Monday, September 20, 2004


Equating removal of settlements with removal of Arabs

Tom Segev writes an article in Ha'aretz today in which he thrashes those who would use the transfer of settlers from Gaza to Israel to justify the transfer of Arabs from Israel elsewhere (or even from Israel and the occupied territories to somewhere else).
Only a mean fanatic or a wicked demagogue will not make the distinction between settler-emissaries whose mission the state decides to end and the expulsion of an ordinary civilian population that has been living in a place since time immemorial. The Arabs here, in Israel and in the territories, are not living in their homes by virtue of government decisions; their cities and their villages did not arise conditionally in order to advance a defined state aim that requires reevaluation. They are not Zionist emissaries. Moreover, the Arabs of the territories, unlike the settlers, do not belong to a public that has been granted the possibility of participating in a democratic decision about Israel's policy.
The two situations are simply not comparable (though this has never stopped Israel in the past from making politically convenient false analogies). And Segev is right to describe the rabidly pro-settlement movement in Israel with terms such as "mean fanatic" and "wicked demagogue"; evidence of this can be found in this Ha'aretz article, which reports on the comparison by a far-right activist of the removal of the Gaza settlements to the holocaust.
Far-right activist Nadia Matar sent a letter Sunday to the head of the Disengagement Administration, Yonatan Bassi, in which she said the letter expected to be sent to residents of settlements slated for evacuation is comparable to expulsion documents sent to Jews in Berlin in 1942.

The document sent to Jews during World War Two was written by the Judenrat (Jewish Council), in cooperation with Nazi authorities, and detailed where Jews would be transferred, what they should take and what they should leave behind.

Matar, who is co-chairwoman of the right-wing group Women in Green (Women for Israel's Tomorrow), referred to Bassi as the head of the "Expulsion Administration" and called him the "modern version of the Judenrat - but actually far worse."
Actually far worse? Talk like that turns ones stomach. Mania has replaced any semblance of reason or logic in the Israeli far-right and the pull that this segment has in the Knesset, in the government of Ariel Sharon, in the workings of the Israeli state as a whole is cause for great concern. The broader Israeli public, those who support the disengagement plan and the withdrawal of settlers, must live in constant fear of these fringe maniacs.
Meanwhile, the Arutz Sheva Web site published a letter Sunday from a Gush Katif resident to two of his soldier brothers, urging them to refuse to participate in the evacuation.

"Don't make me raise my hand against you," he wrote. "Once it begins and goes out of control, who knows where it will go... What would I tell Mother if, God forbid, you were hurt?"
Yes, what would you tell Mother? How would you justify the blood of your brothers on your hands? How would you phrase it: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

That letter sounds like letters from our own civil war.

What always surprises me is how those declaring themselves impelled by grand priniciples and causes take their hands off the steering wheel just at the point when the crash is avoidable. Part of staying the course, I guess.
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