|Israel Resource Review
||2nd August, 2002
The Consistent "Peace Now" Position:
Jews Must Leave Their Communities in Judea and Samaria
Co-Chair, Americans for Peace Now
Israeli politics may, at times, seem absurd. But nothing is more absurd than allowing a handful of hardcore ideologues in the settlement movement to hold an entire nation hostage to its beliefs.
The Israeli Peace Now movement recently issued an extremely thorough study of the attitudes that settlers have toward Israeli democratic institutions and possible compensation for being required to evacuate their homes. Peace Now found that most settlers are more pragmatic, respectful of the democratic process and willing to accept reasonable compensation than many people had been led to believe.
But rather than embracing this benevolent portrayal of settlers, the Settlers Council, which is supposed to represent them, hotly denied these "allegations."
Why? Because the ideological views of the Settlers Council and their supporters in the Israeli government simply do not reflect the thinking of the settlers themselves. They would have Israelis believe that any attempt to remove the settlements would be met with fierce resistance from the people who live there, people who supposedly are living in the territories to fulfill their commitment to religious and Zionist ideals.
However, Peace Now -- which has long considered Jewish
settlements in the West Bank and Gaza to be impediments to
Israeli security and peace -- found that more than three-quarters
of settlers moved to the territories for "quality of life"
issues, not for religious or national security reasons.
Successive Israeli governments have offered heavy financial
incentives for people to move to the West Bank and Gaza and
provided further subsidies for them to stay there. Combined with
beautiful landscapes and bypass roads that allow easy access
into Israel proper, government funding has provided settlers
with an attractive lifestyle that they otherwise could not
afford inside the Green Line.
It was no surprise, then, when the study further revealed that only 2% of settlers would use extreme measures, such as taking up arms, to fight a democratic decision taken by the Israeli government or a referendum to withdraw from the settlements. In fact, 68% of settlers recognize the authority of Israeli democratic institutions to make that decision and would comply with it, while another 26% of settlers would obey such a decision following a struggle against it with legal means.
If Israel decided to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza, Peace Now found, 59% of settlers would consider suitable financial compensation as the best solution, while another 10% would prefer moving to a community inside the Green Line as sufficient compensation. Around 23% of settlers would prefer moving as a community to another settlement in the territories. Just 9% would refuse any solution.
The Settlers Council said that the Peace Now study was slanted. In actuality, it was very accurate, with just a 2% margin of error.
The Settlers Council also said that Jews continue to move to the West Bank and Gaza, with a 7.7% population increase since the outbreak of the intifada in September 2000. But a closer look at that number is revealing. New Interior Ministry figures show that over the last 12 months, there has been just a 5.21% increase in the territories, with most of this rise coming from natural growth, not internal migration.
The main lesson behind the Peace Now study is that, contrary to the assertions of the Israeli government and the Settlers Council, settlers will not be a major obstacle to any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The majority of settlers would accept such an agreement, even if it means leaving their homes in exchange for reasonable compensation.
Unfortunately, there is no official program in place to help settlers move to Israel. Peace Now is calling on the Israeli government to fill this void by establishing an entity that will help settlers relocate, by stopping the flow of subsidies that keep people in the settlements and by using some of those funds to establish a fair compensation program for settlers.
It is time for the Israeli government to make it possible for settlers to make aliya, that is, to move inside Israel proper. The government has a moral responsibility to these Israelis since it enticed them to live in the territories to begin with.
It is time for the Israeli government to stop letting its "fear" of upsetting the settlers justify its policies, like delaying the establishment of a security fence or avoiding political negotiations with the Palestinians.
It is time for the Israeli government to cease putting the future of Israel at risk as a Jewish, democratic state by insisting on holding onto the settlements - and the 3.5 million Palestinians who live around them.
Patricia Barr is co-chair of Americans for Peace Now.
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The Peace Now Survey Critque:
Confimation of Pragmatic
Settler Trend Does Not Mean What "Peace Now" Would Like it to
journalist who has lived in and covered the Jewish communities
in Judea, Samaria and Katif for the past 15 years, I can affirm
the findings reported by Americans for Peace Now co-chairman
Patricia Barr in her article published in the Forward of August
1, 2002, "Let My People Go From the West Bank and Gaza", in
which she quotes the findings of a Peace Now research study
which found that "most settlers are more pragmatic, respectful
of the democratic process and willing to accept reasonable
compensation" if a peace settlement were reached that would
require the abandonment of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
From the wide range of interviews that I have conducted in almost all
of the 144 Jewish communities that were established in Judea, Samaria
and Katif I confirm that this pragmatic perspective as prevalent
in these communities.
Indeed, the willing abandonment of 16 Jewish settlements in the Sinai in 1982 at the time of the peace treaty with Egypt stands as precedent which quietly influences public opinion at large throughout these Jewish communities.
It may therefore surprise the readership of The Forward to know that the vast majority of those who live in these Areas do indeed ascribe to the "Shem Tov-Yariv" formula from 1974, which postulates that territory acquired after the 1967 war can indeed be exchanged for peace.
However, Barr ignores the fact that the PLO and its Palestinian Authority, has never accepted the idea of a Palestinian Arab state that would be confined to west bank and Gaza, without including Jerusalem and the recognition Of UN resolution #194 that would allow 3.6. million
Palestinian Arabs to exercise their "inalienable right of
Return" to the villages that the Arabs lost in 1948.
Barr also ignores the fact that the PLO and the PA
Definition of "illegal settlements" as those Jewish communities
That were established in place of Arab villages.
That settlement definition applies to 531 Israeli settlements that replaced
Arab villages after 1948, not to the 144 Israeli settlements established after 1967, not one replaced even one Arab village,
Most importantly, Barr ignores the fact the PLO and PA are not ready to
offering any peace treaty or peace settlement, which would be
The only prerequisite by which any Israeli Jew would agree to leave
Or abandon any Jewish community.
Instead, what Barr and her colleagues in Peace Now have been
Suggesting is that Jews simply leave their homes and communities in
Judea, Samaria and Katif without any peace settlement.
Barr and Peace Now therefore abrogate the Shem Tov Yariv formula of "territories for peace".
Shortly before his death, retired General Aharon Yariv, the
co-author of Shem Tov Yariv formula, criticized those
on the Israeli left who invoke his formula to endorse
unilateral relinquishment of territory.
As Yariv told me,"We favor territories for peace, not territories
In other words, what the Peace Now survey shows is that the Jews who live in the settlements beyond the Green Line now ascribe to the Peace
Now philosophy of "territories for peace" while Peace Now has
abandoned its own ideology in favor of launching a worldwide
campaign to expel Jews from 144 Jewish communities, without any
premise of peace.
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Legal Action in France Against Al Aharam - Anti-Semitic Jewish Campaign Faces Litigation
Whoever thinks the French are all hostile towards Israel, can find a certain comfort in the following: a court in Paris is currently carrying out an investigation against the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, on suspicion of an anti-Semitic publication. The chief editor of the newspaper, Ibrahim Nafe, has been summoned for questioning before the judge next Friday. The French intervened when the law enforcement authorities were presented with an article published in the newspaper, which also appears in France, with the claim that IDF soldiers kill Palestinians following a ritual injunction, just as their forefathers killed Gentile children to prepare Passover matzas out of their blood. The story, which has caused a furor in Egypt, re-invokes the myth of the Damascus blood libel.
The affair begins with an article published on October 28, 2000 in the
Egyptian daily, under the heading "Jewish Matza from the Blood of Arabs."
The article was written by the writer and publicist Adel Hamuda, one of the
senior writers in the newspaper and editor of the weekly Sawt al-Umma.
These were the days of the Intifada, and about 100 Palestinians had already
been killed, including many children.
Hamuda began with a long and compelling description of the Damascus
blood libel. One Friday, in February 1840, a Greek cleric by the name of
Father Tomas disappeared. The priest, who posted notices throughout the
city offering a house for sale, entered the Jewish neighborhood of Damascus
and was never seen again. His servant, who went in to search for him,
disappeared as well. Tomas was a well known doctor in the city, with ties
to the Ottoman Pasha and foreign diplomats. A complaint was filed with the
police, and an investigation was launched. Finally, a Jewish barber by the
name of Suleiman (Solomon) was arrested. Father Tomas had posted a notice
on his shop. After being whipped, Suleiman told the police that the priest
had been stabbed to death by Jewish rabbis, whose names he knew.
According to Suleiman's testimony, the rabbis took Father Tomas to the
house of Rabbi Mussa Harari. They lay his neck on a large tub, and spilled
his blood into it, while taking care "not to spill a single drop," in
Hamuda's words. "They then took him from the room where he had been
slaughtered to another room, removed his clothes and burnt them. They cut
him into pieces, placed the pieces in a sack and brought them to a ditch
near the Jewish neighborhood."
The long article also brings conversations between the investigator and
one of the Jews being questioned. "What did you do with his innards?"
asked the investigator. "We cut them up, placed them in a sack and threw
them in a ditch," replied the Jew being interrogated. "Did blood drip from
the sack?" "No, because we were careful to save every drop of blood. This
comes from our customs and the Talmud." "Why?" asked the investigator. "It
is used for matzas."
The story of the Damascus blood libel was documented by a 19th century
French researcher, Charles Lauren. The book was translated into Arabic and
published in Cairo in 1898. In his article, the Egyptian journalist refers
to the blood libel as a true story. This is not the reason that the
investigation was initiated in France, but rather the contemporary
conclusions drawn from it.
"What is most interesting," wrote Hamuda, "is that the rabbis who
committed this crime did not feel remorse. The meaning of this appears in
the Talmud … According to the Talmud, the Jewish souls are differentiated
from all others, being part of God as a son is part of his father. This
explains the murder of Father Tomas and his servant, and explains the
sights we see on our television screens. Scenes of Israeli occupation
soldiers mercilessly killing children, while chewing gum as if they were on
an outing, a trip or a journey. Deep inside they are not murdering human
beings, but stray animals, and this follows their ritual law dictated by
In other words, Hamuda is saying: The Jews are commanded by their
religion to kill Gentiles, even if they are innocent people. What the Jews
of Damascus did in 1840 is similar to what the IDF soldiers are doing
today. In both cases, it is murder in heaven's name. […]
The daily Al-Ahram ("the pyramids") reaches nearly every corner of
Europe and the United States where Arabs live. It is distributed on a
daily basis in France. The article on the matza baked with Gentile blood
was brought to the attention of the heads of the Jewish community in
France, and they reported it to the judicial authorities in Paris. A year
and nine months after the publication, an investigation was launched in
Paris against the daily newspaper, on suspicion of breaking the law that
forbids incitement to hatred and anti-Semitic violence. Last week, the
investigative justice Benot Tobino issued a summons for questioning for
Ibrahim Nafe, the chief editor of Al-Ahram.
Nafe, one of the senior journalists in Egypt and an associate of
President Hosni Mubarak, published a report on the investigation in his
newspaper. In a giant article, spread over a full page, Nafe defends Adel
Hamuda. In fact, Nafe's article is a document summarizing the Egyptian
position on defamatory publications towards Israel and the Jews. The
position stated by the senior editor combines political, social and
cultural arguments. Nafe says that the publications in Egypt are no
different in essence from the series of statements made by leaders of the
"Everything happening with regard to this affair," writes Nafe, "is
nothing but an action intended to pressure Egypt to change its policy and
restrict the freedom of the Egyptian press. We can find on the other side
dozens of articles where political and religious leaders in Israel make
racist statements about the Arabs."
Ibrahim Nafe is not alone. The affair is perceived in Egypt as an
attack by Israel on Egypt. In a series of official leaflets, parties,
journalists and labor unions have expressed support for the newspaper and
its editor. Even al-Wafd, the opposition party, came to the defense of the
newspaper, a symbol of the Egyptian establishment. "The legal authorities
in France," responded Nuaman Guama, party chairman, "are not authorized to
carry out an investigation about what happens in Egypt." Nafe himself, it
can be safely assumed, will not report for questioning in France.
This article ran in Maariv on August 2, 2002
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