Friday, February 20, 2009

A Bit of a Mix-up or Pluralism of Conscience

Jason Koutsoukis reports from Ofra:-

Israel's political stalemate has family over barrel


THEY might be a close-knit family of Jewish settlers who live in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but winemaker Yoram Cohen, his son Uriya and father-in-law Jacob Feldman each voted differently in last week's elections.

The reasons why says something about the state of Israel's brief but fraught history, and a lot about the country's knotted political system.

Mr Feldman, 71, voted Likud, the established conservative party of Benjamin Netanyahu that for now remains opposed to the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.

Yoram Cohen, 47, voted Kadima, the centrist party of Tzipi Livni that advocates an independent state of Palestine as the only way to preserve Israeli democracy.

Uriya Cohen, 20, voted National Union, the religious Zionist party that is resolutely opposed to a Palestinian state and supports Jewish settlement across all of the West Bank.

...Yoram Cohen is the one who led the family to the West Bank. He fell in love with Ofra, a settlement about 30 minutes' drive north of Jerusalem after visiting there in 1975. "I was still in high school and it was just a few houses then, but our school brought us here and I fell in love with it, with the peace and tranquillity," Mr Cohen said.

Until about 10 years ago, Mr Cohen made his living as a news photographer, before making enough money to plant grapes in a valley behind his home. Now called the Tanya Winery, named after one of his eight children, Mr Cohen agrees with his father-in-law that a Palestinian state will not eventuate any time soon. "But I believe we need to pursue peace. Kadima has the right approach for this," he said.

..."If this land here became part of a Palestinian state, I would be prepared to move back into Israel, and start again from scratch. If that is what it will take for peace, then I will do it," Mr Cohen said.

...Uriya Cohen...does not even recognise the name West Bank, refer to the 5600-square-kilometre area by the ancient biblical names of Judea and Samaria.

"This is the land that God gave us thousands of years ago and now we are back and we are not leaving," he said...[and] strongly believes in the Jews' biblical right to the land of the West Bank. "Just open the gates to Jordan and let all the Palestinians out. That is where they belong, not here."

Would he ever agree to a Palestinian state along the lines proposed by Mr Olmert?

"Absolutely not. Never. It is never going to happen. No one will ever take my home from me. If anyone does, I will be prepared to fight for it."

Mr Feldman admonishes his grandson for his extreme views - "he's young, he'll change his views as he gets older" - but at the same time says he feels envious of Uriya's certainty...

..."This [the West Bank] is too small a place to have another country, it's too difficult," Yoram Cohen said. "It's probably not much bigger than Melbourne. I think the only way to solve this is that we have to work out a way we can all live with each other."


Anonymous said...

Biblical right that god gave thousands of years ago? To me this sums up the fascist leanings Israeli politics seems to be suffering today.

YMedad said...

Thor, Please don't be a sore. Fascism has nothing to do with rights of either a historical, religious or judicial nature. It's a form of government and sometimes, a characteristic of people. People, for example, who are violent in thought or deed and intolerant can be said to be fascist. Like you, for example.

Now, if I were to claim that I have a God-given right to kill you, that would be fascist in a general sense (although still not exact since fascism relates to a form of government or regime but since you're not exact, neighter will I be). But if I claim that the Jews and the Land of Israel are united because of a religious belief, and that in the provable historical sense, we know that Jews have lived here for 3000 years, and there is scientific proof (archeology), and Jews have always returned here all during the years of exile, and the non-Jews always sent them back or told them they don't belong in their lands, and all the civilized world for the past 200 years recognized this right and in 1922 awarded it international legal recoginition in the League of Nations that the Jews should reconsitute their Jewish national home in the area I am living in, well, you know what, you can go to hell.

Anonymous said...

"Over a barrel"? Some barrel. A section of my family was involved, deeply involved, on both sides of the American Civil War. Come peacetime, they decided they'd never work things out logically, so they all moved to California.