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How come a decision by the government to built 850 housing units in the West Bank is praised as a move toward peace? 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.
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!”
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.