“The only thing that can save Israel as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing our settlements from the West Bank,”

In recent weeks I’ve had to repeat, several times, that I advocate a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank to the portion of Judea and Samaria that is west of the Security Fence. I don’t believe this will constitute a final border, but it will remove a pretty sharp arrowhead from Israel’s bleeding achilles heel.

To be clear, I consider the West Bank to be “disputed” territory and not occupied. I believe this land is the cradle of Jewish civilization, perhaps to a greater degree even than where Israel is situated today. I abhor the bigotry that causes the Arabs to seek to remove all of the Jews from their midst. I am fully aware that the Palestinians do not seek a Jewish state called Israel to exist next to them and have designs on the entire area (including Jordan).

I have little sympathy for the Palestinians and their war on Israel. They could have and should have made peace long ago, and the formula has been on the table for almost a decade. In other words, I don’t believe that justice rests with the Palestinians. They have not earned a state or the right to a state. They have shown in Gaza that left to their own devices, they will use their resources to wage war rather than build their society and economy.

The weepy Left excuses all of these shortcomings, usually by blaming Israel: “the Occupation;” “the starvation of Palestinians;” “genocide;” “cruelty;” “collective punishment;” “resistance;” etc. They fall all over themselves justifying Palestinian terrorism, Palestinian war-mongering, Palestinian anti-Semitism and even Palestinian lies and perfidy.

For example, if you read a number of the anti-Zionist blog-sites out there, even ones written by Jews, they have taken recent Palestinian claims about ownership of the Dead Sea Scrolls at face value. They actually call Israelis thieves for possessing the Scrolls even though the Scrolls are written in Hebrew and Aramaic, contain the books of the Torah, and other writings that relate to religious life and belief among those Judeans who lived in the area we now call the West Bank a couple of thousand years ago. There could not be a clearer case of artifacts bearing the cultural heritage of a people than the relationship between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish people. And yet, in a cynical game played by the very same people who declare openly that Jews have no historic, religious or cultural connection to the Land of Israel, the Palestinians claim and demand ownership of these treasures of Jewish history.

In other words, morality is not the Palestinians’ strong suit. Their sympathizers have to twist themselves into awkward pretzel-like shapes to excuse the behavior of the Palestinians over this past century of conflict. Of course, they do it by constantly casting blame upon the Jews and upon Zionists.

By leaving most of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, Israel would be handing over this important area to the Palestinians.

Then again, the Israelis are far from perfect themselves. The ongoing construction of settlements over the past 40 years has been an epic mistake.

Regardless of the strong links between Judea and Samaria and the Jewish people, it was clear from 1967 that settlement construction was a questionable pursuit. I’m not talking about neighborhoods surrounding Jerusalem – those are perfectly legitimate. I’m talking about those settlements that are far from the Green Line that are intended to be not just residential areas but outposts marking Jewish territory.

The problem is that these outposts are oil to the fire of the conflict because they represent an Israeli refusal to compromise and share the land – precisely the same sin of which the Palestinians are justifiably accused.

This is where the wacky Rightists come in and exclaim that the settlements are no different than, say, Tel Aviv (as in, if one is a settlement, so is the other); that settlers are and must be treated and defended like every other Israeli (even if they need a platoon or three to defend their little outpost); that God gave this land to Israel; that the Palestinians, all two to 3 million who live there, can leave or accept Israeli military rule in their midst; that superior resources available to Israeli settlers are understandable even if the Palestinians do not enjoy the same; and, of course, what is never said out loud but is believed by the staunchest settlers…that one day there will be another war, a vicious one, and somehow, by magic, the Palestinians will be made to leave. To jordan. To Lebanon. To Syria. Wherever.

If many settlers – and here I differentiate between the hard-core settlers and the majority of settlers – along with their strong supporters didn’t believe this, then they would not continue to build outposts in the heart of the West Bank. As a result, this well organized and highly ideological group compels Israeli government to act and move forward in ways that may be beneficial to the settlers, but are not necessarily beneficial to the majority of Israelis who live inside the Green Line or in Jerusalem neighborhoods built after 1967.

The presence of Israeli soldiers among a Palestinian society is a necessary evil. They are needed to prevent terrorism against Israeli civilians. They are there to defend the lives of Israelis who are also settlers. They ensure that Israel maintains the upper hand militarily even as it faces numerous enemies.

But the presence of Israeli soldiers among the Palestinian population also has an ugly side. Young boys are turned into young men once they join the IDF. And yet, with little life experience, they are assigned to watch over Arabs young and old. These young men are sent with guns to lord it over people without guns.

It is not so simple to be an Israeli soldier in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria – regular army or post-service (miluim) – because they are the ones on the front lines who have to make ethical decisions at all times because of their position of power and strength. It is here, where the common Israeli experience of military service intersects with the role of superior strength embodied in the soldier watching a civilian (generally hostile) population, that Israel and its society face their greatest challenge. It is easy to hate another, but it eats you from inside. It is easy to wield guns to keep another population in line but doing so indiscriminately, which is a by-product of maintaining control over another society, assaults and undermines your good intentions. Nobody can be trusted; the Other is always the enemy; their lives are made more difficult so that yours and those whom you protect can be safer or just more comfortable.

Standing as a soldier among the Palestinians inevitably changes both the person and the society from which s/he comes. While leaving most of the West Bank will not remove Palestinian enmity or hatred, and may well open the door to attacks against Israel as we saw and see in Gaza, it will change what Israelis are going through individually and as a society because they rule over Palestinians.

There will also be pragmatic benefits to leaving Judea and Samaria and focusing Israeli settlement on the areas closer to and inside the Green Line. The first and most important is the demographic issue facing Israel as the Palestinian population grows. Unless Israel wants to end up an apartheid state, it must disengage from the Palestinian population. Second, Israel’s friendship with its closest ally, the USA, will improve dramatically. The settlements have been a source of friction since Jimmy Carter’s days in office and every President since has been critical of the settlements and their growth.

Also, Israel wastes billions of shekels supporting and even building settlements instead of using that scarce money and energy to develop new settlements and communities inside Israel. Sometimes, it is now believed, Israel actually turned a blind eye to settlements that were built on private Palestinian land, which is illegal under Israeli law.

As if those reasons for leaving most of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria weren’t sufficient, one must consider that the IDF is stretched thin and wears itself out doing tasks that should be replaced with training for wartime; that Israel’s international standing is undermined and potential allies turn away in frustration and anger; that the possibility of the Palestinians actually moving toward peace becomes even less likely; and, quite important, that one of the key issues dividing Israel’s supporters and those who would support it, will be eliminated.

This is why I was heartened to read today that Benjamin Netanyahu’s nominee for ambassador to the UN, the superb and well respected historian Michael Oren, state in an public talk,

“The only alternative for Israel to save itself as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing from the West Bank and evacuating most of the settlements.”

“I may be the last of the standing unilateralists,” he said. “The only thing that can save Israel as a Jewish state is by unilaterally withdrawing our settlements from the West Bank,” and waiting for a new Palestinian leadership.

Oren said he does not believe that a solution to the conflict could be achieved at this stage. Instead we should find ways to “better manage the conflict, to relieve tensions and ameliorate the conditions under which people live to ensure against future flare ups.”

“Peace as a solution is not a question of next week but a generational issue,” he said. “One of the lessons that the failed Oslo process has taught us is that peace must be built from the bottom up. We cannot impose peace from the top down, it doesn’t percolate from the top down.”

There’s more in this short article that suggests that Dr. Oren is a sane man who sees the forest despite the trees. That Netanyahu sees him as someone who should represent Israel in the country of its most important ally, the USA, is also heartening and may indicate that there’s a softening position in this new Israeli government regarding the settlements.

We’ll see.

I have some hope.

(image by Efrat Nakash)

About the author

themiddle

142 Comments

  • Bastard! I’m in Israel and posted about California, you’re somewhere vaguely on the West Coast and you posted about Israel! And I was just gonna write a post about that very same article, but you beat me to it. oh well.

    So… is unilateral withdrawal now the hallmark of the moderate right? I thought Oren was supposed to be this big right wing demagogue (according to the lonnie Jew left)? And how do we prevent the Gazafication of the WB? I was just in Atlit where the factories are literally abutting the town of Ram. Oy. It’s a tough call either way.

  • If it’s any consolation, I’m sure your post on this subject would have been amusing and filled with images of women’s privates clad in sexy underpants. So I, for one, now regret having published this post and preempting yours.

    I’ve heard Oren speak and he’s fairly pragmatic. If one considers him political, I’d say he’s slightly right of center.

    I’m not sure one can prevent the Gazafication of the West Bank. But here is one idea: take some of that land west of the fence and leave it barren. A no-man’s land dividing the two nations. In those places where that’s impossible, Israel can have a bulldozer policy: if an attack emanates from a source, everything within a certain perimeter of that location is razed to the ground to prevent the next attack. Maybe this will be insufficient. Maybe you need to add targeted attacks against Palestinian leaders as long as attacks against Israel persist. I don’t know. My point is that it’s still better to be out of there than in there.

  • Pulling out of Gaza was a disaster. It lead to more violence, and the more time passes, the more it is clear to everyone that it was a mistake.

    Israel recieved no good will from the palestinians, or the world at large.

    Ultimately, we can not retreat. It isn’t a question of fairness, it is a matter of practical realities.

  • The practical reality is that the Palestinians have moved on to the “apartheid regime” endgame and this is one war Israel will lose. Unless you know what to do with a couple of million Palestinians to whom you don’t want to give citizenship, you better have an answer to that. And no, you won’t get away with it because there is only one thing that will stand between Israel becoming the next pariah state like South Africa, and that is the power of US support for Israel. Except that now the US is the latest battle-ground in the war over Israel and based on recent developments, I would not bet that long-term the US won’t end up viewing the Israelis the way the Europeans do already. It’s the “occupation,” stupid.

  • I think Israel should have pulled the settlements in Gaza and the smaller ones in the West Bank and then negotiate everything else. It has to make this gesture to jump start anything resembling a peace process. It can still maintain the checkpoints and the security barrier, but it has to show to everybody what is Israel’s main goal.

  • What about the rockets? When people said this about Gaza – they were called crazy, but unfortunately they were right. Yes, there are some defense systems that supposedly work. But none are in place yet, and there’s no guarantee they will work. So we just pull out in advance – or wait until they work in Gaza first?

    Second, how do you suppose this withdrawal can be carried out? Gaza was a cinch compared to this – relatively little opposition (nationally, media, and in Gaza), and a far smaller number of people. What do you do when you have ten times as many people to be kicked out of their homes and so much less support among soldiers to carry out this operation?

    Third, if there is to be even a modicum of support among the residents themselves – how do you overcome the fact that the government royally f**ked the Gaza settlers – and still is? How are residents of the wb supposed to have any faith that they, too, won’t be living in glorified cardboard boxes 3.5 years from now – being told they might have real homes in two years?

  • Is Oren distinguishing between dismantling settlements and withdrawing a military presence? If so, this makes sense. A long-term threat to a hoped-for two-state solution is removed, while security preserved indefinitely pending a final deal.

    Excellent post– I’d make three points. First, Middle perhaps isn’t as tough as he should be on the Israeli political class. The settlers have at least acted with integrity, in accordance with their beliefs. The politicians, especially those on the right, have failed to take a firm stance on settlements. If Begin wanted to annex the West Bank, he should have done so. There’s been nothing but equivocation since.

    Second, ambiguity about its intentions has cost Israel dearly in world opinion. Israel’s 1967 victory was celebrated throughout western Europe, right? I don’t think Israel should abase itself to curry favor abroad. But a settlement withdrawal will put the moral burden squarely on the Arabs’ shoulders. The international climate will improve dramatically.

    Third, peace, if it comes, will be arranged and secured by other countries and not Israel and the Palestinians. A consensus will form around a final agreement, which will thus be internationally enforceable. The parties, in other words, can’t do this on their own.

    Why, for example, does Putin tolerate Estonia– despite, for example, its substantial ethnic Russian population? Because for a hundred reasons, he can’t invade the place without there being hell to pay. Similarly, the Arabs and the West will have to agree that a deal is a deal, part of the int’l. security landscape and not subject to revision. In the end the world will decide enough is enough, and at that point we’ll have two states.

  • By the way– during the recent conflict, why didn’t the Gazafication of Gaza result in the Gazafication of the WB, which remained quiet? An inconvenient detail for the slippery-slopers.

  • Tom – “why didn’t the Gazafication of Gaza result in the Gazafication of the WB?”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “slippery-slopers”, but it’s because Israel was, and is, actually in control of the WB, on the inside – unlike Gaza.

  • There was little violence of any kind on the WB, much less something on the scale of rocket attacks. Fatah didn’t do it because it wasn’t in their interests. Has the Israeli military presence prevented past WB violence (see, e.g., two intifadas)?

  • If Fatah were truly a group that acted in their own self-interest, there would have been a Palestinian state long ago.

    Israeli presence does simply mean military activity, etc. etc. – one of the biggest losses in leaving Gaza was the incredible loss of intelligence sources (both people, and the actual proximity to what is happening on the ground).

    Nevertheless, Israel does control the crossings in the WB – not so in Gaza, where smuggling has become an enormous industry. If people could have smuggled rockets into the WB on a large scale (and without being detected, and revealed to Israeli intel) – it would have happened.

  • LB,

    What about the rockets?

    The Iron Dome system has passed some recent tests and it’s supposed to be very effective against Qassem and similar short range rockets.

    This would only be a temporary solution, however. The IDF will always have to fight and be prepared to fight.

    Second, how do you suppose this withdrawal can be carried out? Gaza was a cinch compared to this – relatively little opposition (nationally, media, and in Gaza), and a far smaller number of people. What do you do when you have ten times as many people to be kicked out of their homes and so much less support among soldiers to carry out this operation?

    Most of the settlers are not hard-liners. Most will leave quietly. I propose a system of diminishing compensation. Those who agree to evacuate peacefully receive the value of a home in Israel plus career training. As time passes, if you haven’t signed on, the compensation package becomes smaller.

    If you don’t care about trivial things like a couple of hundred thousand dollars, the government can create laws criminalizing your actions and again make time a severe judge with lighter penalties at the beginning and harsher for the end.

    Finally, I assume there will be a core of opposition that may raise arms against the IDF. They may actually do it to their fellow settlers first to apply counter-pressure to the government’s. They should be made to lose citizenship and permanently forfeit the right to live in Israel. If they like, they can see how long they survive among the Palestinians.

    The reason Gaza was challenging is exactly what you point out: it was a message to the government about the West Bank. Well, tough cookies. You can’t have a small fraction of the country dictating what the remainder – the vast majority – does.

    Third, if there is to be even a modicum of support among the residents themselves – how do you overcome the fact that the government royally f**ked the Gaza settlers – and still is? How are residents of the wb supposed to have any faith that they, too, won’t be living in glorified cardboard boxes 3.5 years from now – being told they might have real homes in two years?

    Simple one: have another country run this process. It would be meant to ensure good faith efforts by Israel and it would remove this stain from those Israeli government officials who would participate in the decision to make this large group leave the WB.

    I know it’s going to be challenging, but it is doable and it is absolutely necessary to leave Judea and Samaria ASAP to avoid a much worse outcome for Israel.

  • tm – So, best case scenario, you’re taking about a few years from now to even start something like this. Iron Dome, etc are scheduled for deployment in 2010.

    Most are not ‘hardliners’ – but most will have no faith in the government – Gaza is widely considered a disaster (at the very least, among those who would be evacuated). Both because they do not want to leave a vacuum for a terrorist entity (though leaving while the IDF remains would serve as a response to that), and because of the situation of former Gaza residents today.

    Also, I do not believe that there is a clear majority of Israelis today in favor of such a mass evacuation. I doubt we’ll really know, either – just like we didn’t in 2005, either (when there was, most likely a clear majority), because the government acted horribly – stifling any and all opposition. I fear that will happen again.

    Last reason it cannot be pulled off anytime soon – people will not go quietly until former Gaza residents are actually resettled – which is a long, long way off. The government agencies that dealt with them were horrendous, for lack of a better word. The demands made to prove residency, etc – of everyone, registering early or late made no difference. It took years for any money to arrive, and actual resettlement is still a few years off for most (at best). On top of that – unemployment is rampant, and the government has not done nearly enough to solve that – people nearing retirement are now depleting their life savings because there was no real effort made to give them suitable employment. My point is that people will have no faith in the government, and hardliners or not – they will not fall for the same empty words again.

    You mentioned another country run it? Who? One example why this is not feasible. The initial response would be the US, I presume. In 2005 USAID had a project to buy the greenhouses in Gaza, and to give them to the Palestinians, thereby giving them livelihood, and giving the evacuees something in return. Sounds great. However, no one was allowed to even see the contracts – not even knowing how much they were selling their property for – Gush Katif residents were told to sign blindly or not at all. USAID acted in very bad faith (as it often does today in the WB, but that’s another story) and the deal fell through. Eventually some (Jewish, I believe) American donors stepped in, salvaged some sort of deal, sans USAID.

  • One must also keep in mind that a unilateral pullout from the WB will be a nightmare for Jordan. They are serious about watching the border, unlike Egypt, and the monarchy are scared to death that they will have to deal with a border with “Palestine” w/o the IDF.

  • m – So, best case scenario, you’re taking about a few years from now to even start something like this. Iron Dome, etc are scheduled for deployment in 2010.

    Announcement and implementation are two different things. Even Gaza took a long time. But I believe Israel should have done this yesterday. I mean, what I’m talking about is the destructiveness of Israel being in there to Israeli society. It is corrosive. If you announce tomorrow, you can time the evacuation to coincide with the arrival of Iron Dome. Their reports about the tests they ran indicated they were very pleased with the results.

    Most are not ‘hardliners’ – but most will have no faith in the government – Gaza is widely considered a disaster (at the very least, among those who would be evacuated). Both because they do not want to leave a vacuum for a terrorist entity (though leaving while the IDF remains would serve as a response to that), and because of the situation of former Gaza residents today.

    I recognize that, but it’s not relevant. The danger to Israel and its long-term existence are far more important.

    Also, I do not believe that there is a clear majority of Israelis today in favor of such a mass evacuation. I doubt we’ll really know, either – just like we didn’t in 2005, either (when there was, most likely a clear majority), because the government acted horribly – stifling any and all opposition. I fear that will happen again.

    Today’s polls reflect the Lebanon and Gaza wars. If a leader decides to evacuate, particularly one on the Right, it will be accepted quickly. How many people actually believe the status quo can last and how many Israelis are willing to continue to fight over land they can’t even annex, knowing that it will become a demographic disaster?

    Last reason it cannot be pulled off anytime soon – people will not go quietly until former Gaza residents are actually resettled – which is a long, long way off. The government agencies that dealt with them were horrendous, for lack of a better word. The demands made to prove residency, etc – of everyone, registering early or late made no difference. It took years for any money to arrive, and actual resettlement is still a few years off for most (at best). On top of that – unemployment is rampant, and the government has not done nearly enough to solve that – people nearing retirement are now depleting their life savings because there was no real effort made to give them suitable employment. My point is that people will have no faith in the government, and hardliners or not – they will not fall for the same empty words again.

    Again, this is immaterial. Look, I’m not a hardass. I’m sympathetic to people who are suffering and recognize that they have not received what they were promised. I even feel bad because I was angry about all they were promised. However, this is on the micro level and I’m talking about the macro. Israel needs to move west of the Fence. Full stop. However it needs to be done, it must be done.

    You mentioned another country run it? Who? One example why this is not feasible. The initial response would be the US, I presume. In 2005 USAID had a project to buy the greenhouses in Gaza, and to give them to the Palestinians, thereby giving them livelihood, and giving the evacuees something in return. Sounds great. However, no one was allowed to even see the contracts – not even knowing how much they were selling their property for – Gush Katif residents were told to sign blindly or not at all. USAID acted in very bad faith (as it often does today in the WB, but that’s another story) and the deal fell through. Eventually some (Jewish, I believe) American donors stepped in, salvaged some sort of deal, sans USAID.

    Fair enough. Let’s pick Iran. 😉

  • I recognize that, but it’s not relevant. The danger to Israel and its long-term existence are far more important.

    But it would an evacuation far more difficult to execute.

    If a leader decides to evacuate, particularly one on the Right, it will be accepted quickly.

    I think you’re being overly optimistic (or pessimistic, from my point of view…). Regardless of reason, there is much less support today for such an undertaking than there was in 2005. Back then we weren’t exactly on the verge of peace either. We did have a (perceived) Right-wing government, and in the months leading up to August 2005, the settlement movement made countless tactical mistakes, in the battle over “hearts and minds”, which will not be repeated (mostly because the same people probably won’t be involved). Many, many soldiers have friends who participated in Operation Shuvu Banim, and now regret it – and would not repeat it. Regardless of what any of us think of disobeying orders – the fact is, that more people will disobey such an order in the future. Or will “psychological training” be necessary again…? Lastly, on this issue – the government in 2005 would NOT have approved the pullout if Sharon had not manipulated the cabinet makeup, by firing ministers, in order to ensure a favorable outcome in the vote.

    Again, this is immaterial. Look, I’m not a hardass. I’m sympathetic to people who are suffering and recognize that they have not received what they were promised. I even feel bad because I was angry about all they were promised. However, this is on the micro level and I’m talking about the macro. Israel needs to move west of the Fence. Full stop. However it needs to be done, it must be done.

    I’m not saying you are. Your arguments are far more reasonable than the average pro-withdrawal talking points, and I understand you’re coming from a good place, with good intentions. In any case, while I disagree – my point here wasn’t even necessarily about my views, but about feasibility of carrying out such an operation. The mismanagement of former Gaza residents’ situation has only created more ill-will among the public, at large, not to mention settlers (including WB – who fear for their homes) themselves. Israeli government still need public support – which will make it more difficult to garnet the necessary support.

    Fair enough. Let’s pick Iran.

    Good luck getting Fatah supporting that… 😉

    One more point about public support – the state (and media) completely disregarded civil liberties – freedom of speech, freedom of congregation, e.g., – all in order to further their plan. If they needed it last time – what will happen next time? Will such widespread abuse be tolerated again?

  • The middle,

    when we talk about occupation, we mean the rule over the people, not over the land, and I don’t think this fact is being disputed, so I don’t understand your need to put the term in quotation marks.

    as for the settlements – these were never a “mistake”. Read “lords of the land”. it was an ongoing national project, carried out by all Israeli government – and all of its branches, from the Justice Department to the Agriculture – most notably Barak’s leftist government. In this sense, it is a good litmus test for Israel’s intentions – just as you look at terrorism as the Palestinians’.

    As for your solution: while I wouldn’t oppose unilateral withdrawal, I agree it might turn out to be a disaster, just like Gaza. So I would simply start by stopping all settlement, and removing the illegal outposts – something Israel promised to do – and was also ordered to do by its own Supreme Court – but never did. Maybe I am too optimistic, but I think that once we do that, it will be easier to form a regional/international mechanism that will help stabilize the situation, keep our security and avoid the Gaza scenario.

    My question for you is this: if the Israeli government take the opposite direction – of building more settlements and avoiding all sort of agreement or negotiations – what do you think should be done? How do we avoid the “Apartheid scenario” in case Israel is sending more and more people to leave amongst the Palestinians?

  • LB,

    about the rockets – removing the settlements doesn’t necessarily mean stopping all military operations in the WB. The settlements problem – which I see as the heart of the matter, at least when we refer to Israel’s actions – has nothing to do with national security.

  • Noam, are you saying you would support a military “occupation” if civilian “settlements” are evacuated?

  • noam, you’re right. Which is why I did mention that regarding the rockets issue, evacuating settlements, but no the army is something that might help alleviate the public’s concern.

    However, what will be difficult, even impossible – is to ensure that people do not come back and resettle the land. No matter how many “closed military zone” orders given or convictions handed down – closing off an area to people in which their friends and family are stationed, and can therefore access relatively easily – people will come back, again and again. I just cannot foresee a situation in which the WB is succesfully sealed it off hermetically, while a military presence is maintained there.

  • Tori,

    I think Israel has the right to defend itself, and I don’t rule out the use of military force In the West Bank, or anywhere else for that matter.

    I also think that while we might be fighting terrorism in the WB, the reason we are there is the settlements.

    Let me put it this way: I served in South Lebanon and never felt a moral problem – though it was, by any standards, an occupation (I think even TM wouldn’t have put in in quotation marks). Sometimes I felt it was the wrong solution for the problem – but since we had no claim for the land, I though Israel acted within its rights. Our assignments in Hebron, on the other hand, had a whole different nature.

    It is clear to me that when one looks at Israel’s actions – not its words – you understand this difference, and why I say the settlements are, again, the heart of the matter.

  • LB,

    it seems we are able to seal the WB effectively right now, with regards to moving from east to west. I see no reason it wouldn’t work the other way.

    But than again, I don’t even ask that much. Lets just start by stopping all benefits for Jews who moves to live there. That’s what I mean by saying the settlements are a government policy.

    I find your position to be a bit naïve. Do you really think the government doesn’t approve the “illigal” outposts? Who do you think supply them with water, electricity, who builds the roads to these outposts? Who defends them? We might not actively tell them to go and live on a specific hill, but once they are there, Israel is doing almost everything in its power to keep them where they are.

  • noam-

    I think you’ve misunderstood me.

    1. In Israel of all places – if your brother, neighbor and cousin – all serve in the Binyamin Brigade HQ – do you really think you won’t be able to sneak in? Now compound that by a few thousands, and you see what I mean.

    2. Whether or not the govt approves them is irrelevant – people will still settle, and guard themselves. There might be complaints about IDF inactivity or Israel’s abandonment of citizens – but that is still irrelevant – people WILL move there, as long the IDF is still there.

    3. As someone who knows the process from the inside – the government does not approve these outposts. What happens rather often though is that pressure is put for water and electricity to be provided – roads are often built by those who establish the outposts themselves. Defending them might be seen as giving legitimacy – but the reason for that is more the public outcry that will ensue if people are killed. Let’s just say it’s not that simple for a bulldozer to be approved into almost anywhere east of the fence – it’s nearly impossible. They are brought it anyway, that’s a given, but it’s more a policy of looking the other way than approving them – dealing with them will be more of a pain, in the short run, anyway – cost more, will not be popular among soldiers, etc. etc.

  • LB,

    all your arguments come to the point that once there are a few dozens settlers who wish to get there, the government can’t do anything about it. Current history shows it is the other way around – when the government decides, there are no settlements (like in Chomesh, the disputed house in Hebron, and many other examples).

    There is no “public outcry” to provide settlements with services such as power and water. Furthermore, the outpost, with no more than a few hundred people living in them, are only the tip of the iceberg. The problem is the national policy – colonizing the land. I ask you again: how else do you explain all the benefits for those who move to live in the WB? How do you explain the fact that Netanyahu wouldn’t commit to stopping the expansion of the settlements? It would help him with the WH and cost him nothing, but he wouldn’t even say it. Again, this is no “mistake”, but rather a policy.

  • noam, yes, RE:your first part, that is what I’m saying. It is a problem – and the army has had a problem dealing with Chomesh recently – like I said – imagine that problem times 1,000. One point – it’s a lot more than a few dozen. Fringe/extremist or whatever else the public at large thinks of these people – they are more than a few dozen people gallivanting around the mountain tops – they have far more of a base than that.

    Second – the public outcry is only about defending people – if there were no defense, people would die — public outcry over that. Nevertheless, I am speaking only about outposts – not settlements at large.

    The benefits for people in general who live over the green line? People push, lobby, and it’s a coalitionary system – that’s how the game works.

    Why won’t Bibi stop the expansion? Honestly, all my arguments were from a public point of view – I am not in favor ceasing expansion of settlements (but I don’t want the discussion here to boil over into that – it will change the subject and dominate the discussion, as it always does – if you want to, I’ve commented on your blog, so you have my email – contact me there), and Bibi’s motives are never easy to decipher – maybe he agrees with me…

    “It would help him with the WH and cost him nothing, but he wouldn’t even say it. Again, this is no “mistake”, but rather a policy.”

    Yes. No argument there. Whether or not that is a good idea is another discussion which I think will just take over here, and as I’ve said I would rather not hijack the discussion here.

  • As a basic rule, no Israeli gov’t is willing to stop “settlement growth” because they correctly claim that “natural growth” should be permitted. Don’t forget that by “settlements” many people include east Jerusalem and the neighborhoods surrounding Jerusalem. Why should any Israeli gov’t agree to that?

    As to Noam’s point that this is all calculated and supported by the gov’t, I say not so fast. The settlement movement has been very clever in understanding the levers of power in Israel and have received support over the years in different ways. However, that has more to do with their stridency and confidence in their own destiny and objectives. The gov’t is simply not built to contest this confidence, in part because of the historic and emotional ties to this land and in part because coalition agreements have helped to strengthen smaller groups and the settlers have benefited from this.

    At one point in the early ’70s there may have been a belief in the gov’t that settlements should be supported, and maybe again in Netanyahu’s first go-round as PM, but it fluctuates. I refer to it as a mistake not because I deny that governments have been involved in supporting these settlement efforts, but rather because I perceive most of these governments to have been led by the nose by the settlement movement. I think it’s hard for Israelis to reconcile that they have to give up this land to the Palestinians.

    Noam asks:

    My question for you is this: if the Israeli government take the opposite direction – of building more settlements and avoiding all sort of agreement or negotiations – what do you think should be done? How do we avoid the “Apartheid scenario” in case Israel is sending more and more people to leave amongst the Palestinians?

    Noam, there is nothing to be done in this event. We will watch slowly and sadly as more and more supporters disengage from supporting Israel, as more and more people around the world begin to view it as truly a pariah state and then we will weep for what could have been and what should have been in this incredible project of Zionism.

    It will happen inside Israel as well. You think there’s a brain drain going on now with some of Israel’s fine young minds leaving for foreign shores to explore better career options or to leave the pressures of Israel behind? Just wait and see what happens if what you write comes to pass.

    What you’re describing is the end of Israel as a Jewish state within 20-30 years. And whether the end comes about violently or peacefully will probably determine whether it’s the end of Israel entirely. In the scenario you describe, there could well be a temporary period where there is some sort of dictatorial regime instead of a democratic one ruling Israel, but they won’t be able to hold up for too long once the rest of the world and the US truly ostracize them.

    But do me one favor, Noam, don’t preach about Israel avoiding all sort of agreement or negotiations. The Palestinians have been avoiding them even more and, to be frank, are counting on the success of the Palestinian national project to happen because there is no peace deal. They have no incentive to compromise at all – they think they’ve won.

    That’s why unilateral action is imperative.

  • B”H

    Typical.

    Complete absence of halachic reasoning. OTOH, the mamlachti (undying State loyalist religious) aren’t terribly concerned about such matters either.

    So, when are YOU coming to kick me out of my home?

    I guarantee you that coffee and cake will not be here waiting for you.

  • I don’t understand. Why do we have to keep pulling out? We do not practice Zionism interruptus. As I once told Sari Nusseibeh, or maybe Jonathan Kuttab, when asked where Israel’s borders are to be, “where you stop fighting us”, But they can’t stop because whether moderate or fanatic, the very essential of Jewish national political independence is a non-starter. In May 1967, there was no “occupation”, no “illegal settlements” and yet we had Arab terror. People’s memories are so insufficient.

    P.S. Ever since Michael started parting his hair in the middle after his last book’s success, I knew we were in for trouble.

  • Ben Yehuda, I am never coming to kick you out of your home which is subsidized by other Israeli tax-payers and defended with their sons. After all, it’s your home even if it is subsidized and defended by other people’s sons and couldn’t really exist if it weren’t for the subsidies and the other people’s sons.

    You see, you’ve already won the war with me.

    I don’t live in Israel.

    Nice victory, huh? I am merely a tourist who comes there sometimes.

    I made a decision, many years ago, that I couldn’t live in Israel despite really wanting to. People like you convinced me. I thought to myself, why would I want to defend that person when I disagree with his views but would be expected to defend them with my body?

    Why, I asked myself, would I want to lord it over other people so that you could live there? I didn’t believe then in the whole settlement enterprise and still don’t. If you were living in the Galilee, I would defend you with my blood and body and I’d live in Israel, but you don’t have my consent to live anywhere outside of Israel’s consensus borders. I didn’t want to risk my life so that you could live there. I didn’t want the moral weight of it. I didn’t want any of it.

    I vividly recall Yeshayahu Leibovitz in a talk I attended where he asserted how evil it was for Israel to be engaged in an occupation of another people. He predicted it would tear up Israeli society and compromise the moral standing of its soldiers. I agreed, but didn’t know how right he would prove to be.

    So please, don’t wait for me, I’m not coming to kick you out. But you should also know that you keep weakening my resolve to support Israel. I know, I know, you’re saying “so what?” Well, without people like me you’d be all alone in the world. You’d have far lesser resources and you should know that if you are at the point of losing the strong supporters like me, it means the weaker ones have left long ago.

    Thanks to you, Israel is left weaker, not stronger. Your strong beliefs undermine Israel’s possibilities of survival and growth.

    But if you ever come to the US and want to visit me to console my broken heart that so seeks to live in Israel but not at any expense, I will gladly have you over for coffee and cake. Oh wait, I’m probably not kosher enough for you. Oh well, I guess we won’t even have that to offer you.

  • So, what’s the current state of the matter? I’ve just heard on the news that Israel announced it would extend (and thereby connect) two settlements in the Westbank.

  • Sheesh TM! Surely you can find some Entemans or a Coffee Bean under hashgacha somewhere nearby for Ben Yehuda. Keep in mind that Ben Yehuda and his gang are well represented in the IDF’s combat units and officer corps. They are the ones putting their lives on the line defending Israel, both for citizens and tourists. Like you. The current situation in the territories is untenable. But please, let’s not demonize the vast majority of settlers who are by and large, the salt of the earth. I don’t have any simple solutions, or complicated ones either, we pulled out of Gaza and the response was almost unrelenting rocket fire. How about we see SOME willingness from the other side to pursue peace? Go on. Throw me a bone, anything. I don’t want to hurt a single one of these people:

    Watch the video of the final moments of the Neve Dekalim synagogue. If you’re not moved then you have no soul and we have nothing more to discuss.

  • Entenmann’s is OUd, which, I was told, includes unsupervised milk. But yeah, Middle, get Entenmann’s, and I’ll come visit you.

  • They’re never going to evacuate Maale Adumim. You can take that off the list. They may as well evacuate French Hill too. It’s on the western part of the security barrier, has close to 40,000 residents and is like a suburb of Jerusalem.

  • Surely you can find some Entemans or a Coffee Bean under hashgacha somewhere nearby for Ben Yehuda. Keep in mind that Ben Yehuda and his gang are well represented in the IDF’s combat units and officer corps. They are the ones putting their lives on the line defending Israel, both for citizens and tourists. Like you. The current situation in the territories is untenable. But please, let’s not demonize the vast majority of settlers who are by and large, the salt of the earth. I don’t have any simple solutions, or complicated ones either, we pulled out of Gaza and the response was almost unrelenting rocket fire. How about we see SOME willingness from the other side to pursue peace? Go on. Throw me a bone, anything. I don’t want to hurt a single one of these people:

    Dave,

    I’ll throw you more than a bone, my comment is not directed at all settlers.

    You have known me for many years, even before Jewlicious. You have seen me argue on behalf of settlers, defending them against demonization and even justifying their presence on this land. I don’t believe the Palestinians have a RIGHT to this land, I believe pragmatism forces us out of there.

    But I wasn’t talking to all settlers when I spoke to Ben Yehudah above. I was speaking to the hardliners who would THREATEN others, including other Jews, with violence. He does not represent the majority of settlers! He is a member of a minority among the settlers who would threaten the soldiers who come to remove him.

    Most settlers, as I wrote above, are going to leave peacefully. They don’t walk around thinking they are BETTER than other Jews or other Israelis, or that as citizens of Israel they KNOW BETTER than other Israelis or Jews or even that they WILL PHYSICALLY CHALLENGE decisions made by Israel’s government on behalf of Israel.

    No, only a minority of settlers believe that and that hardcore group is a danger to Israel. These days, they may be THE danger to Israel second in stature to Iran.

    I want to be clear that by no means do I disparage the settlers as a group and don’t believe I have done so in my response to Ben Yehuda or in my post. If what I wrote is understood differently, then let me be absolutely clear that I am talking about the hardliners who attack and would attack soldiers, the IDF and the Israeli governments who they see as an opponent instead of as their basis of support.

    I understand the position of most settlers. In many cases I even respect their position.

    I disagree with it very strongly because I read the future differently.

    I am even sympathetic to the hardships they will face in an evacuation. But I’m afraid the evacuation has to be done and those hardships must be ignored because the entire ship could sink.

    I also believe many settlers and their sons represent some of Israel’s finest soldiers today. I’ve posted about the heroics of a couple in the Lebanon War a couple of years ago. In Gaza’s disengagement we saw that the soldiers who were the sons and daughters of settlers were, for the most part, able to separate their soldier selves from their settler selves. As hard as it must have been for them, they understood what Ben Yehuda doesn’t understand which is that THE GREATER PROJECT OF ISRAEL IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HIS DESIRES, BELIEFS AND IDEOLOGY.

  • The settlers are victims, too, of manipulative and inept political leadership. The notion that somehow Israel can have it both ways– proclaim a willingness to make painful sacrifices for peace, while de facto promoting settlement activity– will continue to result in wrenching tableaux of people driven from their homes. This isn’t the Arabs’ fault. The chicken of political complacency is coming home to roost.

  • B”H

    The Middle,

    You’re right about one thing. I am in the minority. Most of [even] the religious “settlers” are undying state loyalist “mamlachtim,” as were the majority of those Jews who used to reside in Azza. The minority is made up of those who recognize the authority of the Torah over the State, whenever there is conflict between the two, which has been occurring increasingly more often. I believe that this trend will continue.

    However, I do not recall threatening anyone? Would you please remind me of when I have done this?

    If you want, we can simply agree to disagree. We see things from very different perspectives. {Am I wrong?} Actually, Rav Binyamin Kahane HY”D said that we should let everyone think that were “crazy settlers.” Then maybe we’ll be left alone. It’s worked in Tapu’ah. The Arabs leave us alone because they think we’re nuts. Of course, now that a lot of mamlachtim have moved and have changed various policies, there have been more attacks. But, I digress….

    His father Rav Meir Kahane HY”D said to say the truth, and do the truth, and whatever happens afterward is min haShamayim. And what’s the truth? The Torah.

    This partly answers ck’s comment about how tackle the complicated issue. You see, it’s not complicated. We already have instructions as to what to do,…the Torah.

    Of course, people like to ask, “So, how do you decide which rav’s ‘interpretation’ to listen to?” A valid question, but again, one that’s easy to answer. Listen to the one who states his Halachic sources clearly {Talmud, Rishonim}, and not one dances around the Torah grasping as straws and obscure midrashim to avoid that which goes against his pre-established hashqafah {perspective}. Opinions and feelings do NOT dictate halacha. Halachic sources do. All groups do this, including some of MY neighbors. It is a mistake.

    ck,
    The problem with Entenman’s is that lately there have been more incidents of Arabs attempting to poison food and drink in the restaurants where the work {Ramat Gan, Cafe Rimon, etc.}. So it might be a good idea to go with halav Yisrael, even in the U. S. Just a suggestion,… ;-}

    Final note,…

    The Middle,

    I won’t get in to the issue of who is a Jew. And, no I’m not talking about conversions and pseudo-conversions. I’ll just let look up the Ramba”m’s list of who is NOT to be treated like a “Yisrael” at all. You may find the list illuminating, or offensive, or both.

    Also, ever hear of the term “80 percent?” Rash”i suggests that might have been the percentage of Bnei Yisrael who stayed [or died] in Egypt.

    Good luck. I think you’re gonna need it.

  • You’ll forgive me Ben Yehuda, but this is one of those conversations where my anonymity gives me an advantage. As a result, I’m going to stop here. I think much of what I wrote in the comment above yours bears out in your response.

  • OK. I hope that means I was clear. Your comment suggests that it was. I sometimes have difficulty staying clear and concise.

    {I’m being serious here, not sarcastic. No reason to be sarcastic. You and I may disagree on this issue, but your last comment is sensible.}

    If my crime is attempting to follow the Torah to the best of my ability, above all other authority, then I plead guilty.

    What do you follow?

    To your readers:

    Politically incorrect but true…

    Western culture, ideology, sensibilities, and definitions of “peace” are not automatically compatible with Torah,…not by a long shot.

    Israel is not Western; it’s not Eastern; it’s in the middle and unique.

  • Ben Yehuda, the Torah doesn’t presage the current situation just as it didn’t presage the Zionist movement – a secular, nationalistic movement that is the only reason you have a state and can live where you live. The same goes for the military which has protected Israel for all these decades. The same goes for the tax rolls in Israel. You may wish to live according to “Torah,” but you only have that luxury because of people you disparage.

    Now tell me something because I’m curious. How do you think the demographic balance in the West Bank will play out? What happens if you succeed and continue to receive gov’t and military support as the Palestinian population grows? What is your long-range vision and how do you get there?

  • B”H

    This article and most of the discussion that follows are not jewlicious at all. Actually ithey are quite anti-Jewish and anti-religious and anti-Torah and anti-reasonable by any standard other than that of our enemy’s. Therefore I put this site on my blacklist. Don’t forget gentlemen, as Jews we don’t have to reinvent hot water and Middle East peace: Hashem has a peace plan for His chosen people on His chosen Land and we’ll be as successfull in obtaining peace as closely we decide to adhere to His Torah individually and as a nation.

  • Well darn it, if you’re going to blacklist Jewlicious because it’s anti-Jewish, anti-religious, anti-Torah AND anti-reasonable, then I intend to change my mind, change my outlook, change my forecast and change my underwear. No more Palestine is for Lovers thongs for me.

    But thanks for engaging me in conversation, Ariel. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    By the way, what did the other posters on Jewlicious who had nothing to do with this post do to you? Lo tisa avon avot al banim, dude.

  • B”H

    “Dude” maybe your granpa “themiddle”, Jews are required to call each other by their names. How dare you contemplating giving up parts of our Holy Land? Who gives you the authority? No Jew has the authority to do this and yes, what you are doing is worse than what our enemy does? Why? Because they are playing their own part, whereas you are playing theirs. As Jews we cannot stand in the middle, “themiddle”. We have a G-d given role to play out in this world to merit a place in the next one and there is no place for compromise: we must not add or take away from Torah.

  • Hashem has a peace plan for His chosen people on His chosen Land

    And that’s why stoutly Torah-observant Jews believe there may not be a state of Israel unless brought about by Moshiach. That is why there are ultra-religious settlers whose intention is not to occupy the land they believe belongs to Israel but to disrupt the peace process. You don’t have to be Neturei Karta to be an extremist nut.

  • Ariel, can you please tell me what the Torah says is going to happen with the Palestinians in the West Bank? Are they going to become citizens of Israel? Are they going to remain under Israeli military control but without the rights of citizens? Is there going to be another outcome for them? What does the Torah say about this?

    PS my grandpa is dead. Both of them.

  • How dare you contemplating giving up parts of our Holy Land? Who gives you the authority? No Jew has the authority to do this and yes, what you are doing is worse than what our enemy does? Why? Because they are playing their own part, whereas you are playing theirs. As Jews we cannot stand in the middle, “themiddle”. We have a G-d given role to play out in this world to merit a place in the next one and there is no place for compromise: we must not add or take away from Torah

    I see our Hamas has arrived.

  • “I see our Hamas has arrived.”

    noam, come on. Let’s be honest – regardless of your thoughts about people who hold such opinions, there a world of difference between that and the racist mass murder of innocent people that is Hamas.

  • “I see our Hamas has arrived.”

    noam, come on. Let’s be honest – regardless of your thoughts about people who hold such opinions, there a world of difference between that and the racist mass murder of innocent people that is Hamas.

    I have to agree with LB. Noam, there is no group in Israel that even comes close to Hamas and its actions. Keep your bearings straight here and let’s be fair about what we’re discussing.

  • Let’s be honest – regardless of your thoughts about people who hold such opinions, there a world of difference between that and the racist mass murder of innocent people that is Hamas

    LB,

    ABY comes from Tapuah, the single most extreme settlements in the West Bank and the stronghold of Kahana people. As you might know, these groups were expelled from the Knesset in the 80’s and outlawed in the 90’s after they praised violent attack on Arabs, called for segregation inside Israel and for the forced transfer of the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. Kahana himself tried to pass a law in the Knesset according to which any intercourse between Jews and Arabs will lead to the imprisonment of both. So no, I fail to see the difference.

    ask the good ABY what he thinks of Dr. Baruch Goldstein, or Yigal Amir for that matter, and lets take it from there.

  • The Middle,

    The Ramba”m {See Hil. Avodah Zarah} and other Rishonim are quite clear.

    Unfortunately, the galuth mentality has gotten most to the point where Rash”i’s comment that the Third will fall {prefabricated} from the sky takes precedence over all other sources. This split began around 500 years ago. The galuth is clearly winning.

    So called religious Zionists, who are supposed to believe that we are active participants in the ge’ulah process, stop short, and take the “Haredi” line, after 1967, and become completely stagnant.

    It doesn’t help when both RZ and Haredi often prefer texts censored by Christians than daring to leave their caves to search for versions that weren’t.

    Froylein,

    You are giving an excellent example of how hashqah can get in the way of seeking the truth. The is no Halachic leg for neturah karta to stand on. The “anti Zionist” movement is a very recent one, conveniently leaving out of their shiurim, the “zionist” leanings of the Hatham Sofer, the GR”A, the Mahara”l, and others. As Rav Moshe Tzuriel of Bnei Braq says, there is no Zionism; it’s simple part of the Torah.

    The Torah is our only justification for returning and now living and maintaining a presence in Eretz Yisrael. If we do what we’re supposed to, it is likely we’ll be able to stay. If not, we’ll be kicked out. I am not optimistic, when you have a Yesha Council receiving its budget directly for the office of the prime minister {where I come from, that’s known as a conflict of interest}, getting more money from Christian missionaries, and wasting ck’s, mine {yes, I pay taxes}, and others’ taxes on codependent PR campaigns, and clever speeches, instead of just saying the truth, planting fields and building houses.

    No’am,

    I wish it were so about Tapu’ah being “extremist.” Over the past several years, Tapu’ah and other towns have been filling up with mamlachtim, sought out by the powers that be. They’ll get and go, as soon as the gov’t says, “Boo,” after a brief symbolic resistance.

    The government will try to take down Yitzhar, shed blood, and then most other towns will get up and go quietly.

    The gov’t has to find less expensive options for transplanting Jews. They don’t really care what happens to us. Even many on the left would like us to be treated with dignity, and so the gov’t must pretend to care.

  • Wow Noam, you trotted out Baruch Goldstein. Congrats on losing the argument right there.

    Let’s see what you can you attribute to these Hamas-like settlers: A murder of a leftist political activist; the murder of an Israeli PM; Baruch Goldstein’s massacre; a couple of failed attempts at blowing up places, and the attacks on Arab mayors in the ’80s? Hamas accomplished more than that in 2001 and Hamas is organized whereas the cases I just brought up were committed by individuals or members of two very small groups.

    I mean, come on. How can you write what you wrote in good faith and how do you expect to win any debate when you take such an extreme view of these people? Can we please wait until they do something like Hamas before we equate the two? This is why apologia for the Palestinians always fails and why it’s so maddening to see the Israeli Left, especially the Israeli Left, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies. It’s also why the Israeli Right keeps winning – you lose all credibility with anybody who has a bit of common sense when you make these facile comparisons.

  • Ben Yehuda, you’re bullshitting me.

    I asked you direct questions:

    How do you think the demographic balance in the West Bank will play out?
    What happens if you succeed and continue to receive gov’t and military support as the Palestinian population grows?
    What is your long-range vision and how do you get there?

    You answered as follows:

    The Ramba”m {See Hil. Avodah Zarah} and other Rishonim are quite clear.
    Unfortunately, the galuth mentality has gotten most to the point where Rash”i’s comment that the Third will fall {prefabricated} from the sky takes precedence over all other sources. This split began around 500 years ago. The galuth is clearly winning.
    So called religious Zionists, who are supposed to believe that we are active participants in the ge’ulah process, stop short, and take the “Haredi” line, after 1967, and become completely stagnant.
    It doesn’t help when both RZ and Haredi often prefer texts censored by Christians than daring to leave their caves to search for versions that weren’t.

    Would you be kind enough to answer my questions?

  • Themiddle,

    The scale of the action is not everything. I don’t need the Jewish Terrorists to kill a thousand Palestinians in order to condemn them. The Hamas was the Hamas after the first bus exploded. And I have to remind you that Dr. Goldstien came before the buses – and as all intelligence since indicated, helped in many ways create the first wave of suicide attacks.

    Furthermore, I think you are underestimating the scale of the Jewish Terrorism. There were three attempts to blow the dome of rock during the 80’s, which is by no means a small thing. The Jewish Underground – which consisted of well accepted figures and leaders in the settlers’ movement – was cough after it planted explosives in five (!) Palestinian buses – an attack in the scale the Hamas never managed to do.

    Currently, there are at least 15 cases of murder from recent years attributed to one or more Jewish Underground groups. No one was convicted. The “Bat Ayin” underground’s members were caught accidentally after they planted explosives in an elementary girls’ school in East Jerusalem – a patrol cop noticed it just before the first pupils arrived – and that’s only a partial list. As in any case of terrorism – the Hamas included – this couldn’t happen without a surrounding that provided ideological, moral, and physical support for these actions.