Sunday, March 13, 2011

Colonists and Indians in the West Bank...

In a Jewish settlement known as Itamar, a Palestinian or Palestinians murdered an entire family in what can be called a house massacre.

The response of outrage is proper and palpable, though one may take some limited solace that Palestinian leadership has been nearly ubiquitous in condemning the murders.

Nonetheless, there were citizens in Rafah in Gaza who "celebrated" the killings ought to be deeply ashamed, however. But let's recall the hundreds of Israeli Jews who "celebrated" the Jewish killer who killed prayerful Palestinians in Hebron back in 1994. With such religious-inspired violence, one may wonder how or why there are not more of these monstrous events in the West Bank.

We Americans who may feel superior with respect to the conduct of certain Palestinians and certain Israelis may wish to examine our own nation's history. There were flare-ups of horrible, personal violence which occurred between Native Americans and white colonists from the 1600s through the 1800s, with the occasional all out war among the colonists and Native Americans. One act of wanton violence that almost immediately came to my mind upon reading about the killings in Itamar was the Pontiac's Rebellion School Massacre of 1764, where Delaware Indians killed a schoolteacher and eight children in a school room in what is now Pennsylvania. See also the entry in Wikipedia titled "Indian Massacre."

Despite this latest act of wanton violence in the Middle East, I remain a believer in sci-fi writer and astrophysicist David Brin's observation that we humans have, on average, become less violent and less irrational than we were in the past. On the other hand, this incident of pre-mediated and personal violence takes one's breath away when one reads the details. To go from room to room with a knife to kill an entire family is both gruesome and astonishing to those of us who live in a relatively safe suburban area of the United States.

One wishes that Palestinians and Jews in the Occupied Territories and Israel could make this latest murderous act stand as a reason for peace. Instead, there is hand-wringing and inaction on the part of Palestinians, and, on the Israeli side, calls for revenge and building more settlements in the West Bank.

The 100 Years War between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East continues...


At March 16, 2011 at 11:36:00 AM PDT, Anonymous MSS said...

To be fair, the announcement of "building more settlements" is about building in the main blocs that will remain Israeli under any conceivable two-state solution (if there is such a thing). It is not about building more Itamars.

I don't particularly like the political use of a tragedy, as the government appears to be doing. But this announcement is referring to nothing new, and nothing that undermines the prospects (such as they are) for a negotiated solution based on land exchanges.

(Note that the story you linked to is accompanied by a photo of a construction worker near Maale Adumim, which is just east of Mt. Scopus, along the highway from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, and isn't about to be evacuated under any peace deal. A PALESTINIAN worker, by the way. Things are so much more complex over there than we often acknowledge.)

At March 17, 2011 at 6:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger Mitchell J. Freedman said...


The definition of what constitutes Jerusalem is being cynically exploited by Israeli leaders, as I believe you know. It is like saying Fort Lee, NJ is part of "Manhattan."

The deeper the Israelis build into the West Bank, the more difficult it will be to enact a two state solution. The Israeli hardliners think they will win, but what will happen is more pressure by the US and the rest of the world to create one state for two peoples. And frankly, as both Chomsky and I and some others recognize, there is simply not enough good faith among enough people on either side for that to be a solution that promotes peaceful relations.

The Israeli hardliners will wish ten years from now that they had been pushed into peace in 2010 and 2011.

At March 18, 2011 at 4:23:00 PM PDT, Anonymous MSS said...

Ma'ale Adumim is not recognized by the Israeli government as part of Jerusalem. But no way is it going to be evacuated when (if) there is a two-state agreement.

I largely agree with the rest of your comment. That's because I believe a 2-state solution is the least bad of all the bad options, even though I do not actually see it as feasible. Somehow it has to be made feasible. If that's possible.

At March 18, 2011 at 6:15:00 PM PDT, Blogger Shayna said...


If the two state solution is not feasible, then we are really without any hope, aren't we? I don't see why the Israelis just don't get the heck out of the West Bank, stop the blockade of Gaza, and that's it. I know why that is not done, and that is because Congress is Likud-occupied territory, but we who are Jews in America need to speak up even more than we are now doing...

At March 18, 2011 at 6:16:00 PM PDT, Blogger Mitchell J. Freedman said...

My daughter did it again. That last comment was me, not Shayna.


At March 28, 2011 at 6:28:00 PM PDT, Anonymous MSS said...

I would submit that Israeli public opinion is a bit more important than any lobbying of Congress by pro-Likud interests in the US.

And said opinion is rather deeply colored by past withdrawals (Lebanon as much as, or perhaps more than, Gaza). Even so, I suspect a two-state proposal would be endorsed overwhelmingly by the Israeli electorate, unless it divides Jerusalem, and quite likely even if it does. But the security concerns can't be swept under the carpet. They are real, and legitimate, given the record of the other side.

By the way, as my comment alludes to, I really believe that dividing Jerusalem is a non-starter, both politically, and in terms of simple viability. It would create more conflict than it would resolve. if I am right, that means any 2-state solution likely has to be unilateral (which is what your comment implies, too). And this may be the year that a unilateral solution gets a kick-start from the other side, for better or worse. They can declare their "state," but its capital will be Ramallah.


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