Posts Tagged: West Bank Results 6
Will it be a merry Christmas for Palestinian Christians this year? The answer is that it depends who you ask.
According to some the picture is bleak. Take, for example, this report about Santa having to “ditch his sleigh in Egypt and crawl through a smuggling tunnel to bring a little Christmas joy to the Gaza Strip.” Or this piece about new nativity scene sculptures on sale in Bethlehem that sum up local frustrations — they show Joseph, Mary, crib, wise men and large Israeli concrete wall with military watchtower.
There has been wide-scale building in the settlements this week. In some settlements, including most of the Etzion bloc which straddles the Green Line as well as some deep inside the West Bank such as Beth El, there has been almost one new unit built per family.
At last we have it. An answer to the million-dollar question: How do you bring Israelis and Palestinians together?
And it is … crime.
Thomas Friedman of The New York Times writes:
When I reported from Israel in the mid-1980s, the big debate here was whether Israel’s settlement-building in the West Bank had passed a point of no return — a point where any serious withdrawal became virtually impossible to imagine. The question was often framed as: “Is it five minutes to midnight or five minutes after midnight?” Well, having taken a little drive through part of the West Bank, as I always do when I visit, it strikes me more than ever that it’s not only five after midnight, it’s five after midnight and a whole week later. The West Bank today is an ugly quilt of high walls, Israeli checkpoints, “legal” and “illegal” Jewish settlements, Arab villages, Jewish roads that only Israeli settlers use, Arab roads and roadblocks. This hard and heavy reality on the ground is not going to be reversed by any conventional peace process. “The two-state solution is disappearing,” said Mansour Tahboub, senior editor, at the West Bank newspaper Al-Ayyam. Indeed, we are at a point now where the only thing that might work is what I would call “radical pragmatism” — a pragmatism that is as radical and energetic as the extremism that it hopes to nullify. Without that, I fear, Israel will remain permanently pregnant with a stillborn Palestinian state in its belly.
The latest issue of the always interesting Moment magazine has a great Q&A with Israeli literary and left-wing luminary Amos Oz. The whole thing is well worth reading, but his critique of the ethos of the West Bank settlement movement is particularly perceptive:
So the settlers have a different vision of Zionism that includes the right to live in an ancestral homeland— No. That’s not what they say. Or perhaps that’s what they say but not what they mean. They speak about rights to the ancestral homeland, but they don’t mean rights, they mean duty. Let me explain the difference. If I stand by a zebra crossing, the light is green, and a policeman gestures that I should cross the road now, I obviously have the right to cross the road. But if I see a van dashing my way at 80 miles an hour, I also have the right not to exercise my right. I see the van. The settlers ignore the van because they say they have a duty to be on that road. They believe God will intervene and stop the van. There is a good Jewish joke about the belief in miracles. A certain rabbi is drowning in the sea; he can’t swim. A speed boat comes by and offers him to climb in and he says, “No, I’m going to be saved by a miracle, not by a boat.” Then a helicopter gestures to him to climb up and he says, “No, I am going to be saved by a miracle, not by a helicopter.” Finally, he drowns, goes to heaven, and is quick to complain to God: “A righteous man like me—how come you didn’t work a miracle for me?’ And God says, “I sent you a boat. I sent you a helicopter. What else could I do?”