Friday, February 03, 2006

Use Bullets Next Time

While the unilateral disengagement last summer was foolish, the evacuation of unauthorized settlements is essential. It isn't an issue between us and the Palestinians, but rather totally internal. The importance of the rule of law demands that settlements built without permission be destroyed.

On Wednesday in Amona, an illegal settlement even in the eyes of Israeli law, the whole battle was over the destruction of nine unoccupied buildings. The rebel settlers attacked the policemen sent to enforce the law with bricks and stones. This was a Jewish Intifadah in which all red lines were crossed. The police reacted violently and aggressively. Good for them. They need to teach the rebels a lesson - in Israel (and Israeli controlled areas of the West Bank) the three branches of government are the boss, not God and not the rabbis who claim to speak for him. The laws of the state govern here, not the Halachah, the laws of the religion.

Now politicians are looking for political gains from this. There's a call for a special commission to investigate police brutality towards the settlers. Though the right wing embraced this idea, they weren't the ones who came up with it. It was Yuli Tamir of the Labor Party, formerly of Peace Now. Is she just a bleeding heart or looking for votes by claiming Olmert didn't handle this as well as Sharon handled the disengagement? A little bit of both, I guess, but more of the latter than the former.

Police aggressiveness and violence is not the problem. The rebels should be happy policemen didn't use rubber bullets (or worse, regular ones) on the settlers who attacked them with deadly weapons like bricks.

Here are some hard questions that need to be answered, and not by a special commission which would be completely unnecessary:

  1. Why didn't the police block the area days before the evacuation? Destroying those nine measly houses would have been a lot easier without all those "visiting rebels".
  2. Most of the rebels were children. Where were their parents? Where were their teachers? Those who are supposed to be responsible adults need to tell these kids that they can't go, they can't miss school, and most importantly, can't brutally attack law enforcers. Maybe these parents and teachers who did not do all they could to keep the children from going to Amona should be arrested for a form of child abuse?
  3. Everybody is asking why the settler leadership hasn't done enough to prevent violence. Some of the leaders, including members of the Knesset, were in Amona and even wounded, reportedly after they refused to listen to the police. My question is this - why are these parliamentarians allowed to be active in a rebellion without being indicted like Israeli Arab parliamentarians who visit enemy states?

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  1. It's like in the matrix - it's all a show and everybody wants to control Zion.

  2. All of the available evidence, including video footage and the testimony of reporters on the scene, demonstrates conclusively that rocks were thrown at police officers by only a tiny handful of protestors. Videos widely available on the internet (see mms:// for an example) clearly show that the people brutally attacked by the police were sitting peacefully on the floor, taking no physical action whatsoever against the the police -- neither before they were attacked, or after.

    Apparently, Emmanuel, you haven't heard of the concepts of "civil disobedience" or "passive resistance", which are recognized as legitimate forms of protest in the modern Western world outside of Israel -- specifically in the context of obstructing the enforcement of laws that the protestors regard as unjust. (The concept is entirely meaningless ouside of that context, in fact.) But I can't blame you too much, though: You're an Israeli, you see, and therefore suffer from the extreme brainwashing and ignorance that is endemic to Israeli politics, academics, and media. You're a Political Science student, in fact, which makes you all the more susceptible to a particularly twisted approach to the democratic system that is unique to Israel.

    In Israel, the people are not educated at all about the fundamental principles of freedom and liberty. Instead, they are taught to obey and give unconditional fealty to a system which they, in their provincial ignorance, erroneously call "Democracy". That is their name for a system which gives the "rule of law" and the dictates of the State total and absolute supremacy, above any and all other considerations -- including individual rights, morality, or one's own conscience. You may have heard of this system before. In the rest of the Western world, it is called "fascism".

    Furthermore: Your use of the "rule of law" argument to justify the pogrom in Amona is laughable in the extreme. Illegal building is rampant in Israel, and the vast majority of it is in the Arab sector. There are dozens of entire Arab *towns* whose construction was illegal. There are currently several *thousand* standing demolition orders from the courts against illegal Arab-built structures in the Negev and the Galilee. Almost *none* of these orders are being enforced by the government or the police. Only three years ago, Ehud Olmert, in his final year as Mayor of Jerusalem, participated in the publication of a 170-page study entitled "Illegal Housing in Jerusalem" (, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. That study concluded that the construction of more than *6000* (sic) unlawful buildings in Israeli Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem had reached "epidemic proportions". The study advised strong action from Israel's law enforcement establishment. Now Olmert, as acting Prime Minister, refuses to even discuss enforcement of the law in regard to illegal buildings in the Israeli Arab sector.

    So what "rule of law" are you speaking about, exactly? Why does this so-called "rule of law" demand the destruction of nine houses built by Jews in Amona, but not thousands of houses built by Arabs throughout the country? Why does this "rule of law" apply only to this infinitesimally small fraction of law breakers? I don't suppose it might have something to do with the fact that these people are Jews, and happen to espouse an ideology that you detest?

    For people like Olmert and yourself, the "rule of law" is nothing more than a convenient battering ram to persecute people who you don't like. At least have the courage to come out and express your hatred openly, instead of hiding behind phony slogans like the "rule of law".

  3. The Intifadah-style brick throwing was massive. The videos show a very small part of what happened in Amona. The video of police violence shows only one room (and a guy hit by a horse, possibly by mistake).

    Let's say those kids in the room were not violent and "civilly disobedient" and the police shouldn't have treated them that way. Were they the majority? No, most people were there to clash violently with police.

    "In Israel, the people are not educated at all about the fundamental principles of freedom and liberty. Instead, they are taught to obey and give unconditional fealty to a system which they, in their provincial ignorance, erroneously call "Democracy". That is their name for a system which gives the "rule of law" and the dictates of the State total and absolute supremacy, above any and all other considerations -- including individual rights, morality, or one's own conscience."

    Oh, the irony! The settlers don't care about freedom and liberty. They are taught to obey and give unconditional fealty to a system which they, in their messianic ignorance, erroneously call "Judaism". That is their name for a system which gives the "Halachah" and the dictates of the Rabbis total and absolute supremacy, above any and all other considerations -- including individual rights, morality, or one's own conscience.

    And regarding the illegal Arab building - it's a big problem too, but it's an internal issue. In the West Bank it's an international issue.

  4. "The Intifadah-style brick throwing was massive"?! Really? And what evidence do you have to back this up? The media reports certainly said otherwise: They indicated clearly that the lions's share of the violence came from the police. A typical example is Channel 2 reporter Roni Daniel -- hardly a friend of the "settlers", to say the least -- who described what he saw live from the scene as it was happening. In a strained, agitated tone unusual for news reporters, Mr. Daniel said the following: (I'm including the original Hebrew verbatim, lest anyone suspect that I am fudging the translation to suit my purposes):

    "השוטרים מכים מכות רצופות את המתנחלים -- המהלומות מיותרות! הם מכים רק כדי לפרוק זעם; אין בכך כל צורך, זה מיותר! יש צורך לבחון את התנהלות המשטרה על הגגות. האלימות כאן מיותרת!"

    "The policemen are striking the settlers with nonstop blows -- unnecessary battering! They're hitting them just to blow off steam; there's absolutely no need for this, it's pointless! The conduct of the police on the rooftops has got to be investigated. The violence here is uncalled for!"

    If there weren't massively overwhelming evidence that nearly all the violence came from the police forces, left-wing anti-"settler" figures such as Yuli Tamir would never have called for an independent investigatory commission. You know that as well as I do.

    Your ignorant and presumptuous dismissal of the "settler"'s desire for freedom is hardly worthy of a response. It would behoove you to educate yourself at least a little bit about what the "settlers" actually believe before making such outrageous pronouncements about what they think. I myself am one of those "settlers"; and I read, write, and discuss the issues of individual liberties in Israel nearly every day -- with my fellow messianic fanatics, as well as with friends and colleagues who hold differing viewpoints.

    Your suggestion that religious devotion is incompatible with individual rights, morality, and conscience is both ridiculous and offensive. For "settlers" such as myself, they are intricately interconnected, to the point of being one and the same. In that connection, it may interest you (as a student of Political Science) to know that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and nearly all the rest of the Founding Fathers of the United States, were deeply religious people who unabashedly associated their ground-breaking political philosophy of human rights with their understanding of God and the Bible. In the Declaration of Independence, they explicitly attributed the "inalienable rights" of man to the laws set down by God. Now, these figures are universally recognized as the primary architects of democracy in the modern Western world. But I suppose that for you, all their blather about freedom and liberty was just a sham, since they were nothing more than a bunch of mindless dossim who claimed to speak for God.

    You are, of course entitled to your opinions regarding the "settlers", no matter how bigoted they may be. But you cross over a red line with your insidious implication that since "settlers" "don't care about freedom and liberty", it is therefore OK for the government to selectively enforce the law against them, and them alone. Which brings us to your coup de grace:

    At the beginning of your article, you argued that the evacuation of "illegal settlements" is not an international issue, "but rather totally internal", and demanded by the "rule of law". But after I challenged you by pointing out that this so-called "rule of law" is not applied to rampant illegal Arab construction, you replied by proclaiming that "the illegal Arab building [is] an internal issue", whereas "in the West Bank it's an international issue". Excuse me?!

    Let me get this straight: First you justify the destruction of the "settlers'" homes because it's an "internal issue" that demands the application of the "rule of law". But then you dismiss the official tolerance of illegal Arab construction as a mere "internal issue". Wait a minute -- I thought you said that the "internal issue" of illegal building demands immediate destruction! Why does this not then apply equally to Arabs and Jews? Why do the police not need to teach the same "lesson", as you so eloquently put it, to the Arabs? This is a double standard if I've ever seen one. Is this how your "rule of law" works?

    Please make up your mind: Is the destruction of "settlers'" homes an "internal issue", as you stated in your original article? Or is it an "international issue", as you stated in your flip-flop just a few lines down?

    It's amazing to see the mental gymnastics that some people will attempt in order to rationalize their prejudices.

  5. About the internal/international - you're right. I did make a bit of a flip-flop there. The rule of law is an internal issue, both inside the green line and in the settlements. In the settlements, though, it's an internal issue with international implications (for instance, we've told President Bush we'd destroy unauthorized outposts).

    Besides, for decades the Arabs have been discriminated against and the settlers have had special privileges, like 200 meter houses at the price of 80 meter apartments inside the green line. So the tables are turned for once.

    I never said religion or Judaism contradict freedom. I didn't even attack most settlers. I have a problem with the extreme settlers who adhere to a messianic form of Judaism, who are loyal to Israel only as long as it lets them do whatever they want, and once it doesn't, declare a State of Judeah.

    There was some excessive force by police in Amona. But I guess the endless argument about who was worse - police or protesters, is futile. And Yuli Tamir's call for an investigation was nothing but demagoguery. From what she said, it was clear all she wanted was to make Olmert look incompetant to gain more votes for Labor.

  6. Emmanuel:

    I'm on your side on this one. I'm not going to comment on Amona, it's probably not for me to do, so I'll refrain.

    What you see with those messianic types, you kind of see the world over. In principle I don't see a great contradiction between "God's laws" and civil law. I don't believe in God, so the decrees that are attributed to Him are in my view also man-made and in fact remarkably similar to the core body of civil law. As a political science student you'll be aware how through history humanist and religious thought have influenced one another. But this is something the more extreme factions on the religious side simply don't accept: to them moral laws have been immutably laid down by God since time immemorial, which of course explains some of the wackier views these people hold so dear. Lurker is probably going to be upset by this, but so be it.

    They generally don't much care for separation of Church and State and feel harassed when the more extremist of their views lands them in conflict with civil law and then they start screaming "religious oppression!"

    Which is why Lurker's calling on "Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, and nearly all the rest of the Founding Fathers of the United States" is misleading because they weren't religious extremists.

    In my battles against the Intelligent Design crapola, I met the same kind of resistance: science is just "vulgar Scientific Materialism" and "we're only protecting our children".

    Don't give these people an inch beyond what they're perfectly legally entitled to...