De-demonising the settlers
“It’s a shame to invest in a place that, at the end of the day, won’t be part of Israel.” With these amazingly callous words, the Bennett-Lapid government’s Transportation Minister, Merav Michaeli, answered an audience member’s question of why she had frozen transport projects in Judea and Samaria.
On hearing this cruel comment, Shlomo Ne’eman, leader of the Yesha Council that advocates for Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, predicted, “On November 1, a government will be elected that believes in our right to this land and nothing less than the fact that, unlike you [Michaeli], it will take care of the citizens of Israel in every corner of the country.”
And so, indeed, it came to pass exactly as Shlomo Ne’eman had predicted. When it became clear that this citizens’ government was actually going to go through with its campaign promise of ending the dictatorship of the Bench, the Merav Michaelis of Israel lost their minds and all restraint. Like impetuous teenagers, spearheaded by President of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, with Political Racketeer-in-Chief Benny Gantz and his attack dog Yair Lapid, they set about tearing their own country apart, and urging the world to join the mêlée. Who do these people really work for and how deep does the rot run?
You see, dear reader, “a government [that] will take care of the citizens of Israel in every corner of the country,” is a government that acknowledges that its electorate is neither the international community, nor the Diaspora Jews and certainly not the “Palestinians,” but the citizens of Israel. It does not make it its business to entertain questions like, “But what about the Palestinians?” It accepts that the Palestinians have their “sole authentic representative,” the PLO, and that their compulsion to murder Jews and destroy Israel override all trivial distractions such as democratic elections. In service to such perverse Palestinian politics and ethics, the Israeli Left takes it upon itself to operate as a Palestinian caretaker government, doing all it can to bring forward a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, only to find people like Shlomo Ne’eman of the Yesha Council, and half-a-million Jews building a model Israel in Judea and Samaria through their exemplary citizenship.
Israel prides itself, quite justifiably, on being the start-up nation, the innovation nation. The most innovative and difficult start-ups, however, are not the young techs in Tel Aviv and Be'er-Sheva, but the many tiny Jewish communities across Judea and Samaria who, against all the odds, provide a living example of a better Israel, with civic awareness and governance to be emulated, and that know they cannot meet halfway those who will not meet them.
A case in point is the village of Har Bracha (also Har Brakha) just south of Shechem (Nablus). In 2017, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government approved an 800 million shekel plan to construct bypass roads throughout Judea and Samaria, including the Huwara Bypass Road “allowing Israelis traveling to and from central Samaria communities, including Yitzhar, Elon Moreh, Itamar and Har Bracha, to use a safer route instead of the current route through the hostile village.” It is on the trunk road through this “hostile village” of Huwara, trapped in traffic for lack of a bypass, where a Muslim terrorist shot dead Hillel Menachem Yaniv and Yagel Ya’acov Yaniv, two brothers from Har Bracha, at point blank range. In transparent propaganda, the media did their best to link the killing to an earlier IDF operation to arrest terrorists elsewhere in Judea and Samaria, when terrorists were killed in a shoot-out they had started.
The reader will not be surprised to learn that the Labour Party was not the only one opposing the Huwara Bypass Road. Yigal Dilmoni, CEO of the Yesha Council at the time the bypass road was initially approved, said, “The road from the onset was budgeted and built for safety reasons—namely to prevent traffic accidents while improving the lives of both Jews and Arabs. …But the Arabs have been impeding the construction by building illegally on the route and damaging the construction site, causing delays.”
In the immediate aftermath of the killings, residents of Har Bracha finally snapped and went on a rampage through Huwara, where Muslims were still celebrating the murders. Several houses ended up damaged and one Palestinian killed. The media went insane, depicting the residents of Har Bracha as rabid madmen let loose on helpless, innocent Palestinians. Unsurprisingly, no profile of Har Bracha was on offer. It is an “illegal settlement” in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” What more do you need to know? Well, in case you did want to know more, you have to reach back to 2012, when Emily Amrousi travelled to the village of Har Bracha for Israel Hayom to do a feature article on its people. This is some of what she reported:
I recently visited Har Bracha, a small, sweet community on Mount Gerizim, adjacent to the fascinating Samarian community and overlooking a heavenly view. What I found there was an economy that exquisitely cracked the code. Take the issue of housing. The community's leaders eschewed greedy developers and initiated its own housing projects: They figured the precise amount that young couples could afford in monthly mortgage payments, multiplied that sum by a certain number of months and years, and wrote up their own proposals, which they submitted to local developers. The proposal stipulated that the developers build dozens of units without exceeding the agreed sum.
The result: The pricing equation tipped in favour of the consumer, rather than the developer, and housing prices in Har Bracha are 40 percent lower than anywhere else in Samaria, and much cheaper than anywhere else in Israel. By saving management costs and doing away with middle men, and without a dime from the government, the community has attracted dozens of new families just this year.
Every summer we are treated to the dystopian spectacle of Palestinian children going off to summer camps to learn such character-building skills as slitting throats and killing Jews. From time to time, some think tank or journalist thinks they are revealing something when they tell the world about the Jew-hatred in Palestinian school textbooks. Palestinian mothers who sacrifice their own children as suicide bombers are afforded the highest honour in Palestinian consciousness. All of this is paid for out of what is left of UN, US and EU aid after pockets have been lined. Thus is the Sacred Order of Killers preserved. Contrast this with what the children of Har Bracha and their parents can look forward to:
The local daycare centre is also self-run, with a lean and efficient management. The initial cost, before the sliding scale discounts, is about half the sum that any other Israeli parent would pay: 1,350 shekels ($350) per month per child. And still, the centre manages to make a profit, and the profit is invested back into the children, with the surplus being used to upgrade the facilities. This centre meets all the state standards, including the enforced ratio between children and caregivers (200 children under the care of more than 50 staff members). It thrives thanks to savvy fiscal planning and frugal management. The after-school programs are run in a similarly efficient manner.
When they realised that youth movements were also bottomless pits of money, the community’s leaders opened an independent branch of a youth movement, unaffiliated with any national movement. Again, a kick to the accepted channels and the bloated mechanisms. The children don't suffer and the parents pay a minimal price for their children's activities. The youth movement's summer camps, for example, cost between NIS 150 and 180 ($38-$46) per child.
Yet, according to Labour’s Marev Michaeli, it is this fine example of civic awareness and positive citizenship that it would be a shame to invest in, since “at the end of the day, it won’t be part of Israel.” I think that when Ze’ev Jabotinsky described Jews such as the Merav Michaelis of his time as “political simpletons,” he was doing them a kindness. There is a crazy, obstinate, self-negating impulse in such Jews, as if they are permanently subject to some potentate’s arbitrary life and death whim. One can only wonder whether this is what millennia of hunted diaspora and centuries of downtrodden dhimmitude do to a great people’s psyche. They genuinely believe that if they prostrate themselves before the Palestinians, there is a chance the Palestinians might spare them. So they really, really hate those Jews who would blow what little chance they have. Ehud Olmert was strong enough to authorise the bombing of the Syrian nuclear plant, yet weak as a baby before Mahmoud Abbas. The more his critics point out that Abbas never said ‘yes’ to Olmert’s offer of a Palestinian state (actually larger than Judea and Samaria), the more he insists, “Abu Mazen never said ‘no’.” That is some straw to clutch at.
Retired US Lt.-General Mike Hodges, commenting on the Russian war in Ukraine, offers the following insight into Russian motivation, a clear parallel to pre-armistice Israeli resentment towards Jews with the temerity to not capitulate to the Palestinians:
They weren’t worried about Ukraine joining NATO. What they really are worried about is Ukraine being in the European Union and becoming so successful economically, and the quality of life going up. So to have a large booming successful liberal democracy on the border of Russia is something that Putin could not possibly tolerate.
To the capitulating Jews, Jabotinsky’s “political simpletons,” the last thing on earth they want is Jews demonstrating that for the Jew to survive, capitulation is not necessary; that a Jew can actually be free and safe in his or her own land, run that land constructively, and defend that land by force of arms without feeling themselves subdued, or that they need the prior approval of anyone. The only people who insist that Judea and Samaria “at the end of the day, won’t be part of Israel,” are the Jews now out on the streets of Tel-Aviv. The only place the 1949 armistice lines are a border is in the minds of Jews who live within those lines.
They expect the Jews of Judea and Samaria to give up their homes for a fairytale Palestinian state that not even the Palestinians are interested in. They know full well that the Palestinians want Hebron, Shechem, Ari'el, Jericho as well as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Be'er-Sheva, Haifa and all the rest of Israel. To the Palestinians, the 1949 lines do not exist, nor do they for the Jews of Judea and Samaria. To the Palestinians, all Jews are Jews; all Jews are settlers; they must all be killed. But in the dhimmi minds of the Michaelis of Israel, if we just give them Gaza, and Judea and Samaria, and Jerusalem, then maybe there’s a small chance they will leave us with something. It is the Jews of Judea and Samaria, disparaged as “settlers,” who will not budge from their homes and their communities, and so ruin the chances of the peace the political simpletons imagine lies at the end of their capitulation rainbow.
On Har Bracha, Amrousi continues:
It is hard not to get mad at the reality we live in when looking at these figures. A public system can actually do right by the public, when it actually cares about the greater good. When a public body takes it upon itself to work out details and invest a greater effort, it is bound for greatness.
The story of Har Bracha is the tiny difference between welfare and profit. Instead of establishing a charity fund to support the families and hand out food baskets, they are taking measures in advance to prevent such a situation. This little community's clever planning, which does not rely on the government, has managed to create thousands of shekels in savings for each family and a good socio-economic reality even for low wage earners.
It is tragic and symbolic on so many levels that the best examples of good governance that both the Israelis and the Palestinians are ever going to get are cases like Har Bracha. The Palestinians, bred to hate and kill, show their appreciation by murdering two of Har Bracha’s finest in cold blood, and then celebrating their deeds. The capitulatory Jews could see in the community of Har Bracha a vision of what their country could be, but they are too blinded and twisted and broken to even countenance the idea of "the settlers" deserving Israel as much as they do.
When the residents of Har Bracha finally snapped and attacked some houses and a junk yard in Huwara, where one Palestinian was killed, the denunciations from “within the Green Line” (and from US officials) could not have contrasted more sharply with the almost non-existent reactions to the two brothers’ murders earlier. In no time, a fund had been set up to assist the Palestinians of Huwara, who just days earlier had been eating celebratory sweets with bloodstained hands. Here I want to ask a question. How many of the Jews who donated to help the Palestinians of Huwara did so out of compassion for the Palestinians, and how many did it to register their disapproval of “the settlers”? I do not know the answer to this question, but I think it is one worth asking.
To those who demand of Israel that she “take no unilateral action that would jeopardise the two-state solution,” Dani Dayan has one very clear answer: “You cannot go [back] to Square One after such an act. When you reject partition and attack the other side in order to take it all by force, you've lost the moral ground to demand partition.”
We were ready to relinquish the most sacred parts, the most important parts of our national patrimony, but the Palestinians rejected it. They could have had a state. They could have divided the land. They decided that the rule of the game is by force, and we prevailed using the rules of the game they decided upon. From a moral point of view, our presence in Judea and Samaria, the erroneously called “West Bank,” is morally impeccable. In the moral balance between Jews and Palestinians, we have the upper hand by far. …We have an inalienable right to be and to live in Judea and Samaria.
In Huwara, part of Michaeli’s future Palestinian state, funded through lavish donations from the UN and others, students learn all there is to learn about destroying Israel, and finally graduate as expert killers, while in Har Bracha:
The Shiluvim program, in which students incorporate science and humanities with Torah studies, has been active in the community for over a decade. Graduates enter the private sector as construction engineers, computer scientists and biology researchers. One can assume that even when they have large families, they won't be begging for food baskets from anyone.
At least some of the donations so generously given to the Palestinians serves to express contempt for the settlers, indifference to their plight, and resentment of their success in places such as Har Bracha, and, terrified of that success, serves to engineer their failure. Cancelling the bypass road is part of a longstanding campaign to engineer settler failure. The capitulatory Jews within the Green Line, out on the streets in their thousands, intimidating MK mothers with little children, terrorising politicians’ families, urging the world to bring down Israel just because they cannot have their way, they are part of the problem that threatens to put the Jews right back where the Babylonians, the Romans, the Christians and the Muslims had put them, chancing it between life and death, clinging to every hope that they might be spared being kicked like stray dogs again. Three-quarters of a century in their national home and they still behave as if it isn’t real, as if any day now their terrible overlords will return to put them back in their place. They insist on going out of their way to meet halfway people who do not want to meet them at all, as if that is the only option they have.
And so they turn on the Jews who stand tall in their land and do not cower, as living examples of what they themselves lack: the will to live without constantly expecting the next Pact of ’Umr to descend on them. And such Jews can be as cruel towards the Jews in “the settlements” as the cruellest anti-Semites. The settlers have hardened, “a predictable and prudential response to the ‘hostile influences’ that had corrupted Israeli politics and discourse,” reports Daniel Kane in Mosaic. Across Judea and Samaria, the view is widely held that, “It is not the settlers who betrayed Zionism, but the Israeli political and cultural establishment that betrayed the settlers.” The “hostile influences” include:
The rise of left-wing post-Zionism in the Israeli academy and the press during the 1990s, as well as the subsequent emergence of Israeli-led, anti-settlement groups like B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. More than the activities of these organisations, it was their perceived maliciousness and cruelty that disturbed [the settler interviewee]. He highlighted, to take one particularly poignant example, the comments made by the publisher of the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, Amos Schocken, in response to President Herzog’s visit to Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs at the end of 2021. Making reference to the 2001 murder of two-year-old Shalhevet Pass by an Arab sniper in Hebron, Schocken took to Twitter to react to the president’s trip, “Shalhevet Pass was killed because of the irresponsibility of her parents, who thought that they could bring up their children in a war zone; and also because of the Welfare Ministry, which in any normal country would have removed children from a war zone.” Facing criticism for the tweet, Schocken doubled down, “There’s nothing terrible about that statement. It’s a statement that is entirely correct. What is terrible is the obstinacy of Jews in establishing a Jewish civilian presence in Hebron.
The supposed “fight to save Israel’s democracy” is nothing less than an attempted coup d’etat to unseat a democratically-elected government and re-disenfranchise the Jews of Judea and Samaria. The fight is over which is the real government of Israel: the Supreme Court, Attorney General and the legal establishment, the media, and Left-wing academics, on the one hand; or the elected legislative representatives of the citizens, on the other. There is no longer any disguising the charade that up until 1 November was called the Government of the State of Israel, but was actually a proxy Palestinian government, most brazenly so in the government alternately led by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid that notoriously brought the Muslim Brotherhood into the Israeli government, found ways to ensure that Pay-for-Slay funds got past restrictions to still reach the Palestinian Authority, rewarded Arab squatters on state land, a form of non-recognition of Israel, and so much else.
Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, supposedly the government’s legal advisor, has taken on the National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, chairman of Otzma Yehudit, by authorising a police investigation into MK Zvika Fogel (Otzma Yehudit Party) on suspicion of inciting terrorism, after his emotional reaction to the Muslim Palestinian murder of the Har Bracha brothers in Huwara. Fogel is reported to have said, “Yesterday a terrorist came from Huwara? Huwara is closed and burned. That’s what I want to see. Only thus can we obtain deterrence.” Of course, the Attorney General’s action is a direct challenge to the authority of the man whose job it is to ensure national security, including the proper conduct of the police, MK Itamar Ben-Gvir.
This attack on the elected government comes hot on the heels of the Supreme Court, in January 2023, countermanding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s appointment of Aryeh Deri as a Minister to his Cabinet. As Eugene Kontorovich, writing for the Wall Street Journal, puts it:
Israel’s Supreme Court last week invalidated the ministerial appointment of Aryeh Deri, leader of [Shas] party in the new governing coalition. The ruling didn’t even pretend to be interpreting Israel’s Basic Laws, which lay out the basic structure of government. The Knesset had specifically passed a law authorising someone in Mr Deri’s situation (he had pleaded guilty to criminal charges) to hold cabinet office. But the court said it would be “unreasonable” for Mr Deri to be a minister. …In other words, it canceled the prime minister’s appointment of a cabinet member on grounds that it was technically legal, but gross—a kind of impeachment by judiciary.
The widespread mistrust of the Supreme Court came to a head when the effectively disenfranchised Jews of Judea and Samaria finally ended up with a government they could trust.
According to the Israel Democracy Institute’s annual Israeli Democracy Index, trust in the court now ranges from 84 percent among leftists to just 26 percent among rightists, and from 63 percent among secular Jews to just 6 percent among the ultra-Orthodox.
So when Shlomo Ne’eman, speaking for Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, predicted, “On November 1, a government will be elected that believes in our right to this land and nothing less than the fact that …it will take care of the citizens of Israel in every corner of the country,” he had in mind the disenfranchised 74 percent of rightists and 94 percent of religious Jews who have watched their land being decreed away right from under their houses.
The previous Israeli government’s open contempt for the Jews in Judea and Samaria, the mainstream Israeli indifference to Muslims killing settlers, the exaggerated support for Palestinian “victims” whenever settlers react to evictions from their homes (euphemistically called “Disengagement”) and to their family members being murdered, and the blatant campaign on the part of the legal establishment to unseat the democratically-elected government, but especially the near-panic in the Biden administration in the wake of the November 2022 elections, have all the hallmarks of a carefully-orchestrated grand plan unravelling.
Others know better than I whether the current US government’s hostility towards Israel and overtures to the “Palestinians,” are linked to the US administration equipping the Taliban with topnotch US weaponry, to the US administration and the EU endlessly dithering over Iran, including blocking the Israeli government from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, to the EU funding Palestinians to illegally seize pockets of land in Oslo Area C - supposedly Israeli-controlled Judea and Samaria, and to US money funding Israeli NGOs that “gum up the works” with endless cases brought before the Israeli Supreme Court. I shall leave it at that and simply recall Dani Dayan’s observation:
Without the high hills of Judea and Samaria, an uninterrupted Islamic fundamentalist territory that starts in Kabul, Afghanistan, and ends in Tel Aviv, [an] Israel without any natural barrier exists. That is suicide. That is suicide.
And that natural barrier is guarded by Israelis who are finally enfranchised, despite the Supreme Court’s best efforts to render them non-persons. The fight to unseat their elected government is far from over, with many dirty tricks still to come. When National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Givr called for Israeli citizens to more easily be able to arm themselves, he might have had more than just protection against Muslim murderers in mind. Dani Dayan, we recall, points out that, “From a moral point of view, our presence in Judea and Samaria – the erroneously called “West Bank” – is morally impeccable. In the moral balance between Jews and Palestinians, we have the upper hand by far,” and down there in the moral pit, mixed in with the Palestinians, are the Supreme Court and the 250,000 clueless political simpletons doing their damnedest to tear their country apart, as if to say, “It’s a shame to value a place that, at the end of the day, won’t be Israel.”
- I think the current phrasing is, “The international community intends the West Bank (sometimes the “Occupied Palestinian Territories”) as part of a future Palestinian state.” The international community appears oblivious to its irrelevance in this regard. That the so-called West Bank is indisputably legal Israeli territory does not depend on the realism or goodwill of the “international community,” including the United States, even if US support makes a very big difference. Precisely such helpless dependence is implied in Jerold S. Auerbach’s “The future of Judea and Samaria” in Jewish News Syndicate, 21 March 2020, when he says, “Now that the Trump administration has recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, only the status of settlements in Judea and Samaria remains to define the boundaries of the Jewish state.” The borders of the Jewish state are very easily defined on well-established international legal principles regardless of “the status of the settlements.” Such a mentality accepts that the status of the settlements are in dispute not because international law says so, but because the international community says so. For an explanation of the legality of Israel’s borders, see, for example, Abraham Bell and Eugene Kontorovich, “Palestine, Uti Possidetis Juris, and the borders of Israel, Arizona Law Review, Volume 58, pp663-692.
- Josh Hasten, “Transport minister vows to complete Huwara Bypass Road frozen under previous government,” Jewish News Syndicate, 1 March 2023, https://www.jns.org/transport-minister-promises-to-complete-huwara-bypass-road-soon/
- Emily Amrousi, "Har Bracha - A small, sweet community with a winning economic formula," Israel Hayom, 20 September 2012. Reproduced here (the original link is dead).
- Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, “Russia's War in Ukraine - Should & Will Ukraine Take Back Crimea?” KrasnoUNC, YouTube, 1 Mar 2023 https://youtu.be/xcK87PT2yxs
- Readers will recall the difference between ultra-woke former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s reaction to the Christchurch mosque massacre, where the victims were Muslim, and her subsequent reaction to the (much greater) Sri Lanka Easter massacres, where the perpetrators were Muslim.
- Dani Dayan, contribution to debate: "Israel is destroying itself with its settlement policy," Intelligence Squared, YouTube, 17 Jan 2013. https://youtu.be/6Rk60vNUJ9Y
- The Pact of 'Umr is a much misunderstood document, taken by the Western mind to regulate the rights and duties of "second class citizens" of which there are none under Islamic rule. The Pact of 'Umr is an onerous list of regulations laying out to the Muslims' prisoners of war how they may remain alive without converting to Islam. It is presented as an "agreement" between the victorious Muslims and those of their defeated enemies who are Christian or Jewish, by which the Muslims "protect" the "People of the Book." Most Western scholars take that description at face value. The reality is that the non-Muslim's life is forfeit, continuing only on Muslim sufferance. He is "protected" only in the sense that the Muslim refrains from killing him on the spot. The "Pact" is designed to progressively reduce the "protected person" to such an unbearable state of penury and misery that they would rather seek relief in converting to Islam, than continue observing their own religion. Misery is achieved through constant abuse and humiliation. Penury is achieved through exacting of jizya, a poll tax designed to continually reduce the dhimmi's standard of living. Dr Andrew Bostom, in "Losing Our Soul to the Islamintern," explains:
"Describing unabashedly the purpose of the Koranic poll tax (as per Koran 9:29) of submission for non-Muslims brought under Islamic hegemony by jihad, Ibn Ajibah makes clear the ultimate goal of its imposition was to achieve what he called the death of the “soul”, through the dhimmi’s execution of their own humanity:
[The dhimmi] is commanded to put his soul, good fortune and desires to death. Above all he should kill the love of life, leadership and honor. [The dhimmi] is to invert the longings of his soul, he is to load it down more heavily than it can bear until it is completely submissive. Thereafter nothing will be unbearable for him. He will be indifferent to subjugation or might. Poverty and wealth will be the same to him; praise and insult will be the same; preventing and yielding will be the same; lost and found will be the same. Then, when all things are the same, it [the soul] will be submissive and yield willingly what it should give. [Tafsir ibn ‘Ajibah. Commentary on Q9:29. Ahmad ibn Muhammad Ibn `Ajibah]"
This stuff was thought up in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries. The Communists and the Nazis were latecomers to the game.
- Daniel Kane, “The Changing Faces of Israel's Settlement Movement,” Mosaic, 1 August 2022 https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/israel-zionism/2022/08/the-changing-faces-of-israels-settlement-movement/
- Eugene Kontorovich, “Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Political Appointments,” WSJ, 22 January 2023. https://www.wsj.com/articles/israels-supreme-court-claims-a-veto-on-political-appointments-deri-judicial-review-us-knesset-reform-11674409011
- Evelyn Gordon, “Israel's Judicial Reckoning,” Mosaic, 6 March 2023 https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/israel-zionism/2023/03/israels-judicial-reckoning/
- See, for example, Jonathan S. Tobin, “Demonizing Kohelet won’t silence calls for judicial reform,” Jewish News Syndicate, YouTube, March 13, 2023. https://www.jns.org/opinion/demonizing-kohelet-wont-silence-calls-for-judicial-reform/?