Friday, February 03, 2006

Demonstration on Sunday, February 5th, Kikar Zion, Jerusalem

For those of you who haven't seen the notices, there will be a demonstration on Sunday at 6:30pm in Kikar Zion in Jerusalem.

This is for those of us who are clinging by our fingernails to the belief that peaceful demonstrations have some effect.

And that there are reasonable people in Israel, who despite their disagreements with us, think that Olmert's decision to disregard the compromise worked out that would have avoided the violence in Amona was proof of an appalling lack of judgement.

And that there is still hope that we can convince our teenagers that they are not backed into a corner yet - and that there are other ways to help their fellow Jews than mixing it up with policemen on horses.

And, if nothing else, G-d will take notice of our cries.


Blogger Jack Steiner said...

From your mouth to Hashem's ears.

6:48 PM, February 03, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wont be there physically, as i live in the States, but my soul will be with you all...
May Hashem forgive us and save us.

8:38 PM, February 03, 2006  
Blogger Don Radlauer said...

WBM wrote:

And that there are reasonable people in Israel, who despite their disagreements with us, think that Olmert's decision to disregard the compromise worked out that would have avoided the violence in Amona was proof of an appalling lack of judgement.

There are also a lot of people in Israel who would have been disgusted with Olmert if he'd allowed yet another delay in demolishing these houses - after all the many delays that have already passed.

Remember that this wasn't just some spur-of-the-moment thing: the demolition orders were issued long ago. If the settlers wanted to move the houses elsewhere, they had many months to do so; the fact that they made this offer hours before the demolition was to take place indicates that they were just trying yet again to delay the process, not to reach an honest compromise.

To react to Olmert's decision to go ahead with the demolition as if this was the beginning of the process - rather than the culmination of a long series of delays and obfuscations - reminds me of the anti-Zionists who talk as if the history of Palestinian terrorism began with the "occupation" in 1967, rather than long before. History can't be started at whatever moment we find convenient!

6:20 PM, February 04, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

Jack - amen

Missing - good thoughts are also welcome!

Don - with 20/20 hindsight - was it worth 200+ injured? Nine houses inhabited by Jews was worth a bloody confrontation? When Arabs illegaly build houses everywhere, including Jerusalem?

If you take a step back, and look at the forest, the bottom line is that the Jewish response to years of bloody terror is to BUILD HOMES, not to kill innocents. If the Israeli government is to take a hard line with anyone, it should be the ones sending kassams into Sderot and Ashkelon, and not with its own citizens.

9:43 PM, February 04, 2006  
Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Was it "worth" 200+ injured? Yes and no. If the government lets itself be deterred from carrying out legal actions (and the demolition was absolutely legal, by any conventional meaning of the word) because a bunch of kids are threatening violent disobedience (which they were), then the rule of law has been abandoned and we might as well beg the Turks to come back in and run our country for us because we're not capable of doing it for ourselves.

So from the government's standpoint - and from mine - the operation was unfortunate, but absolutely necessary. Now that doesn't mean that every cop there did his job perfectly. Knowing the police as well as I do, I have no problem believing that some guys started swinging their clubs too soon, and went after protestors too indiscriminately. If particular policemen can be shown to have acted thus, they should face severe discipline; and if police commanders gave inappropriate orders, they should also face discipline. But the basic idea - that the demolition, which had been legally ordered by the legal government, and which had withstood all legal challenges, should go forward - was entirely correct. For Ehud Olmert to have backed down all because a bunch of kids decided to make trouble would have been an act of cowardice and incompetence. If he let the protestors win this time, there would be no chance of ever exerting government control in the West Bank.

Was it "worth it" from the standpoint of the kids who forced the confrontation? According to my own principles, no; but according to their principles, possibly yes. If they entered into this confrontation intending to be manhandled (which is the very least they could expect even for peaceably obstructing the operation) then they obviously think the goal of preventing such operations is worth a considerable degree of personal risk. I may disagree with them, but their system of values is, I suppose, internally consistent even if I think it's mistaken.

* * *

Is the "Jewish response" to terror to build houses? Not necessarily. In my opinion, the Jewish response is to strengthen the State of Israel, which in turn means setting up meaningful, defensible borders with a solidly Jewish population inside them. Building houses outside those borders - outside any reasonable idea of where such borders might go - may conform to one particular notion of "Jewishness", but personally I consider it to be dangerous foolishness; and I do not consider foolishness to be a particularly "Jewish" trait.

Regarding the supposed equivalence of Jewish homes in illegal settlement outposts and "illegal" Arab-built homes inside Israel, see my comment on Ze'ev's blog at .

11:48 PM, February 04, 2006  
Blogger Tovya @ Zion Report said...

Mama Yesha,

I changed by blog location to a new server... it's now at

(Just in case you want to update your blogroll)

6:45 AM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Pinchas Floyd said...

don- what is foolish is to believe that retreating to "defensible borders" will bring an end to the conflict.
fleeing and retreating from arab terror has always brought more terror.
everytime you bring back the front line, you make a new front line.
and what good is any border you draw when you yourself admit the conflict didnt start in 1967?
what makes tel aviv any more jewish land than amona?

9:26 AM, February 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tel Aviv is less since much of Tel Aviv was seized by the Israeli Government after the 48' war whereas Amona was all purchased.

The reason that the demolition was illegal was it went agaisnt the Torah and no government may ever go against the Torah

10:00 AM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Don Radlauer said...

To Phishaliyah -

Israel has never "retreated" to defensible borders and actually defended them. In all the years before the 1967 war, we never fenced the "Green Line" because we never wanted to sanctify it as a political border (which it wasn't). This idea that the experiment has been tried and failed is simply false - we've never tried it, and there's no good reason to think that setting up a real border would fail. In fact, the Separation Fence, in those areas where it's actually reasonably complete, has been highly successful in preventing suicide and other terror attacks.

What makes Tel Aviv more "Jewish land" than Amona? Jews. Hundreds of thousands of them. If the settlement movement had concentrated on extending Israel's borders according to some rational scheme - building up the "settlement blocks" near the Green Line, for example - it would have been much more successful than it has been. Instead, the movement scattered tiny settlements all over the West Bank, wasting resources, people, and reputation.

While "Jewish land" in one sense may mean land that was historically the heartland of the Jewish people, "Jewish land" today means the land that is effectively Jewish; and putting a few dozen families in a little enclave among hundreds of thousands of Arabs doesn't make the territory effectively Jewish, even if we have every historical right to live there.

It all comes down to common sense. What kind of Jewish state, with what borders, can include all the scattered settlements without also including millions of hostile Arabs? If we want to be a viable Jewish state, we need borders; and those borders must be such as to enclose the maximum number of Jews and the minimum number of additional Palestinian Arabs. No amount of ideology is going to change that.

I've got no problem with idealism, and - as a settler myself - I won't take a back seat to anybody as regards my love of the land. But pursuing foolish policies because of our ideology has cost us our independence more than once in the past! If we're going to survive this time, we'd better pay close attention to the "Torah" of the real world around us, not only to the Torah that is written on parchment.

10:40 AM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

Don - I believe that all of Judea and Samaria belongs to Jews because G-d gave it to us, and in that, you have to admit that we "religious settlers" are consistent. It doesn't matter to us if we have Jews spread out in little settlements, because our claim to the land is not based on numbers.

I am willing to set this to one side, though, for the sake of discussion.

When I speak to secular friends (admittadly I only have a few) and I ask them for their opinion on what we should "keep" I always get a very hazy answer. Like you, they use the numbers argument. But I keep getting different answers as to what number. How many Jews in an area is considered enough? And are there other, more "sentimental" reasons to keep areas? For example, I have a friend who wants to keep east Jerusalem, Maaleh Adumim and Ariel - based solely on numbers - and Gush Etzion because of the tragedy of the 36. Kever Rachel she is willing to forego. Another friend can't understand why we want Ariel, despite the numbers, but because Kever Rachel has historic/emotional resonance to her, and it is so close to Jerusalem, she wants to keep that.

My point is, how in the world do you draw the line? In your view it comes out to glorified gerrymandering!

There are other deeper problems with the numbers argument, namely the presence of a great number of Israeli Arabs all over Israel. You are assuming that they are all friends, or at least, not enemies. I agree in general, but I also think there are more enemies there than you are willing to admit. If it is in our best interest to take Jews away from an area where there is a majority of Arabs in order to protect our citizens, than can we then take Arabs away from an area where there is a majority of Jews in order to protect our citizens?

1:32 PM, February 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

west bank mama, all Arabs are our enemies. In Hebron in 1929 the Jews were attacked by the Arabs of the city, many of whom had been their best friends the day before.

The answer to the Arab problem is obvious, throw them out. There really is no excuse for letting the Arabs stay in Israel because of a simple reason, they are not Ger Toshav.

As far as giving them land, it falls within the category of Avodah Zara to not conquer Eretz Yisrael, so imagine what it must be to give up Eretz Yisrael

4:09 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

WBM: See you there tonight! I'll be the one wearing an orange sweatshirt.

4:12 PM, February 05, 2006  
Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Hi again, WBM!

I have no argument with the religious claim to the West Bank; I simply believe that in the real world, that claim needs to be put into abeyance because it's completely impractical and dangerous to attempt to realize it here and now. Lacking any non-miraculous means to preserve a Jewish, democratic, secure, and viable Israel while retaining all the settlements, I feel that we are obligated - halachically as well as practically - to choose what's best for the State of Israel even if that means giving up part of the Land.

It's difficult to describe precisely where the border should go in all sectors, since to do so I'd need to go over topography, location of both Jewish and Arab population centers, land-ownership records, and other factors. I have a pretty good idea of where the border might go in my own region (Alfei Menashe and environs), but there are other areas, like the Hebron Hills, that I know very poorly. The fact that I - a computer programmer for one of Israel's HMO's, sitting in a Tel Aviv office - can't tell you exactly where the border should be doesn't mean that a reasonable border can't be outlined by people who have all the relevant information in front of them!

In general, I'd say that several factors have to be considered in constructing the border. Here's an "off-the-top-of-my-head" list:

1) Demographics. How can the border be set so that as many Jews as possible are included within Israel without having to relocate, and as many non-Israeli Arabs as possible are left on the Palestinian side of the border?

2) Tactical/strategic considerations. The border should be as short as possible (meaning that it shouldn't be squigglier than necessary), and to the extent possible, should bear a reasonable relationship to terrain features. Particular strategic factors, such as the "wasp waist" in the Kfar Saba-to-Netanya area, should be taken into consideration as well.

3) Land ownership and history are also factors. Areas like Gush Etzion and Alfei Menashe, which are on land that was purchased pre-1948 (and, in the case of Gush Etzion, at least partially settled before 1948), have a strong claim to inclusion in Israel. Settlements built on Palestinian-owned land or "public land" have a weaker claim.

4) Historical sites like Kever Rachel obviously present difficulties. Where possible, they should be included within Israel, or at least in areas that Israel will continue to control until/unless a real peace is reached and borders can be opened. OTOH, I can't see any reasonable way to maintain Israeli control of Kever Yosef - it's simply too far from any reasonable border route.

5) Some Israel Arabs are indeed hostile to the State of Israel; but the vast majority of them are actually quite happy to be Israeli, and just want to be treated more as equals than they are. Very, very few Israeli Arabs present any actual danger to Israeli Jews. Given that - as Israeli citizens - they have rights that we can't and shouldn't take away, the whole "relocation" idea is a non-starter. I do feel that we would be well advised to look at ways of better incorporating Israeli Arabs into the Israeli mainstream; allocating government funding for things like education more equally and setting up a fair system of land allocation would be a start.

All these factors need to be weighed together in setting the border. I'd say that north of Kfar Saba, the border should basically follow the Green Line as there are no major settlements there. Alfei Menashe and possibly Karnei Shomron should become part of Israel, but the border should stop well short of Nablus/Shechem. (I do not suggest buying a house in Yitzhar or Itamar!)

Ariel is a particularly tough problem, as it's very big and quite far from the Green Line. Either we'll have to incorporate it into Israel and deal with a lot of problems that would create, or else think of a more creative solution. One of my favorite crackpot ideas is the trade Ariel for Qalqilia (or mayby Tulkarm) - swap the territory, switch the populations. Probably impractical, sadly.

South of Ariel, my expertise falls off sharply - so I'll leave the border to the experts.

Is all this "gerrymandering"? Yes, of course! But that's what borders are all about - sometimes you're lucky and there's a wide river where you need it, but sometimes the only way to set a border is to balance multiple interests and come up with a "least bad" solution. So be it - it's still better to have a border than not to have one!

5:07 PM, February 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don, in all seriousness, what is so great about Democracy? Which Israel isn't anyway.

5:11 AM, February 06, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

Don - you make some good points, and some that I disagree with. But your assertion that since Arabs have "rights" that we "shouldn't take away" means that relocation is a non-starter is a laugh.

In order to relocate citizens in this country, all you need is to bribe a few MK's to get a simple majority in the Knesset. We saw that this past summer.

I don't agree with the idea of transfering the Arabs, don't get me wrong. But given the lack of checks and balances in this country I don't think it is "impossible".

7:36 AM, February 06, 2006  
Blogger westbankmama said...

Kahaneloyalist - I don't believe that all Arabs are our enemies. I think that a lot are, and that some will be our enemies no matter what. But I also believe that if they lived in a more free society and were exposed to the truth about Israel and Jews many would change their way of thinking.

The dangerous part for us is that we have no way of telling who is who now.

Jameel - I bet you were the one wearing the kippa also, right?

9:15 AM, February 06, 2006  
Blogger Don Radlauer said...

WestBankMama wrote:

In order to relocate citizens in this country, all you need is to bribe a few MK's to get a simple majority in the Knesset. We saw that this past summer.

Ummm... no, we didn't. Israeli relocated citizens who were living outside this country, in the then-occupied Gaza Strip and part of the northern West Bank. The Territories (whether we call them "occupied" or "disputed") are not under Israeli sovereignty, and Israeli civil and property rights to not fully apply there. So legally, evacuating settlements in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank is completely different from evacuating, say, Umm el-Fahm.

Of course, it's difficult to say that anything is 100% "impossible". But when we talk about legal issues, we need to understand that the law is all about distinctions; and citizens of Israel living in Israeli territory are in a very different legal situation than Israeli citizens living in settlements beyond the Green Line. I know that when I bought my house in Alfei Menashe I had to sign papers agreeing that the government could relocate me without compensation (unlikely though that eventuality may be - I hope!); having done so, I would be a fool not to realize that my rights are less than the rights of an ordinary Israeli homeowner, even though (unlike most Israelis) I actually hold clear title to my house and the land it's built on.

A classic mistake made by many of my fellow settlers is to take the fact that they live in "the Land of Israel" as implying that they also live in the State of Israel. It's simply untrue. Unless you live in an area over which Israel claims sovereignty, you aren't living in the State of Israel. That's why we paid less for our houses than we would have paid for the same properties inside the Green Line, and it's also why the government can decide at its will to relocate us. In short, we gambled that our particular communities wouldn't be evacuated, and perhaps eventually would become part of Israel. If we guessed right, we'll eventually look like real-estate geniuses; if we guessed wrong, we should have the grace not to pretend that we didn't know we were gambling.

1:14 PM, February 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

westbank mama, on what Halachic ground are you against transfer?
There is a simple fact, only a Goy who is a Ger Toshav may live in Israel. The Arabs are not Ger Toshav as such they must be driven out.

4:14 PM, February 06, 2006  
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