Reprinted from HAARETZ -- November 26, 2000

OF COURSE,
IT'S THE SETTLERS' FAULT

By Nadav Shragai

"Every day there's a funeral," wrote the poet Uri Zvi Greenberg in 1936, "death without pause has already become a habit among the people - and I," the poet continued, "hear those who say: 'We will know how to defend... every day they say this, four long months of killing." Sixty-four years later, we are at the threshold of another bloody era, "considering," "deliberating" and "viewing with seriousness," and like Greenberg said then, "walking in cities and in villages, like mice..."

Ehud Barak, too, is familiar with "Every Day There's a Funeral" by U.Z. Greenberg. Two weeks ago Shlomo Filber, a resident of the settlement of Psagot (and the director-general of the Yesha Council of Jewish Settlements) visited the prime minister's office and handed him a copy of the poem. Barak, slightly embarrassed, was quick to initiate a learned discussion about the poem. And so, the prime minister of Israel and representatives of the Jews who are being shot at every day in Judea and Samaria sat together and pored over the old text: "Four months have passed and Arab guns still hunt Jewish rabbits, male and female."

Residents of the Katif bloc who met with Barak at Be'er Sheva's Soroka Medical Center also spoke with him about history. They reminded him that when the poet was writing "Every Day There's a Funeral," a Jewish citrus grower named Tuvia Miller was battling Arab rioters who sought to uproot him from the swampland he had purchased in Dir al Balah that eventually became Kfar Darom. Miller was forced to leave, but in 1946 the pioneers returned, and they returned once again in 1970 (by decision of the government of former Prime Minister Golda Meir) and again in 1989 (by decision of the Shimon Peres-Yitzhak Shamir unity government).

The Yesha Council leaders have a different sort of dialogue with the army. Barak insists that the hands of the Israel Defense Forces are not tied, but on Wednesday they heard from Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz that the security cabinet had rejected his 10-point plan.

The events of these days, which are so difficult for the residents of Judea and Samaria, have also been merciful to them, as proven by the long list of thanks read out by the presenters at last week's mass rally at Jerusalem's Zion Square. Artists, guesthouses, holiday villages, kibbutzim and moshavim from the Galilee to the Negev, supporters as well as political rivals who understood that in wartime political disagreements must be put aside and hands extended to their brethren. Senior army reserve officers come to the Jordan Valley to provide armed escort to the Jewish transportation there, while Upper Galilee residents who found temporary refuge and calm in the Binyamin region are now inviting inhabitants of Judea and Samaria to take a vacation in their communities.

But the events also exposed elements in Israeli society whose hearts have forgotten the old Jewish rule that all Jews are responsible for each other. They are the priests of the new religion - the people who speak of peace at any price, even if the price is the complete opposite of peace. They immediately found the guilty party - the settlers. Calls are already being heard, as they were with regard to Lebanon, on the lines of "what are our soldiers dying for" and "what are the settlers doing there anyway." The Palestinians can infer from this that the blood of some Jews is worth more than that of other Jews.

The account that some of the left is settling with the residents of Judea and Samaria is not only not political, it is also one-sided. The accounts ledger they keep against the settlers is missing the line containing the irresponsible decisions made by Israeli governments in recent years which endangered the lives of Israeli civilians and soldiers. The Oslo Accords, which [the late Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin called a calculated risk, turned out to be a wild gamble.

Hundreds of "victims of the peace" were stabbed, shot or killed on buses as a direct or indirect result of handing over territory in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians and turning those areas into places of refuge and hotbeds of terror. In the name of peace and in the spirit of Oslo, terrorists with blood on their hands were freed, despite it being proven time and time again that many of them go back to killing and murdering. (The Intifada in which more than 200 Jews and more than 600 Palestinians were killed was also born in the school of the members of Ahmed Jibril's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command who were released in a prisoner exchange with the organization.)

Since Rosh Hashanah, Palestinians have been shooting and sometimes killing Israeli soldiers and civilians in Psagot and in Hadera, in Kfar Darom and in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, and it is impossible to ignore the fact that at least some of the arms in their possession were supplied to them by the architects of Oslo, "in the name of peace."

But instead of casting their eyes to the ground in shame, asking for forgiveness and telling the public what they promised to say seven years ago if their experiment failed - we tried, we made a mistake - some of the Oslo people have the insolence to point to the real cause of the problem: the settlers.

(c) 2000 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved



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