Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complained last week that he has to evacuate Jewish invaders, while Arab invaders build their homes undisturbed. This was a groundless argument, of course. No one is stopping the government from demolishing Arabs’ homes which were built illegally, neither within the Green Line nor beyond the Green Line. Arabs definitely do not get the following (and I quote Netanyahu from Sunday’s cabinet meeting): “We have held dozens of discussions, we have brought many proposals, some of them outside the box, very creative proposals. We have done it out of love for the settlement. It’s as simple as that. We have done the maximum.”
The discrimination is in comparison to other settlers. Amona’s residents are rightly asking why are they being forced to relocate, while the residents of the neighboring settlement of Ofra, who also live on land that belongs to others, remain in their homes; why isn’t the state planning to evacuate thousands of settlers whose legal status is no different than their own status; why is it confronting families who settled there in good faith and not prosecuting the politicians, government workers, jurists and officers who initiated the establishment of their outpost, even though they knew the land was private, and maintained and funded it over the course of years.
The Amona settlers are not among the radicals in their sector. They did not join a murderous underground, as some of the leading founders of Ofra did. They did not build yeshivot which support the Kahane doctrine, and they did not start a cell of “price tag” criminals. Their anger at being discriminated against is understandable.
The second argument is transparency. The settlement enterprise in the territories was based from its onset on a mutual “wink” between the settlement establishment leaders and the government’s arms. The former established facts on the ground, and the latter secretly legitimized and funded. The man who knew more than anyone else how to maneuver his way through this system was veteran settler leader Ze’ev Hever (Zambish). The network of connections he weaved extends from prime ministers to Civil Administration officers and Justice Ministry attorneys. On the way, he bred dozens of Zambishes in his image, changing the face of history.
The Amona settlers are fed up with lies. The Zambishes offered them all kinds of solutions with a “wink,” which were concocted in utmost discretion, not just outside the box – but also outside the law. Until Sunday, at least, they said no. Even if they eventually give in and spare Netanyahu the difficult images involved in a forcible evacuation, their rejection of the culture of lying is worthy of appreciation.
Justice Ministry officials, from the attorney general downwards, who took part in this humiliating process, are deserving of no appreciation. Nothing would have happened to them had they said: We are refusing to take part in this scandal. We get paid to protect the law, not to abuse it.
The settlement in the territories is the most significant, influential enterprise established in Israel in the past 50 years. As the years go by, it gives us more and more land—and less of a state. On the way, it crushes the foundations of statehood laid by the founding generation—the authority of the law, the dignity of the government, the purity of arms, the ambition to live in a Jewish and democratic state.
Amona and its settlers are not the enemy. They are a milestone, a footnote, in a path led by others. As a passionate politician once said, we are on the verge of the abyss, and now we will shall take one big step forward.
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The members of the Israel Prison Service’s Parole Board decided on Sunday to grant Moshe Katsav an early release from prison after serving five years of his seven-year jail term. If the decision is not appealed by the State Attorney’s Office, the former president will be released next week.
Like many others, I was also disgusted by the acts Katsav was convicted of; like many others, I thought that after serving five years in prison he should be left alone. There are, of course, those who thought differently, led by the women who complained against him. The response issued by one of the complainants, Odelia Carmon, binds the Parole Board’s decision with other affairs and declares that the release “points to the ethical and moral low point reached by the society we live in.” In this case, the preaching appears to be off target. Punishment has been achieved, and so has revenge. That’s enough.