Includes commentary from MIT Linguist Noam Chomsky 

Swedish volunteer hit in the face with a glass bottle by Israeli settlers

“The families do not know where to go when their homes are destroyed, and many people are expecting to be homeless in the middle of winter.”


Such are the words of a recent International Solidarity Movement report chronicling the violent settlement of East Jerusalem by Israeli soldiers.  


“More than 150 families in the East Jerusalem area of Silwan have recently been given demolition warnings by the Israeli authorities. The exact dates of the demolitions have yet to be revealed, and are very likely not to reach the Palestinians until (at the very best) a couple of days before. The families do not know where to go when their homes are destroyed, and many people are expecting to be homeless in the middle of winter.”


Let’s set the record straight.


Israeli settlers are not peaceful groups of Jewish farmers looking to work the land and submit to the guidelines set forth by the Palestinian Authority.  

Instead they come in large groups accompanied by IDF soldiers and establish exclusive Jewish districts within Palestine, often through the use of bullets and bulldozers.  They are offered financial incentives by the right-wing government for doing so.


This must be stopped.  


The settler movement began in the modern sense after Israel gained control of Gaza, the Golan, The Sinai and the West Bank during the Six Day’s war of 1967.  The war was only six days because Israel humiliated the Nasserist Arab League coalition.  This put Yasir Arafat and Fatah in charge of the PLO. 

Some may argue that 'settlements' have been taking place ever since Jews began migrating to the Levant in 1881, however will focus on the specific movement in the West Bank since 1967 to be succinct.  


Quoting from prominent Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg’s 2006 New York Time’s Op-Ed: “In early September 1967, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was considering granting the first approval for settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights, conquered three months earlier in the Six-Day War. An Arab summit meeting in Khartoum had rejected peacemaking. The prime minister believed that the Golan and the strip of land along the Jordan River would make Israel more defensible. He also wanted to re-establish the kibbutz of Kfar Etzion near Bethlehem, which had been lost in Israel's 1948 war of independence.”


I asked Noam Chomsky if Israel has any right to build settlements in the West Bank, he replied “None whatsoever, as has been made clear by the relevant authorities: the UN Security Council and the ICJ in particular. Furthermore, the government of Israel has known this since 1967, as determined by its top legal adviser, Theodore Meron in an important memorandum.”


When the Israeli authorities asked Meron if settlements are against international law, he wrote "My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”


That didn’t stop anyone.


Settlements boomed after the election of the Likud party’s Menachem Begin in 1977.  Begin strongly supported the religious militant group Gush Emunim and encouraged all Israelis to settle in West Bank by making it economically advantageous for them to do so.   In that same year Ariel Sharon put forth a plan to move close to two million Jews into the West Bank by the end of the century.  

There goal was to produce such a large Jewish presence in the West Bank that it would naturally become part of Israel.  

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They also intended to break up and destabilize Arab populations.  They did not want a collective Palestinian identity to form.  


This made the West Bank reliant on Israel’s economy. Exports from Israel entered the West Bank free of tariffs, whereas exports from the West Bank into Israel were taxed heavily.  Palestine’s economy didn’t grow because of this policy and many were forced to find work in Israel.  


“The net effect of the Israeli occupation was the simultaneous demoralization and radicalization of the Arab inhabitants of the west bank and gaza. They were made defiant by the policies of an Israeli gov’t that left resistance as the only alternative to annexation” writes William Cleveland in his book A History of the Modern Middle East.  


Nowadays, Israeli troops don't allow Palestinian’s to walk down al-shuhada street in Hebron.


They encroach on Palestinians way of life, inhibiting their agriculture and not even allowing them to harvest their own olive trees. Yes, commit the crime of picking olives in the West Bank and you may be shot by an IDF soldier.

That a Palestinian can’t pick olives or walk down streets in the West Bank’s largest city is deeply concerning to those holding out hope for a peaceful, two-state solution.

According to a recent report by The Jerusalem Post , “Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked stated Saturday night that Bayit Yehudi is intent on annexing Ma’aleh Adumim and expressed home that the Trump administration would support the step.  Speaking to the Hamateh news program on Channel 10, she said annexing the settlement only minutes east of Jerusalem would be the first step to other annexations and could lead to the annexation of all of Area C.” 


Settlers might as well be called conquistadors.


Chomsky said “It’s been clear since the ‘70s that by preferring expansion to security, Israel has been playing a very dangerous game.”  

We’d be foolish to think Netanyahu and Naftali Bennet have different ambitions than earlier versions of the Likud party.  

What they really want is one state, where Jews have a much higher quality of life than Arabs, that eventually pushes many Palestinian's out into countries like Jordan.  Where does this lead?


Some commentators have gone as far as to use the term “apartheid” in describing what could happen in the West Bank.  I’m hesitant to go that far, however I share their concern. 


It would also put every country in the Arab world increasingly against Israel.  


Fortunately, the international community has risen together against such blatant injustices.  Unfortunately if history is any indicator, a UN resolution probably won’t have much effect.  According to Chomsky “UNSC 2334 is hardly different from UNSC 446 (March 1979), passed unanimously with the US abstaining (joined then by Norway and UK), and subsequent resolutions re-endorsing it.  Of particular interest in UNSC 465 (March 1980), adopted unanimously.  It went beyond 446 in calling on Israel “to dismantle the existing settlements.”

United Nations Security Council voting on resolution 2334.  US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power abstained from using the United States's veto.

Abstaining from vetoing the UN resolution isn’t enough; America should push for an immediate cease to all Israeli settlement related activities.  America funds Israel’s military and should not be able to sleep at night knowing they are de facto endorsing the many human right violations being committed against Palestinians around the clock.

Obama could have said something simple like "stop the settlements or will impose major sanctions."  Netanyahu understands that language.

But he didn't.

“Obama has been more supportive of Israel than any previous president, at least since Eisenhower in 1956.  The words may have been pretty, but the actions speak for themselves – in economic, military, and diplomatic dimensions.” Chomsky said 

PA head Mahmoud Abbas said  “We are calling for 2017 to be the year of international recognition of the State of Palestine because more recognitions will strengthen the possibility of achieving a two-state solution and real peace,”


Whether or not Palestine is formed in 2017, the settlements must stop now. They are blatantly imperialistic, commit countless human rights violations and have no basis in international law.  America and the rest of the international community must take action, not just pass UNSC resolutions which have historically proven meaningless, to immediately halt all settlements.

We must protect the basic rights of our fellow human beings living in the West Bank.  


Is that really too much to ask?

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