Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Beginning of Redemption? Settlers Evicted from 3 Hebron Flats Today

According to press reports available on line at Haaretz and Ynet, more than 200 settlers were evicted today from 3 flats in Hebron.

I am still on vacation in Vienna (hence, several personal and serious posts are bunched together), but since “there is no rest unto the wicked,” I provide some background and comment on today’s story from Hebron.

The three Palestinian flats in Hebron were seized by “Jewish” squatters, who claimed to have the legal right to live there. Human rights groups successfully appealed to the High Court, which examined the settlers’ bogus claims and ordered the squatters to leave. Of course, they refused. Many settlers do not recognize the authority of the High Court; the State of Israel exists in order to further their goals of driving Palestinians off their land and repopulating it with their own kind. To date, they have been immensely successful, partly because successive Israeli governments have collaborated with the settlers for their own interests. On rare occasions, however, the government steps in.

I will let others speculate on Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s motives for acting decisively today. Only a few hundred rightwingers came to protest, and so politically it was a no-brainer for him. There are relatively few people in Israel, even on the right, that blindly support the actions of the “Jews” living in Hebron. Soldiers and police were injured by the settlers, who managed to trash the flats before they left. That will play well in the press for Barak. In the meantime, he is probably thinking of ways to “balance” his actions with concessions to the “mainstream” settlers. Remember the extraordinary outburst of settlement activity during Barak’s tenure as prime minister.

When Jews fight against Jews, it is the Palestinians that are hung on the tree.

Substantial damage was done to the flats first by the settlers, and then by the police in an effort to keep the settlers from returning. I hope that the human rights groups will file civil suits on behalf of the Palestinian owners to receive payment for the damages.

Why “the beginning of redemption?” Rabbinic Judaism recognizes the concept of a final redemption for Jews and for humankind, but some rabbis claim that the redemption will come “bit-by-bit” (kim’ah kim’ah). For early religious zionists, Zionism was seen as the beginning of the redemption process. To this day, when religious Jews around the world recite the prayer for the State of Israel in synagogues and temples, they call the latter, “the beginning of the flowering of redemption.”

The followers of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Ha-Kohen Kook – a mystical rabbi, who blended a mediocre grasp of philosophy with Kabbalistic and late nineteenth-century Volkist tendencies – argued whether the State of Israel is merely the beginning of redemption or the actual redemption.

Today’s eviction of the settlers is not the actual redemption. But it is the beginning of the redemption. Suit after suit will be filed by human-rights groups against the settlers and the Israeli government. Dror Etkes has left Peace Now’s ineffectual (but nonetheless important) “Settlement Watch” to start filing those suits with the group Yesh Din (loosely translated: “Law DOES Exist.”) Many of those suits will be lost because of the “security argument” – but, occasionally, the good guys will win. Today they won.

When I have a chance, I will devote a separate post to Hebron. I can only suggest to my readers who visit Israel – YOU MUST VISIT HEBRON to see for yourself the lowest level of hell. Bnei Abraham is currently providing FREE tours for visitors. The tour takes a few hours; it is safe, and the tour guides provide balanced explanation.

To find out more about the tours if you are serious about going, you can contact me: jeremiah.haber@gmail.com

1 comment:

Maharal said...

Dear Jeremiah,

Older and no wiser?
Vienna is the natural answer...