Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thoughts on the Freeze

Tonight marked the "Anti-Freeze settlement" demonstration in Jerusalem, and it brought over 10,000 demonstrators to it (10,000 according to the JPost, 15,000 according to YNET)

I wasn't there -- since I'm in London this week on business, yet I probably wouldn't have gone to the demonstration even if I was home.

The settlement freeze has multiple aspects to it. Netanyahu believes that freezing the settlements will give him the political maneuverability needed for Israel's strategic interest of attacking Iran's nuclear program. He has managed to convince many of the senior Likud ministers, even the most right-wing among them, such as Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon and Benny Begin, that the while ideologically abhorrent, its a necessary evil. That's from a strategic point of view.

And then there's the tactical aspect -- or more specifically, the small minded politics that hurt people for the sake of moving to the top, at the expense of others.

That's Ehud Barak.

While the inner cabinet decided on the freezing of "new" buildings, Barak let loose his inspectors on anything being constructed, despite "legal" within the framework of the cabinet decision. Barak wants to appear as heavy handed against the settlers, not because he believes it will help Israel's security, but because it will increase his standing among the more leftist elements within the Labor party. Border policemen beating up settlers is good press for Ehud Barak.

While the rest of the government ministries refused to cooperate by providing "inspectors" to help the Defense Ministry in its quest to freeze settlements (under the leadership of Ehud Barak), only one ministry agreed to help. The Agricultural Ministry...not surprisingly under the control of MK Shalom Simhon...also from the Labor party.

So the over-zealous inspectors show up, accompanied by brutal Yassam policemen, to settlements throughout the West Bank/Yehuda v'Shomron. My 13 year old daughter recounted to me when the inspectors showed up at the settlement where she goes to high school.
"The inspectors didn't come through the front gate, they came through a back gate to the settlement. Our principal shouted at us to run to that direction, and we scrambled through yards to get there. He got there first, and was assaulted immediately by policemen -- even though he didn't actually do anything. They grabbed him, ripped his shirt, threw him to the ground. One high school girl ran to film what was happening with her video camera -- the police grabbed her, and yanked her to the ground by her hair, and grabbed her video camera.

It was terrible."
This is exactly the type of press that Barak wants to help him continue leading the Labor party.

I don't think that Netanyahu wants to see this sort of press, and probably had much more modest ideas about the housing freeze -- but with Barak around, the situation will always lean towards violence against settlers.

Tonight's demonstration is good for Netanyahu to prove to the US Administration that a freeze in really in the works.

So what should we do?

1. There's no reason (in my opinion) to put up any fight against the stupid inspectors coming to issue official "freeze" orders. Rather, every settlement should have an electric paper shredder available -- and as the orders are dispensed, they should immediately go straight to the shredder. I doubt the police will beat anyone up for that (though with Barak at the helm, its hard to say).

2. Why help Netanyahu with a demonstration? We should continue to build, and wherever possible, challenge the government in court.

3. Continue to pressure government representatives and make the feel the pain of a settlement freeze -- and how people didn't vote Likud to enact policies of Ehud barak and the Labor party.

4. Here's an idea -- have a demonstration at a Tel Aviv building site to prevent building THERE. Let people know that its racist to prevent building in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, simply because we're Jews.

And then -- this happens. Its not enough to Ehud Barak to freeze our buildings -- he tries to demoralize us as well.

The Pesagot community near El-Bireh was just informed that the IDF unit guarding it -- will be leaving, with no replacement. YNET reports:
Residents of the settlement of Psagot have been living in relative calm for years now. In the early years of the al-Aqsa intifada, the community, which is located next to Ramallah, suffered from attacks from Palestinians living in the area. In order to restore peace to the area, the IDF decided to station a company of reserves soldiers to secure the community. Psagot residents now fear deterioration in the security situation in their community, following an announcement by Binyamin Division Commander Colonel Aviv Reshef, that the company would leave the site in a week's time, without having any other body take its place.

Mateh Binyamin Regional Council security officer Avigdor Shatz told Ynet the move constitutes a real threat to the lives of the residents. "The meaning of such a move is that a community which is located at a very serious point of friction with the hostile Palestinian population of Ramallah is left without a significant military force meant to separate between it and the residents of the settlement. Despite the relative calm of recent years, shooting incidents at the town are recorded each day."

The residents of the community were enraged by the decision and claim they are being picked on by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "While he finds a budget to pay for inspectors to enforce the construction freeze in settlements, he can't find the money to preserve the safety of the residents and is abandoning us," a Psagot source said.

The next ten months are going to be difficult for the settlers.

Yet the upcoming preemptive IDF strike on Iran is going to make all our lives even more challenging.

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NormanF said...

Now is the time for Israel to manifest national unity on Iran. Jews must stand united on Iran as if there were no freeze and fight the freeze as if Iran was not a danger. I have come to see it as a necessary evil. After Iran is dealt with, it will then be possible to argue to normalize the revanants' situation. The Jewish people are prepared to bear sacrifices to stop the threat from Iran. On the other hand, they are not ready to bargain away their rights to Eretz Israel to make Barak and Obama happy. Its going to be a challenging year ahead.

Happy2BHome said...

I had mixed feelings whether I should go to the demonstration or not. Like you, I felt like I was playing into Netanyahu's hand and helping him politically with Obama by demonstrating.

Additionally, I am demoralized about the effect of demonstrations. I sarted going to them in third grade, when the Oslo Accords began. I've demonstrated in NY, Israel, Camp David. Almost all the policies we have demonstrated against were carried out anyways. The only one that wasn't was the Camp David Accords - because Arafat refused to accept Israel's generous offer. So what is the point of demonstrating? The Israeli government does not care what it's constituents want. To paraphrase the rep. from the Center for Democracy (or something like that) in Israel on Kol Israel "democracy does not mean that the people determine policies. It means the people elect representatives who determine policy, regardless of the people's wishes."

Despite these thoughts, I went. I did not go to convince Netanyahu of anything. I went despite knowing he wanted me to be there. I went because I believe in the power of communal prayer and thatwhen Am Yisrael is in a time of tzara, we must come together and publicly ask Hashem to save us. I spent much of the demonstration saying tehillim - not beseeching Netanyahu to change his mind, like many of the speakers did.

But I left as demoralized as I came. It is hard to hear the same speeches that you have heard so many times before - and were ineffective.

I need some chizuk about the future of Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael.

NonymousG said...

"Yet the upcoming preemptive IDF strike on Iran is going to make all our lives even more challenging."


How, may I ask, did you come across that minor piece of information??

Jeremy said...

Is the fact that when the IDF strikes Iran things will become more difficult not self-evident?

NonymousG said...

My incredulity was targeted at the fact Jameel seems to know of this strike...

never4get said...

The Pallet settlements are going up! It starts Friday just before Channukah.

Pass the word!

Post it on as many blogs as you can, Facebook, twitter...

Take 6 wood shipping pallets, they are free from local businesses.

Paint 2 red to match the tile roofs on Jewish homes. Paint the remaining 4 to look like the exterior walls of a house.

Shlep the 6 pallets to the top of a remote hill that is completely inaccessible by any motor vehicle. The longer it takes you to get to the top, the better.

Assemble the new mini settler house (you can use rope, wire, heavy duty electrical cable ties or doubletapper nails to hold them together).

Call the news agencies, email them blurry pictures of the new illegal outpost from you cell phone. They will pass the information on to the authorities who will dispatch the "special" units of 50 or more police to evict the settlers and destroy the new outpost.

Do this 20 times per week in 20 different locations.

Take lots of pictures and videos of the "special" officers smashing tiny homes and post them all over the internet.

This type of action will exhaust the "special" units and reduce their efficacy.

Have fun! When life hands you lemons...

Pass the word!

Post it on as many blogs as you can, Facebook, twitter...

Anonymous said...

I think you are right, Jameel. They are acting as though they are going along with US demands for settlement freezes in questionable areas, all the while planning on a reaching out and touching someone....namely Iran.

It's unfortunate, but it looks like they really are going to do it.

What's a 10 month freeze, anyway?

It's nothing, because there's a time limit on it...which implies that it's not a "change of heart," it's a pasifier.

And you guys are right about not protesting about it, because THAT's a BIG waste of time. The powers that be are not concerned about the small fry. Them boys got bear in their sights.

By the way. Did I mention that someone special was supposed to show up tomorrow?

check this out.

Well, actually.....he's supposed to show up today, since it's tomorrow there, already.

Ben-David said...

The protests are not "helping Bibi" to go along with Obama... because Bibi is not going along with Obama.

Let's try it this way:
Bibi has not suddenly forgotten the home truths about the Palis that he's expressed in his books and speeches for decades.

And surely the poll-conscious Bibi knows that Barak's leftward leanings have caused Labor to wither (latest polls give them just 6 seats!).

The freeze is another example of Bibi's deft handling of this White House.

Bibi and Liberman are working very hard, away from the limelight, to bury the 2-state Oslo formula.

But The White House lefties want to follow the Alinsky formula of "isolating, personalizing, and demonizing" the opponent. And the only figure recognizable enough for that treatment is Bibi himself.

So Bibi keeps feinting left - and nameless pols in the Likud (and now the larger populace) play the Bad Cops in this rope-a-dope routine. Remember Hilary backing down, saying that a freeze was not a precondition? Here's round two.

The freeze has galvanized many middle-of-the-road Likudniks. The protests were sparked this time by secular, non-religious mayors and Regional Council members - not the usual religious settler activists.

We are being told that Bibi is "shocked" by the vehemence of Israeli opposition to the freeze.

In the short-term Bibi's purpose is to not give this White House an excuse for abandoning/attacking Israel.

His long-term purpose is to show the world just how many Israelis are "post Oslo" - and put an end to talk of 2 states west of the Jordan.

And if inducing the Israeli public to actually concretize its post-Gaza change of heart squeezes Labor and crushes Kadima - that's just icing on the cake.

Expect Bibi's gloves to come off in dealing with the Palis after decisive action on Iran and/or the midterm US elections.

HolyCityPrayer said...

Ben David,

This is not the only attempt to explain Bibi's behavior.

I guess we are at war, and all is fair in ... war.

But is it really fair to use 300K civilians like this, while leaving all but a dozen ppl in your inner circle (if that many) in the dark?

And what if you are wrong?

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