By Joharah Baker
There is a hint of poetic justice in the events of the last week. It may not be politically correct to relish in this justice, but it is only natural. Extremist Israeli settlers have recently turned some of their manic wrath on their own government alongside the ever escalating violence against the Palestinians.
The two cannot be compared in terms of magnitude, but the fact that the nightmare Israel had intended solely for the purpose of running the Palestinians off their land has turned on them is an ironic twist nonetheless.
Settlers have gone on a rampage this week, mostly against Palestinians. They have burned three mosques including one in Jerusalem, cut down dozens of olive trees, burned down cars and water tanks and attacked ordinary citizens. Palestinians have unfortunately grown accustomed to the indifference of Israel’s military and political establishments towards attacks on Palestinians. Palestinians know that in the best case scenario, patrolling Israeli soldiers will turn a blind eye to the settlers and in the worst case, join them in the attack.
What sets these fresh attacks on Israeli targets apart from the traditional Palestinian assaults is that Palestinians expect this from settlers. Israelis do not. Palestinians are very aware that the settlers have been allowed to squat on Palestinian land with the official seal of approval from the Israeli government. While the most extreme settlers believe Palestine has been given to the Jews by God, Israeli politicians such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have far less “holy” intentions. For these guys it’s all about expansion, taking land and ridding the “land of Israel” of as many Palestinians as possible.
For years, the method worked like a charm. Israel brought in scores of immigrants who strongly believed that Palestine was theirs and planted them smack in the middle of Palestinian populations. Thousands of acres of land were stolen right under Palestinian owners’ noses for home constructions, settlement infrastructure and, more recently, the separation wall, which was designed in order to protect these illegal settlements. What was worse, the structures came with less than friendly neighbors too.
However, Israel’s government ploy, manifested in the settlers did not pan out exactly as its leaders envisioned. Extremism festered and the end result has been settler groups that will fight the Israeli army tooth and nail before an outpost is removed. Last week, the so-called Hilltop Youth raided the Jordan-Israel border in protest of what they thought was Jordan’s interference in matters concerning the “Temple Mount”, taking over churches there until the embarrassed Israeli military came and kicked them out. Earlier that day, settlers attacked an Israeli army base, pelting their own soldiers with rocks, in protest of a settlement outpost evacuation.
If anything good is to come out of this horrible violence, it would be that Israel and those who support it realize that nothing positive can ever come of illegal settlements on Palestinian land. We have been saying it for ages. The international community has adhered to this opinion as well along with international law that deems their presence illegal and illegitimate. But no one until now has been able to force Israel to reverse its policies. Ironically, if the settlers continue to attack their own people and become more of a burden than a fruitful political tactic, perhaps it will be Israel’s government to finally put its foot down.
No doubt, the Palestinians are not banking on this option. Still it poses a glimmer of hope that the settler community will cause an internal crisis in Israel so bad that the government will be forced to reflect on its own policies.
In the meantime, we Palestinians are shedding no tears over Frankenstein’s creation turning on its master.
Joharah Baker is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at [email protected].