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Shulamit Aloni: Holy insanity

[The grand old lady of the Israeli peace movement has her say about the settlers and their removal. Like the Biblical prophets whom the irreligious Aloni emulates, there is plenty of controversy and never a dull word. - Sol Salbe]

Holy insanity

By Shulamit Aloni
Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne, Australia from Ynet.
Hebrew original:,7340,L-3104646,00.html

It is no secret that they were born in sin outside Israel's legal jurisdiction, where the occupier has no right to construct its colonies. With the passage of time, through lies, deceit and criminal activity, the colonists accrued self-confidence, resilience, physical assets and money. They were thus able to rob the impoverished inhabitants of the land and employ them on their farms on subsistence wages. Even the courts were told that the settlements were there for security purposes. In pre-revolutionary Russia, members of such a class were called kulaks. Before the Civil War there was something similar in the United States.

The occupying power thought that its scams and tricks could fool the whole world. The settlers on the other hand knew what was going on; there was no guarantee of their sojourn being long-lasting. But it was worth it. They got looked after, their livelihood was assisted, their taxes lowered, financial grants came their way, not to mention free land, investment in public infrastructure and a fancy lifestyle to boot. And as the good book puts it; and Jeshurun [people of Israel] waxed fat, and kicked [their benefactor].

When the time of reckoning came, the government should have announced final dates for the evacuation, the army's departure and the disconnection of utilities. There should have been deadlines for the settlers to finalise their arrangements, with the assistance of special government rehousing units.

Nobody is expelling them from their land - it's not their land. As for the slogan "Jews do not evict Jews" -- in other words, Jews only evict non-Jews (especially Palestinians) that's not quite true either. Poor and unemployed Jews who cannot pay the mortgage [there's no state subsidy for that here] get evicted in Israel. And people sit in the dark because they cannot pay their electricity bill. The "masters of the land" know all this but it doesn't move them. They keep on living on the backs of those who have lost their property and land, and at the expense of the poor and needy inside Israel itself.

Suddenly no checkpoints

But Arik Sharon again showers the settlers with public money. This time he's ensuring their removal from the very settlements of which he was an initiator. This largesse is contrary to the principles of good public administration and elementary human behaviour. We get told that the settlers "were sent there by the powers that be" but the settlers knew precisely where and why they were going. They went there cheerfully and willingly. The real dupes, the ones sent without their knowledge, were the North African immigrants, the current residents of Ofakim, Dimona, Sderot and the villages on the northern border. But their welfare does not seem to move Sharon or those that he nurtured. Nor does it interest those duplicitous rabbis who exhort mothers and their babies to go out and disrupt the wider civil society and public life.

The government's disengagement behaviour is yet one more step in the undermining of the rule of law (if anybody in the government still cared about it). It also serves to tear up our social fabric and encourage the religious fanatics' camp. You cannot avoid the impression that we are witnessing some trickery, if not outright deception. Sharon and his henchmen are fanning the flames of the disturbances, guaranteeing public trauma. This would enable them to show the whole world and particularly the United States how difficult it is to remove settlements and how strong is the bond between the fanatics and the Land of Israel (Ignoring the way they abandoned it for 2000 years even when they could have returned).

The whole world needs to see the settlers' mutinous behaviour. To do this, our legendary expertise in roadblock setting has magically disappeared. No restrictions were placed on the mass movement into the Gaza strip. A holy and violent insanity was ensconced and barricaded in that infamous hotel. Every effort was made to ensure the largest possible opposition so that the whole world could see the onerous task ahead. That's the only explanation for the massive assistance that the rioters received to carry out their protest: transport, security and free passage. In addition their Rabbis, teachers and all the other moral and spiritual guardians turned a blind eye to the breaking of rules and regulations. How did the Minister in charge of the Police put it? "These are our kids!"

Somebody has to pay for this patriotic hullabaloo. In the end, the rioters will come out like the children of Israel out of Egypt with substantial assets. They will end up on Israel's rich list. They can get away with all this under the "pioneers-uprooted-from-their-land" rubric. Truly the wretched of the earth. This is precisely what the prophet Jeremiah had in mind when he said: "Those who wreck and destroy you will come from amongst you". You are the rioting settlers, who disrupt democratic rule and normal life for your own needs, for your own whims and for your own wealth. Your patron, the Prime Minister, can cheer and rejoice with you. He has not forsaken you, he is still granting you favours, not out of his own pocket but naturally at the expense of the country's poor. Not all the settlers are from the same mould or share the same opinion. But they will all be paid.

[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements]

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