I had to read Fred Barnes’ new Weekly Standard piece “In Defense of Settlers” a few times to be sure that Fred wasn’t actually putting us on. It appears he isn’t.
Things go awry beginning with the very first paragraph, in which Barnes writes, “When direct talks begin next week between Israelis and Palestinians, the fate of Jewish settlers in the West Bank — tens of thousands of them — will be a major issue in the negotiations. But the settlers themselves won’t be part of the discussion.”
Given that Netanyahu is still in the process of choosing his negotiating team, it remains to be seen whether actual settlers will be part of the discussion. But here’s an interesting fact: Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is himself a settler, living in the settlement of Nokdim, south of Bethlehem. While it’s highly unlikely that Lieberman will himself participate in the negotiations (Netanyahu wisely does his best to keep his racist former chief of staff away from decent society as much as possible), given the extreme rightist, pro-settlement orientation of Netanyahu’s governing coalition, it’s safe to say “the settlers” will very much be at the table.
Barnes goes on to channel the usual settler claims — which mirror Hamas’ claims — of a right to all of historic Palestine, as well as the canard that the West Bank is not “occupied” but rather “disputed,” which is a neat way of saying that, having lost 75% of their homeland, the Palestinians should now have to negotiate over the “disputed” remaining 25%.
Barnes notes that “a Jewish settlement has been established in the heart of Hebron.” He does not note, however, that Palestinians in Hebron are literally forced to live in cages to avoid harassment and violence by radical settlers, who live under the protection of Israeli troops and police. Nor does he note the extent to which that violence is underwritten by American “charities” like the Hebron Fund.
Things take a darker turn, however, when settler spokesman Dani Dayyan, commenting on the prospect of a Palestinian state, “raises the long-discarded idea that Jordan might become that state”:
Though its population is predominantly Palestinian, Jordan is a Hashemite kingdom. But if Hashemite rule were ended, “that would open a new horizon of possible solutions that don’t exist today,” Dayyan says. “That’s a thought for the future.” But not one that’s on the table in the Israeli-Palestinian talks to begin next week.
There are good reasons that this idea has been long discarded. Among them: The Palestinians don’t want it. The Jordanians don’t want it. There’s also the small detail that, in addition to being enormously difficult to carry out, involuntary population transfer is a crime against humanity. So don’t let’s think about it for the future, but let’s do let it be instructive as to how some Israelis (and Americans) think. Read more