Friday, November 14, 2008

some settlers want to leave the west bank

Today there's an article in the New York Times entitled "Settlers Who Long to Leave the West Bank." It's an excellent article, because while we generally hear about settlers who want to wipe out Palestinians, or settlers who are being threatened by Palestinians, or Palestinians who kill anything that moves, we rarely hear about any settlers who want to leave. Here's a quote from the article:

“I came here 25 years ago to live in the countryside and raise my family,” said David Avidan as he sat in a neighbor’s living room here one recent evening to discuss an exit strategy. “We wanted to resettle the whole land of Israel,” he added. “But now when I see how our soldiers treat Palestinians at the checkpoints, I am ashamed. I want us to get out of here. I want two states for two people. But I can’t get any money for my house and I can’t leave.”

This is an excellent point! And although in some ways I would say, "Why didn't you think about that 25 years ago," on the other hand, we all make mistakes. In our own country we're bailing out bankers, for goodness sake! Why not bail out some more people whose financial stability would make the world a better place? It would be wonderful if Western nations would chip in and help with a respectful and respectable exit strategy for Israelis who want to get out of the way so the peace process can go forward. I can see the point of this settler easily--who would want to buy their home? Not Palestinians, it's too close to the settlement. Not Israelis, everyone who wants to be there already is, and the Israeli government is trying to entice as many people to move to NEW settlements as possible by giving them money to do so, so who would buy the old homes?

Apparently, according to a survey done by those within the Israeli government sympathetic with the Palestinian cause, about 40% of the settlers would move back to Israel if well-remunerated to do so. This is only counting the 80,000 who live on the opposite side of the security wall, that's 80,000 out of 480,000 who live inside of the 1967 UN-mandated borders of the West Bank, but at least that's progress.

It's interesting that the article mentions that Israelis see the withdrawal from Gaza as a failure. Right now they control Gaza more completely than they ever did in the past, because it is closed to all traffic including humanitarian aid almost all the time. So it is not a "failure" from the standpoint of a war strategy--they have made the Gaza Strip one big prison and they don't even have to pay normal prison-building expenses! They are slowly killing off those inside, so that THEN settlers can move back in and take it over. Hopefully this will not happen, but that is the strategy being employed.

Perhaps the statement of one settler woman at the end of the article is true:

“I think there should be a two-state solution. You cannot live with people who don’t have independence. They have to learn their own language, teach their children their own heritage. But that is their problem. My problem is that my government has left me behind.”

May the Israeli government realize that the best way to expand their power is to create a space in which all citizens--and even all people the world over--can thrive.

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