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Friday, December 30, 2005

Photo Friday (Vol. L) ['changing hillside' edition]

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the hillside opposite the one on which my house sits is undergoing a small transformation.  In the wadi (valley) between the two hills several dozen Palestinian farmers have laid claim to privately and government owned land for their vineyards.  This is a fairly standard practice as nearly every settlement is immediately surrounded by these cultivated fields and vineyards in order to limit the area on which the Jews can build. 

However, the opposite hillside has several large tracts of land that have not been under cultivation since at least Ottoman times and likely earlier.  It is on one of these plots that a group of teenagers have built a temporary structure and have been holding classes... hosting meals... and generally performing a non-violent form of protest to recent events.

Here's how the hillside looked Earlier in the year:
Hillside_before

And here's how it looks now:
Hillside

Here's a zoom of what's going on there:
Hillsidezoom


Rather than meet violence with violence (as a minuscule minority of settlers have done), the settler movement's typical response to nearly every act of terrorism/murder has been to establish a new community on Jewish or state-owned land in memory of those who were killed.  Some of these efforts have grown into thriving communities while others have dwindled as nonviable groups of a few caravans (trailers) are up-rooted by the government.

Joe Settler wrote a nice post yesterday about what's going on across from my house.  Go read what he has to say.  I don't know him and haven't read enough of his stuff to know if we agree on all the important stuff, but I found his take on this particular event very thought provoking... mostly because he had the guts to admit some feelings of ambiguity about the direction in which this youthful enthusiasm is being channeled.

You may object to what these kids are doing, or even how they are doing it... but this is not a provocation.  This is not placing a stumbling block before the peace process.  Anyone who thinks so is (IMHO) guilty of the kind of double standard I mentioned yesterday. 

This gesture, no matter how seemingly futile, is simply a legitimate response to terror.  Asking a terrorized population to do nothing in the face of ongoing and relentless murder and mayhem is simply not reasonable request.  Condoning equal violence (i.e. vigilantism) is also not a reasonable response. 

Frankly, I would rather see our children learn to respond to destruction with construction (thanks to Joe Settler for that idea), rather than thirsting for revenge and a perpetuation of the 'so-called cycle of violence'.

I don't want to leave you today on such a troubling note, so here's a bonus picture I took at the Negev Mall in Beer Sheva on Thursday.  It is still technically the Fifth candle of Hanukkah (at least 'til sundown)!:

Sufganiyotmall

Shabbat Shalom!
221_16_50

Posted by David Bogner on December 30, 2005 | Permalink

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Amen to a peaceful response. Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by: val | Dec 30, 2005 3:35:38 PM

I had some major problems with Joe Settler's post, and anyone who reads me frequently knows what a crazy right winger I am, so it should be clear that short of a real atrocity I would never object based on offense to Arab sensibility or a provocation to the Arabs.

First of all (and I realize that this is tangential to the main issue, but he mentioned it) the religious right's infatuation with Pollard is nauseating. (Trep: I realize you hate labels like right and left, but what should I say? I'm on the right. Is it OK for me to label the right "the right"?) Whether or not you believe that his punishment fits his crime there is no denying that he is (to America) a treasonous criminal. To rally to his cause is to adopt the worst I-care-about-my-people-above-my-values sort of thinking. Though obviously their crimes don't compare, it is quite analogous to the Black radicals that rallied to Tookie's defense and shouted about his redemption. To make Pollard one's poster boy, even if he has been treated unjustly is to tell the world (1) Jews care most of all whether someone is a Jew or not, not whether he is a criminal and/or (2) crimes against America don't matter to religious Jews as long as they benefit Israel. Now, I firmly believe that many Orthodox Jews actually believe both those statements, which itself is shameful, but to make a PR campaign out of them is shameful and stupid. Are there no law-abiding Jews in the world being treated unfairly to whose cause we can rally?

Second, that the kids discussed whether or not they would serve in the IDF and apparently had not yet decided, when less religious kids are forced to serve, just shows how far the way they see their commitment to Zionism and to other Israelis has drifted away from that of the general populace. That such a discussion even took place I have to believe would be read by a "secular" Israeli with great resentment. I can imagine him saying "have a nice discussion while my son is patrolling, and why, because he doesn't keep kosher!" Things like this further balkanize Israeli society.

My last complaint has nothing to do with Joe Settler, but with Israeli policy. Joe had in his post a paragraph praising that rather than revenge or proportional retribution for terror, these kids were doing something non-violent. (I don't know why that paragraph was removed.) For the kids, I agree that non-violent protest should be the only way, but Israel in the 50s and 60s had a concept called deterrence. It did not involve proportional violent retribution. It involved massively disproportional violent retribution for any act of terror. It was the "you poke us in the eye we'll cut off your hand" philosophy and I believe it worked. Israel will be hated whether or not it aggressively defends its citizens – might as well defend them.

Wow! What a rant I wrote! I hope you and Joe realize that this is coming from a religious politically-conservative very pro-Israel guy. If the chips were down, I would still want Joe to make important decisions rather than a liberal (label! sorry) who was most interested in a "peace process". That's why I hope that my criticisms will carry some weight.

Shabbat shalom to all.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 30, 2005 4:35:45 PM

Val... Thanks.

Doctor Bean... I'm not going to be able to give the the attention it deserves because it is candle lighting time, but here's what I have:

1.. I respect Joe Settler not because I share all his views but because his post was an exploration of ideas, not a statement of doctrine. That is refreshing to see on a blog.
2. I can't say what the American Jews should or shouldn't feel about Pollard, but please don't lose sight of the fact that these are Israelis that are idolizing him. He did a brave thing by getting vital info to Israel when the US was willing to hold out on its so called ally. Then the US violated a plea bargain agreement and doomed this man who did a selfless thing to help Israel to a life in prison without hope of parole. Now that I am here and beyond the long arm of American justice I can say without hesitation that I have never had an issue of dual loyalty. The US has been a wonderful haven for Jews and has treated them very well. But if I had ever been called upon to chose between the interests of the US or Israel, I would have thrown in my lot with Israel no matter what the cost. In a perfect world a person would never have to make such a choice. But Pollard's unique position forced exactly that choice.
3. TO understand the bit about the kids discussing whether to do the army you have to see the world through their eyes. They witnessed the army uprooting Jewish families this past summer. They don't want to be put in that position. I honestly think this is mostly talk since religious Zionists make up an important backbone of the IDF. But I admire that the kids are talking amongst themselves about important issues instead of what video they like on MTV.

I'm sure I;ll have more on Sat. nite, but I have to run... Shabbat Shalom.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 30, 2005 4:54:58 PM

Good Shabbos

Posted by: Jack | Dec 30, 2005 6:46:47 PM

Having read both posts, I can say this:
1)No matter what Israelis do, be it deterrence or "civil disobedience", the international community will find a way to condemn it. Therefore, it's probably better to explore a variety/combination of responses than none at all for fear of someone's opinion.
2) Although I can see why it's tempting to either lionize Pollard as a hero or demonize him as a traitor (depending on where you're coming from), after having done a lot of research on what had happened, I can see that Pollard's person (and actions) are much more complicated than either side is acknowledging. I guess what I'm taking issue with is that Pollard has been made into a mascot for slogans, and that people often forget about the actual facts of the case - from both sides, mind you. I, for one, cannot adopt a clear-cut opinion on what had transpired (except for the injustice with which has been treated) precisel because of how complex the situation actually was.
3)Although I agree with Doctor Bean's point about serving in the IDF, I don't think these kids are necessarily trying to avoid their duty because they are cowards, but trying to find an alternative way of helping their country. Which, of course, we can disagree with - but I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: Irina | Dec 30, 2005 7:50:31 PM

Can't believe I am saying this but....
I agree with Dr. Beans first two paragraphs.
Third one - no.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Dec 30, 2005 10:33:50 PM

Take another look at the before and after pictures... those no-good Jews have killed all the greenery! Just so the Arabs wouldn't be able to enjoy it, no doubt.

Posted by: ralphie | Dec 30, 2005 11:18:20 PM

Lisoosh agrees with two thirds of my points! Can world redemption be far behind?

Shabbat shalom, Lisoosh. (I didn't think you'd go for disproportionate violent response!)

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 30, 2005 11:53:43 PM

Dr. Bean - Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameach. I thought you were just going for MY redemption, I had no idea you had your sights set on the whole world!!!

Posted by: Lisoosh | Dec 31, 2005 12:21:36 AM

Treppenwitz: I hope it is OK that I crosspost my response here:

http://joesettler.blogspot.com/2005/12/response-to-some-comments-from-another.html

In a blatant act of self promotion I posted a link on Treppenwitz’s site regarding the outposts. It created a bit of controversy (in his comments section, not mine).

I will cross-post my response here and there. You will need to look at his site to understand the response:

Dr. Bean:
1)
What Pollard did was espionage and treason.
Espionage in Israel’s eyes, and treason in the US’s.
Pollard provided us with information vital to our survival.
For us in Israel, Pollard is a hero. Period.
(That the Israeli government hung him out to dry is a disgrace).

Pollard’s punishment is an attempt to teach other US Jews (like Dov Zakheim) to know where their loyalties must unequivocally lie.

In the real world, the US regularly spies on Israel (like the attempt with the snooping submarine we tagged this summer, and regular Sigint eavesdropping). I would hardly be surprised to learn that the US even runs agents inside the IDF and government.
All countries spy on one another.

How Religious American Jews should deal with it, is really their problem.
They belong in Israel and then won’t have face issues of dual loyalty. But that is an Aliyah issue – and not what we are discussing right now.

2a)
Huh!
These kids just saw the IDF they were planning on proudly serving in, rip their friends and families out of their homes, destroy entire Jewish towns, communities, etc., and everything else that has transpired since, such as missile attacks on Ashkelon, the reengaged Gaza NPZ (No People Zone) where the northern Jewish towns in Gaza used to be.

They have zero intention of participating in a repeat act of what they see as so reprehensibly stupid, evil, wrong, [fill in your term here].

For some it is a question of do they go to jail now (when they get called up) or only after they get the order to expel more Jews (which they fully expect to get under a Sharon government).

They are incredibly committed to Israel (or “Zionism” as it used to be called).
They want to serve and protect the People of Israel.
They don’t want to be pawns in an army where the generals consider the expulsion of Jews from their homes to be a successful showcase of the IDF’s power and capabilities (I actually heard an IDF general say that while I was in Gaza).

That they are discussing these things is excellent.

Besides, if someone hates settlers or the religious, then they’re going to hate them anyway, and the extreme left considers all the settlers/religious in the army to be fifth columnists anyway (if they can't be brainwashed properly)!

2b) You must be unaware as to how many secular kids receive exemptions from the army (Mia Buskila withstanding). The numbers are relatively close to the number of Charedi kids who don’t serve. The difference is only in the percent from the population sector. (I'll try to find the numbers.)


3)
I never wrote anything along those lines, so I never actually removed it.

Listening to my Israeli (left) friends who are bigshots in the army, I realize that they have never inculcated and integrated concepts like decisive victory into their thinking. For them, maintaining a relative status quo is victory.

Utterly vanquishing the enemy (or the enemy’s capabilities) is not something they consider. Missiles on Ashkelon or the Golan, “Big deal, it doesn’t really hurt us, we've withstood it for years, and can withstand it for years more if we need to”.

Disproportional response is something they would never do (only threaten).

Posted by: JoeSettler | Dec 31, 2005 7:55:05 PM

I just read what I wrote and the tone sounded very harsh. It's not meant to be.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Dec 31, 2005 10:00:00 PM

I just read again what I wrote and the tone sounded very harsh. It's not meant to be.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Dec 31, 2005 10:00:26 PM

Joe Settler: I really appreciate your response, and I didn't thing it sounded harsh. I assume you understand that I think you and I would be on the same side of most controversial issues and this is a discussion between allies.

1) I appreciated Trep's comment that this is coming from Israelis. Fair enough. I had not really considered that. I guess we'll simply continue to disagree about him but I'll reserve my future ire for American Jews who rally to his cause.

2) Yes, I understand these kids saw the IDF do something with which they (and I) disagree. This debate would be a fine philosophical/political coming-of-age exercise if it was understood that at the end they would decide to serve, but IDF service is one of the few things that unify a dangerously divided Israeli society, and, in my humble non-Israeli opinion, regardless of the legitimate gripes one has about the IDF's recent actions, to withdraw from service is to put one's own agenda above loyalty to the State. I certainly believe that secular Israelis see it that way. Secular Israelis aren't destined to hate religious Jews as you suggest. For example, here in the States, there is very little friction between secular and religious Jews. In Israel, the friction is caused by very legitimate gripes that both sides have with each other. Rather than the "they'll hate us anyway" attitude, perhaps addressing both sides' grievances might be a step in the right direction. (Note that I don't hold such balanced views in the friction between Israelis and Arabs.)

"They are incredibly committed to Israel (or “Zionism” as it used to be called)."

Is it not called that anymore? Is "Zonism" an archaic term now?

"They want to serve and protect the People of Israel."

Well… Some religious Jews use "people of Israel" just to mean Jews, not Israelis. Meaning, I'm sure religious Jews are committed to "the People of Israel" if that means committed to trying to make all Jews religious. The question is, are they committed citizens of the State of Israel?

2b) I was totally unaware of that. Thank you. I would love a translation or explanation of "Mia Buskila". And if you could get the numbers, I would be very interested.

3) Sorry about that. That sentiment was actually in Trep's post, not yours. I hallucinated it into your post. Sleepy, I guess. It sounds like we agree on that principle, though.

Thanks again for your responses. Be well.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 1, 2006 5:07:03 AM

Jack, Lisoosh, Doctor Bean, Irina, Joe Settler and Ralphie... I'm going to do the unthinkable here and recuse myself from the discussion for a couple of days. It's not that I don't find it interesting. It's just that I am simply way too close (physically and ideologically) to the issue to be as objective as I would like. Also, there are a lot of new developments with the kids on the hillside since Friday... some to do with the authorities and others to do with acts of Arab vandalism/protest. I appreciate your comments and ideas and you are free to continue discussing. I'll leave you with a couple of links to an article that Imshin and her husband 'Bish' translated which provide incredibly helpful information for understanding the historical status and treatment of land in this part of the world. It is worth noting that some of it does not support my supposition that Jews are usually the ones to get screwed in land dealings... but it also provides a good reason for this. Go read here and here.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 1, 2006 9:53:17 AM

Why has that patch of land been uncultivated for so many years? Where did all the greenery go between pictures?

Posted by: mcaryeh | Jan 1, 2006 12:06:58 PM

Mcaryeh... One of the facts in this propaganda war that is constantly ignored is that there is a tremendous amount of land (both arable and non-arable) that has not been cultivated or built upon since ancient times (if then). The Arabs who expand their villages are not squeezing me out and the Jewish settlements that expand have zero impact on the quality of life or 'comfort zones' of the Arab villages. We're not talking about dwindling resources but rather one population that refuses to accept the very presence of the other, much less an expanding presence. But as I said I really want to delay that discussion for a day or two. As to the different look of the hillsides, that is attributable to the fact that the first picture was taken in the early spring when the results of winter rains was still very much apparent, and the second picture is after a particularly dry summer and fall. This is the natural cycle of life here in the Judean Hills.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 1, 2006 12:25:47 PM

Here are stats accurate up to 2001 on IDF deferments.
http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/sa/v3n4p2.html

Based on these numbers at least 42% of male Israeli citizens do no army service.

Among Jews (~20%), slightly less than half the deferments are to Hareidim.

I found (and lost) another site that said that 50% of enlisted soldiers don’t even complete their service.

I also saw (but can’t find again) a recent article that showed that over the past few years secular draft dodging has become much higher than usual.

In reality it seems that a relatively equal number of secular Jews find a way out of army service, it’s just not proportional to sector.


Mia Buskila is a singer that received a “religious” deferment.
Decide for yourself if she deserved it:
Do a google image search using: מאיה בוסקילה

Posted by: JoeSettler | Jan 2, 2006 3:37:52 AM

"Decide for yourself if she deserved it."

You misunderstand me. I don't even think the Haredim deserve it. That someone secular would abuse the exemption, I don't find offensive; I find it humorously ironic. (I didn't Google her and know no details of her case.)

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 2, 2006 6:26:01 PM

Doctor Bean: Not so much a case as a rack.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Jan 3, 2006 10:27:10 AM

pa DUM pum!

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 4, 2006 9:03:43 AM

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