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Preferential treatment for settlers continues…while soup kitchens expand in Tel Aviv

Americans for Peace Now’s Ori Nir describes a new Peace Now report on the preferential treatment still being doled out to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Lately, Israeli right-wingers and their supporters here have been insisting that “the settlements are not the problem” and are a kind of minor detail in Israeli-Arab relations. Of course they are not the only obstacle to progress towards peace. But pretending they are not an obstacle of any kind is a bit like pretending that a fractured arm doesn’t hurt because you also have a fractured leg.

Yet even if you don’t want a two state solution, even if you don’t have the slightest concern for the plight of the Palestinians or the security implications of clinging to settlements or the moral costs of ruling over another people, even if you are an unabashed tribalist who only wants to ask “Is it good for the Jews?”, there is another problem. Hunger and homelessness are surging in Israel. Unmployment exceeds 11 percent and 1.3 million people live below the poverty line. The vast majority of those people live west of the Green Line. And yet, as Ori summarizes:

The new report shows that settlement local councils receive a much higher percentage of financial transfers from the government than the settlers’ proportion in Israeli society and that per-capita gross investment in public construction in West Bank settlements (not including East Jerusalem) is more than triple the investment in public construction within the Green Line.

The analysis…shows that settlers who export goods to Europe receive millions of shekels to compensate for loss of tax discounts in the European Union, which does not recognize exports from as part of the Israeli-European free-trade agreement
The report shows how the government of Israel grants settlers a variety of benefits, even though most settlers need them less than the larger proportion of low-income Israelis who reside within the state of Israel….

20 thoughts on “Preferential treatment for settlers continues…while soup kitchens expand in Tel Aviv

  1. I once heard an articulate supporter of –I think– Ateret Cohanim defend both Har Homa and Kiryat Arba by saying, in effect, “Americans live in gated communities too! Would you call that unfair to people outide the gates if they want to attack the people in them?”

    I said that I didn’t want my taxes going to protect the people inside the gates and certainly didn’t want them to get benefits that helped them live better than me, who lived outside, I never even brought up the “people outside the gates” who weren’t Jews as those people were of no consequence to this guy, an “unabashed tribalist.” The notion that the land between the Medit. Sea and Jordon River needs to be partitioned is an argument that these people think they can easily refute; they find it much harder to defend the financial benefits that accrue to Jews in the shtakim, beyond the Green Line.

  2. Perhaps Dan you should move to Israel and enlighten them has to where they go wrong. At every step according to you. Most of the poverty in Israel is concentrated in the Arab and Hareidi sectors. And frankly I don’t care that much.

  3. If peace is in Israel’s interest, then the settlement construction must stop.

    It is the largest obstacle to reconciliation.

  4. The true nature of the Palestinian Authority. This article is written by a veteran Palestinian Human Rights activist:

    When you realize what the PA and its leadership is like, do you really think they are interesting in negotating a “peace treaty” with Israel, especially if it requires making concessions that are considered “treasonous” by much of the Palestinian public, like giving up the “right of return”? I keep saying…the PA likes the current situation, Abbas said so openly. He is pocketing huge amounts of money from the EU and US (essentially it amounts to a jizya dhimmi tax which is extorted from the donors under threats of “if you don’t pay up there will be terrorism directed at your interests”) so why should he upset the apple cart by sticking his neck out?

  5. Just stop the settlement construction. That would be a very good start.

    They are unnecessary, except for the state expansion effort.

  6. You have to understand something Y-Ben. To the people that inhabit sites like this, including Dan, the attitude is this. “You just live in Israel, what the hell do you know about it. We, on the other hand, wise, and brilliant, know just how to settle things. If only you idiots would just listen to us this would all be over by next week” Do I have that right Dan?

  7. It strikes me as ODD, when I hear serious religious students describe the settlements as evidence that Obama is not supportive of Israel.

    To lend Torah to support a land-lust.

  8. Bill,

    A considerable number of Israelis desparately want the U.S. to help them stop both sides from careening towards a train wreck from which there will be no recovery. Some of them were interviewed in my book. A considerable number of Palestinians desparately want the U.S. to help them with the same tasks, despite Y BD’s frantic faith that “THEY” will not settle for anything other then the end of Israel. Feel free to ignore them. I want to help them.

    Your glib, comic-book version of both the conflict and my camp’s efforts to help is not worthy of you. Do you honestly think that I believe a few simple steps will solve this problem in a week? I suspect not. If you don’t believe what you’re writing, why write it?

  9. Richard-
    I suggest you read books like Golda Meir’s autobiography about her life on Kibbutz Merhavia, and the ideology of labor, settlement, and Zionism. Talk about “land lust!”. But, I guess for you it is okay since she quoted Marx and not the Bible.

    Dan-your anecdotal “moderate” Palestinians that you quote in your book either are not in a position to make policy, or,if they do hold positions of authority, are using your book to carry out propaganda. I recall Israeli journalists who, when Marwan Barghouti was sentenced for 5 counts of first degree murder, kept saying they “couldn’t understand it…he had been so passionate in his desire for peace” in his conversations with them. Which one of them is willing to get up in front of the Palestinian people and tell them to forget about the “right of return”?

  10. Dan-If I might add something, you do make a good point…when you say that you don’t think “a few simple steps will solve this problem in a week”. If you realize that then that is a step in the right direction. But the problem is that the whole Oslo Agreement was based precisely on that sort of thinking. “Parachute Arafat and his FATAH people, give them guns and money and a flag and that is all. We don’t need to worry about what sort of regime he sets up. Corruption is none of our business, in fact the more he steals, the better because he will be more interested in spending money than in fighting.”
    All of that proved to be wrong and brought at terrible disaster both on us and the Palestinians. A whole generation was brainwashed in violent, genocidal hatred of Jews and then turned loose to kill. It will take a very long time to reverse the damage it caused. And turning it around doesn’t mean being satisfied with statements from PA leaders saying “suicide bombings are not in our interest currently”, but we need to hear “suicide bombings are WRONG”.. or “Israel is here to stay, it is in our interest to have good, peaceful relations with them”. But we are not hearing that. Abbas still says every Naqba day “the creation of Israel is the greatest crime in the history of humanity” (YES, he says that). They haven’t even began to really absorb the true idea of peace.

  11. Yaakov Your last post made a lot of sense to me.

    My only concern is–there are folks on the radical Israeli right who are banking on this type of Palestinian sentiment. It serves their agenda.

    I’m concerned about intention.

    BTW–I’m not familiar with intricate details, so please be patient with me. Have settlers ever brought land & zoning rights into the Israeli courts?

    I’m just curious about who is determined to play by the rules and avoid having dirty hands.

  12. The difference between Golda Meir’s pioneering and the modern settlement movement’s, is that in the 1920’s and certainly following WW2, land was a need.

    Its no longer.

    That is the difference between a hunger and a lust. There is no solid basis to use Torah to rationalize for that.

    Also, the world is DIFFERENT than it was even a year ago. The current reality is that Israel has functional peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. It has open communication and much cooperation with the PA. (Its reasonable for Abbas to regard the loss of his home as a “catastrophe”. The question is what he does with that, and to date he has renounced violence, KEEPING his word.)

    In the past year, we have Obama. For anyone that desires peace, and not rationalization for expansion, Obama is a great man. He is a skilled mediator, eliminating obstacles to agreements practically, and putting his weight to their confidence.

    NOTHING that Obama has done or proposed has threatened Israel in any material way. Most likely the exact oppossite. And, in contrast, under a provocative or enabling administration like Bush’s was, Israel would likely have expanded settlement construction, and risked its treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

    I am thankful DAILY.

    There is a lot to distrust given the long history of terror by Hamas and others, and Iran’s current fanatic desparation approach. But, to ignore the present and to forget what we are here for, why we are Jews, is a grand negligence.

  13. Ya’akov,
    You seem to be convinced that all socialists are Marxists, or at least spend much of their time quoting Marx. Marx himself denounced those whom he called “utopian socialists”–i.e. those who did not believe in his dialectical theory of history, the dictatorship of the proleteriat, etc. Marx would have regarded the Mapainikim as “utopian socialists” not Marxists. Only the Mapamnikim and possibly the Ahdut Ha’Avoda socialists were Marxists–and the latter soon got rid of their devotion to Marx. It would make as much sense to lump together Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, Reform Jews and Orthodox Jews because they all claim to be monotheists and quote scripture.

  14. Thomas,
    I am aware of the distinctions you have pointed out. First, there were democratic Marxists…the German Social Democratic Party both in Imperial Germany and in the Weimar Republic was democratic and claimed to be Marxist. There were also Marxists in the British Labour Party.

    Golda Meir, a veteran MAPAInikit, discussed in her autobiography about her studies of Marxism. In the early 1950’s, while Minister of Labor, she said that the goal of the government was (supposedly) to “eradicate capitalism” in Israel.
    Although most of the socialist Left did not adhere to classical Marxism, as you point out, Marxist thinking did influence them considerably, and they felt more comfortable quoting him than the Bible. That was the point I was trying to make. Much of the hysteria of “progressives” against the settlements is due to the fact that the pariah Orthodox/religious are leading the settlement movement. My proof is that you don’t hear such an outcry against the settlements on the Golan, in which the Labor movement was the primary mover, even though they are “more illegal” than those in Judea/Samaria (in that they were built on land that every agrees was sovereign Syrian territory before 1967) and are just as much an “obstacle to peace”.

  15. YBD,
    The difference between the Golan and the West Bank is that the settlers on the former are expected to move peacefully if necessary once a peace deal is reached.

    Everyone outside of settler circles and their evangelical supporters in the U.S. who don’t care about international law know that it is illegal to settle on private land as the result of a conquest. I don’t know what the status of the land was on the Golan before the settlers settled it, but if it was state land they are actually less illegal than many if not most of the settlers on the West Bank who have illegally seized private land to settle on.

  16. I think it was BBC I heard on NPR yesterday who did a report on contaminated water, disease, and screwed up water rights in the West Bank.

    The report said Arabs in the West Bank have no running water and are forced to BUY contaminated bottled water from elsewhere. Children, in particular, are getting sick from it.

    If this is true, it’s more damning, in my opinion than what happened in Gaza.

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