Tag Archives: West Bank

A look at some Israeli West Bank settlements

As my regular readers know, I periodically take trips to Israel to visit family. When I return, I then post my impressions and what I have learned, thereby providing an eye-witness perspective to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Previous essays from earlier visits are as follows, with the first five from my 2013 visit and the last from my visit in 2014.:

Map of the West Bank settlements that I have visited

Having just returned from another visit, I have some new impressions. Above all, I think it worthwhile to note that in all these visits, I have routinely stayed with relatives who live in West Bank settlements. In fact, I have now visited or stayed in five different settlements. The map on the right shows the locations of these settlements, marked with an X. If you click on the image you can see a higher resolution version.

Unfortunately, I do not remember the name of the settlement from my 2003 visit, though I know it was west of Hebron. It might have been Carmel, but I am not sure. I do know I have indicated its location with reasonable accuracy.

Regardless, there are a number of things we can learn from my visits. The largest settlements, Alon Shvut, Kiryat Sefer, and Beitar, are all close to the 1949 Armistice border. They are also all relatively close to Jerusalem and thus act for many as suburbs of that larger city. As I wrote in 2013,
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Republicans prepare legislation to defund UN

While both houses of Congress are moving forward on meaningless condemnations of the UN’s vote declaring the Oslo Accords null and Israel’s presence in parts of Jerusalem illegal, Republicans in both houses are also preparing legislation that will actually cut funding to the UN.

The right-wing House Freedom Caucus will meet next Monday to decide between two proposals to bring to the House. One would be to reduce American funding to the UN. The other, more aggressive proposal is to make funding voluntary, thus leaving it to Congress every two years to decide whether to continue contributing to the organization. “One is an incremental step, the other is really a herculean leap,” said Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows.

These ideas also have strong support by a number of Senators. I am hopeful that Congress will go beyond a mere condemnation and pass something that will actually cause the UN some pain.

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The upcoming Israeli response to the UN and Obama attacks

Link here. Essentially, the UN and the Palestinians might have literally shot themselves in the foot with their attempts to declare Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and the West Bank as illegal. The article outlines in great detail the long term negative results of the UN resolution last week, all of which we can now expect. I cannot quote it all, but this one quote will give you a taste:

Regarding the international community, the Security Council opened the door for its members to boycott Israel. As a result, Israel should show the UN and its factotums the door. Israel should work to de-internationalize the Palestinian conflict by expelling UN personnel from its territory.

The same is the case with the EU. Once Britain exits the EU, Israel should end the EU’s illegal operations in Judea and Samaria and declare EU personnel acting illegally persona non grata.

As for the Palestinians, Resolution 2334 obligates Israel to reconsider its recognition of the PLO. Since 1993, Israel has recognized the PLO despite its deep and continuous engagement in terrorism. Israel legitimized the PLO because the terrorist group was ostensibly its partner in peace. Now, after the PLO successfully killed the peace process by getting the Security Council to abrogate 242, Israel’s continued recognition of the PLO makes little sense. Neither PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas nor his deputies in Fatah – convicted, imprisoned mass murderer and terrorism master Marwan Barghouti, and Jibril Rajoub who said he wishes he had a nuclear bomb so he could drop it on Israel and who tried to get Israel expelled from FIFA – has any interest in recognizing Israel, let alone making peace with it. The same of course can be said for the PLO’s coalition partner Hamas.

An Israeli decision to stop recognizing the PLO will also have implications for the Trump administration.

In the aftermath of 2334, calls are steadily mounting in Congress for the US cancel its recognition of the PLO and end US financial support for the Palestinian Authority. If Israel has already ended its recognition of the PLO, chances will rise that the US will follow suit. Such a US move will have positive strategic implications for Israel.

Read it all. There is more, all of which is likely to happen, since the Israelis are faced with survival and will need to fight back.

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Obama and the UN vs Israel and the Free World

I think the following list of stories sums up the situation:

The Obama administration position:

Next some of the response, from Israel, from conservatives, from Congress:

This story list is hardly complete but it does encapsulate the Obama/Israel/UN events of the past week. Make sure you read the stories at the links to really understand what is happening. Based on this information all I can conclude is that Obama and his administration decided in the past week to go public with their hatred of Israel. I call it hatred because I don’t know what else to call it. To them, the building of houses for Israelis to live in is more evil that Palestinian and Islamic terrorist bombings, murders, hijackings, and rocket firings.

As for the response, I have my doubts whether Congress will really do the right thing and dump the UN. In all my life only once have I seen real leadership in these matters, and that was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, when he decided to withdraw from UNESCO because, as his administration noted at the time, ”Unesco has extraneously politicized virtually every subject it deals with, has exhibited hostility toward the basic institutions of a free society, especially a free market and a free press, and has demonstrated unrestrained budgetary expansion.”

Right now I suspect that the cowardly Republican leadership is scheming for ways they can participate in some form of “failure theater,” something to which they are very practiced, where they pass some meaningless resolutions condemning the UN while allowing its funding and its support to continue unhindered. We shall see if my cynicism here is justified. The one aspect of these events that suggests I might be too pessimistic is the number of Democrats publicly condemning the President. Democratic support these days is very confined to the big urban coastal cities, which also happens to be where their Jewish support is centered. Obama’s actions this week fire a bullet into that support, and very clearly threaten to damage it badly. They have already lost middle Ameica. If they lose the urban Jewish voter their chances of winning elections in the future will become even more difficult.

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“Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace?”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Friday posted a short video, embedded below, that I think well states what the real obstacle to peace is in the Middle East. And it certainly isn’t the presence of Israelis in the West Bank.

Not surprisingly, his blunt but honest words have caused many on the left and in Arab communities to express outrage. I must note however that, as I have documented, the only governments in the Middle East that forbid the presence of people solely due to their race or religion are the Arab ones, including Palestine.

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What Gazans really think about Hamas

A real journalist went to Gaza and the West Bank and rather than retype the crap that Hamas was feeding him, he interviewed the Palestinians there and found out what they really think of Hamas and its attacks on Israel. And it ain’t good.

This one quote sums it up nicely:

“Don’t get fooled. Gazans are not in love with Israel yet, but they do not want to fight Israel anymore. We do not want to embrace Israel; we just want to live normally without wars. We want to live and work in Israel like we used to. We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation, instead. I would welcome Netanyahu to rule Gaza so long as Hamas leaves, and I think most Gazans feel the same way. We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money, we miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here, but politically speaking, we just think of it as the better of two evils: Israel and Hamas.”

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What the Middle East conflict looks like from inside Israel

As I am in Israel this week visiting family, I have had an opportunity to get a feel for the political and cultural atmosphere of the Middle East. Granted, this “feel” is very superficial and subjective, but it is nonetheless instructive, as I am viewing the situation not as a resident but as an outsider who always favors freedom and justice in any political conflict.

Anyway, my sense of the situation here comes from two immediate sources, one cultural and the second personal. First the cultural.
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Heading to Israel

This morning I will be boarding a plane to begin the long tedious airplane flight from Tucson to Jerusalem, Israel, arriving there Thursday afternoon. I might post along the way, but there are no guarantees.

For the next week I will once again be staying with my brother and sister-in-law in their apartment in the west bank settlement of Alon Shvut. It was here at the bus stop just outside the settlement, where Palestinians and Israelis routinely gather to either catch the bus or hitchhike a ride to Jerusalem, that three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped by Hamas operatives, sparking the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip. Then, just a few weeks ago an Arab terrorist when on a killing spree at this bus stop, killing one young woman before the guard at the settlement gate ran down the hill to shoot him.

I might post my impressions of the situation while I am there, or it might have to wait until I return. It depends on my schedule and my desire to work while visiting family. Yesterday’s attack in a Jewish synagogue, once again by Hamas operatives, killing five people whose only crime was that they were praying peacefully, might also touch my family directly, as I think that one of the rabbis killed was a friend of my brother, his wife, and their children. I will find out more when I get there.

Meanwhile, there were Arab celebrations in various locations in Gaza, the West Bank, and even in Jerusalem, congratulating these killers for their barbarous acts.

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The deadly Israeli house strikes again

There are few weapons as deadly as the Israeli house. When its brick and mortar are combined together, the house, whether it is one of those modest one story hilltop affairs or a five floor apartment building complete with hot and cold running water, becomes far more dangerous than anything green and glowing that comes out of the Iranian centrifuges.

Forget the cluster bomb and the mine, the poison gas shell and even tailored viruses. Iran can keep its nuclear bombs. They don’t impress anyone in Europe or in Washington. Genocide is a minor matter when in the presence of the fearsome weapon of terror that is an Israeli family of four moving into a new apartment.

Read it all. It will make you shiver in fear at the terror produced by Israeli contractors.

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Israel’s land grab – not!

Check out this very detailed review of the legal and political background behind Israel’s most recent decision to take full legal control over about 1,000 acres in the West Bank.

To put it simply, Israel is acting as per the Oslo Accords and its own legal system, which includes giving Palestinians the right to challenge the decision.

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Bigotry in Israel

It is often claimed by those who oppose Israel that it is an apartheid state that imprisons its Arab population, both in Israel itself as well as in the West Bank and Gaza.

Like much that is said about Israel, however, this claim has little to do with reality, and in fact, as I said yesterday, turns reality on its head.

Inside Israel, Arabs have the option (though some have decided not to take it) of becoming full citizens. Thus, not only are Israeli Arabs among the most prosperous Arabs in the Middle East, they have more rights under the Israeli democratic government than most Arabs in every other Arab country. They can vote, and have even served as elected members of Parliament.

Compare that with the way Arabs treat their religious minorities. Jews are of course forbidden. Christians meanwhile are fleeing the Islamic Middle East because of its persecution of non-Muslims.
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The HOAs of Israel

What is a West Bank settlement? If you read the press, it is a place where Israeli Jews have moved in and stolen the land of Arabs in order to occupy their land unfairly. It is a place where Arabs are forbidden, where apartheid has been established against the indigenous population.

Not only are these statements false, they actually turn reality on its head.

In my two visits to Israel I have stayed or visited four different West Bank settlements, and in each place my first impression was that I was visiting a typical American gated community, a suburban community run by a home-owner-association (HOA). You enter by driving through a gate where an attendant waves at you as you go by. He doesn’t stop you, because he either knows you or he has profiled you and sees no reason to ask you any questions. Once inside the roads wind about, passing individual homes or apartments. At the center of the community is a recreation center, often with a pool and library, where events are held and people go for entertainment.

Alon Shvut
The gated community of Alon Shvut, south of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

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Hitchhiking and supermarkets in the occupied territory

In my visit to Israel this past week, I spent almost all my time in the West Bank. In all, I have now either stayed in or visited a total of four West Bank settlements. In addition, while there I also did some sightseeing in Jerusalem and elsewhere. From this short experience I have gleaned some very fascinating facts, many of which are very surprising, though they shouldn’t be as they are facts that in many cases are fundamental to understanding the long-running and seemingly unsolvable Middle East conflict.

In the next few days I will post a series of short essays describing my experience and thoughts, with this essay being the first.

First and foremost, the assumption everyone makes about the West Bank and Israel is that it is a very dangerous place, especially for Jews. This assumption is entirely false. It is so false it is downright laughable.
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Back from Israel

After a long flight beginning yesterday I am finally back in Tucson. I have a lot of clean up work to do, but I will be posting a series of short essays about what I saw and learned while visiting Israel, beginning either later tonight (if I can stay awake) or tomorrow.

I would have posted some of these essays during my visit, but my old laptop finally died on me early in the trip. Time to buy a new one.

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Staying in the West Bank

This is my second visit to Israel and the second time I have stayed in a residence in the West Bank. Both times the experience has been quite different than what anyone who reads the modern press would expect. It is nothing like what you think.

Also, I have been delving into the background of both settlements, from this visit as well as my last visit back in 2003. Not surprisingly, the facts have little to do with what the press generally reports. And even when they do report honestly, they simply do not provide the important information that would provide some proper context. I myself have been astonished today with some of what I learned, as it was completely unexpected. For example, do you know that many of the land records for here in the West Bank are still kept in Istanbul, Turkey?

As I mentioned previously, however, it is difficult to post here in Israel. Though the internet service is fine, my laptop is beginning to show its age and to function too slowly for this work. Also, I want to include pictures, and I won’t be able to add them easily probably until I get home.

So stay tuned. It will be worthwhile reading.

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Israel security forces foil multiple terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, arrest dozens of Hamas militants

Explain to me again why the Palestinians deserve a nation? Last month Israel security forces foiled a terrorist attack planned by Hamas in Jerusalem.

The main cell charged with carrying out the attack was based in Hebron [in the West Bank]. The cell was in touch with the Hamas headquarters in Syria, and the date of the attack was set for August 21. The planned attack involved a fire extinguisher which contained six kilograms of explosives. The device was supposed to be carried by a suicide bomber in a bus or a mall in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood in Jerusalem.

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