Occupation Shmoccupation

The Yesha Council, the voice of Israelis living beyond the Green Line, published a little pamphlet called “kibush kishkush,” which one could translate as “occupation shmoccupation” (in Hebrew, here).

The booklet refutes some of the common misconceptions about the communities in Judea and Samaria and the people that live in them. It includes statistics and historical information for Israelis who have learned everything they know about ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers’ from media and educators who have presented a picture distorted by the politics of the Left.

It points out that attempts at trading land for peace have failed and only resulted in more Arab terrorism against Jews. It expresses the belief that Judea and Samaria are historically an inseparable part of the state of Israel. It asserts that ‘Palestinians’ are just Arabs that happen to live in a particular place.

To me, it’s entirely unexceptional. I’ve made arguments for these positions over and over. But to Isabel Kershner of the NY Times, it’s cause for wonderment. In a short article published on Friday, she displays her bias and historical ignorance. She writes,

It presents the settlements, which most countries consider illegal, as a normal, integral and now inseparable part of Israel, noting that hundreds of thousands of Israelis live in 150 established communities, many founded in the 1970s and ’80s.

Like many others Kershner doesn’t distinguish between international law as it is interpreted by legal scholars, and the political and racist rejection of the state of Israel that is behind UN resolutions. The phrase “which most countries consider illegal” is boilerplate that apparently is required in all writing that mentions settlements which appears in outlets like the Times.

What remains unclear is why, nearly half a century after Israel conquered the territory from Jordan, the Yesha Council felt the need to explain the settlement enterprise in Hebrew to Israelis. …

The Palestinians, the booklet says, are “a name used to describe Arabs who live in the territories of Judea and Samaria,” the West Bank’s biblical name. The occupation, according to the booklet, is a fiction. Rather, it says, the lands in question were freed by the Israeli Army in the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.

What is unclear to me is how Kershner could have been the Times’ Jerusalem correspondent since 2007 and never opened a book about the history of the place she is reporting from. If she had done so, she would not imply that somehow “the West Bank” belonged to Jordan and then was ‘conquered’ by the IDF!

In 1948 Jordan invaded the territory that had been set aside by the Mandate for a national home for the Jews, occupied Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, violently ethnically cleansed its Jewish population, declared it part of Jordan and renamed it the “West Bank.” Only Britain, Iraq and Pakistan recognized the annexation.

The 19-year long illegal Jordanian occupation was ended by the IDF in 1967, and the booklet is quite correct in calling this a liberation rather than a conquest. And “Judea and Samaria” is not just the “biblical” name of this territory, but it was the usual name for it until 1950, when the Jordanians changed it.

The line between this territory and the rest of Israel, the ‘Green Line’, is simply the spot where the IDF and Jordanian armies disengaged in 1949. The cease-fire agreement makes it clear that neither side intended for this line to be a border (the Jordanians thought there should be no Jewish state at all, and the Israelis wanted a defensible border).

Next time you are having an argument about whether a Palestinian state should be established according to pre-1967 lines, ask how the illegal 19-year Jordanian occupation of land originally set aside for Jewish settlement magically changed it into ‘Palestinian land.’ Especially since the ‘Palestinian people’ are mostly descended from Arabs that migrated into this land in the last 200 years or so, and their distinctive ‘Palestinian’ consciousness is comprised of their opposition to Jewish sovereignty.

Israelis are treated to a consistent barrage of propaganda from leftist media on the subject of “The Occupation,” and how it is illegal, immoral and destructive of the Israeli nation. They are told that ‘settlements’ are the reason there is no peace and that ‘settlers’ are all ‘price tag’ vandals. They still vote for Netanyahu, because they understand that the remedies of the Left would mean the end of their nation and the death or dispersal of the 6 million or so Jews that live here. But I suspect that the propaganda is successful to some extent.

The Yesha Council booklet assumes a Zionist perspective, and so it seems strange to those who are used to hearing the leftist and Arab narratives – or, like Kershner, who are employed at disseminating them.

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