Protection means peace

In the West Bank, Israel acts to protect itself

On Tuesday, Wissam Jarjoui wrote a response to my opinion piece “Don’t settle for settlement condition,” in which he argued that settlements were a major obstacle to peace. I hope to address a number of his claims and to further clarify why Israeli construction in the West Bank should not be made into an arbitrary gauge for peace.

First, it is important to recognize that Israel wants the Palestinians, both in the West Bank and Gaza, to prosper and flourish. It is to everyone’s benefit and the surest way to peaceful co-existence. In the 1970s, the West Bank and Gaza emerged as the fourth-fastest growing economy in the world, ahead of both Hong Kong and Singapore. It was only in 2000, when the brutal intifada began and Israeli innocents were senselessly murdered, that the economic gains were reversed. Today, thankfully, the West Bank is experiencing improved economic success and a new city is being built. Gaza is beginning to export crops again. Hopefully, cooperation can continue and both Israelis and Palestinians will thrive.

Jarjoui attributes a number of grievances to Israel. However, he does not thoroughly examine the historical context in which the supposed grievances arose. The narrative given does not account for pragmatic and redeeming considerations on Israel’s part.

For example, one criticism of Israel is the limits it imposes on Palestinian mobility in the West Bank. It was not mentioned that Israel constructed the security barrier — the vast majority of which is chain link fence — in order to prevent suicide bombings. Israel did not wake up one day and decide to build a fence; it has a right to defend the lives of its civilians, and Israelis have the right to ride a bus or eat in a cafe without fear of being blown up. The security fence and checkpoints have successfully reduced suicide bombings by catching the attackers before they can enter Israel. Unfortunately, many have tried to enter via ambulances or as women pretending to be pregnant.

Israel was also criticized for demolishing Amin Haj Husseini’s hotel in East Jerusalem, which Jarjoui describes as “a symbol of the Palestinian identity.” There was no mention that Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during World War II, was a defender of Nazi ideology and a conspirator with Hitler and Eichmann. At Eichmann’s trial in Nuremberg, testimony was given that “the Mufti was one of the initiators of the systematic extermination of European Jewry and had been a collaborator and adviser of Eichmann and Himmler in the execution of this plan.”

Additionally — and unfortunately — the Palestinian and Hamas leadership are preoccupied with fighting amongst themselves for power and Western money. Israel is used as an excuse and a target. Palestinian leaders haven’t prepared their people for peace, as the Palestine Papers released by Al Jazeera proved. On the contrary, the indoctrination of children to hatred and martyrdom is rampant in Hamas television content, newspapers, and textbooks. Israel has been wiped off the map in Hamas media, and martyrs are glorified. Just today, the Al-Amari youth center in the West Bank was sponsoring a football tournament in the name of Wafa Idris, the first female Palestinian suicide bomber. Is a society that teaches its children to honor suicide bombings ready for peace? Surely settlement-building, which employs Palestinian construction workers, is simply a diversion.

Likewise, if building in the West Bank really was the primary impediment to peace, then the Palestinians would have come to the bargaining table before the ninth month of the Israeli building freeze, which was only 10 months long. To establish a long-lasting and meaningful peace, the Palestinians should not have squandered 90 percent of the freeze. This again illustrates that the main obstacle to peace with the Palestinians is not the number of houses built in Ariel last month, which is a relatively minor issue in the grand scheme of things.

Using popular rhetoric and slogans, such as Israeli settlements being the “embodiment of the occupation,” does not add substance to a conversation that should be an accurate and factual discussion. Both sides of the conflict have suffered, Israelis and Palestinians alike; that is undeniable. However, it is unfair to accuse Israel blindly of injustices without considering historical circumstances and taking Israeli security concerns into account. Truth and falsehood are intricately woven together, and it is each individual’s responsibility to evaluate claims and to seek the truth, which, superficially, is not always apparent.

northwoods about 10 years ago

Israel has been taken over by religious fanatics that more than match the ayatollahs. We have former Chief Rabbi Yosef, leader of the Shaa Party, claiming

that non-Jews were created,like donkeys, to serve the Jews. The government was silent on his views of a Jewish "master race". We have the popular book "Torat Hamelech written by two Rabbis and supported by many more which is a justification for Jews to kill non-Jews and even their babies pre-emptively because non-Jews are born "uncompassionate". Other Rabbis call for the annihilation of all Arabs, using Palestinian children as human shields, not renting property to non-Jews etc. The settlers and the Shaa's belive these views and act on them. When the government removed settlers from an illegal outpost last week the settlers attacked an innocent Palestinian village and fire-bombed houses as part of their "price tag" policy. This policy is simply- if the government does something we don't like we don't take it out on the government we take it out on Palestinians. Yesterday other settler thugs went into a Palestinian village and began cutting down the village's olive trees. When villagers began throwing rocks the heavily armed settlers opened fire on them, and when the IDF showed up they shot a few more Palestinians. In Israel the settlers get away with murder if their target is a Palestinian. Ms Bandler doesn't feel that settlements are a problem even when the land for the settlements is stolen from Palestinians. Sadly, in Israel the "chosen people" mantra has morphed into something quite different and something quite frightening. Unless Israel can rein in its religious fanatics,I fear it is doomed. I pity the Palestinians living under this level of racism which is growing along with the settlements.

Anonymous about 10 years ago


Your comments shed light on your ignorance, and your vast generalizations are incorrect and offending. I know dozens of Israeli Rabbis, and have stayed in the West Bank on numerous occasions. The overwhelming majority of the Rabbis and settlers are NOT bigots and murderers, as you imply.

By your logic, all of America must have been taken over by molesters since some priests were accused of that crime.

Israel is a sovereign country with the right to protect her citizens, and can use force to do so. You think if Mexico was bombing Texas Obama would think about responding? No way!

And wow, "settler thugs?" Arent you creative! Confused and mistaken, but creative. I guess when you twist the truth, creativity is a good trait to possess.

Bob about 10 years ago


You are correct! If Mexico was bombing Texas, Obama would not hesitate for a SECOND before responding to the attack as long as rockets were falling, and to make sure that the attacks didnt happen again. Every sovereign nation, including Israel, has the right to protect their innocents.

Wissam Jarjoui about 10 years ago


Thank you for making my point clearer. The purpose of my article was to stress the importance of researching claims one might read in any article, including mine.

My main argument was not that settlements are an obstacle for peace. My main argument was that your claims were not strong, or clear, enough to dismiss the importance of settlements. I have to say the claims you make in this article are still not strong enough just as there was no good enough reason for Al-Husseine to support Nazi Germany, there is still no good enough reason for Israel to keep breaking international law. You can't just go into someones backyard and hold a gun at them to ensure your security (checkpoints within the WB) and expect that to be OK even if that person is your neighbor. It will be better for both if each stayed in their own house. So this is another reason why settlements are in fact a problem that the Palestinians are paying the price, a problem that they should not have to tolerate to reach peace.

Of course, I can go on and shed more historical context on the claims you make here. However, I believe it is clear to the reader by now that they need to investigate each claim from either side of the conflict. There are a few classes at MIT that are related to this topic, I suggest people look them up and consider taking them if they are interested enough in this topic.

Arafat about 10 years ago

Wissam, here is a mirror for you to look into:


Arafat about 10 years ago

And Northwoods this one is for you!