Thursday, March 10, 2005

Israel's official 'outposts'

The Israeli government itself has been behind the systematic campaign to build the most distant - not to mention the most destructive to the peace process - settlements in the West Bank. From the Christian Science Monitor:

"Illegal settler outposts that are consolidating Israel's grip on the West Bank are not pirate operations by hard-line settlers. They are established, maintained, and expanded with the backing of the Israeli government.

That charge, which cuts to the heart of one of the more loaded issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is no longer made only by dovish Israelis or Palestinians. It's now the official finding of a report commissioned by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which was released Wednesday."

The Israeli housing ministry, immigrant agency, energy ministry, education ministry and army have provided funds and infrastructure required to build the so-called 'outposts', and the roads to them were paid for by the government (all the settlements are illegal under international law, but the outposts are those settlements illegal even under Israeli law).

You may think I'm awfully hard on Israel, but I have always assumed that its principal problem was its insane settler movement coupled with a political system which gives inordinate power to small single-issue groups. I've always assumed that the large majority of the population were prisoners of this political system, and would deplore the actions of the settlers. I've always assumed that these settlements were entirely the work of these settler groups. The revelation that the Israeli government itself is behind these completely destructive settlements is probably the most profoundly disturbing information out of Israel in some time. It means that significant numbers of 'mainstream' politicians and bureaucrats are secretly encouraging the craziest of the settlers in a program that not only demonstrates extraordinary bad faith, but can only lead to the destruction of Israel itself, not to mention some terrible conflagration in the Middle East. It means that the whole Israeli government and large portions of Israeli society, not just the settlers and the most right-wing politicians, are implicated in the Program to create Greater Israel, and the 'road map', not to mention any chance for real peace, is finished. It's finished not because of any specific actions taken by Sharon's government. It's finished because everybody, including the mythical 'left', is profoundly invested in the Program, and has absolutely no interest in peace. The entire peace process is a lie, and a lie that damns the whole of Israel.

The investigator who discovered this secret program was unable to determine the extent of the problem, because the bureaucrats attempted to hide the information. It is so extensive and involved so many agencies that it must have involved an extraordinary number of politicians and bureaucrats, not one of whom saw fit to say anything about it. This has been going on for ten years, and involved careful hands-on work by Sharon himself, picking locations for the maximum strategic effect. Those who make the 'case' for Israel will no doubt argue that these revelations prove how honest and open Israel really is (as opposed to those awful Arab societies). This is nonsense. The only reason we're hearing about this story now is that it is convenient for Sharon to have some ammunition to temporarily remove some of the most distant outposts, as part of his tactics to keep the main settlement blocks and then slowly squeeze the Palestinians out of the remainder of the land. Once he has solidified his hold on the main settlement blocks, no doubt the plan is to return the distant settlements to put further pressure on whatever Palestinians remain. The tactical plans of Sharon are simply part of the mainstream process of the Israeli government. Israel is clearly doomed, and unless the world puts a stop - now! - to the Project of building Greater Israel, the whole Middle East, and the entire world economy, is also doomed.

The mythical Israeli left is already setting up its excuses to ignore this, claiming that they cannot attack Sharon as long as the Gaza withdrawal process is ongoing. Of course, these revelations demonstrate that the mythical left is as implicated in the Project as Sharon, but are simply less honest about it. The Project is big; it takes a whole country, everybody working together, sometimes in secret, to pull it off.