Shulamit Aloni: Do Uproot That Which Is Planted!
Do Uproot That Which Is Planted!
By Shulamit Aloni
Translation by Sol Salbe
First we settled on occupied territory in the mostly densely populated place in the world. Then we expropriated the best plots of land for ourselves. We killed them and were killed by them. We destroyed the last vestiges of infrastructure required for a normal life in the Gaza strip. We uprooted orchards, vineyards and whole boulevards of ancient shade trees. We smashed the glasshouses. On those beautiful nights, we gathered together to sing "Do not uproot that which is planted" while we kept on uprooting and stealing the land and water. Thus, using their cheap labour, we built proud "Zionist" settlements. And now finally it's time for disengagement. Laid in ruins, injured, crammed with refugees, devastated by unemployment and hunger, full of wrath, hatred and rebellion, it's the Gaza Strip's turn for us to disengage from it.
Yes, it's true that it was the late [Labour Zionist politician] Yisrael Galili who decreed that settling the Gaza strip is the highest form of Zionism. But since then a lot of blood has been spilled, and so much has been put to wrack and ruin. Both the Palestinians and we have paid a high price. We may have fallen in love with the beautiful coastline, the stunning views and the land that wasn't ours. But it has been proved beyond doubt that the price is simply too high.
The Prime Minster has announced that we should get out of Gaza. Of course we are yet to hear of his comprehensive peace plan. In Israel's peculiar democracy, the PM keeps such plans from his Cabinet (and maybe even from himself). One way or the other, it is unclear whether or not he really means it. If he is genuine, would he demand that in return Israel be allowed to annex parts of the West Bank? In fact it's part of a process of shifting the border and stealing the land with walls and mounds and trenches and other bright ideas emanating from the IDF, the Security Service and of course, the settlers.
What is really interesting is the brainwashing on a grand scale, as if we were relinquishing something and deserve recompense. It's truly amazing. When the British left this land, and they were no occupiers, did they get recompense for being pushed out by the terror of our resistance movements and international public opinion? When they departed did they destroy the buildings, institutions and roads which they left behind? Did the French get recompense for leaving Algeria following a cruel war to liberate that country from the presence of the French and the settlers who had lived there for generations?
The whole project of settlement in the territories was born in sin and expanded in deceit, underhand planning and shady organising that by-passed the Knesset and Budget allocations. And now we told by the "Israeli Democracy Institute" that the evacuation would necessitate an "explicit special" majority. Whose "special majority"? The Knesset's, where any three-member faction can bring down the government? Maybe it's a special majority in a referendum which is to be put to people? But which people? "Jewish Democratic" People? Would the racist narrative rule here so that only "Jewish citizens" could vote? And anyhow, why a referendum all of a sudden? Under which law? Who will frame the questions? Who will sneak in some questions in regard to transfer of populations? There are wise guys who want to move entire villages of Arab citizens, who have been residing in them for generations, across the border. They don't need for a reason -- just for the heck of it: on this festive occasion, let's be more Jewish
Again the moral and ethical dilemma raises its head. The Gaza Strip is full of refugees who left behind houses in Jaffa and Ashkelon and Ashdod and Jerusalem and Ramle and Lod and throughout the entire land. Their houses were taken over by tens of thousands of immigrants, and the fancy ones were given to Yishuv [pre-independence Jewish community] veterans and functionaries. But what do we hear from the settlers, the salt of the earth, the "pioneers", the ones "who turned the desert green"? We'll raze every building and garden when we withdraw! We'll leave scorched earth. Hooray! This is the new Jewish morality. That's our new image presented to the world with the backing of fundamentalist Christians who believe that if [Tourism Minister and settlers' leader] Benny Elon and his friends would raze the Mosques on the Temple Mount and rebuild the Jewish Temple, then the real Messiah, Jesus, will return.
In the meantime, the religious scholars and rabbis among the settlers go out to raise funds and support from those same Christians. Displaying the cynicism which is typical of such arrogant and conceited groupings, they have decided that the Gentiles should first of all give us political and financial support -- and then we'll see whose Messiah appears! For there is no doubt that Benny Elon and the Rabbis of Gush Emunim [Bloc of the faithful -- the ideological messianic settler group] are already hanging on to the coat tails of our Messiah.
When we listen to those who raise not only God's name in vain, but that of the state of Israel and Jerusalem as well, then that's when I start believing that God, for his own sake and honour, ought to save us from them.
[Translated by Sol Salbe from Ynet - the web site associated with Yediot Acharonot Israel's largest circulating daily. Hebrew original at http://www.ynet.co.il/home/0,7340,L-392-2872135,00.html]
[The subject of Ariel Sharon proposal to withdraw the settlers from the Gaza strip has naturally generated a huge amount of discussion. I was about to post extensive comment together with Shlomo Avineri's article on the subject (and why I think he's got it wrong) when this opinion piece arrived.
Shulamit Aloni, the founding leader of Meretz and an Education Minister in the government of Yitzhak Rabin is a fierce critic of the Occupation and a leading activist in the Israeli Peace Movement. Her views are always worth listening to. This occasion is no different. Aloni lashes out at the whole notion of stealing occupied land and building the settlements (with cheap Palestinian Labour.) She slams the entire notion of using the excuse of evacuating some settlement to grab more valuable land on the West Bank. Israel does not deserve anything extra for handing back something that doesn't belong to her in the first place.
Aloni castigates the notion that Jewish settlements should be bulldozed (as were Yamit and Israeli settlements in the Sinai.) How immoral could be the action of the people who took over the refugee houses in Jaffa when they do not leave their own houses behind. Again Aloni is always worth reading and this is a thoroughly recommended article. SS]
[Translator's note Shulamit Aloni's writing style is exceptional. Not even novelists like AB Yeoshua and David Grossman write their essays with such finesse and with so much love for the Hebrew language with so many biblical and cultural allusions. It is difficult to do justice for it in translation.
** The Independent Middle East Information Service is generously sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society]