Friday, July 31, 2009

International law violation video/West Bank Settlers Send Defiant Message to Obama

This video illustrates another violation of international law:

West Bank Settlers Send Defiant Message to Obama


By Ethan Bronner

The New York Times

July 30, 2009


NERIA, West Bank - In this land of endless history and

ethereal beauty, several thousand Jewish settlers

gathered on a dozen West Bank hills with makeshift huts

and Israeli flags over several days this week to mark

an invented anniversary and defy the American

president, conveying to his aides visiting Jerusalem

what they thought of his demand for a settlement freeze.


Eleven tiny settler outposts were inaugurated,

including one next to this settlement in the rugged

Samarian hills. A clearing encompassing a generator and

a hut with a corrugated metal roof and a ritual mezuza

on its doorpost now bears the name Givat Egoz. This is

how nearby Neria, with 180 families, got its start 18 years ago.


"We are rebuilding the land of Israel," Rabbi Yigael

Shandorfi, leader of a religious academy at the

neighboring settlement outpost of Nahliel, said during

the ceremony. "Our hope is that there will be roads,

electricity and water." The message to President Obama,

he said, is that this is Jewish land. He did not use

the president's name, but an insulting Hebrew slang for

a black man and the phrase "that Arab they call a president."


None of the hundreds gathered - mostly couples with

large families, but also armed young men and teenagers

from other outposts - objected. Yitzhak Shadmi, leader

of the regional council of settlements, said Mr. Obama

was a racist and anti-Semite for his assertion that

Jews should not build here, but Arabs could.


Mr. Shadmi said the ceremonies across the West Bank

this week honored a moment in 1946 when Zionists

established 11 settlements in the northern Negev of

Palestine in defiance of the British rulers before

Israel was created. It was important for the new

outposts to be established while Washington's

emissaries were visiting, he said. George J. Mitchell,

the special envoy for the Middle East, who is pressing

the settlement freeze, was in the West Bank at the

start of the week.


The national security adviser, James L. Jones, and a

White House adviser on the region, Dennis B. Ross, held

meetings in Jerusalem on Wednesday as part of the

negotiations, which also include attempts to get Arab

governments and Palestinians to reciprocate if the

Israelis agree to the freeze.


"We wanted to do this while they were here," Mr. Shadmi

said. "We're saying, `Mitchell, go home.' "


When the settlement of Neria was created in 1991, it

had a similar purpose. Yossi Dermer, spokesman for the

settlement, said it was known slyly to intimates as

"the James Baker settlement" because it was set up to

convey a message of defiance before a visit by James A.

Baker III, secretary of state for the first President George Bush.


Because West Bank settlements officially require

Israeli government approval and the new outposts did

not obtain it, the Israeli police have dismantled

several of the new ones already. But just as quickly,

they are being rebuilt, sometimes a bit bigger. At

nearly every outpost, the ruins left by past police

actions lie next to newly built huts.


"We'll build and build, and every time they destroy it

we will build bigger and better and prettier," asserted

Tirael Cohen, a 16-year-old girl who lives at Ramat

Migron, an extension of the unauthorized Migron

outpost, not far from Ramallah, a large Palestinian

city in the West Bank. Ruined corrugated metal and

pieces of wood were strewn on the ground nearby.


Tirael has lived at Ramat Migron for a year and a half

with 10 other girls, and, at a religiously modest

distance away, 10 boys live in a separate structure.

The girls cook, the boys build and maintain, and all

study at nearby religious academies.


About 40 religious girls from within Israel and West

Bank settlements spent three days at Ramat Migron last

week in what they called "spiritual preparation" for

coming battles over the land.


On the outside wall of the kitchen is a rabbinical

quotation about the need to redeem the land of Israel.

It says "bare mountains and deserted fields cry out for

life and creation," and adds: "An internal revolution

is taking place here, a revolution in man and the

earth. These are the true pains of salvation."


The Migron outpost itself is expected to be taken down

because it is built on land that, according to a court

case, belongs to private Palestinian families.

Centuries-old olive trees dot the landscape.


The Obama administration is hoping to help establish a

Palestinian state in nearly all of the West Bank next

to Israel. One major challenge is what to do with the

300,000 Israeli Jews who have settled here over four

decades, often at their government's urging.


Many could be incorporated into Israel through a border

adjustment; others say they would move if compensated.

But some, like these outpost settlers, say they will

never move because they believe they are fulfilling

God's plan with every hut they put up. They are likely

to be a major stumbling block to any attempt to find a

two-state solution.


At the Neria outpost celebration, Noam Rein, a father

of 10, looked out across the hills at Ramallah and

called its presence "temporary."


He added: "The Torah says the land of Israel is for the

Jewish people. This is just the beginning. We will

build 1,000 homes here. The Arabs cannot stay here, not

because we hate them, but because this is not their place."


Among the religious leaders who spoke at the ceremony,

Rabbi Yair Remer of Harasha, a nearby outpost, noted

that Thursday was the Ninth of Av, a Jewish day of

mourning commemorating the destruction of the ancient

temples. He suggested that the best way to cope with

the tragedy of Jewish history was to do what the young

builders of this outpost were doing.


"The land rejoices because its children are returning

to her," he said, referring to Jewish settlers, making

no mention of the 2.5 million Palestinians here.


Tirael, the teenager from Ramat Migron, put it another

way: "I believe that every inch of this land is us, our

blood. If we lose one inch, it is like losing a person."


Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company




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