Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Probe shows fraud of "natural growth" in Israeli settlements

Israel's Channel Two news recently conducted an investigative report that unmasks the deception of so-called "natural growth" in the settlements. The 2.5 minute televised report, which is subtitled in English, can be seen on YouTube here: <http://bit.ly/131iKy>. (A second televised report, from yesterday, shows Peace Now volunteers and a Channel Two news crew attacked by settlers: <http://bit.ly/UF2VM>.) The report on "natural growth" unmasks a series of outright falsehoods disseminated by settlers and the Israeli government. Viewers of the Channel Two report are shown abandoned housing in existing settlements even as new buildings are going up (signs advertising the new homes for sale are shown in the second report), and we also learn that Israel is continuing to house a stream of new immigrants in the settlements.

The current discussions between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations seem to have reached an impasse over efforts by Israel to seek a compromise on the question of settlements. "Compromise" is entirely the wrong term, however, for what the Netanyahu government is seeking: instead of fair dealing, the Israeli administration seeks simply to prolong the kind of game-playing in which successive governments have engaged over many years regarding the settlements. This game, as Uri Avnery quips <http://bit.ly/Agpcs>, is about making a promise while winking, in recognition of one's intention never to fulfill that promise. In Israeli slang, Avnery points out, such promise-making with a knowing wink is called "working with one's eyes."

The Obama administration's insistence that for now Israel need do nothing more than freeze future settlement construction is already a compromise position. The Obama administration must press for the fulfillment of such a minimal first step, and no less, if efforts to resolve the conflict are to make any progress.

On a related subject, Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has created an interactive online map and database documenting the history of Israel's expropriation of land from Palestinians: <http://bit.ly/LBooZ>. According to Adalah, "the database is intended as a resource for researchers, academics, the original landowners, and anyone else who is interested in the history of landownership in Palestine from the founding of the State of Israel until today." The map's database contains records of land confiscation orders, including dates and area in dunams confiscated. It provides information in Arabic, Hebrew, and English.

--Lincoln Z. Shlensky

Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Z. Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog: http://jewishpeacenews.blogspot.com
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