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Knesset vote reveals how weak the settlers truly are. How come a decision by the government to built 850 housing units in the West Bank is praised as a move toward peace?

Knesset vote reveals how weak the settlers truly are

The answer has to do with the political theater taking place for decades Ulpana Hill neighborhood in the settlement of Beit El (photo: Yaakov/wikimeida CC-3.0) How bad is this political moment? It’s enough to say that a move in which the prime minister announces the construction of 850 new housing units in the West Bank – most of them on the eastern side of the separation wall, the one located on land supposed to be within a future Palestinian state, even according to Netanyahu – has won him praise in the New York Times. The reason: Netanyahu also blocked a legislative initiative from the far right, which would have allowed Israel to legalize settlements built on private Palestinian land.

It was political theater at its worst – aimed to please western eyes. Let it be stated clearly: the “land grab” law should have passed. Israel News - Haaretz Israeli News source.


+972 Magazine: Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine. Israeli public preps for elections: Just ‘don’t mention the war!’ Election season has begun, and the Israeli public desperately wants one thing: escapism. Last night, after the Israeli election was set for September 4, I saw a guy wearing a T-shirt that I thought summed up the public mood, which the main ”opposition” candidates have been and will be catering to. The T-shirt showed a comically wide-eyed, frightened John Cleese and his classic line from Fawlty Towers: ”Don’t mention the war!” Perfect. The prime minister has the whole world scared to death that he’s going to bomb Iran, every poll shows that a great majority of Israelis don’t want him to do it – but it’s not an issue in Israeli politics and it almost certainly won’t be in the campaign. People don’t want to talk about it or hear about it. Look at how the opposition and the public have reacted since ex-Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin accused Netanyahu and Barak last Friday of being “messianics” who can’t be trusted to deal reasonably with Iran.

What will you hear about? Again, perfect. The utopian vision of ‘security’ is killing Israel. Somewhere along the way, security for Israeli Jews became utopia: it will never be achieved, but it exacts an infinite price of destruction for its own sake, on the road to nowhere. Isaiah Berlin’s seminal critique of utopia holds that no matter how noble the idea at hand, the assumption that one truth can be universal and overriding denies the reality of conflicting, but equally vital, human truths. We may believe all humans agree on the right to life and physical security. But we also cherish other human rights and freedoms, and sometimes these are in conflict.

Acknowledging and struggling with that tension makes us human; automatically trampling one value for the other results in disaster. The notion of perfection requires us to suspend other basic human and political values to achieve it. Nineteenth century ideologies of both the right and the left based on utopian visions led to Nazism and Communism, which perpetrated grand-scale destruction of human lives and minds.