Friday, July 27, 2012

Settler letter in NYT

At the prompting of Jewish Voice for Peace Boston, I composed a letter to the NYT complaining about a disgusting column by settler Dani Dayan. Then I realized that they demand really short letters and composed two shorter versions. Here they are, shortest first. It's not like they're anything terrifically original, but hey, at least I wrote something.





In Dani Dayan's op-ed (July 26, 2012), he claims that a two-state solution is impossible, so the "international community" should accept Israel's settlements as a fait accompli. But it is the very point of Israel's settlement policy that the settlements help to close the window on the two-state solution. Biblical irrendentism aside, a generous welfare state exists for those willing to leave Israel and move to the West Bank, providing an economic incentive to settlers to create suitable "facts on the ground." By strategically using settlements and the land-grabbing wall to remove large chunks of the West Bank and water resources from Palestinians, and using setter-only roads and checkpoints to carve the remainder into discontiguous cantons, Israel makes a Palestinian state unviable; by continually expanding settlements even during negotiations, Israel deliberately derails the bankrupt "peace talks." Thus Dayan's main argument boils down to "a two-state solution is impossible because we are working to make it impossible."



Jeffrey D. Carlson,
Wakefield, RI




In his disturbing op-ed Thursday, the settler Dani Dayan promotes Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank as the solution to the problem Israel's oppression of the Palestinians has created. He begins with a lazy justification based on a selective reading of history before conveniently putting morality aside to put forth a realpolitik argument for the settlements.

He disparages the two-state idea, making familiar false allegations about Palestinian "rejectionism" and arguing that the anger of Palestinians at their expulsion from their lands and their continued oppression and refugee status would make their "extremism," if they had a state, a danger to Israel's all-important security and that it necessitates the continued denial of their rights. Thus the worse Israel -- and its illegal adjuncts, as represented by Dayan -- treats Palestinians, the more necessary their continued oppression becomes.

The crux of Dayan's argument for settlements is a similar exercise in the snowballing of injustice. He claims that a two-state solution is impossible, so the "international community" should accept Israel's settlements as a fait accompli. But that the settlements help to close the window on the two-state solution is the very point of the Israeli policy. The fact that, as Dayan points out, Israelis are loath to leave their homes in the West Bank for monetary compensation is due to the fact that, apart from Biblical irredentism, a generous welfare state exists for those willing to leave Israel (or like Dayan, immigrate from abroad) and move to the West Bank, providing an economic incentive to settlers to create suitable "facts on the ground." By strategically using settlements and the land-grabbing wall to remove large chunks of the West Bank and water resources from Palestinians, and carving the remainder into discontiguous cantons with setter-only access roads and checkpoints, Israel makes a Palestinian state unviable; by continually expanding settlements even during negotiations, Israel deliberately derails the already bankrupt "peace process." Thus Dayan's main argument boils down to "a two-state solution is impossible because we are working to make it impossible."

This is about the justification one would expect from someone promoting an enterprise universally agreed to be criminal under international law.  It's ironic that the success that Dayan and his ilk have had at promoting apartheid whilst and killing the two-state solution will in the long run make inevitable a binational solution granting Palestinians freedom to travel and genuinely equal rights. The settlers will react poorly.


Jeffrey D. Carlson,
Wakefield, RI




It's difficult to know where to begin replying to the distortions and tortured rationalizations put forth by Dani Dayan (nytimes.com/2012/07/26/opinion/israels-settlers-are-here-to-stay.html) in his Thursday op-ed column in your pages, but one would not expect any better from an official representative of a venture universally recognized under international law to be criminal. It is remarkable it was even printed.

Dayan starts off by describing the occupation as an "acquisition" and sniffily insisting on Biblical terms for the occupied Palestinian territories -- three decades ago this kind of linguistic warrior was declaring that Palestinians don't exist and insisting they be called merely "Arabs." He claims a Palestinian state, built on the remnants Israel occupied ("in self-defense") after the 1967 war, would be unnecessarily kind to Palestinians, given threats about "annihilation" made in the immediate run-up to the war by the three Arab countries Israel fought and by the leader of the PLO. Thus the right to Palestinian self-determination on their own land is reconceptualized as a favor or reward that Israel can choose (or not) to grant on the basis of statements made forty-five years ago. Given the moral ground he has to try to stand on, it's not surprising Dayan then decides to put aside moral considerations in favor of realpolitik.

He argues that the anger of Palestinians at their expulsion from their lands and their continued oppression and refugee status would make their "extremism," if they had a state, a danger to Israel's all-important security and that it necessitates the continued denial of their basic rights. Thus the worse Israel -- and its illegal adjuncts, as represented by Dayan -- treats Palestinians, the more necessary their continued oppression becomes.

There's a similar snowballing justification in Dayan's insistence that the "international community" should accept the settlements as a fait accompli making a two-state solution impossible. In terms of Israeli policy, that the settlements help to close the window on the two-state solution is the very point. The fact that, as Dayan points out, Israelis are loath to leave their homes in the West Bank for monetary compensation is in fact a victory of Israeli policy: a rather generous welfare state exists for those willing to leave Israel (or like Dayan, immigrate from abroad) and move to the West Bank, providing an economic incentive to settlers to create suitable "facts on the ground." All of Dayan's disingenuousness about the long history of the "peace process" aside, in the present the facts are that by strategically using settlements and the land-grabbing wall to remove large chunks of the West Bank and water resources from Palestinians, and carving the remainder into discontiguous cantons with setter-only access roads and checkpoints, Israel makes a Palestinian state unviable; by continually expanding settlements even during negotiations, Israel deliberately derails the "peace process." Thus Dayan's main argument boils down to "a two-state solution is impossible because we are working to make it impossible."

The most likely solution Palestinians will insist on once the two-state solution is finally completely dead is a binational solution that Dayan no doubt would like even less; after all, the hostility of people in a position of power towards those they have wronged is a historical constant. Israel's future as an ethnoreligious settler state is menaced by the possibility of being surrounded by Arab governments actually accountable to their people, a growing international movement for boycott, sanctions, and divestment (bdsmovement.net), and an increasing unwillingness among young Americans to countenance crimes they had previously been unaware of or chosen not to let notice. Ending the occupation, dismantling the wall, allowing refugees to return to their original homes, and allowing Palestinian citizens of Israel equal rights would render Israel a state of all its citizens, rather than one existing for the benefit of a minority. Such a process happened in South Africa, and the resulting state would be on a par legally with other developed countries. Dayan would find it difficult to accept this "annihilation" of Israel, his real hope being that Palestinian demands for justice continue to be ignored.

Dayan's claim that "security prevails," typically, ignores the Palestinians. Palestinian children suffer double-digit percentage rates of permanent damage due to malnutrition (haaretz.com/news/poll-10-of-palestinian-children-have-lasting-malnutrition-effects-1.217826), Palestinian farmers are  cut off by their land by the wall, Palestinians are imprisoned on a massive scale without charges being brought, and their families' houses demolished as a punitive measure. Palestinians' weekly nonviolent protests in Bil'in and Ni'lin and whose hunger strikes in Israeli prisons are ignored by Westerners continuing to arrogantly wonder where the "Palestinian Gandhi" is. He is in jail, when he hasn't been assassinated.

Anyone interested in what conditions look like for Palestinians forced to live with settlers should look at the caged area covered with trash from the aggressive, military-protected settler minority in occupied Hebron on YouTube and ask for themselves whether the situation is morally tolerable. They should ask themselves what it would be like if the land they lived on were colonized, its land and water resources claimed and cut off with walls, and the remaining territory cut off by colonist-only roads, passage being blocked by the military. They should imagine their grandmothers being humiliated by soldiers with machine guns and their relatives dying on the way to the hospital in ambulances that take hours to move a few miles because the security of the illegal colonists might be in doubt. They should consider all that Dayan and his ilk represent and then consider Palestinian security for a change.


Jeffrey D. Carlson,
Wakefield, RI

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