GUEST COLUMN View from the other side of the Wall

Settlements are an important part of the peace process

I am currently in my final semester as an undergraduate at MIT. The Institute is a great place to learn how to make an impact in any part of the world, and I believe that one of the most important skills that we can take from our four years of study here is the development of a critical perspective and analysis.

Two weeks ago, Rachel Bandler wrote an opinion column entitled “Don’t settle for settlement condition,” (Feb. 25) speaking about the irrelevance of the Israeli settlements’ to the peace process between Israel and Palestine. Bandler states that settlements are not the main obstacle to peace and claims that the question of the settlements is not as crucial as many consider it to be. Her column discusses a very important and delicate topic, but unfortunately with, in my opinion, insufficient sources backing up her arguments.

I hope to address the claims made in that article and to offer some resources that provide a different perspective and further information on the topic.

The majority of Palestinians living in the West Bank are under Israeli authority, rather than that of Palestine. Most Palestinian residents of this region cannot travel between cities within the West Bank without passing Israeli checkpoints. In fact, the West Bank is divided into three regions, only one of which is completely controlled by the Palestinian Authority; effectively, over 50 percent of the West Bank is under direct Israeli control (mainly settlements and restricted areas). The 2010 “West Bank: Access and Closure” map provided by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) clearly depicts this fact.

Moreover, an important fact to keep in mind is that Israel is continuing settlement construction in East Jerusalem — a crucial area in which Israeli settlements are also considered illegal based on international law. In fact, during Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel last year, Israel’s Interior Ministry announced that 1600 new housing units were approved for construction in northeast Jerusalem. President Obama had emphasized on multiple occasions that the construction of settlements beyond the borders established in 1967 would be unacceptable. The White House vehemently condemned the new housing project, and Biden himself spoke against it as “[undermining] the trust that we need right now in order to begin as well as produce profitable negotiation.”

On a similar note, Israel has — as of last month — demolished part of Amin Haj Husseini’s Shepherd Hotel in East Jerusalem. The hotel, a modern monument and a symbol of the Palestinian identity in East Jerusalem, will be replaced with 20 apartments intended for Israelis. Regarding this act, Fox News stated that “Israel says it has the right to build anywhere in the city, including east Jerusalem, which it annexed in 1967 in a move that has not been internationally recognized.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reacted by affirming that the demolition “undermines peace efforts to achieve the two-state solution.” These actions, and others, tarnish Israel’s claims of willingness to cooperate for a dignifying peace.

Another question that might cause some confusion is that, if the settlements in the West Bank are such a big deal, why did Jordan sign a peace treaty with Israel in the first place? In fact, at the time of signing, Jordan did not represent the Palestinian people. The peace treaty that Jordan signed with Israel in 1994 did not include an agreement regarding refugees, settlements, or the Jerusalem borders; those issues were yet to be resolved with the Palestinian Authority. Hence, the Jordan-Israel peace treaty is completely irrelevant to the current settlement situation, and should not be used as an incentive to overlook the importance of this problem.

Regarding the 1967 Six Day War, the bad relations between Israel and Egypt did not start at that point. Israel had already waged a war against Egypt in 1956 hoping to neutralize a possible future enemy (with the help of France and England, both of which participated in the war for other interests as well).

A person without much familiarity with the 1967 conflict might be surprised by the causes of the war and why the countries surrounding Israel decided to attack her. The underlying cause was not mere hatred or a form of extremism — there were many reasons contributing to war between the Arabs and Israel. As an example, Moshe Dayan, the Israeli commander who gave the order to take over the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967, later told a reporter that Israel deliberately provoked firefights with Syria before the war, The New York Times reported. More reasons on why the Arabs entered the war can be found in Charles D. Smith’s book.

Additionally, pre-1948, terrorist Israeli forces such as Lehi (a militant Zionist group) carried out terrorist attacks against both Arabs and the British. After Israel was declared a state, the Irgun and Lehi militant groups carried out organized massacres (such as the 1948 attack on Deir Yassin that left over 100 residents dead) against civilians, eventually causing many Palestinians to flee the country and become homeless refugees. Describing the events of 1948 as “defensive” war would be a misrepresentation. Charles D. Smith’s book, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History with Documents, discusses (and offers resources for) the history of the conflict from the early 20th century up to now, and explains much of the history leading up to the two wars and the history of Israeli terrorist acts before 1948.

I believe it is neither accurate nor progressive to portray Israel as an innocent party — it was not long ago that Israel defied its own allies when they ran their assassination in Dubai, in the process creating fake English passports to carry out the covert operation, breaking promises Israel had previously made to England. An individual who seeks a practical solution to the problem should first consider that Israel has committed many misdeeds towards the Palestinian people, just as much as Palestinians need to realize that Israel is there to stay.

Finally, I believe that it is simplistic to state that the settlements are not an obstacle for peace when, for so many people, they are the embodiment of the occupation. Settlements are deemed illegal by international law. Simply put: settlers live in regions that are not internationally accepted to be theirs; this situation is similar to trespassing, but scaled up to about the size of Massachusetts. It is wrong to call an agreement that overlooks these clear violations a peace agreement. That would be a give-up agreement, not a peace agreement. If the day comes and such an agreement is signed by both parties, the entire world should be ashamed for not standing by the Palestinian people when they needed us most.

The reason that I have interest in this topic is that I am a Palestinian who lives in East Jerusalem. Even though I live in the heart of the conflict, I seek the truth as much as anyone else. I contributed this column to make sure that all members of the MIT community, not just me, are being critical about the articles they read — whether in The Tech or elsewhere — and that they take the time to consider all of the facts before forming a strong opinion. For instance, I recommend reading the book Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, offered in the MIT course 21H.631 (Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict), for any individual who would like an accurate and well-written background of the conflict. I offer my personal experiences, as a Palestinian who has been involved in a number of peace initiatives, as a study case, if they could offer a new perspective to anyone.

In summary, I felt that Bandler’s column might have been misleading to many who do not have a deep historical understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After all, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but it is crucial to understand all aspects of such a complex topic, to consider all of the sources, and to keep an open mind.

Wissam Jarjoui is a member of Palestine@MIT and the Class of 2011.

Anonymous over 12 years ago

Thank you for standing up and speaking the truth. I'm so sick of BS and lies!

Anonymous over 12 years ago

Thank you for offering a second, evidence-based opinion. When I read the Tech and see only one side, I begin to dismiss its arguments. Maybe through discourse the truth can emerge.

Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago

You're both welcome. For everyone else, I'll be happy to clarify any of the points in my article and offer more resources if you're interested.

Dan over 12 years ago

Thanks you Wissam, keep doing the good job. Your lies are so obvious that more more people will support Israel. Thanks a lot. This is one of the best pro-Israeli articles published in years now.

Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago


I'm all ears if you wanna tell me the lies in my article. If you don't show me the truth, then who will? I'll be happy to read any sources that you provide to refute my claims and sources.

And you are obviously misreading my article: I am not trying to be anti-Israel, I am simply clarifying facts that I believe could be widely misunderstood (if you read Bandler's article in Feb 25th issue, you'll get a better idea of what motivated this article). So if people will love Israel more after reading this article, I actually don't mind that at all. Everybody's welcome to make their own interpretations. I only hope they first consider sources and perspectives from both sides.

Thank you for your kind comment though.

Dan over 12 years ago


You tend to complicate things here. You have a well defined goal making your arguments. Althou being based on lies (we can give numerous sources supporting both sides, it doesn't matter) I do respect you point of view. And don't agree with it completly. I do not wish to convince anybody who doesn't know what his opinion is, it is usless. Two things I can say for sure and both are very simple, not based on any facts andor investigations. I'm saying it as a proud citizen of Israel.

1. If Palestinians want to build their own state, they should declare it first. That what Jews did 1948 and Palestinians did not. Many things happened later, but the base fact that Jews did declare the state of Israel it is what making this state to exist today.

2. After declaring the Palestinian state be ready to defend it, if you care. That what Jews did, we defended our state for many years and know that it will continue to exist as long as we will defend it. Allies come and go, enemies even change but the state, any state, will continue to exist as long as it's citizens are ready to defend it.

So I, as Israeli and as a Jew just don't really care what you want, it doesn't matter for me. I care about my state, my people and my interests, exactly as you do. We are many, people like me, we don't write much, don't scream, don't cry, we just do, because we care. I think that you don't stand any chance for now, because you don't care enough. I also think that as long as Palestinians will educate their children to hate Jews as a nation, you don't stand a chance. You are on the negative wave, you can not win like this, but if you will switch to a positive wave you will discover that with Israel you don't have to fight.

Regarding the settlements it is the same. Those people are stronger, they believe in their cause and that why they will prevail, O and the fact that they don't have a tendency to explode in buses. They are on the positive wave, you are not. Wake up!

First step in waking up is to stop lying though... see if you can?

Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago


Again, you're being too emotional. I wrote this article to clarify certain facts that were obscured in a previous article. If that original article was never written, there's a good chance I would have never wrote mine. I'm not trying to mislead anyone, I simply present the facts and eveyone is welcome to make their own decisions.

Maybe it's easier for you to believe that this is true, but Palestinians do not teach their children to hate Jews, at least not anymore than Jews teach their children to hate Palestinians. Anyway, you can always break what you're taught if you're willing to expose yourself to the other side. So I invite you for a lunch conversation with myself, I would really look forward to it and maybe we'll both learn something new. My email is wjarjouimit.edu, please don't hesitate to contact me with your time slots. You will be surprised with how much I look forward to hearing your point of view.

To move one (for anybody else reading this), whether you think I care enough or not, I care enough to cite my sources and give the MIT community as many trustworthy facts as I can, and give them the opportunity to make an educated decision, that's all I can do. I hope you can do the same.

Palestinians will never have a chance as long as Israel is abusing its superier powers. Of course, from your perspective, it seems Israel should do whatever it wants to survive. I think that's fine as long as she doesn't hurt other nations, but I'm afraid that's never been true.

Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago


To continue, about blowing up buses, don't forget that Israeli jet fighters simply have to press a button to blow up a house. I don't think either side has been less violent than the other, except for when Israel tipped the scale in the last Gaza war (this is only recently of course, if we're going to consider the entire history of this, Israel's acts of violence towards Palestinians far outweighs Palestinian acts of violence towards Israel).

You're right, those people in settlements are stronger. And it makes perfect sense for them to stay there, if the world was a jungle. We are humans here and there are things that are right and wrong. I'm sure your countrymen can make that distinction, they're humans. You are of course you are entitled to your approach, but you should know that if everyone else had the same approach, then open war would be the solution to everything.

Finally, you should at least recognize that Palestinians are as strong as anyone when it comes to power of faith, which is why they're still surviving. So the fact that Israel is getting away with her acts doesn't mean she's stronger, that only means she has better weapons. Did you not hear about the kids that face tanks with rocks?

Dan over 12 years ago


I'm not emotional, I gave you very good and PRACTICAL advices, I think both of our nations will benefit from following them.

I can not meet you as I am not in MIT but in Michigan.

You are very proud of your sources, that's alright. Here is one on the issue of children education:


Can you please give one source for Israeli TV program educating children to hate Palestinians? ONE?

Also comparing people exploding in buses and killing civilians, on purpose, they knowingly go to kill civilians, to civilian war casualties is not correct. If you, though, believe that Israeli soldiers deliberately target Palestinian children, then.... you are even worse than the mother sending it's child to trough rocks on tanks. If they go by themselves, shame for such mother twice.

Waiting for the linksource.

Dan over 12 years ago

Links don't work well,

search for "Hamas Mickey Mouse hatred show continues" and you will find it and many others.

Go to Palestinian Media Watch and you will find even more. Go to Memri.org and you will be sick from what you find there.

Dan over 12 years ago

Links don't work well,

search for "Hamas Mickey Mouse hatred show continues" and you will find it and many others.

Go to Palestinian Media Watch and you will find even more. Go to Memri.org and you will be sick from what you find there.

Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago

So during the entire show Mickey is being told that is not an excuse to fail his exam if his house was bombed (that this is not an excuse to cheat). When Mickey said he wanted to grow to become like Hamas leaders, the teacher in the show said that he should want to become a scientist (Are you not reading the subtitles?). The way I see it, this show tries to remove the focus from the current situation to studies.

Not once was there mentioned a statement against Jews, only when Mickey said that Israel destroyed his house, which is more than a bitter reality than a statement that preaches hatred.

If I'm wrong, please tell me where in the video it happens that hatred is preached, and I'll look over it yet again. The video I watched is titled 'Hamas Mickey Mouse hatred show continues' on youtube, length is 1:46 (min:sec) if this is not the one ur referring to, you can email me the actual link because this is the only one with the title you gave me.

Regarding the voiceover, I would be interested to see when did the network director make those claims.

Anyway, this link in itself shows that some media tries to convince people to hate Palestinians, by demonstrating that they are extreme, even though that this particular video fails at it (if one was to follow the subtitles). The voiceover in the video might be right or wrong about its claims, either way, sharing this causes people to stereotype Palestinians as extemists. So this in itself is the example you asked for.

Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago


Memri.org seems like a very big website, it'll take me time to look into it. If you have any specific links on there that you want me to see please share them.

Dan over 12 years ago

Still waiting for your reference or link for Israeli educating their children to hate Palestinians......

Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago

So you agree that the video actually does not preach hatred against Israel? Good.

As I said, the video you gave me in itself is stereotyping Palestinians while in fact the show in the video does not preach hatred against Israel. The fact that such a video exists shows that some people try to stereotype Palestinians as extremists. This targets everyone, not just children.

Dan over 12 years ago

Link please, you getting emotional Wissam.

Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago

links don't work here, just look up 'Hamas Mickey Mouse hatred show continues'. should be first hit on youtube, length is 1:46 (min:sec).

Arafat over 12 years ago

Wissam writes, "The majority of Palestinians living in the West Bank are under Israeli authority, rather than that of Palestine."

Well, just maybe if the Palestinians changed their energies from killing Jews and into something, say, like building a civil society they would gain a bit more independence.

Meanwhile Israel is doing what any sane country would do to protect its citizens from rabid dogs. Dogs who, by the way, apparently do not give a second thought aobut slitting a three month old babies throat.

Arafat over 12 years ago

Wissam conveniently chooses to ignore reality. Do they teach that at MIT?

He writes, "In fact, the West Bank is divided into three regions, only one of which is completely controlled by the Palestinian Authority; effectively, over 50 percent of the West Bank is under direct Israeli control (mainly settlements and restricted areas)."

Gosh, Wissam, you don't suppose this might not have something to do with the 100 rokcets firec into Israel from Gaza this past week?

Nah...Couldn't be.

And you don't suppose it might not have something to do with Hezbollah rearming themselves with long range rockets?

Nah....Couldn't be!

No doubt if Israel allowed the West Bank Muslims to go on their merry way they would never, ever even think about arming themselves with thousands of rockets that they could easily hit Tel Aviv with.

Nah...Couldn't be!

Arafat over 12 years ago

Wissam writes, "Even though I live in the heart of the conflict, I seek the truth as much as anyone else."

I'm just curious. Did you write this without laughing?

What do they teach you at MIT? So you are telling us that you are totally objective, a truth seeker, even though you live in the heart of the conflict? Interesting.

I suppose, then, Moamar Ghadaffi (or however he spells his name this week) is also seeking the truth.

In fact, Wissam, your article is strewn with more half-truths, innuendos and outright lies that it would take more energy and time than I have to point them all out. Your "objectivity" and truth seeking is about as real as the fact that Hosni Mubarak was a man of the people.

Here is a truth for you from someone who is not in the heart of East Jerusalem:


Arafat over 12 years ago

Wissam writes, "...but it is crucial to understand all aspects of such a complex topic, to consider all of the sources, and to keep an open mind."

I have to tell you, this time I was laughing! Are you intentionally funny?

Speaking of keeping an "open mind" I thought you would find this delightfully informative:


Arafat over 12 years ago


Here are some links to Muslims teaching their children to hate Jews.

(Wissam you should not watch these as they might interfere with your "open mind" policy.)




Arafat over 12 years ago


Here are some excellent articles on the historic roots of Islam's hatred of Jews. Of course this can all be traced back to Mohammed, for he pretty much hated all non-Muslims, but he held a special place in his heart (assuming he had a heart) for Jews.

(Wissam you should nor read these as they might interfere with your "open mind" policy.)





Wissam Jarjoui over 12 years ago

Regarding the last few comments, you should know that my article was not meant to portray Palestinians as innocent, if that was what you thought then its your own interpretation. It was aimed to highlight some unknown facts about the region.

Some Muslims might teach hatred against Jews out of frustration, but the actions of Jews against Palestinians speak louder. The rockets Hamas fires could never even cause 10 of the damage the Gaza war caused. Can you argue with that?

End point is, settlements need to be pulled out, if you disagree with that, you disagree with international law, the law that gave Israel the right to exist in the first place in 1947. So are you gonna conveniently pick what Israel should follow or not?

I can post similar videos of settlers running Palestinians down with cars, but the point here is not to portray that the conflict exists - we know it does.