WE ARE ALL SETTLERS
By Boris Shusteff
It is time to repeat the question that Berl Katznelson asked on 1 May, 1936: "Is there another people on earth whose sons are so emotionally and mentally twisted that they consider everything their nation does despicable and hateful, while every murder, rape and robbery committed by their enemies fills their hearts with admiration and awe?" It is time to ask ourselves when we are going to stop loving our enemies and start loving our brothers?
Arabs are killing Jews, and some of our brethren dare to say that they attack "the settlers." They say that it is all the settlers' fault, and if not for the settlers there would be calm and serenity in the Middle East. At a time when Jews are murdered and maimed in terrorist attacks all over Eretz Yisrael, the leaders of the Israeli "Peace Now" organization are publishing an open letter to Ehud Barak declaring that, "the settlements... are the main obstacles to the achievement of an agreement with the Palestinians." They appeal to Barak to "halt all construction in the settlements" and to "dismantle those settlements that are located in the midst of heavily populated Palestinian areas."
The fact that the open letter appeared not only in Israeli newspapers but also in the Palestinian paper "Al Ayam," which is published in Ramallah and Gaza shows the depth of the degradation of the so called "peace camp." These self-appointed Israeli "righteous" will never understand that in the eyes of the Arabs they, themselves, are the settlers, as well. The Arabs do not see a difference between the settlers of 1967, the settlers of 1948 or the settlers of 1922. For the Arabs we are all Jews and this is what counts. For the Arabs we are all settlers that occupy their land. This is the Arab's comprehension of history and reality and no self-hating or self-demeaning behavior of the Jews can change this perception.
"Arabs have never really distinguished among Zionists, Israelis and Jews. As Anis Mansur, one of Egypt's foremost journalists and a one-time confidant of President Ahwar Sadat, put it in a moment of candor: "There is no such thing in the world as Jew and Israeli. Every Jew is an Israeli. No doubt about that."(1)
For the Arabs every Jew is an Israeli and every Israeli is a settler. If the Jew does not currently live in Eretz Yisrael, he is a potential settler for the Arabs. It is because of this Jew-settler connection Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya, member of the PA-appointed "Fatwa Council" and former acting Rector of the Islamic University in Gaza, said on November 13 in the sermon broadcast live on official Palestinian Authority television: "Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them... because they established Israel here, in the beating heart of the Arab world, in Palestine" (2)
It is not only Kfar Darom, Tekoa, Efrat or 140 other large and small settlements built by Israel since 1967 that the Arabs want to make free of Jews. The Arabs do not want to recognize Israel's right to be anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, which for them is Palestine. As Dr. Halabiya said, "...We will not give up a single grain of soil of Palestine, from Haifa, and Jaffa, and Acre, and Mulabbas [Petah Tikva] and Salamah, and Majdal [Ashkelon], and all the land, and Gaza, and the West Bank (2).
It is not the settlements that the Arabs are going for - Jerusalem is what they really want to take away from the Jews. It is not only Yasser Arafat who declares non-stop that Jerusalem is going to be the "capital of the Palestinian state." It is the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian Arabs who repeat this demand. The results of a poll conducted on 6-8 November among Palestinian Arabs in 75 locations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by the Birzeit University showed that 92.0% of them "Do not believe that peace is possible between Palestinians and Israelis if East Jerusalem is not the capital of a Palestinian state" (3). However, even if "East Jerusalem comes under Palestinian sovereignty, 74.3% will not accept Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem" (3).
Perhaps the Israelis believe that if they retreat to "the June 5, 1967 line" the Arabs will be satisfied? If so, maybe they can explain why the Arabs were not happy with this arrangement before 1967? Or maybe they could take the explanation that Saddam Hussein gave on Baghdad Radio, when he said on November 17:
"No part of Egypt was occupied when late Egyptian President Jamal Abd-al-Nasir waged war against the Zionist entity. So, why did he wage war? Was he an aggressor? The answer is no. [He believed] that occupied Palestine is a pan-Arab and national duty to Egypt. This is because the Zionist entity will continue to threaten the Arabs as long as it exists. There will be no security, safety, or stability for the Arabs if this entire Zionist entity is not removed."
Saddam Hussein did not single out the "occupied territories" of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha). He was speaking about the "removal" of the entire "Zionist entity." Those who believe that the Arabs will be satisfied with Israel's retreat into the "Auschwitz borders" are simply hopelessly lost dreamers. The Arab hatred of the Jews will not disappear. One saw its ugly face just recently during the lynching of the Israeli soldiers and the destruction of Joseph's Tomb. One could have also seen it on October 28, on the pages of the major Egyptian newspaper "Al Ahram" which resurrected the blood libel:
"The bestial drive to knead Passover Matzahs with the blood of non-Jews is [confirmed] in the records of the Palestinian police where there are many recorded cases of the bodies Arab children who had disappeared being found torn to pieces without a single drop of blood. The most reasonable explanation is that the blood was taken to be kneaded into the dough of extremist Jews to be used in Matzahs to be devoured during Passover"(4).
So how is it possible that so many Jews are embracing the Arabs, who hate and despise them, in the desperate hope of being accepted, and at the same time are blaming all possible evils on the Jews who live in Yesha? When are they going to understand that there is no difference between Karnei Shomron and Haifa - both of them are parts of Eretz Yisrael?
Professor of Bar Ilan University Gerald Steinberg wrote in his analysis on the situation in Gaza that, "Hundreds of soldiers are needed in order to protect a handful of families living in areas of minor significance, in terms of national security and historic or religious heritage." The Professor is dead wrong. This handful of families is not living in "areas of minor significance." They are living in their Homeland!
Every square inch of the Homeland is of the utmost significance in terms of national security and historic or religious heritage. It is not the fault of this "handful of families" that Israeli leaders were weak and indecisive for more than thirty years and did not annex these territories; it is the great sorrow of the Jewish people that this has not happened yet.
David Grossman, one of Israel's foremost leftist novelists wrote recently in an impassioned editorial:
"The time has come when all Israelis must ask themselves honestly whether they are prepared to die for the sake of tens of thousands of settlers who live in isolated, armed enclaves in the heart of an Arab population. Are they prepared to have their children put their lives in danger to defend those settlements?" (5).
Grossman's question should be re-phrased. The Israelis must ask themselves if they are ready to die for the sake of millions of Jews who live in an isolated armed country in the heart of the Arab world. Are they prepared to put their lives and the lives of their children in danger to defend the Jewish State? There is no difference at all between an "isolated Jewish settlement" surrounded by an Arab population, and the nation of Israel, surrounded by Arab countries. And while the Israeli Jews contemplate the answer to this question they should remember that every day many of the tens of thousands of settlers are targeted by the Arabs.
The citizens of Yesha do not think about themselves as heroes. They are absolutely normal people devoted to the Land of Israel and to the People of Israel. They do not want to die. They want to live, they want their children to be happy, they want to enjoy life to its fullest extent. Although they do not speak about this, they are at the forefront of the struggle for the existence of the Jewish people. When grief strikes their families, they stoically accept the unbearable pain. Eliezer Amitai, who lives in Kfar Darom and whose wife Mira was killed in November 20th bombing of a school-bus, said at her funeral:
"Kfar Darom, it happens to be, was purchased by Jews even before the establishment of the State of Israel... we don't need a consensus, and we don't need approval from anyone or from the world - we will do what we have to do, and we will continue to raise our children where we have to. Our spirit is strong... And this is not politics; this is life!... The pain is not of our families alone, but of all Israel - and whoever does not feel it, should ask himself why..." (6).
Michael Freund, former deputy director of communications and policy planning in the Prime Minister's Office explained what this "do what we have to do" should be. He wrote on November 21 in the "Jerusalem Post" that "it must be made clear to the Palestinian Authority that for every Jewish home that is shattered by the murder of a family member, a dozen more homes will be built in a settlement in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza."
The Israelis are the settlers - this is the simple truth that always was in the foundation of the Zionist enterprise. Israel was born through the settlements. It will remain standing only through expansion of the settlements.
"You, the settlers, day in and day out strengthen the whole nation, even those who have no belief," said Rabbi Motti Elon, dean of Horev Yeshiva High School, speaking at Jerusalem demonstration. November 23, 2000.
It is time to repeat the question that Berl Katznelson asked.....
1. Efraim Karsh. The Long Trail of Arab Anti-Semitism. "Commentary." December, 2000.
2. MEMRI 10/14/00
3. IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis). Most important Palestinian Poll Since Oslo. 11/14/00.
4. MEMRI 11/06/00
5. New York Times. Should Israel Sacrifice Its Hopes for Peace for Settlers? 11/15/00.
6. Arutz 7 News. 11/21/00.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.