On the slippery slope

In Maariv, 14 December 2001:

“The Yesha Council (The Council of the Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) that convened yesterday in Emanuel called for the National Camp Party to leave the coalition if the Prime Minster did not order the IDF to recapture Palestinian territories.”

Y-net 27.7.2002:

“In response to the terrorist attack last night in southern Hebron mountains, the Yesha Council called on the government to deport the residents of the Palestinian town of Yatah and “make Yatah a symbol of the price to pay, for Palestinians who commit terrorist acts or support them.” They also stated, “Tonight, the village of Harth Al-Maya should be destroyed because of terrorist attacks coming from there.”

As expected, the latest wave of terrorist attacks has given rise to the pubic calling for deportation, considering the inefficiency of the reoccupation of cities in the West Bank. Pay attention to the demands of the Yesha Council – for years, the most powerful lobby that everyone in the government fears.

While the demands rising from the right wing demonstrations tend to be realized in non-institutionalized ways (“in blood and fire we will expel Rabin”), the demands of Yesha Council tend to become the official policy of the Israeli government immediately once they are considered legitimate.

The latest demand of the Yesha council, to evict 80,000 residents, is liable to become Israeli government policy in the very near future. And if the residents of Yata should be expelled, then why not the residents of Jenin and Nablus?

Like the reoccupation of cities in the West Bank, it will happen after a series of painful terrorist attacks that will undermine our reasoning and block the moral conscious of Israelis. With each series of terrorist attacks, we cross another red line that appeared to us that we would not agree to cross. When it is apparent that our crossing the line was not useful and the terror continues, we think that if we could just break free of our moral mental block and ignore the opinions of the international community about some activities – we could stop the terror attacks. That is how the bombing of Palestinian cities that was once thought as an extreme measures is now mundane. The army has already gone into the middle of cities to “straightened things out” but that was not effective. The cities in the territories have already been occupied and the population is living under a daily curfew for a month and a half. 22 percent of the Palestinian children suffer from malnutrition as a result of the curfews and closures and we find every possible way to repress, to make excuses or to paint over these atrocities.

In fact, we are just a few steps away from mass expulsion. We are currently deliberating over the expulsion of families of suicide bombers. After this does not solve the problem, we will move to expulsion of towns, as demanded by the extremist of the settlers. The public is already prepared for this – “transfer” has not been a evil word for some time and “No Arabs – No Terror” sounds like a banal slogan for a food advertisement. The IDF is preparing the legal case for expulsion (Kol Hair 26.7.2002). Among the many suggestions spoken of publicly, “transfer” seems like a moderate option. Israeli M.K. Michael Kleiner, has publicly called for mass destruction of the territories and killing 1,000 Palestinians for every Israeli killed – and the response of Attorney General Rubenstien has been not to even lift a finger.

The Minister Benny Alon speaks with a sweet-talking voice about agreed transfer (not agreed to by those expelled of course…); alternatively he could be threatening or this may just be wishful thinking: “The situation is similar to 1948 and the transfer of Arabs that happened then could repeat itself if this war escalates.” It is clear that an increase in violence that will lead to a regional war will serve the interests of Alon and his partners in the Israeli leadership. This frightening scenario is the wet dream of the Yesha Council: it is clear to them that the vision of a Greater Israel is viable only if there are no Arabs here. Under the smoke screen of the war that will erupt, things will be done that will remain with us forever like a Mark of Cain on our collective forehead.

For anyone who still did not understand, we are on our way to crimes against humanity.

Will we find enough soldiers who refuse to take part?

Tamir Sorek