldstein attack on Palestinians in the mosque, and continued through the intifada, there are now 304 closed shops and warehouses – 218 of them shut down by military order. The whole of the "sterile zone" protecting the settlements is closed to Palestinian vehicles. And the central section of Shuhada Street is closed to Palestinian pedestrians, except for four families who still live on this once densely populated but now desolate artery. The term used by B'Tselem and ACRI for the steady Palestinian depopulation of the area is "enforced eviction". Jan Kristiansen, a former head of the (already decade-old) Temporary International Presence in Hebron, described it as "ethnic cleansing".
An internal 2003 report produced by the Israel Defence Forces's civil administration cited a lengthy series of legal violations – mainly damage, break-ins and seizure of Palestinian property – by Hebron's Jewish settlers as they "consistently and systematically" worked to "establish and expand" their colony. "The leadership selects a target and broadcasts it a number of ways. Youths/teenagers burgle the building and even if they are driven away in the beginning, they eventually succeed. Youths/teenagers empty/burn the contents ... They enter through a common wall/the yard/narrow passageway between the properties without being noticed and begin to settle in." Adding that the activities of Jews in Hebron can be described as "if carried out under the protection of the Israeli regime", the report added: "The State of Israel looks very bad with regard to the rule of law in Hebron."
In December 2006, ACRI challenged the ban on pedestrians using much of Shuhada Street, pointing out that it had not been sanctioned by a written military order. The Army agreed it was indeed a mistake and issued a directive cancelling the prohibition. Some prominent local Palestinians were allowed to walk along the street after detention and body searches, and with a substantial military escort. Within a week the Palestinians were again told they were not allowed to use the route.
"We have a few hundred settlers there," says Shaul. "We don't even question it. They are Israeli citizens and they deserve protection, just like people in Tel Aviv. To give them the protection, we take a lot of things into consideration – we have geography, we have a budget, large numbers of soldiers – but there's one thing we won't take into consideration, and that's 166,000 Palestinians around here. This is the problem of Hebron. Only in this way can you close what used to be the main street for 60 years and then say it was a mistake and continue this mistake."
But, for Shaul, Hebron is also a paradigm of the wider West Bank, almost 40 per cent of which is now reserved for the settlers, along with the military apparatus and the roads – in many cases prohibited to Palestinians – that serve them. "If you zoom out of Hebron, if you look at the segregation, the methods, the tactics, Hebron is like the laboratory where things are tested before being used outside."
Another milestone in the long journey that led Shaul towards this point began early in his Army service. Shaul explains that the seminal historic event in every settler child's early education is the 1929 massacre during the riots against Jewish immigration to Palestine, when 67 Jews were slaughtered on a single day – though 435 survived after being sheltered by their Arab neighbours. And then he recalls how he saw an elderly Palestinian woman coming down from the hillside neighbourhood of Abu Snena to be greeted by settler children throwing stones at her. "I said to a child of about 10, 'What do you think you are doing?' He said, 'Do you know what this woman did in 1929?'"
We are now walking – a privilege exclusive to Israelis and foreigners – along Shuhada Street, past the abandoned stalls of the market area, illegally occupied by eight settler families from Avram Avinu after a Palestinian sniper killed a 10-month-old settler baby, Shalhevet Pass, in 2001. The settlers were finally issued with eviction orders in January 2006 – but then agreed to leave voluntarily after a remarkable deal with the Army under which they would be allowed to return after a few months. The deal was later overruled by Israel's Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.
As we pass to the left, leaving a manned Israeli checkpoint to the right, we come to the surreal lane where two Palestinian families still live amid a dozen settler families. We walk past the Abu Ayesha house, protected by wire mesh from the stones and garbage frequently thrown at it by the settlers. It was against this wire mesh that Jewish settler Yifat Alkobi pressed her face while repeatedly hissing "sharmuta" – whore – at her married Palestinian neighbour. The scene was caught in a video recording given to B'Tselem which shocked many Israeli viewers when it was shown on prime-time TV last January – including Tommy Lapid, the former Israeli Justice Minister who lost many of his family in the Holocaust. "In the years that preceded the Holocaust," he wrote, "behind shuttered windows hid terrified Jewish women, exactly like the Arab woman of the Abu-Ayesha family in Hebron." And where, according to testimony given by Taysir Abu Ayesha, Baruch Marzel broke into the house with 10 other settlers in the winter of 2002, beat him and attempted to drag him into the road before he was rescued by his stick-brandishing father.
And then we arrive at the end of the street and the home of Hani Abu Heikel, whose family was one of those who sheltered more than 400 of the Jews who survived the 1929 massacre. He says that the settlers from the neighbouring Al Bakri house have attacked his house with water pipes in the night, that his car has been attacked and burned four times and that in June most of the trees in the olive grove next to his house were ruined by being set on fire. When his son suggested to soldiers – some of whom, on this occasion, helped put the fire out – that they could identify the culprits by means of the ubiquitous cameras, he was told, says Mr Abu Heikel, that the cameras were for "security" – for the settlers' security, that is. The Abu Heikel family, a fixture of the Yehuda Shaul tours, are as pleased to see him as the settlers are displeased. "Yehuda, Yehuda," two-and-a-half-year-old Yara Abu Heikel shouts excitedly. The fact that Yehuda brings Israelis to the house has been, says Abu Heikel, especially valuable for his children. "I welcome it," he says. "I want them to know that the Israelis are not just the settlers. I wanted to show them that there are Jews who are not in conflict with us."
A tour round the inner city with a senior Israeli military official gives a very different take on Hebron from Shaul's. The official, who insists on anonymity, argues that while Palestinians are restricted in only three per cent of the city, Israelis are either barred or heavily restricted in the other 97 per cent. While ACRI and B'Tselem pointed out that a resident of the Old City wanting to cross one side of Shuhada Street to the other needs to go round the entire city centre and pass through a number of checkpoints, the Army insists that the restrictions on pedestrian movement in the city are "minimal". As for vehicles, the Army says that those carrying supplies like construction materials are allowed through with prior authorisation and that the required detours add only 10 minutes to the journey for Palestinians. The official stresses that the closures are needed for security reasons and insists, "I am responsible for the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. I am not just in charge of the Israelis."
This, of course, goes to the heart of the question of who bears the real burden of keeping the settlers safe. In the words of the ACRI/B'Tselem report, "Israeli law-enforcement authorities and security forces have made the entire Palestinian population pay the price for protecting Israeli settlement in the city." In doing so, it caused "the economic collapse of the centre of Hebron and drove many Palestinians out of the area." The Army repeatedly – and rightly – points out "that the rights of Israeli citizens to live in the city have been authorised by the decisions of the Israeli government." The military official says, moreover, that since the Goldstein massacre, which he adds was a "horrible thing" which brought "shame to the Jewish people all over the world", the principal "targets" of violence here have been not Palestinians but Israelis. "Since 1994 until today Israelis have been targeted by all the organisations of terror," he concludes.
Certainly, since the beginning of the intifada, Palestinian militants have killed 17 members of the security forces and five civilians – including 10-month-old Shalhevet Pass, shot by a Palestinian sniper in 2001. In Hebron as a whole, according to the ACRI/B'Tselem report, the security forces killed 88 Palestinians in the same period "at least 46 of whom (including nine minors) were not taking part in hostilities at the time they were killed". In addition two Palestinians were killed by settlers, one of them 14-year-old Nasseem Jamjoum, gunned down at her home by settlers in 2003 on the rampage after the shooting of a soldier/settler outside the city. No one was indicted for that shooting.
The official says that because "Hamas terror is strong" in the area, the soldiers consist of "the best units in the Israeli Army" – inevitably trained to defeat the militants rather than to keep the peace between civilian populations, But despite the human-rights groups' well-documented charge that soldiers repeatedly fail to intervene when an Israeli attacks a Palestinian or his property, the army insists that soldiers are under orders to do so. In general, the military official says, violent incidents between Palestinians and Israelis have fallen 50 per cent in 2006-07 from the level in 2003-04.
The official insists – rightly – that the decision about whether to allow settlements in Hebron is a matter for the politicians and not the military. But he is also clearly sympathetic to the argument that the Jews had a right after the Six Day War to reclaim property that had been historically Jewish. On the subject of the progressive takeover of Arab property since 1967, he repeatedly draws a distinction – not recognised in international law – between property that was historically Jewish and property that wasn't. He points, for example, to the Beit Hadassah settlement (which was taken over by settlers in 1979 though even Menachem Begin, the right-wing Likud Prime Minister at the time, was strongly opposed to the move). "This was a hospital that served all the neighbourhood, Jews and Muslims, until most of the staff were killed in the 1929 massacre," says the military official. "When Germany gave back property which had been taken from Jews, people in Israel were very proud," he says. "If we hadn't had the war in 1967 the emotion about recovering the property [in Hebron] would be the same."
For Yehuda Shaul, however, that argument – that there were always Jews in Hebron in the past – is no different from that of the "right of return" to Israel claimed by the families of Palestinian refugees who were forced to flee their homes in what is now Israel during the war of 1948, a claim consistently rejected by both Israel and the international community. And the argument that alternative routes, however tiresome, exist for Palestinians to the one through the old city centre of Hebron is as tenable as if "you said to people in West Jerusalem, you can no longer use Mahane Yehuda [the main Jewish market in the city] and Jaffa Street [the main artery of Jewish West Jerusalem]; you are going to have to go round it."
Nor is he impressed, as a religious Jew, by the argument that the settlers are needed to establish the right of Jews to pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. While even some Palestinians have suggested that in the event of a Palestinian State there could be guaranteed "safe passage" for those Jews who would want to pray at the Tomb, Shaul doubts that would be realistic, pointing out that no such permission existed before the occupation. Instead he suggests the price being paid is too high simply to "control the city of the patriarchs" and to allow access to the Tomb for the minority of religious Jews who use it now. "All this was done on the back of thousands of Palestinians who were more or less expelled from their lives," he says. "This is not Jewish. I'm an Israeli, I'm a Jew and I care what my society looks like, about what are the values that are at the heart of my country. And Hebron is a huge problem for my society and my country. There is a clear plan to cause the Arab population to leave the centre of Hebron."
Shaul doesn't for a moment deny the threat to settlers and soldiers. "You don't have to teach me about security problems," he tells today's visitors about his period serving in the city. "Hebron was a very dangerous place. Israelis were killed. But what we are doing on this tour is asking: what are the red lines we cannot cross?" David Wilder retorts: "His red line is that we shouldn't be here."
Many – possibly even a majority – of Israelis would indeed agree that the settlers should not be in Hebron. After the Goldstein massacre, Yitzhak Rabin wanted to expel them but was advised that it was politically impossible. Shaul does not use his tours to urge the withdrawal of the settlements from Hebron. Instead, "We just ask them: 'What do you think? You saw the price in human rights, in morality, in the lack of law, the price that Palestinians pay for 800 settlers in the heart of their city. And you saw the price the Israeli regime pays and Israeli society pays for running this place and you have to decide for yourself.'"
As I was led across the room to meet Wiesel, I felt an odd mixture of excitement and guilt: a sense of trespassing...
Wiesel turned out to be a lean, neat figure in his mid-seventies with heavy features that made him look melancholic. But his spirit was light and conversation easy. I was most eager to talk about Levi himself, whom Wiesel had known well. He told me how he had spoken to Levi on the telephone just a few days before his shocking suicide in 1987: “I knew about Primo’s depressions, of course, but there was something different about this one, more serious. I offered to pay for him to fly to New York so that we could talk properly, but he said there was no point.”
A crucial difference between the two authors is that Wiesel retained his religious beliefs after Auschwitz, while Levi wrote: “There was Auschwitz, therefore God does not exist.” I said to Wiesel that I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall during their discussions about God in Auschwitz. He replied: “I felt God betrayed me in Auschwitz; I blamed Him. Primo didn’t do this because he had no God: he was from a family of agnostics. There was no God to blame.”
Then, unexpectedly, he made me laugh – mentioning that he had written a play about suing God over Auschwitz.
“Yet despite it all,” I said, “you kept your faith.”
He answered with precision: “Not quite. I have a wounded faith.”
Two Palestinians and an Israeli police officer were killed in separate episodes. In the West Bank settlement of Kfar Etzion, the police said, the two Palestinians had entered a seminary and stabbed and wounded three students before being shot dead by security guards. In the second case, a Palestinian gunman killed one police officer and seriously wounded another outside the Shuafat refugee camp, near Jerusalem, the police said.
But almost all Germans, including the Communists, were passionately against Versailles and the foreign occupiers. I can still recall as a child seeing from the train the French flag flying on Rhineland fortresses, with a curious sense that this was somehow unnatural. Being both English and Jewish (I was ‘der Engländer’ at school) I was not tempted into the German nationalism of my schoolfriends, let alone into Nazism, but I could well understand the appeal of both to German boys. As Weitz shows, the authoritarian right was always the main danger both politically and, through their persistent and popular hostility to ‘Kulturbolschewismus’, culturally.
The fact is that no one, right, left or centre, got the true measure of Hitler’s National Socialism, a movement of a kind that had not been seen before and whose aims were rationally unimaginable. Not even his intended victims fully recognised the danger. After the summer election of 1932 which left the Nazis as much the largest party, but short of a majority, the (Jewish) editor of the Tagebuch, a left-liberal weekly we took at home, published an article whose headline struck me even then as suicidal. I still see it before me: ‘Lasst ihn heran!’ (‘Why not let him in!’) A few months later, with very different intentions, the reactionaries around the aged President Hindenburg manoeuvred Hitler into office thinking that he could be controlled.
A WOULD-be suicide bomber fell down a flight of stairs and blew himself up as he headed out for an attack in Afghanistan, police say.
It was the second such incident in two days, with another man killing himself and three others on Tuesday when his bomb-filled waistcoat exploded as he was putting it on in the southern town of Lashkar Gah.
Yesterday's blast was in a busy market area of the eastern town of Khost, a deputy provincial police chief said.
The would-be attacker tripped as he was leaving a building apparently to target an opening ceremony for a mosque that was expected to be attended by Afghan and international military officials, said Sakhi Mir.
"Coming down the stairs, he fell down and exploded. Two civilian women and a man were wounded,'' Mir said.
...We agree that Israelis alone have the right and obligation to decide what Israel should do in life-and-death questions of national security and defense. In fact, we would strongly oppose anyone other than Israelis deciding Israel's future.
But this does not mean that Diaspora Jews cannot contribute by debate and criticism to the evolution of the decisions that Israel takes. On the contrary, the onus is upon those who disagree to explain why Diaspora Jews, on matters of vital importance to the future of Israel and the Jewish people, should suddenly be struck dumb.
The legitimacy and importance of Diaspora Jewish participation in Israeli debates is all the stronger when the subject is Jerusalem. Here we are not only talking of Israel's capital but about the central inheritance of all the Jewish people.
Jerusalem is our holiest city..."Next year in Jerusalem."...rituals refer to the historic old city with the Temple Mount in eastern Jerusalem -- precisely the areas that Palestinians are demanding that Israel give up -- not the modern suburbs of western Jerusalem.
...Any division of Jerusalem not only carves out part of the heart of the Jewish people but would also endanger Israel by introducing terrorists within rocket and rifle range of the western half of the city. Just as Sderot near Gaza has been subjected to years of incessant missile and mortar fire from territory handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA), resulting in almost half its citizenry leaving for safety, the rest of Jerusalem could share the same fate if the eastern half of the city were given to PA control.
And, of course, if concessions are made over the Jerusalem's holy sites, one can only imagine -- after witnessing the torching and destruction of Joseph's Tomb and the Jericho synagogues once Israeli forces were withdrawn -- what fate would lie in store for Jewish sites once the PA obtained control.
Actually we do not even need to imagine: The Muslim waqf, which controls Jerusalem's Temple Mount, has undertaken renovations and construction programs that have already destroyed priceless Jewish antiquities on that site. Various PA officials over the years have also denied the Jewish religious and historical connection to the city...
To the Editor:
Re “Trapped in Gaza” (editorial, Jan. 24):
The treatment of the Gazans is, as you say, a disgrace. But who is to blame for the disgrace? Here, two crucial facts have a way of conveniently disappearing.
First, the cause of the Gazans’ ordeal is not the inevitable and measured Israeli response to an unrelenting rocket bombardment of Hamas rockets from Gaza; the cause is the bombardment, and that bombardment will continue as long as Hamas deems it essential to its war of attrition on Israel’s very existence.
The notion of a measured response needs emphasis here; any other state being forced to die the death of a thousand cuts would long ago have declared total war against its would-be destroyers.
Second, the ordinary citizens of Gaza are not mere “pawns” in the war of Hamas on the existence of Israel. They have been turned into human shields by the very same Hamas they elected to represent and protect them, but whose hatred of Israel’s existence they share.
This blindness is the Gazans’ tragedy. The disgrace remains Hamas’s alone.
Forest Hills, Queens
To the Editor:
Hamas, the freely elected government of Gaza, rules the strip with an iron hand. Should Hamas wish to cease the terrorist rain of rocket fire on Israel, it can do so with a moment’s notice.
It is the people of Gaza who are the innocent pawns in Hamas’s violent chess match. If the Annapolis initiative crumbles, it will be because for too long the Palestinians have tried to avoid the reality that there are consequences for actions — and in particular, actions that are under their control.
David M. Hirsch
The neglect and mistreatment of the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip is a disgrace, and a very dangerous one. They are pawns in the struggle among Hamas, which controls Gaza and uses the territory to bombard Israel daily;
Both your letters writers, in responding (Jan. 25) to the previous edition's editorial on Gaza ("Trapped in Gaza"), agree with the premise that Gaza's ordinary citizens are innocent and, indeed, even passive victims to the violence being perpetrated against them. But that is incorrect.
They voted the Hamas in and they continue to allow the Hamas to rule them. They permit the Hamas to use their fields and frontyards for launching sites of Qasams. They do not restrain their children from getting involved in the anti-Jewish terror and at times, encourage them. On the other hand, they do not demonstrate in the city squares against these injustices as in Ireland, Ukraine and Kenya. They do not demand new elections. They do not take any civic action which many other peoples have taken and which they have seen on the TV sets.
Pawns? No. They are complicit in the Hamas crimes against Israel and against themselves.
It is only January, but former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak already has the chutzpah prize for 2008 sewn up. From anyone else, his statements to Israel Radio on Sunday could have been dismissed as ignorance. But for Barak to declare that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann's proposed reforms "could turn Israel into a third-world country" is the height of chutzpah - because the former chief justice is sufficiently familiar with other legal systems to know that in fact, Friedmann's proposals would finally bring Israel into line with first-world norms.
- - - -
America, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, Norway and Japan are hardly third-world countries. So how exactly would making Israel's judicial appointment system more like theirs reduce Israel from first-world to third-world status? Fortunately for Barak, his interviewer neglected to ask.
"What made the government - our government - decide to build outposts on the hilltops? Was it by chance? Someone's capricious move? Not at all. The outposts on the hilltops were meant to allow the Jewish settlements to live in security."
These unequivocal statements were made in October 1999 by the man who would, years later, father the Sasson report on outposts, the head of the opposition, Ariel Sharon.
And so, the common fib alleging that the so-called "hilltop youth" group of settlers came at night to take control of the hill of their choosing against the will of the authorities is nothing more than legend.
The settlements referred to as "outposts" were set up by the government, which decided to form small towns before the completion of the relevant formal procedures. The settlers were that government's envoys.
That is how the government chose to populate the land then. The government found it convenient - mostly because of foreign policy considerations - to pursue that policy rather than implement more transparent policies. That policy was a legitimate tool for a country engaged in a regional struggle, and it makes ridiculous the claim that the outposts were never approved.
The town of Bruchin lies near the Trans-Samaria Highway. What makes it seem illegal to Attorney Talia Sasson, who heads the committee on the so-called illegal outposts?
The decision to form Bruchin came from the ministerial committee on settlement in 1983. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin approved the decision in 1988. Former defense minister Moshe Arens also gave his approval to Bruchin's construction several years later. The area designated for Bruchin was all state-owned.
The state approved the development of infrastructures for the town. The non-governmental pacifist organization Peace Now argues the state invested over $3 million in the town. Bruchin is now home to some 80 families, who most ly reside in permanent homes.
The government, following Sasson's lead and the media, claims that Bruchin is unauthorized and illegal.
Bruchin was authorized by the appropriate state authorities. The land it occupies is state land, and it has a detailed municipal outline. But since its formal approval process isn't completed, Sasson calls Bruchin an illegal outpost. And so, the Israel Electric Corporation does not upgrade the town's infrastructure.
On the western side of the Green Line lies Lehavot Haviva, a veteran kibbutz belonging to the Hashomer Hatzair movement. I do not know whether in 1949, when the kibbutz was established, or in 1951 when it was moved to its current locale, it was done as a government resolution.
What is certain is that the kibbutz was set up on lands that did not belong to the state.
Before it was moved to its current location, the authorities evicted the people of the Arab village Jalameh, in the framework of a plan by the Prime Minister's Office to "remove small Arab shanties and move their inhabitants to larger villages." The residents of the land were transferred to neighboring Arab villages.
Sasson is troubled by municipal blueprints that have been lawfully approved. Well, Lehavot Haviva has a blueprint which was approved in 1980 - 31 years (!) after the kibbutz was formed. For 31 years, the kibbutz had been, according to Sasson philosophy, an illegal outpost. And yet, no one demanded it be removed.
That was how the country was populated in the 1950s - and that's a good thing. Otherwise, the borders of Israel before the 1967 Six-Day War would have been without Jewish settlements to protect the bulk of its civilian population.
That used to be the procedure through which town and settlements were approved, and it was law. Compared to what went on in those years, the procedure for setting up the "outposts" is a temple of decorum and of justice. No one had been evicted from their homes for the formation of a Jewish settlement.
That was how the land was populated in the 1990s and in the early 2000s, and that's a good thing too. Otherwise, the government's policy for furthering Jewish settlement in the heart of the land would have gone unimplemented. That was the procedure for approving settlements. It was also the law.
The issue of the outposts is not a legal one, but a matter of foreign policy. Otherwise, the pledge to evacuate them would have been made to the president of the Supreme Court instead of the U.S. Secretary of State.
Among the bad inheritances that Sharon's cabinet bequeathed its successor is the asinine formula, which is also in the road map, which binds the war on terrorism with the freeze in construction in settlements and the uprooting of outposts.
It links the duty to fight a terrorist planning on exploding a man or a woman at a crowded cafe to the war against a young couple seeking nothing more sinister than building their home next to the parents' home.
We need to evict that immoral formula from our agenda.