Saturday, August 03, 2013

Who Are The "Settlers"?

The question is asked:

Who are these settlers that have to be removed?

And someone presents a fair appraisal:

Well, first of all they are not a homogenous, monolithic force. When one speaks of “the settlers”, one sees before one’s mind’s eye a mass of half-crazed, religious fanatics, expecting the messiah at any moment, ready to shoot anyone who comes to remove them from their strongholds.

This is pure imagination. There are such settlers, of course. They are the hard core, the ones who appear on television...they are a tiny minority.

He continues
Much more important is the so-called ”national-religious” core, the real leadership of the settlement enterprise...This group has enormous political power. It is they who dragged successive governments of all parties, into putting them where they are – sometimes unwillingly, sometimes more than willingly...They have infiltrated the army and the government apparatus and terrify the politicians...Any government interested in making peace will have to grapple with them. But they are a minority among the settlers.

...The majority of the settlers are less vocal...They are called “quality of life settlers”, because they went there to enjoy the clean air...[and] their dream-villas, with the Swiss red-tile roofs, for next to nothing...A category by itself are the orthodox...Quite another story is the settlements in East Jerusalem. The hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews now living in the new neighborhoods there do not think of themselves as settlers at all, they have forgotten all about the Green Line.

And the writer's solution?

The “quality of life” settlers must be bought out. It’s a simple question of money...There remain the hard-core settlers, the “ideological” ones, those who serve God by living on stolen land. What about them?  The simplest solution was that provided by Charles de Gaulle. After signing the peace agreement that put an end to the occupation of Algeria after a hundred years, he announced that the French army would leave the country on a certain date. He told the more than a million settlers, many of them fourth or fifth generation: If you want to leave, leave. If you want to stay, stay. The result was a last minute frantic mass exodus of historic dimensions.

I can’t imagine an Israeli leader bold enough to follow that prescription...Some na├»ve Israelis say: ”Why not? There are a million and a half Arab citizens in Israel. Why can’t there be some hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews in Palestine?”  Unlikely. The Arabs in Israel live on their own land, where they have lived for centuries. The settlers live on “expropriated” land, and they have justly earned the hatred of their neighbors. I don’t see how a Palestinian government could allow it.

That was Uri Avnery writing.  And, yes, I did leave out some of his biased non-factual descriptions.

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