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Thursday, December 29, 2005


Most people who see this word today immediately think of a certain ubiquitous video/DVD rental chain.  But there is another definition for 'blockbuster' that has almost completely fallen out of use.

'Blockbusting' is the illegal practice of persuading white homeowners to sell quickly and usually at a loss by appealing to the fear that minority groups and especially Black people will move into their neighborhood, causing property values to decline. The property is then resold at inflated prices. [Source: Answer.com]

The main sense behind both the word and concept is that someone would profit by playing on the fears and prejudices that one group has for another group.  The legal/real estate ramifications aside, there are murky waters involved whenever one takes more than a passing look at the fears and prejudices which make such practices possible.

For example: An African American family attempting to purchase a house in Howard Beach (an Italian American neighborhood in Queens, New York that has historically been hostile towards minorities who want to move in), will garner two opposite reactions, depending on one's point of view:

Pro:  Anyone who has the money to buy a house can do so wherever and whenever it suits them.  The assumption that the buyer's ethnicity is a provocation is racist and perpetuates the idea that the presence of a particular race or class of person is somehow damaging to the peace, harmony and value of an area.  Anyone should be able to legally purchase a home and live wherever he/she wants without regard to race, religion, creed, etc.

Con:   Any black family that wants to buy in an all white neighborhood is just looking for trouble!  Why don't they just stay with their own?  By buying a house amidst people who don't want them there they are looking to be deliberately disruptive and it will kill the property values in the area.  This is just going to cause trouble and unhappiness for everyone so why do they bother?

Here in this part of the world we have even more complex issues with both race and religion being thrown into the mix for added volatility.

In such a situation, the real test of whether one is really prejudiced/racist is to reverse the equation or use new variables just to see if one's feelings remain the same.  I think most people who are honest with themselves will find that they are not as open-minded as they thought they were.

Two real examples:

Example one:  A small all-Jewish town in Israel is suddenly in the news because they want to enact local legislation that would prohibit non-Jews from buying houses/property in their community.  This has come to light because a Muslim family wants to buy a house there and is fighting the trend that restricts all access to potential properties for sale.  The town claims that this legislation is necessary to preserve the social, religious and cultural integrity of their community.  It is worth noting that here in Israel it is not uncommon for small communities to be formed based on shared political, religious and even ethnic (meaning country of origin) similarities.  Few people object when such communities are formed, but further down the road the obvious question arises of how such a status quo can be maintained without enacting potentially biased and illegal purchasing laws.

Example two:  In Jerusalem, Israel's Capital city, a Jewish family wants to purchase a house that is located in an Arab neighborhood.  There is even compelling evidence that the house was once owned by Jews but was confiscated during the Arab riots of 1929. The local Arab community immediately begins threatening legal action and some even threaten to kill the Arab seller if he completes the transaction with the Jews.  The leaders of the Arab community claim that it is an attempt to displace them and that Jews have no right to live in the Arab community. 

My questions are as follows:

1.  Why is it considered by many to be inflammatory when a Jew wants to legally purchase land or housing in a predominantly Arab area, and equally inflammatory when Jews want to exclude an Arab from doing the same thing in a predominantly Jewish area?

2.  Why are even the most tenuous Arab land claims that date back to Turkish Ottoman times considered legally binding, yet Jewish land/property claims (many dating back to the same period or at very least British mandatory period) are dismissed out of hand as irrelevant to the current reality.  In both cases a legally binding transaction took place.  Money changed hands.  A land/property owner sold something of concrete description and value to someone else... yet only the Arab claims seem to stand the test of time.

I pass many Arab villages along my morning commute where new land is constantly being cleared for agriculture and/or housing and it isn't newsworthy.  Nobody asks if they actually own the land or if they have legal permission for the expansion.  Yet when my municipality (Efrat) is granted legal permission from the Israeli government to build new housing within our municipal borders it is considered a provocation to our Arab neighbors and splashed all over the news!

Our municipal borders are also surrounded by non-contiguous plots of land that were purchased by Jews in the '20s, '30s and '40s.  Yet each time a Jew attempts to make use of this land 'peace activists' pressure the army and/or police to come and throw the Jews off the land so as not to offend the local Arabs' sensibilities.

As we speak there is a small plot of Jewish-owned land on the hillside opposite my house that is being built upon by some local teenagers.  So far they have put up a couple of small temporary structures and what looks to be an outhouse.  They have been there for about 36 hours and I'm wondering:

a) how long it will be before the police or army come and arrest them.

b) why their presence on a legally purchased plot of Jewish owned land is somehow an offense to anyone's sensibilities?

c) whether there isn't some connection to the original fear and prejudices associated with the term 'blockbusting' at work here?

Before you hit the 'submit comment' button, please look at your response and ask yourself if it would be worded the same way if the cases being discussed were reversed... or in a different country altogether.


Posted by David Bogner on December 29, 2005 | Permalink


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The issue of who owns land in Israel is very confusing. Pre-1967 borders, post 1967 borders, the concept of not really "owning" the land but being able to "use" it, etc.

The left wing takes advantage of this confusion and boils everything down to a sound byte that promotes their position. Those of us who disagree have a hard time formulating a cogent argument - either because of our own ignorance (my case) or because of the difficulty in presenting a complicated issue "al regel achat" (on one foot).

Posted by: westbankmama | Dec 29, 2005 1:45:04 PM

westbankmama... OK, let's take a step back and forget terms like 'left wing', 'them', 'us' etc. for a moment. They aren't really helpful to the topic. It's OK to say that one side is perhaps a bit more sophisticated when it comes to "formulating a cogent argument". But I'm not inviting (or expecting) a discussions of the finer legal or even political status of any specific plot of land. I am simply asking readers to do what I have been doing over the past week or two and ask themselves a hard question: Do I have different standards for different sides depending on the location of the land/property being discussed? I'm not happy with my own answer which is why I'm asking you about yours.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 29, 2005 1:59:37 PM

I think you can guess that I am not particularly fond of gated communities no matter where they are located as a matter of principle, whether in L.A. or the West Bank. I do understand the attraction of living with people who make you feel comfortable and at home but I think that it damages the fabric of society as a whole. That can be Chinatown, a Hispanic community (Cubans in Florida), rich white presbyterians in Orange County or a settlement of English speaking Orthodox in the West Bank. Once people recuse themselves from the greater community it leads to ill feeling, ill will and greater problems down the road.

Now that is out of the way I wanted to ask if the Arab area that the Jew wanted to live in is annexed territory (where the Arabs have access to Israeli rights and social benefits) or defined as occupied. That makes a big difference.

The trouble with your conundrum is the occupation. It is difficult to make an analogy because somewhere else, like here in the States all parties involved have equal rights, at least theoretically (although the wealthy always seem to swing a few extra rights for themselves). Unfortunately where the West Bank is concerned, this isn't the case and until there is some kind of political settlement, that whole area remains in legal limbo. Look at Hebron, it has religious significance to Jews and should be someplace that they can settle in peace but the combination of antagonistic locals and hard core settlers has been a disaster.

That said, it would be nice if representatives could live anywhere they want. Unfortunately if some want to live separately it encourages others to want the same.

Hope that was reasoned enough.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Dec 29, 2005 3:49:14 PM

Please see my posts regarding the new outpost near your town.



Posted by: JoeSettler | Dec 29, 2005 5:22:40 PM

You ask if this would be an issue in another country. No. Of course not.

Consider the boilerplate that's used to justify "land for peace" that there's the "inadmissibility of territorial acquisition by force". Well how does that apply to Chevron or parts of the Muslim Quarter in the Old City? The Jews were forced out but their desire to bring legal proof of ownership or pay exorbitant prices to purchase properties in these areas is considered to be fanatical.

The world has decreed that there is one set of rules for Jews (Israel) and another for the rest of the world.

Or consider the current brouhaha that you mentioned over the law restricting ownership in a city. I'm sure it's getting plenty of coverage. But what happened in the late 90's when the PLC passed a law that declared that selling land to a Jew was high treason and Tawfiq Tarawi with the legal backing provided by Frei Abu Medein took to kidnaping and killing real estate agents who sold land to Jews? Was there similar outrage?

Posted by: soccerdad | Dec 29, 2005 5:45:05 PM


Your point is well-taken that segregated communities damage the collective fabric of society. This topic has been widely discussed here -- in both the private and political sectors. Bambi Sheleg wrote a particularly articulate article about just this issue during the disengagement over the summer. The article was so well-recieved that it was translated, with her permission, for publication in English speaking papers as well.

While I think I understand your rationale for raising the issue of the "occupation", I don't think Trep's question relates to whether or not the land in question can be considered occupied. I think his question is on a far more basic level than who has ownership -- it is a question of civil rights, and where a person has the right to simply exist.

Israel, in pursuing a two-state solution has never implied it would say to it's indigenous Arab community, "well, there's a new state for you over there, so now you must leave!" The two-state solution is supposed to offer both Arabs who don't qualify for Israeli citizenship and those who find living under Israeli rule repugnant an option for self-determination. Furthermore, can you IMAGINE the global outrage that would be voiced if Israel ever suggesting deporting all its citizens of Arab ethnicity after a Palestinian state is established?

Yet, when Gush Katif took on Palestinian sovreignty, this is what was done to the Jews who lived THERE. The Jewish former residents of Gush Katif were told that they could not remain, even it they agreed to live under PA rule, and accept PA authority. Why?

Why is the world tolerant of the Arabs demanding their areas of self-rule/government/determination to be completely Jew-free, but not tolerant of instances of (some) Israeli municipalities wanting the same thing in reverse?

Shouldn't citizenship be about whether or not a person is willing to abide by and respect the laws of the local government rather than what ethnic background or religious perspective defines them?

I think that this is more to the heart of Trep's question.

Posted by: zahava | Dec 29, 2005 7:57:30 PM

From a moral, democratic and human rights point of view the simple answer to your question is that it is equally wrong in both situations. I also agree with Lisoosh that an important issue is whether or not the involved land is annexed or "occupied" from the perspective of the rule of law. Having said that, there should be an equal outcry in any situation where Jews legally wish to live in Arab areas and vice versa) and they are prevented from doing so for whatever reason - whether politically, racially, ethnically or religously motivated.

This of course is assuming you want to live in a true democratic society. If this type of situation doesn't jibe with a vision of a Jewish State of Israel, then you have to be willing to accept the inequities as they come. The same law should apply to all citizens of a democracy. It's that darn demographic timebomb again...

Posted by: wanderer | Dec 29, 2005 9:27:06 PM

You bring up a very interesting point. I've been reading an article about this phenomenon in Israel, and have no real answer for how to protect Jews from the pressures of "peace activists", save, perhaps, emergence of advocacy groups. Nor can I tell you how to stop Arab pressure on Arab homeowners who want to sell to Jews, unless you initiate a forcible government integration program, probably not a good idea at this point. However, I have the experience of living in a gated community, so I can perhaps explain why and how it's different here. We've moved into the gated Russian-speaking neighborhood after having fled a neighborhood which was becoming increasingly Arab, noisy, and drug-infested. When we moved into the community, the prices were high but reasonable enough for us to live here, and we saw that we were surrounded by people very similar to us, Russian-speaking and American Jews, with the exception of an Asian family, which didn't bother anyone, but which must have felt a little excluded in this place. Some time passed, and prices rose substantially. And, surprisingly, that is when the demographics started changing. We observed as a Hispanic and an African-American family bought or rented residences in this area. Now, I wouldn't call the area where I live racist per se... but because of bad experiences with poor Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods, people in this area are on their guard when it comes to certain groups. However... no trouble ensued when these two families moved in for several reasons:
1)The fact that they were wealthy enough to afford to live here, a good indicator of social standing and respectability
2) A set of rules that has to be followed for people to live in the community. If someone breaks any of the rules, they are subject to penalties.
However, this community is not in Israel. Despite high crime rates in certain communities, we do not generally walk around with a threat of one of their representatives blowing us up. There are sufficient levels of respectable people coming from these communities to lower the level of discomfort to a reasonable level. Therefore, the idea of a gated community here works to everyone's satisfaction, even for the minority groups, since everyone agrees to abide by the same set of rules. I'm not sure whether any such guarantees are possible in Israel. However, if any significant integration in the areas you speak about will come to pass peacefully, it will probably be determined by similar dynamics.

Posted by: Irina | Dec 29, 2005 9:30:09 PM

Zahava -
I don't think it is fair in either situation. Neither Jews nor Arabs should be able to exclude the other if they wish to legally and peacably live under each others rule.
My point was that it is difficult to compare a situation that exists inside the green line with one in the West Bank. It is apples and oranges, irrespective of religious or ethnic background, one group has less legal resources and rights.
I agree that it is not fair that Jews be refused the right to live in Arab areas if purchased legally. The question is whether they would live as citizens of that Arab country or as Israeli citizens. If something happened to them would the army then be expected to move in? I don't want to defend the PA's decision and I think that a death sentence for someone who sells to Jews is sick but those are very real concerns. Hebron is supposed to be under PA control but the Israeli army is there in full force to protect Israeli citizens who live there.

As for world opinion, some for sure is antisemetism, but the occupation remains a huge stumbling block.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Dec 29, 2005 9:57:48 PM

The problem here is that the western world has turned reality upside down.

Whether it's crime in American big cities or the war ongoing in Israel the problem is the same. Its the human condition.

This condition demands a strong system of law and proper enforcement. You can't have a mixed society unless everyone agrees to comply to the rules. Just as nations can not coexist unless a peace is ENFORCED.

People fear each other because they don't fear any authority. There is no peace because men stopped enforcing the peace.

Why is it a hundred years ago Jews were sprinkled all over Arab lands and lived in peace? Why was 'Afro-American' home ownership (per capita) higher in America 40 years ago than it is now? Why is the 'Afro-American' illigitimacy rate gone up 5 points every decade for the past thirty years? Why is America again suffering an illegal drug epidmeic? (Yes it is. All the white kids are doing drugs again. Just go visit a big city emergency room on Saturday night.)

Every society must live by a set of righteous laws and enforce said laws vigorously. When they let everything slide ..... everything slides. Crime, rebellion and fear takes over.

Then laws (and gated communities)begin to multiply as people make futile efforts to protect themselves but a multitude of laws will not help when the basic respect for law is already gone.

The left cries "peace peace when there is no peace." In the name of human rights they promote a system that becomes INhuman and no right is found. Rights on paper without justice mean nothing. Who can afford justice these days? It's too expensive and its always extensively delayed ... denied.

The Left devides every faction against every other faction in the name of a chimera called diversity when diversity can only exist where the diverse agree to a higher structure of government over them all.

Israel is a divided land where many factions have no united vision for their land. They are like Samaria running to Egypt to protect them in the years shortly before all Ten Tribes were taken into captivity and then vanished from existence as a people. Now they allow the US which has no understanding of their actual situation to control them. Ancient Israel left off the cohesion of their established theocracy and every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Same today.

When there is no unity ... no agreement ... people descend into strife. There is no solution to the problem you present in this post. We've gone too far from the truth. (even IF that 'truth' be a national construct) I can't afford not to fear and protect myself form certain peoples. It would be suicidal.

The road back would take decades ... or ... we'll just blow it all up and maybe start over.

Posted by: scott | Dec 29, 2005 10:39:46 PM

Another thought popped up. Sorry.
Assuming a Palestinian state would accept Jews living there legally and properly (and I believe it should) then another door opens- Arabs would have to be allowed to COME to Israel to live legally and properly. This opens the door to the Right of Return issue - for sake of arguement lets leave that at people born within Israel not their descendants. If we want to say that Jews should be allowed to buy homes that were previously Jewish - a kind of religious ancestry, how can we refuse the right of people to buy back what were previously their homes?
Just a thought.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Dec 29, 2005 11:16:40 PM


I'd like to start by stating that I enjoy your responses and find them to be thoughtful as well as thought-provoking. That being said, I will also add that living my day-to-day life often needing to be quite concerned for my physical and psychological welfare does make it difficult for me to be measured in my responses, and that my responses often take on a passionate level not necessarily intended. For the sake of intellectually honest dialog, I hope you will consider not only my words, but my intentions in my response to you.

Your response to mine seems to imply that Israeli-owned land outside the green line was not legally purchased, when in fact this is not the case. In addition, you imply that Israelis living over the green line have less legal right to be there than Israelis living within it. I am not certain of your basis for this.

Hevron, incidently, is not currently under Palestinian control as the conditions for having the transfer of sovreignty have not been met. Further more, the presence of Israeli military there has less to do with the Jews living in that community than it does with a necessary security measure for folks living with in the Green line.

The fact that Israel never officially annexed or declared fixed borders is reflective of the deep understanding that the defeated Arabs and the surrounding countries would never accept a "greater Israel" and that Israel would have to concede something to allow these nations to save face. This is, I believe, what Oslo was conceived to accomplish. The only problem, is that the Palestinians walked away from Oslo in 2001 and reinitiated a particulary vicious "cycle of violence." Had Israel done what any other country in it's position would've (annexed the land) would we still be discussing whether or not the disputed territories are "occupied?" There are many people who surmise that we would not.

If it is the case that had Israel simply annexed these territories that we would not be haggling over the legality of these holdings, then it is disingenuous to continue to declare them occupied now.

If the case is such that yes, we would still be having this argument, then I think that equal pressure should be put on the U.S. to return California, New Mexico and Arizona to the Mexican government. Likewise, I think that a few African nations might like to change their sovreighty, and there is always the Balkans.

I simply find it impossible to have an honest discussion about the legality of deeds when there seems to be less emphasis on the value of innocent life. Unless you are prepared to talk simultaneously about a 57 year old campaign of terror against non-combatant civilians, I find it next-to-impossible to have a rational conversation on Israel's moral obligations to surrender lands won in a defensive action.

Posted by: zahava | Dec 30, 2005 12:04:47 AM

Lisoosh... I won't address your first comment because Zahava pretty much voiced most of what I feel. However I have to make one statement of my own on something you said in that first one: The status of the land is not in any way an issue here. If the land was legally purchased in 1922 then it doesn't matter under whose control it falls in 2005... the land still has a legal owner and he/she has the right to live there, build there or sell to whomever he/she wants. This right is extended to Arabs here, but not to Jews. That's just wrong. If you want to say that nobody should be able to change the status quo until a final settlement is reached over sovereignty, then all parties should be made to freeze building, not just the Jews.

In your second comment you ask Zahava "The question is whether they would live as citizens of that Arab country or as Israeli citizens. If something happened to them would the army then be expected to move in?" That is also a moot point. I can be an American citizen and own land in France (provided that France allows me to immigrate). I can build there and even cultivate the land. As to whether the IDF would have to come to my aid if I were attacked on my land in France, the Israel government has demonstrated on several occasions its willingness to rescue it's citizens outside of its own borders, so the answer would be a big maybe.

Now to your last comment which is especially troubling for me. You wrote "Assuming a Palestinian state would accept Jews living there legally and properly (and I believe it should) then another door opens- Arabs would have to be allowed to COME to Israel to live legally and properly." You are confusing two very different issues. I wrote about a Jew going to buy a house in his own country. The fact that it might have been previously owned by Jews in the past was really a non-starter because I've stated that he is trying to buy the house, not claim it as a reparations (Sorry to have cause confusion about that point). What you are saying is that an Arab from outside of Israel should be able to come into Israel and buy whatever he/she wants and live there without any regard for Israeli immigration laws. I live here legally according to the current legal status of this part of the world. If that status (meaning sovereignty) should ever change it would be an act of illegal racial transfer to require me to leave simply because I am a Jew. If I own my land I should be able to elect to stay under whatever sovereignty prevails in my area. If I were to stay after such a hypothetical change of sovereignty, it does not mean Israel has to now allow Arabs to come in and settle within its borders. Like any modern country, Israel (like France) has immigration laws and can decide who it wants to admit based on those laws. Arabs who reside within the Israeli borders already have the rights you described. They have citizenship and access to the same health, educational and government services that I do. I am not saying that Israel is without its social problems, but I don't know many countries that aren't currently grappling with class and cultural issues. Are Israeli Arabs treated as well as Israeli Jews? No. But the same can be said about American whites and many of its minorities.

Jope Settler... Wonderful post! You gave me a lot to think about.

Soccer Dad... I agree. Territory doesn't normally change hands except by force (or at least the threat of force)... except when Israel has made its many gestures towards the peace that never seems to materialize.

Wanderer... As I said to Lisoosh, the area's sovereignty is a non-issue. Either all parties may legally buy, sell and develop land or nobody can. Currently only Jews are put under scrutiny and subjected to international scorn for developing legally purchased property. And demographics are just a red herring in this context. I won't argue about what might be in 10 or 20 years. I am talking about what is legal and just right this minute. You can drive your car 55mph today legally. If they change that to 45mph next week you have 7 days in which you can legally continue to drive 55mph. I don't think it is fair to tell me that I can't make legal land transactions based on current law because sometime in the future that law might be changing.

Irina... I don't know if it came across in my post, but I (like Zahava) am not entirely comfortable with the way the country has become much more polarized by religious and political demographics. The article that Zahava mentioned talks about how it is one of the religious community's real failings that it felt it had to separate itself from the secular, pluralistic Israeli society. I couldn't agree more. I think that both the religious and secular lost out with this trend.

Scott... Other than the fact that I don't find the use of labels helpful in making a point (something you do quite often), I can't argue with most of your points. I think that you would enjoy a post my friend and neighbor Ben Chorin posted today: here.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 30, 2005 12:08:15 AM

Without getting into the issues surrounding Lisoosh's posts, my point was actually more along the lines of we should be careful what we wish for.

If you truly want there to be an equal response to both Arab and Jewish settlement in each others areas, you have to be willing to accept the consequences.

It is well known that Arab birthrates exceed Jewish birthrates and from a demographic point of view, Jews will eventually be a minority in historical Eretz Yisrael.

Are you willing to accept Arab families moving next door to you in Efrat? If you are, then I agree with you that the response to legal Jewish settlement should be the same as the response to legal Arab settlement, and that the current fixation on Jewish settlement as somehow illegal is wrong. You must then however be willing to eventually give up the Jewish character of the State of Israel.

If you are not willing to accept that Arab families should be allowed to move into Efrat (or any other Jewish town anywhere in Israel or the territories), then the arguments are much different. Democracy, law and the status of the territories mean little at that point. In that case, like you said, the area's sovereignity really is a non-issue.

Like it or not, the current situation, with all its grey areas and inequities may offer the best solution (opportunity?) to allow continued Jewish settlement in the territories.

Posted by: wanderer | Dec 30, 2005 12:50:10 AM

Zahava said: "Why is the world tolerant of the Arabs demanding their areas of self-rule/government/determination to be completely Jew-free, but not tolerant of instances of (some) Israeli municipalities wanting the same thing in reverse?"

Indeed. Why did America refuse to allow boatloads of Jewish refugees to dock in pre-World War II days? Sending them on to their deaths.

Why is the ACLU actively doing everything in it's power to undermine American culture and values?

David doesn't want me to label these people or their efforts. How shall we describe them while not offending them? Heaven forbid we hurt their feelings. I'll just call them the folks who I can never get along with, don't want teaching my children, wish would stop desecrating the judicial system of my nation, want them to get their GD hands out of my pockets ... and am THIS close to starting a civil war with.

Revolutions are great when they overturn despotic regimes and nations but when they seek to kill off the best people and enslave mankind .... I think we need to call a spade a spade. They are the enemy and sooner or later either you fight them or they will win.

Posted by: scott | Dec 30, 2005 2:18:33 AM

In general, I would agree that complete separation of different communities is not a good thing, and ideally it would be better if people of different backgrounds learned to live in harmony, develop tolerance, or even learn from one another. I think such level of integration between religious and secular communities is possible eventually, although I doubt that a true melting pot is possible either in Israel or the United States - most people prefer to congregate in groups they are more comfortable with. However, integration of Arabs and Jews is a completely different issue, since the level of mutual distrust, hostility, and external factors, such as outside pressure from "peace activists", more hostile Arabs, and the international involvement makes such integration much more difficult. Unless you minimize those "outside factors", I don't see how any more than token progress is possible in the nearest future. When it comes to issues of personal safety and when you see the other as the enemy, even common sense pragmatic legal questions suffer. The general climate has to change before any real acknowledgement of rights happens.

Posted by: Irina | Dec 30, 2005 4:19:01 AM

Why is the ACLU actively doing everything in it's power to undermine American culture and values?

If this had some basis in reality there might be room for discussion.

Absolutes make it difficult to engage in real dialogue.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 30, 2005 8:57:32 AM

Right Jack. They sue and bankrupt highschools and schoolboards for doing what Americans have always done and then turn around and sue to protect the civil rights of FOREIGN terrorists who have no effing rights in this country!

The ACLU is nothing but a front group for those advocating the leftist revolution in America and their friends. Friends being any group that hates America or wishes to do it harm. It's so freeking obvious either you and yours are blind or part of the conspiracy.

Years ago I suppose it was somewhat to do with liberty and justice but those days are loooooooong gone. They can hide behind their newspeak name but their actions are easily read by all.

The Left's revolution has stalled in America. Your train has lost power on the steepest part of the grade. You had me when I was twenty but now at 55 I'd gladly die to stop you. Me and half the country.

Posted by: scott | Dec 30, 2005 9:42:11 AM

Wanderer... You wrote: "Are you willing to accept Arab families moving next door to you in Efrat? If you are, then I agree with you that the response to legal Jewish settlement should be the same as the response to legal Arab settlement, and that the current fixation on Jewish settlement as somehow illegal is wrong. You must then however be willing to eventually give up the Jewish character of the State of Israel." Again you are asking things that have no bearing on my post or its point. Zahava and I actually had an interesting conversation about how we would feel about having Arab neighbors and, security concerns aside, I really wouldn't have a problem with it. But as I said it has nothing to do with my point. If Arabs can expand their villages why can't expand mine? Right now... today... this land belongs to Israel. Next year that may or may not change, but until it does I see no reason why I should be treated as a second-class citizen and not be afforded the same rights of land ownership and natural growth as the Arabs in my area. Also, the demographic issues, while interesting and perhaps troubling, has nothing to do with the legal issues of the here and now.

Scott... I have to respectfully demand that you abide by the house rules. I am not arguing the validity of your points because you have drawn battle lines rather than offer to discuss a particular issue. I'm a simple person. Keep the issues clear and simple and I will gladly discuss just about anything you might have on your mind. But when you start talking about 'those people' and use such a broad brush to paint such a dismal picture, I get the sense you are less interested in discussing and more bent on simply describing your enemy. I also would ask that you refrain from attacking other commenters. Jack may not share your convictions, but he is neither blind nor part of a conspiracy. You are obviously passionate about your politics and that's fine... even admirable. But you aren't going to sway many people by attacking them. If your intent is not to have an influence on anyone, why bother entering into a discussion? Your points about the ACLU are interesting, but if you look at them in terms of my post or the points made by any of the commenters I think you'll find that they were way off message and not helpful.

Irina... I would urge you to read the Ben Chorin post I linked to in an earlier response to Scott. It deals with these issues of "mutual distrust, hostility".

Jack...As I told Scott, your first point is moot since it has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Your comment about absolutes making it difficult to engage in honest discussion is spot on. Thanks

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 30, 2005 2:59:59 PM

Ok, I'm going for a do over here because in part I misinterpreted your question and partly because I don't think I stated my understanding of the issure very clearly.
Zahava - thank you for the complement. I am aware that this is a very emotional issue and that you obviously have much more personal involvement than I do, so I do try to be as measured as I can and I realize that you are trying to do the same. I had also noticed that you more frequently comment, here and elsewhere when you feel that someone close is maligned.

I do find a difference between the Occupied Territories and inside the green line and I will clarify that.

Firstly, I believe that an Israeli Arab should be able to buy a home in a Jewish town such as Carmiel. I also believe that a Jewish Israeli should be able to buy a home in Nazereth. I believe Wanderer has a good point about how people envision Israel - as a Jewish State (with an emphasis on religion), as a democracy with a Jewish majority or as a full democracy. I'll admit to being torn between the second two. Laws that restrict ownership based on race or religion go against an open democracy.

In that same spirit, I believe that if an Israeli Arab wishes to buy a home in a settlement in the West Bank he should be able to. Also if a Jew (I won't say Israeli because of the legal ramifications) wishes to buy a home in Ramallah he should be able to.
Whether or not any of these people would want to do that is another matter - I'm trying to put this as a legal issue.

Thats it for individuals. The next concerns whole communities and the West Bank.

I think that there are several issues here, legal, political and emotional.
To start with the legal, I have to point out that I am not a lawyer so I could be wrong on any or all points. Anything I state is correct to the best of my knowledge and I will contact someone who does know the law to try and clarify.

To start with the legal aspect. Zahava, you said that you feel that I don't think that Jewish land was purchased legally and mentioned annexation. David, you mentioned (in response to wanderer) that this is Israels land here and now.
Yes annexation would have changed a lot, in fact everything. If Israel had annexed the land given the inhabitants full citizenship and rights and properly mapped out property boundaries I don't believe there would be an issue now at all. My understanding is that Israel didn't annex the area for two reasons -
1. Initially assuming that land would be exchanged for peace with Jordan which had owned the area. This idea died at Khartoum.
2. Demographic, the area was home to over a million Arabs and Israel didn't want to absorb them. Interestingly some areas were annexed, such as the area leading up to the airport at Atarot and those Arabs like their rights and some are moving or attempting to move to settlements in order not to be on the wrong side of the security fence.

My understanding is (and again, I am not a lawyer) that without full annexation the land is not legally Israels but is defined by international law as occupied which precludes the occupying power from settling its citizens there. If you take the definition as "disputed" as the State of Israel does then the argument that Arabs be allowed to expand villages and Israelis not which seems to be the crux of your question is as you suggested, unfair. By definition, during a dispute both parties should be held to the same standards.
My understanding is however, that Israel used the term "disputed" in part to overcome the legal ramifications of building settlements in what would otherwise be considered "occupied" territory and that in international law they have very little if any basis for this. In court, Israel has had to claim that the settlements are temporary in order to stand up to challenges to settlement policy.

As to the legality of land purchases over the green line, I did cover this previously. I'll leave you as the experts on Efrat but I know that there are many cases of illegalities when it comes to land purchases - land being aquired by the state using eminent domain and then being sold or leased to Israeli developers, land being "sold" by people other than the owners, now Israeli lawyers are signing "in place" of Arab Muktars. Just to be clear, I think that illegal is illegal whether it is the action of Jew or Arab, Israeli or Palestinian. I also believe that if land has a demonstrated legal owner, Jew or Arab, that person is entitled to live on and use that land.

Of course there are other political and emotional ramifications to Israels settlement policy. To be clear - I am not talking about individual settlers and their motivations but about specific settlement POLICY. This is why the fact that the territory is occupied and not annexed is so important.
Original settlement policy wasn't about Jews wanting to move to a nice area. It was originally about security (part of the reason why they are on high ground) and demographics - Sharons "facts on the ground". How you view them now depends on your vision for the future.
To the Palestinians, from what I have read, they are viewed as an attempt to take territory and annex it to Israel without absorbing the local population - increasing Israels land holdings and making any future Palestinian state unviable.
This requires two assumptions:
1.That there will eventually be a two state solution that will include the West Bank.
2. That areas of high density Israeli settlement and construction would be annexed to Israel.
Given these two assumptions any additional new settlements especially in the area of established ones would also be annexed. So to you, the kids settlement is use of your own land. To the Palestinians it is an attempt to annex further land to Israel and further reduce the size and scope of a potential Palestinian state.

To be honest, and taking into the consideration the fact that the State of Israel uses the settlements and the settlers, I think they have a point. Remember I am taking politics into consideration here, not law.
Emotions also play a part. While your point certainly has merit that if Arab villages are allowed to expand then Israeli settlements should too a lot of opinion is based on another factor. As citizens of Israel, people in settlements have other housing options. Most Palestinians are stateless and without expanding villages they have nowhere else to live. Those that require permits, such as Jerusalemites will lose them if they leave the area for more that 3 years (I think) limiting their choices if they wish to remain in the city of their birth. Like I said, I think this distinction isn't legal but emotional but that doesn't diminish its power or its effect on world opinion.

Now my other two statements were based on imagined negotiations for a Palestinian State.

Lets say that in the run up to the establishment of an Arab state in the West Bank tens of thousands of Israelis wish to remain in the area - just as resident aliens reside in the US. Theoretically yes, of course they should be able to. I can see two stumbling blocks though.

1. Assuming they would want to live in their existing homes and towns they would form very distinct communities. The government of the new State would be responsible for their safety and ensuring enforcement of all laws. Given the current bad relations between many (not all) of these communities and their Arab neighbours, the intensely tribal nature of current Palestinian society, remnants of terror groups and the high level of gun ownership (on both sides) stopping bloodshed would be incredibly difficult, especially for a political entity with limited resources. The odds would be very high that Israel would feel obligated to step in and help out its citizens. This would be very reassuring to those Israelis. But if I was in charge of setting that State up why would I want to open myself up to potential and likely military action from my large well armed neighbour? I would want assurances in triplicate that that wouldn't happen and even then I would have trouble accepting it.

2. Assuming the negotiations are taking place and I as the Palestinian negotiator have accepted that land owned by Jews in the 20's 30's and 40's will remain so as will land bought during occupation what is to stop me from using that as a bargaining chip for the Right of Return? This is intensely important to them and I don't see them making concessions on it without concessions on our side.
Obviously each country is entitled to set its own immigration policy. However if we want to demand that they set their immigration policy in line with the rest of the world and allow full immigration without regard to race why shouldn't they demand the same of us? And here I'm talking about people BORN in Israel, not 5th generation refugees and not people with no connection and I mentioned BUY a property, not reparations. Lets assume any reparations would be financial, not in property (more realistic). I believe every country in the world views people born in that country to be citizens (barring children of diplomats and tourists).
Just to be clear - I also think that all Arab nations who currently have Palestinian populations with no rights should immediately bestow full citizenship to those born there and offer residency rights to those who live there and may wish it. Generations of refugees is ridiculous and all countries should be held to the same standard when dealing with the refugee issue.

I know that last part will probably lead to contention and believe me I am very conflicted on a lot of these issues. I don't think that they are simple, or one sided or easy to resolve. I have the feeling that no matter what any kind of semi fair solution will be painful for people on both sides.

I guess though that I believe that Israel is trying, in some way to have its cake and eat it too.

Hope I kept it respectful. I will pass this on to someone who knows the legal issues better than me and I will post corrections if she finds any. Sorry too if it appears disjointed in any way, I have had multiple interruptions to deal with.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Dec 30, 2005 10:19:04 PM

I don't know what dismays me more ... those who openly wish to destroy the decent G-d fearing people of this earth or the decent G-d fearing people who REFUSE to admit who the enemy is and directly engage them?

The 'bad guys' are hiding behind a vast smoke screen. With newspeak and obfuscation they have hoodwinked the vast crowd of fence-sitting 'moderates' into believeing they are actually just nice guys with a different agenda. This is a great lie. It's an old old trick. I think Lao Tsu promulgated it in his "Art of War". Keep your intended victim in the dark as long as possible.

I recognise David, that you wish to keep a dialogue open between opposing viewpoints here. To me that's just playing into the hands of those committed to your destruction. It just makes 'them' believe they are suckering you in and thus gaining ground over you.

The type of discourse you are so committed to was all well and good maybe a decade ago. Now it's futile and actually counter-productive. Both Israel and the US are in the position of a hostage in the hand of terrorits. Negotiations are not the correct way to deal with Al Queda. Attack is the only valid response.

Refusing to choose sides in this sort of conflict is tatamount to criminal obstructionism. I know, you have chosen sides. Where you live is proof. What mystifies me is your ever conciliatory demeanor.

It's the great mystery of modern day Israel actually. You all want to discuss things while your enemy and his useful idiots slowly ground you into powder.

Bush may be a dolt in many ways but he did one thing right that has forced the islamofascists to back off us here in the US. He attacked and attacked massively. He put fear in the Hearts of the enemy. They KNOW if they hit us again like they did on 9/11 we will escalate our attack at least four fold.

Israel used to understand this. But now they 'talk' and make consessions. You and your children live in the results. When we dwelt in peace it was right to sit down at a table with our politically adversarial brethren. Now with the knife at our very throats it is pure sillyness to entertain their sucidal and traitorous duplicity.

Posted by: scott | Dec 30, 2005 10:45:44 PM


I read you loud and clear. Sometimes people mistake yelling for dialogue. I learned long ago that my being able to shout over others had nothing to do with the merit or lack thereof my postion.

Your post offers a lot of food for thought. All too often we mistake tradition as being the moral place to stand.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 1, 2006 9:37:25 AM

Dear all... Please see my last comment on Photo Friday which explains why I'm going to opt out of further discussion of this issue for at least a day or two. As I have been doing more research I am finding that my understanding of the historical and legal issues are not as solid as I had assumed. This is not to say I was either 100% wrong or 100% right... but simply that my starting point was more emotional than factual and that is never a good way to begin an honest, productive discussion. At the end of that last Photo Friday comment I posted a link to two very good translations that Imshin and her husband 'Bish' posted on her site. Go read them and hopefully we can come back to this in a few days. Thanks everyone (as usual) for keeping things civil.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 1, 2006 10:02:31 AM

Question - who owns the land? Is it family of the teenagers? Do they have legal rights to build there? This is a great post.

Thank you.

Posted by: Sima | Feb 23, 2009 10:54:11 PM

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