Saturday, June 20, 2009

Letters to a Zionist friend (1): Natural growth

You, my friend, become somewhat enraged when I say that Israel should stop its policy of unabated settlement enlargement. It is a fact that there are settlers living in the West Bank, you argue. Granted, some of them will have to go when a final settlement (in the other meaning of the word, in this case) is reached. But in the meantime, those people are having children, and those children need day-care centers, playgrounds, schools, universities and, in fact, apartment blocks once they themselves get married and have kids. Why am I against those sons and daughters of settlers -- only because they're Jewish? Do I want to ethnically cleanse them? Or am I perhaps suggesting that Jewish women in the West Bank should be sterilized so that they won't have any more babies?

Rest assured, my dear friend, that I don't want to harm those people who, maybe duped by the Israeli government, have chosen to settle on another people's land. In fact, they would stay put under the solution I envisage for the I/P conflict: a binational state, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, with equal rights for Jews, Arabs, Druze, Samaritans, Armenians, Circassians and none of the above. But since there's little talk of this solution nowadays, and people on both sides insist on a two-state solution, I also maintain that, if the latter were implemented, the Jews in the West Bank, except for those who have repeatedly engaged in unlawful activities, should be allowed to remain there, either as foreign residents or, ideally, as dual Israeli-Palestinian citizens.

That said, I don't find it advisable that new Jewish migrants be settled in the West Bank. If the area is the subject of ongoing negotiations, it is an act of bad faith to bring more and more Jews so as to create Jewish majorities in places traditionally populated by Arabs and lay claim to those areas.

To this, you have answered with your Prime Minister's recent words. Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu has been straightforward and clear, you claim:

"The question of not expanding the territory is different from freezing life. You know, you have children, you have babies born, what are you going to do with them? You have to give them kindergartens, you have to give them schools."

"I don't want to grab new land," the prime minister continued. "But we really want people to have normal lives until that final agreement is reached."

Essentially, Netanyahu tells us it's all about not freezing things, about normal life being allowed to flow.

I seldom use hard words against people or institutions who may be dear to my friends. But in this case you leave me with no option: your PM is a liar. It's not true that construction in the West Bank is intended to meet the needs of the already existing population. In fact, a recent Jerusalem Post story reported that:

In 2007, the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria grew by 14,500, or 5.6% - from 261,600 to 276,100 - close to three times the growth rate of Israel's general population, which rose by only 1.8% during that same year.

The "natural growth" was 9,200, or 63.5%, with the remaining 5,300, or 36.5%, constituting migrants.

Now just think for a minute. While the 9,200 "natural growth" new residents are all babies, born to parents who already own a home, the 5,300 migrants must be provided with new apartments -- housing that was formerly not there. So it is safe to assume, my friend, that most of the new construction in the settlements is not intended to accommodate natural growth, but to house the forced growth brought in by migrants who mostly settle there allured by low taxes and inexpensive services, all subsidized by the State of Israel and by rich fanatical Jews from the Diaspora.

Now put your hand on your heart and answer me: isn't the life of a community that has grown by 9,000 babies vibrant enough? Why bring more life from outside? And after investing large amounts of money and effort to help those migrants settle where they don't belong, can Israel be said to do "everything within its reach to secure peace with the Palestinians," as you so often claim?


Ernie Halfdram said...

So what’s so special about the settlers that they deserve a normal life when their nearest neighbours don’t? Not only can’t the Palestinians in the West Bank, or in Israel for that matter, get a permit to build new houses to accommodate real natural growth, they can’t even get a permit to extend existing structures. And anything they build without a permit is of course susceptible to demolition, like the 18,000 houses that have already been destroyed, ostensibly in service to the welfare of the settlers themselves. Nor does the Israeli state compensate those thus displaced to the tune of US$350,000, as they did the settlers evacuated from Gaza. Not to mention the familiar litany of other abuses that preclude anything even resembling a normal life – checkpoints, curfews...

Why, moreover, should people who make a point of setting off on an adventure pioneering new territories and other decidedly abnormal stuff get to demand a normal life?

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

That's right. The Zionist argumentation contains both a fallacy and a lie.

The fallacy is that people who willingly occupy other people are somehow entitled to a normal life.

The lie is that settlement enlargement is designed to satisfy the needs of the Jews who are already there, and not to facilitate further migration from Israel proper.

Gert said...

We should be talking about settler withdrawal, not 'settlement freezes' or 'natural growth'. Period.

Don't get sucked into pseudo-arguments.

Health Blog said...

That said, I don't find it advisable that new
Jewish migrants be settled in the West Bank.