I have avoided writing about Amona until now. This is because the legal issues surrounding the notion of land ownership in Judea and Samaria are so arcane that one legal scholar (email correspondence) wrote that “the number of people who have a good understanding of West Bank property law can be counted on one hand.” And I don’t want to add to the noise by writing yet another amateur legal brief about it. There are, though, some things that are clear and worth saying.
First of all, let me state my prejudices: I do not believe Jews living in Judea and Samaria are an “obstacle to peace,” nor do I think that Jewish communities there are illegal or even “illegitimate,” whatever that means. Indeed, I think that Jews settling anywhere in the land of Israel are performing a religious and Zionist mitzvah, and I’m all for it. Those who find this position offensive can stop reading now.
The last time I mentioned Amona, someone took me to task for advocating “land theft.” It’s private Palestinian land, he said. What more do you need to know? Well, actually there is a great deal to know. Some of the complexities are discussed here. It’s worthwhile reading if you care about more than slogans.
My take on the legal part is that the draconian decision by the Supreme Court to destroy all of Amona and uproot its residents because of what turned out to be a claim on about one half acre of the 125 acres on which it is built, and which ultimately rested on the illegal actions of the Jordanian king, was highly unjust.
How does it happen that a Jewish court would punish Jews for settling in the land of Israel? How does it then happen that alternatives to expelling these families from their homes are opposed by the Court and the government’s legal advisor (who is hand-picked by the Court)?
The answer isn’t legal, but is connected to international politics. Israel is the only country in the world whose real estate laws and transactions are scrutinized by the US State Department, the UN and the European Union’s Foreign Ministry. The Obama Administration, for example, recently weighed in opposing an attempt to move the Amona families to a nearby unused location that was listed as property abandoned by Arabs in 1967. And the EU opposed the Regularization Law (as did the UN), which is intended to legalize outposts built on land claimed by Palestinians by compensating the claimants.
I should add that the EU seems to see nothing wrong with directly financing illegal Palestinian construction in the territories, while vehemently opposing any Israeli building there – all this in “Area C,” which under the Oslo accords is supposed to be under full Israeli control. But their concern for legality apparently doesn’t include obeying Israeli laws.
The Palestinians who claim ownership of the land on which Amona was built didn’t decide to sue the state by themselves. Indeed, the petition to the Supreme Court was filed on their behalf by an “Israeli” NGO called Yesh Din (“there is justice”), an organization which claims to work on behalf of “human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT),” which it does by
collecting and disseminating reliable and updated information regarding systematic human rights violations in the OPT; conducting public and legal advocacy in order to pressure Israel’s authorities to cease violations; and raising public awareness to human rights violations in the OPT.
I put “Israeli” above in quotation marks because although its staff and directors are mostly Jewish Israelis, the organization receives almost all of its funds from foreign sources. According to NGO Monitor, which examines annual reports filed by Israeli-registered NGOs, 93.5% of its funding from 2002 through 2014 came from foreign sources. Total donations between 2002 and 2016 were about 18 million Israeli Shekels, or about US $4.73 million. Sources (see link above for a breakdown) include individual European countries and the EU, and the US-based New Israel Fund.
When Yesh Din is not petitioning the Supreme Court to throw Jews out of their homes, it is falsely accusing the IDF of war crimes. How patriotic.
I think it’s safe to say that the international community, led by the Obama Administration, the UN, and the EU, with the support of the great majority of the world media and its academic establishment, wish to force Israel to abandon Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. It is also an article of faith of the international “progressive” movement – including the Israeli Left – that “The Occupation” is the greatest source of evil in the world. This is shown by the fact that far more effort and money appears to be expended on combating it than on fighting Da’esh or nuclear proliferation.
I won’t speculate what the next step would be if Israel were to leave the territories. But I doubt that would be the end of the pressure.
There are historical reasons that we find ourselves in opposition to so much of the world: Oil, the KGB, victim-blaming from European Holocaust guilt, cowardice in the face of Arab terrorism, Stockholm syndrome, anti-nationalism, Arab grants to educational institutions, bribery of politicians and public figures, old-fashioned Jew-hatred, and our own anti-genius for public relations all had a part in it.
On our side, too, there is a huge expenditure – of effort and money (how much time have the Knesset and ministers spent on issues connected to Amona?), but also of national spirit. How many times can we send our police and soldiers to drag Jews out of their homes in the middle of the night? How many times before we lose our national soul?
To be honest, I think the answer is “no more times.” We spent all we could afford at Yamit and Gush Katif.
It’s time to decide. Do we care about Judea and Samaria and the Jews that live there? If so, we need to commit, to act as though we truly are the sovereign power; as Annika Rothstein wrote, to make a marriage and not just an extended engagement. Zionism demands it.
If not – well, I don’t want to think about the alternative.
Most people won’t understand THIS piece. They can not be condemned for not understanding, or for not really giving a hoot. THET have no, “skin in the game”.
But if pursuit of justice, justice based on truth and fact, and not upon fraudulent slogans…it’s WELL worth the quick read.
This piece gives me a better understanding of what has happened in relation to Amona. It also makes me more tend to the view that there should not be any removal of residents from the site.
However there still remains with me one strong reservation about the action of those ho have no concerns about the government position, who push for what they think without considering its relation to the overall well-being of Israel.
I’ve been hoping that you would write about the travesty of Amona. This is one reason that I’m over the moon that Trump selected David Friedman as ambassador. There has never been an ambassador that has understood the historical, legal, political and religious indigenous rights of the Jews of Judea/Samaria and our biblical capital of Jerusalem like this man. He has a deep understanding of the devastating reality of the PA/Hamas Arab Islamic war against Israel and the ever present danger involved. He gets the nitty-gritty of Israel’s unique defense needs. He respectfully acknowledges the beliefs of the political left in Israel and the US.
He opposes the two-state debacle and strongly supports Jews living on the internationally legal Israeli lands of Judea and Samaria. It is time that Israel as a sovereign state act for the benefit of its citizens without consideration or arm twisting from the dysfunctional International agencies and states.
Dan Shapiro, soon to be the former US Ambassador, along with Obama & John Kerry all have blood on their hands. Literally. They will be remembered for their outrageously insensitive and false statements maligning and delegitimizing Israel, while ignoring Abbas’ Palestinian Authority’s true anti-Israel, anti-peace, pro-terror actions and the encouragement of Hamas’ violence; especially the effectiveness of its human shield strategy, which did not go unnoticed by other Islamist terrorist groups. That is also what Hizballah wants: the wholesale deaths of their own people as a trigger for unbearable international pressure against Israel.
Obama & his administration have totally appeased Palestinian terrorists and tyrants, while lecturing and continually applying heavy threats and pressure for Israel to make even more concessions, that would have been deadly for Israel’s short and long term viability, if they had been stupid enough to continue to comply. The violence is motivated by the same racist and sectarian zeal that drives the Islamic State and numerous Arab governments and jihadist groups that have sought to eradicate the presence of the “infidels”, whether Jews, Christians, Kurds or Yazidis, from land that they consider the exclusive preserve of Muslims.
Obama’s administration has been cognizant for its full eight years that it is funding terrorism through the hundreds of millions it gives to the PA that funds their cash for killers program, their budding terrorist-in-training programs in grades 2-12, advanced through the explosively anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Israeli UN (UNRWA) textbooks. Over 240 current US-approved textbooks teach Palestinian Arabs how to kill Jews. Since UNRWA’s inception in 1950, the US has provided this terminally corrupt agency $4 billion in contributions. US taxpayers provide $400 million a year for these textbooks. Each time the Republicans have attempted to de-fund this agency or others connected with the PA/UN’s terrorist fraud scheme, Obama has vetoed it.
We are now positioned to truly provide Israel the support that is well deserved. Thank goodness for Donald Trump!