Friday, August 17, 2007

I'll Take One from Column B

This is my kind of math:-

A math question: if it took 3,000 Israeli troops and police to evict two families of Jewish settlers from the West Bank city of Hebron, how many would it take to clear out the 275,000 Jewish settlers living inside the Palestinian territories?

Two possible answers: a) it would require nearly every single policeman and soldier on duty in Israel today; b) zero, because it simply won't happen.

It comes from this story:-

Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007
The West Bank: Mission Critical


Despite pressure by the Bush Administration and the rest of the international community for Israel to withdraw many of its Jewish citizens from 220 hilltop settlements and outposts in the disputed West Bank, such a move could be so divisive in Israel that no Prime Minister, especially one as embattled as Ehud Olmert, would risk it...But public opinion shifted against him after last summer's bungled war in Lebanon, and now he is too unpopular to try uprooting thousands of angry Jewish settlers, even though Israel's withdrawal is regarded as vital to any lasting accord with the Palestinians.

...Interviews with officers, enlisted men and rabbis show that opposition to evicting Jewish settlers from Palestinian territories is widespread inside the army. One senior officer told TIME: "As a soldier, I'd prefer it if the government doesn't assign me the task of evacuating Jewish settlers, but if that's the mission, I promise we'll carry it out."

What worries politicians is that the religious Zionists, many born and raised in the West Bank settlements, are assuming a greater role as officers and soldiers inside élite combat units. Lieut. Colonel Dotan Razili, a commander at the Officers' Training Academy in the Negev Desert, estimates that 30% of his cadets are religious Zionists, even though they make up only 9% of the Israeli population, according to census figures.

By all accounts, the religious Zionists are brave, well disciplined and tough fighters. As kids, they also grew up seeing the menace of terror first hand; settlers were often targets of Palestinian snipers and bombers. But these settlers' sons bring their ideology with them into the army, and may prove resistant to any future withdrawal of settlers. They believe that Israel should not cede a single stone of Biblical land to the Palestinians.

...The profile of the Israeli army is changing. Increasingly, today's soldier wears a yarmulke, the skullcap of the religious conservative. In the past, a majority of Israel's fighting officers came from agricultural communes, known as kibbutzim, and from villages. Over the past 15 years or so, kibbutz members have traded socialism for the materialistic individualism so prevalent in Israeli society.

...Support for Olmert's plans to remove settlers has ebbed. So far, his government has failed to find homes and jobs for many of the 8,500 embittered settlers evicted from Gaza in 2005. Nor has the handover of Gaza to Palestinians brought any calm: Palestinian militants continue to shower southern Israel with erratic homemade rockets fired from Gaza. Olmert must first win back popular support for his disengagement plans before he can bring the military on board.

Given the Israelis' displeasure with Olmert's policy of disengagement from the Palestinian territories, it was not surprising that a poll taken by Ha'aretz after the Hebron skirmish found that 32% of Israelis think the refuseniks were justified in disobeying orders. For Olmert the answer is thus not just a simple equation of troops versus settlers. He must also factor in the rising numbers within the army ranks who are in no mood to evict fellow Jews from Arab territories and the sizable portion of the public that supports that sentiment. Any way you look at it, it adds up to a daunting political dilemma.

With reporting by AARON J. KLEIN/OTNIEL

1 comment:

Suzanne Pomeranz said...

And on this subject, be sure to see: - click on "Judaism"... it'll be the first installment of this little series.

CNN at its 'best' - just warming up the Jew-haters...