- David M. Weinberg - http://davidmweinberg.com -

Those who take pleasure in pummeling Amona

Published in The Jerusalem Post [1] and Israel Hayom [2], December 16, 2016.

Print-friendly copy [3]

Left-wing ideological hatred for settlers and settlements was in full view this week. For hard-core combatants of the left, Amona is opportunity to tar the entire settlement enterprise as criminal.

I am experiencing déjà vu as the Amona saga moves towards a heartrending end, because of old hateful rhetoric that has been released into public discourse.

Left-wing rabble-rousers have peppered the debate over Amona with settler-hating epithets like “land robbers,” “lawbreakers,” “violators” and “corrupt manipulators.” Hundreds of seething academics have published fervid anti-Amona petitions in the newspapers.

Listening to some of these spokesmen on radio this week you could feel the hatred oozing from every pore of their enlightened democratic souls and legally-pure minds. Anything related to settlers, settlements and the Netanyahu government just draws out the ghastliest poisons. There was no sympathy expressed whatsoever for the plight of Amona residents – who settled there with full government support and on the understanding that the State of Israel had title to the land.

Instead, I sensed a rush to violence. I could almost hear the sharpening of pitchforks with which to impale the settlers of Amona, and the spinning of wool for torches with which to burn their homes to the ground. I could sense the glee of radical leftists at the looming spectacle of mounted special-forces policemen charging at settler women and children and bashing their heads with batons, as happened previously in Amona (2006) and Migron (2012).

This is dreadful. Only those whose hearts are closed, and whose who ideological hatreds have overwhelmed their factual judgment, can speak and think this way.

THE ISSUE FOR the hard left, of course, is not the upholding of Supreme Court decisions or the rule of law – although that is what they swear the current controversy is all about. Neither is the issue Palestinian land rights, to which they also swear fealty.

I know this because the political left has gone back to repeatedly challenge “irrevocable” Supreme Court decisions when it suited their agenda (over immigration-infiltrator legislation, Bedouin land evacuations, and the natural gas deal, for example). I know this because even the left-wing NGOs that petitioned the Supreme Court over Amona know that no Palestinian ever lived there, or will.

So again, the vehemence that has accompanied the assault on Amona can’t be explained by slick reference to principles of “upholding law” and “protecting the Supreme Court.”

Rather, the issue for the ideological haters that came out of the woodwork this month is the uprooting of the settlement movement life’s work; the destruction of the power of the ideological right-wing, especially the national religious right wing. Tearing down an icon of the settlement movement – that is what this is all about.

I recognize, of course, that the case specifics of Amona are different from previous settlement controversies. This is not a re-run of the Gaza disengagement in 2005, when an ideologically left-wing government was making a distinct diplomatic move, without any concern whatsoever for the fate of the Zionist pioneers in Gush Katif.

The Netanyahu government of today, by contrast, is deeply sympathetic to the settlers, and has worked hard to solve the crisis within the narrow straights forced upon it by the Court (– although perhaps not hard enough). And it is moving towards “regularizing” land issues in Judea and Samaria so that hostile actors can’t easily pull legal shtick to retroactively delegitimize entire neighborhoods over the Green Line.

But for the hard core combatants of the left, Amona is something else all-together. It’s another opportunity to tar the entire settlement enterprise as criminal; another opportunity to brand all settlers as violent fanatics; another opportunity to show that settlements, writ large, can and will be wiped off the face of the Palestinian homeland.

JUST AFTER THE disengagement from Gaza, I accompanied a group of Canadian newspaper editors on a tour of Israel. We met with, among other, the man who at the time was the editor-in-chief of Haaretz, David Landau. Landau explained to the Canadian journalists why he thought the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was a good thing.

It’s not because Israel freed the Palestinians from occupation, he said. And it’s not because the Israeli army won’t have to patrol any more the alleyways of Jabalia refugee camp, he said.

The reason why he, David Landau, thought that the disengagement from Gaza was a great and historic thing was “because we tore down the settlements of the national religious public and we crushed the political power of Religious Zionism!” he thundered.

I heard some of that thunder and animus again this week in the execrations of hard-left spokesmen celebrating their imminent “victory” over Amona. How disgusting. How tragic.