Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Settler violence

There is an Amira Hass article today that describes the attack on two American Christian volunteers for the Christian Peacemakers Team. I hesitated to blog on it at first because the assailants were unidentified. (Although the following description seems to indicate that they were most likely settlers: "The attackers, numbering four or five, were dressed in black and wore masks. They spoke English and were carrying chains and clubs." and "The road along which the volunteers and schoolchildren pass is used by settlers and is forbidden to Palestinian vehicular traffic.") However, Helena Cobban recieved a message from the CPT which stated:
At about 7:15am on the morning of Wednesday September 29, Chris Brown and Kim Lamberty of Christian Peacemaker Teams were attacked by settlers while accompanying children to school.
The Helena Cobban post also links to this article by Arnon Regular about Yehoshua Elitzur, a settler who is under house arrest for shooting and killing Sa'al Jabara, a Palestinian, on Monday. Elitzur claims that Jabara was trying to run him off the road and that he opened fire on him in self defense. This claim is contradicted by an eye witness who claims the following:
[J]ust before reaching the main road, Sa'al slowed down and began driving up an incline adjacent to the road. He started to turn right to get onto the road when we all noticed a tall, dark-skinned settler with a beard standing in the middle of the road in front of a red Ford Fiesta.

Sa'al thought the settler needed help and he slowed down; he then opened the window and spoke to him in Hebrew. Suddenly the settler aimed an M-16 at him. The settler fired off a few rounds at Sa'al, hitting him in his left arm and the left side of his chest.

He lost consciousness and we tried to help him, and we shouted to the settler to come and help and call an ambulance, but he said, `Please God, he dies,' and left.

Another settler who arrived on the scene also refused to help. Eventually, we spotted a Palestinian taxi, and we took Sa'al to hospital in Nablus, but he died on the way.
Given the fact that this eye witness is Palestinian, its unlikely that this counts for much. The problem is that whether either of these specific cases amounts to anything or not, there is little done to stop the violence of settlers against Palestinians, especially when this violence is done in ways such as uprooting olive trees, poisoning wells, destroying water tanks and other necessary infrastructure. There is not a concerted effort by the Israeli government (which continues to grow and promote the settlement enterprise as if it were some utopian effort) or the IDF (which either doesn't care about the Palestinians or doesn't need the hassle of getting shit from both the Palestinians, the Israeli peaceniks, and the settlers) to put a stop to this kind of behavior. And though I fully support a fair trial for Elitzur, and if it turns out that he killed a man in self-defense that should be taken into account, I cannot help but think that if the tables were turned, that if Elitzur were a Palestinian and Jabara a settler, or any Jew for that matter, he would probably be dead, shot by the IDF or an armed settler, and the tanks would be rolling. You bet they would.

As a thoughtful footnote, I wonder whether it even matters anymore whether Kerry or Bush wins; the Draft issue for example, is being pushed by the Democrats for a very simple and obvious (for the dems, anyway) reason, which is that they want everyone to experience the horror of war firsthand. That doesn't really make sense to me except in a vaguely terrifying premonition where America becomes a military colonizing power, as they seem to be now - but does it actually matter who wins then? Won't both sides see a powerful incentive, whether financial or property based, to keeping Israel happy, Palestine oppressed, Nigeria in a state of war, etc. In the WSJ yesterday there was a story about Halliburton paying off a Nigerian General to help start the coup - I am sure that such actions have taken place in Israel as well as other countries where "America" feels a necessity of presence, not to mention my own South Korea. Information can only take people so far. I reccommend watching the new DVD about the Weathermen to learn more about that particular radical group of the 70's that was somewhat of the UR-group, the template which all other groups resembled (militant, anyways) and see how ineffective simple protests and the spread of information really is. Sorry I took up your space, it simply is a convenient place to ruminate on various topics that crop up when I read your posts.

Does is even matter? I feel that it is better to ask this question: What is the difference and in what way will it manifest itself? On the question of Palestine, I doubt that Kerry will be any better than Bush in a way that "matters" to Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank. However, it just may be that Kerry, having recieved quite a bit of the Muslim vote, including in swing states like Ohio, that he will talk a different talk, allow different voices to be heard, hold a different line. This might put a dent in the prevailing attitudes in the US, which is a first step. As for your talk about the Weather Underground and all that stuff, I am personally of the opinion that information without action is infinitely more useful than action without information.
very true, very true. Yet I am hesitant to believe that there will be any difference at all between the kerry and bush handling of the middle east. Let's face it, the reasons for support are purely financial - wealthy contributors here + a foothold for oil there. I dont think either party is going to give that up, and are instead probably going to turn a blind eye in order to "keep the peace" as they put it. As for the weathermen, you should still watch the DVD, it is some pretty interesting stuff...not implying that action without information is good (something you inferred, if I may say so) but that watching what happens when action is taken for the sake of action is an interesting thing, considering our modern liberality is the offspring of the events that occurred during that time period. Although, to quote Justin, "the film seemed like a goddamn history lesson, and I could have just watched Bravo."

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