Tuesday, February 22, 2005

 

Outposts vs. Settlements

Dror Etkes, head of the Peace Now Settlement Monitoring Unit (which does a really great job), write on the Bitter Lemons website that in focusing public attention on the problem of the "outposts" (sometimes called "unauthorized settlements"), the settlement movement has achieved a victory.
[W]hat is the point of distinguishing between a discussion of outposts and a discussion of the entire settlement enterprise? Clearly the outposts are nothing less than new or expanded settlements, established in recent years.

In this sense, institutionalizing the "outposts issue" as a separate topic for discussion is simply one more expression of the success of the settler right wing in normalizing a prolonged situation in which the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis are lived beyond the state's sovereign borders, in an area where for generations there has lived another population devoid of basic rights. Moreover, the mere fact of a separate discussion of the outposts serves the settlers as an additional line of defense: anyone who tries to breach it, in the process causing political and media casualties, will wake up one day to discover that the "legal settlements" have in the interim tripled and quadrupled in size.
If it is a victory in affecting debate inside Israel, it is even more so in the United States, where the public has no familiarity with the geography of the region or with the history of the settlements, with the terminology of the occupation. And so by using words that confuse the issue "freezing settlement development", "natural growth", "outposts", "unauthorized settlements" (which become "illegal settlements" as if to imply that there could be no possible reason to oppose the rest of the "legal" settlements). Settlements on one side of the wall and settlements on the other. Built up areas, greater Jerusalem, on and on and on. And on and on. And so Israel makes more and more "concessions" and more and more "goodwill gestures" by dividing the problem into a million pieces, so that each piece can be given away as a "painful concession" and evidence of Israel's willing to compromise. And so the problem remains, with millions of pieces, but no peace.

Cmon, you gotta give me some credit for that cheesy play on words. (Although now that I think about it, I just ripped that off from Dennis Ross. Oh well.)

Comments:
the struggle will not cease until the west bank land is returned, and this will prove the major obstacle to peace, as the Israeli's are "offering" it
 
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