Palestine Center Brief No. 331 (August 2, 2019)
By Mohamed Mohamed
On Tuesday, Israel approved construction permits for 6,000 illegal housing units for its settler squatters in Area C of the occupied West Bank. Area C, which is where Israel maintains full civil and security control, covers at least 60 percent of the West Bank and is occupied by no less than 325,500 settlers. All Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are totally illegal under international law.
At the same time, Israel approved a paltry 715 Palestinian housing units in Area C. How generous of Israel to allow Palestinians to build homes on their own land. One might think that this is better than nothing, but according to Haaretz, it is not even clear whether these 715 permits are for new construction or for legalizing existing homes. Given Israel’s pattern of behavior and its chokehold on Palestinians, the latter is far more likely.
In a joint statement, two Israeli settler leaders called the decision to approve the Palestinian housing permits “particularly worrying.” They went on to say that Palestinians are “carrying out massive illegal construction.” It is absolutely mind-blowing that the land thieves are the ones accusing Palestinians of carrying out anything illegal.
Another leader of Israeli settlements in the South Hebron Hills said that he was “stunned” by the news and that they are “waging a struggle against the Palestinian chokehold on our settlement.”
Yet another settler leader moaned about “the suffering of the homeland, known as Area C, since the Oslo disaster.” He also added, “We discovered that the Arab approach of stealing a dunam [approximately 4 acres] and another dunam…pays off for them.”
The arrogance, self-entitlement, and audacity (or “chutzpah” in Hebrew) of Israeli settlers is truly astounding. They squat on Palestinian land, which was stolen in violation of international law governing occupied territories, and they also steal most of the water and other resources. Then they have the nerve to groan about the “suffering of the homeland,” accuse Palestinians of “illegal construction” and “stealing dunams,” and act as if they are the ones under a chokehold.
This is one of the most shameless examples of aggressors deceptively acting as the victims and adding insult to injury.
But this theme is not restricted to Israeli settlers. Playing the victim is a recurring tactic commonly used by the Israeli state and other Zionists.
Israel is quick to criticize and accuse others of violating UN resolutions – violations that Palestinians do not do – yet it is a consistent violator of many resolutions and other international agreements itself.
It possesses nuclear weapons but does not want others to have them. (It is one of only five countries in the world that has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons).
It has imposed more than 12 years of near-total siege on Gaza and killed thousands of civilians, then snipes the people inside who are protesting this situation, accusing them of terrorism. When Palestinians plant trees on their rightful land, which Israel wants to confiscate, it accuses them of stealing their own land.
When Palestinians or supporters of Palestinian human rights protest Israel’s aggressive and oppressive behavior, or advocate for a boycott of Israel, Zionists accuse them of being anti-Semitic. When Palestinians demand the right to return to the land that they were forced to leave at gunpoint, they are accused of plotting to destroy the Jewish state.
One may wonder how Israel could have the audacity to play the victim, when not only is it the belligerent, but is also the one with tremendous power that allows it to act with impunity. The fact is, Israel consistently and deceptively plays the victim precisely because it is the clear aggressor. Its behavior is not even remotely justifiable, so the only option it has is to severely distort the truth.
This is one reason why Israel and its Zionist supporters invest so much in an extremely powerful lobby in the US to spread disinformation.
Some argue that the settlement movement is a minority fringe of Israeli society. If settlements are so fringe, why is it that there are now over 600,000 Israeli settlers on tens of thousands of hectares of Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (and more in the Syrian Golan Heights)?
The answer is that Israel’s propensity to establish and expand settlements is not so fringe. On the contrary, support of settlements is quite mainstream in Israeli society. In a 2017 poll, 51 percent of Israeli Jews agreed that settlement activity in the West Bank is “wise.” In a survey published in July 2018, 54 percent of Israeli Jews said they were opposed to dismantling any settlements.
One must look no further than to the fact that in 2018, the Israeli Ministry of Education gave a “lifetime achievement” award to Moshe Zar, who is a settler leader and was a member of the “Jewish Underground” terrorist organization. When he accepted the award he said, “I am known for saying: build a house, it is like you wiped out a hundred Arabs. Build a settlement, it is like you wiped out tens of thousands of Gentiles.”
If the settlement movement was not so popular, the Israeli government would not have honored this racist and supremacist man. If Israel was so democratic and fair, it would not be labelled as an apartheid state. That is the truth.
Israel is eventually going to run out of time. In today’s digital age, information is widely and rapidly available. Slowly but surely, more and more people will learn about the truth of Israel’s horrible treatment of Palestinians. Even American Jews are becoming more alienated with Israel. It may take a while, but the tide will ultimately turn and justice will prevail.
Mohamed Mohamed is the Executive Director of the Palestine Center.
The views in this brief are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.