Israel's Internal War (coming soon)

Haaretz: PM: Settlement blocs to stay ours in any final deal

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, speaking at a new conference with President George W. Bush in Texas on Monday, said large West Bank settlement blocs would remain in Israeli hands in the framework of any final status agreement with the Palestinians.

"The settlement blocs will remain in Israel's hands in any final-status agreement no matter the repercussions entailed," Sharon said.

"We are very interested in having (territorial) contiguity between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem, however the matter will take many years and we will have many more opportunities to discuss it with the Americans," Sharon added.

Bush, concerned about the progress of negotiations toward peace in the Middle East, asked Sharon both publicly and privately Monday not to expand the key West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.

PM: Atmosphere in Israel looks like eve of civil war

In an interview with NBC News on Monday, Sharon spoke of the growing threat of violence by extreme-right Jewish activists in Israel ahead of the disengagement plan.

"The tension here [in Israel], the atmosphere here looks like the eve of the civil war," Sharon said. He also said that although he had been defending Jews all his life, steps are now taken to protect his own life from attacks by Jews.

PBS Frontline "Days of Rage":

Scene III: Late February, the Jerusalem headquarters of the Council of Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza

Twenty-five settler leaders gather in emergency session around a long polished boardroom table a day after the cabinet's authorization of Sharon's plan. The morning is devoted to political and PR action against the plan, the afternoon to "practical steps." The leaders emerge with a two-pronged strategy: to go on pressing for a referendum on disengagement and, failing that, to flood the areas designated for evacuation with tens or even hundreds of thousands of supporters to help settlers physically block police and army efforts to remove them. The council members set up a "general staff" to work out the details. Settler leader Pinchas Wallerstein, who a few days earlier declared that settlers and their supporters should be "ready to risk their lives" to reach the evacuation areas, dubs it the "Judgment Day" team.

These scenes demonstrate what lies ahead in the struggle over evacuation. Together they reveal the three major strategies that Israeli authorities expect opponents of disengagement to adopt: precipitating "a cata-clysmic event that changes the course of history"; using the system to beat the system; and scuttling the disengagement plan by sheer weight of numbers.

[.....]

Besides the threat to [Ariel] Sharon, the police identify two other potentially "cataclysmic" events: An attack on the mosques of the Temple Mount, sacred to Muslims the world over; or indiscriminate gunning down of Arab civilians, following the example of Kahanist Baruch Goldstein's massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs in February 1994. An event of either kind could inflame the Muslim world, disrupt the nascent accommodation with the new Palestinian leadership and jeopardize Sharon's disengagement plan.

In early February police reported "intelligence of a general sort" of an impending attack on the Temple Mount. On February 22, National Police Chief Moshe Karadi told the Knesset's Finance Committee that he wanted 187 more men and an additional 61 million shekels ($14 million) to beef up security at the holy site. Over the next few days, police called in the media to show the tight measures already in place to cope with what they see as an emergency situation: cameras in strategic places, stringent body checks for all visitors, ground patrols and spotter planes.

Today I heard Bush and Sharon's press conference in Texas, wherein Bush basically handed the major West Bank settlement blocs to the Likud, and "at least" managed to extract a promise from Sharon to remove the more recent outposts and freeze construction. This disturbed the morality of my worldview, and came as yet another signal reinforcing the new Israeli-American hegemon in all its ever-expanding glory. However, the engine of this spatial acquisition, the settlers themselves, will prove to be a hazardous geopolitical tool as political friction increases inside Israel...

I'm going to turn this one over to a bunch of extended blockquotes.... I want to go to bed and leave these elements for the record. See also the extended section...

Also, shame on the neoconservatives who have, by and large, supported the Likud party quite closely, since of course neo-cons have an ideological debt to the patron saint of Likud, Vladimir "Iron Wall" Jabotinsky. I have been over this all before, but now we are really going to see the nasty fallout from their militant ideas...

There are rumors that Israeli settlers will try to attack the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa complex in Old Jerusalem in July, in order to Precipitate a Regional Conflict and forestall the evacuation of settlers from Gaza and a few West Bank points. On the other hand, Hezbollah sent an unmanned drone whizzing into northern Israel. Things nearly got out of hand just the other day:

Haaretz: Vigorous law enforcement needed:

Rightists opposed to the disengagement, including MKs Aryeh Eldad, Uri Ariel, Yehiel Hazan and Michael Ratzon, wanted to go to the Temple Mount yesterday during Muslim prayers, to actualize what they called "the State of Israel's sovereignty" over the site. They apparently forgot that the decision on the content and meaning attributed to the historic cry, "The Temple Mount is in our hands," is not in the hands of MKs or the citizens of the state, but rather in the hands of the political echelon of the government.

Given the level of sensitivity at present, Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra's decision not to allow the rightist MKs to reach the mount was particularly justified. Security considerations can override the special "freedom of movement" afforded MKs. Calls by the Revava organization for a mass demonstration of Jews on the Temple Mount created the "real possibility" of violence. The relative quiet with which the Muslim prayers ended yesterday is not necessarily a harbinger of what is yet to come.

While the police were concentrating enormous forces on and around the mount yesterday to prevent violence, rightist activists managed to surprise the police by blocking a major transportation route - the Ayalon highway. The demonstrators burned tires and blocked traffic in both directions during the morning rush-hour traffic. The police gradually managed to open the route and arrested dozens of activists. This was not the first time the highway was blocked. Presumably, in the coming months there will be more scenes of refusal to obey the law on main thoroughfares.

ArabNews.com:

Prevent Jewish Moves on Al-Aqsa: Cabinet

JEDDAH, 12 April 2005 — Saudi Arabia yesterday called for prompt action by the international community to prevent Jewish extremists from invading the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem and warned that such moves could destabilize the region.

The Council of Ministers, chaired by Crown Prince Abdullah, said that the move by ultranationalist Jews would also derail the Middle East peace process.

“The move by Israeli extremists to storm into Al-Aqsa Mosque will endanger security and stability in the Palestinian territories as well as the region as a whole and will obstruct all efforts to establish peace in the region,” said a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

Haaretz:

IDF to disarm four West Bank settlements set for evacuation

Jewish settlers in four West Bank settlements will be disarmed about two weeks before they are to be removed from their homes this summer, military officials said Monday, reflecting growing concern that settler resistance to a West Bank pullback will be particularly intense.

Settlers, however, said they would not give up their weapons.

Israel plans to dismantle all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank in July and August, removing about 9,000 Israelis from their homes. While the Gaza operation will be much larger, Israeli officials have grown increasingly worried about violence in the West Bank.

Gaza is surrounded by a barrier and access can be easily controlled, while West Bank settlements can be reached from many directions. The West Bank also holds special significance for religious Jews, raising the likelihood that Jewish ultranationalists might pour into the West Bank settlements to resist the evacuations.

Military officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said troops will collect all military-issue weapons from residents of the four settlements slated for evacuation about two weeks before the pullout. Military commanders expect more settler resistance in the West Bank than in Gaza, the officials said.

Gaza settlers will also be disarmed, although the timing of the weapons collection remains unclear, they added.

The West Bank withdrawal, meanwhile, is increasingly shaping up to be a more complicated operation than the Gaza evacuation. "We are worried more about settlers coming from the outside, not necessarily the residents," said a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Yedioth Ahronoth daily quoted a senior military officer as saying "violent cells" have already been established in two of the West Bank settlements slated for evacuation, Sa-Nur and Homesh. The four settlements have a total population of about 500 people.

PBS Frontline: Israel's Next War? Against the Extremists: (interview with producer)

How many people are we talking about -- those who believe the country should be exclusively Jewish?

Latest polls show that 30 percent of the people in Israel support the idea that the land belongs exclusively to the people of Israel, to the Jews, and that the state should be exclusively Jewish.

Can you break down this 30 percent into smaller groups?

Think of it as a pyramid. At the very bottom is the foundation, the ideology. At this bottom level you get to those who believe that Israel should be inhabited by Jews only, that the Arabs should find another place to live in. Go higher and you have less people, but more determined ones, who say something should be done to reach that goal. At the very top are the people who are willing to do something about this themselves, to take some action to escalate events, to help bring about the final biblical redemption. They are a small minority, but it only takes a few to change the course of history. We saw what happened when one man assassinated Prime Minister Rabin [Yigal Amir]. It stopped the peace process, changed its course. It took a while until it was resumed again. This was a very traumatic event that is still fresh. It has not been forgotten.

Now there's a chance that we resume the process. And what the security forces and many people in Israel are concerned about is that some of these extremists will derail the fragile process again, using violent means.

Is there a sense that the security forces and the media didn't take these extremists seriously enough before Rabin's assassination in 1995?

Yes, very much so. Or else how can you explain the easy way in which it happened? No one believed this was possible. That a Jew would murder a Jew?… Even those who did not accept Rabin's views and his ways were shocked at the very fact that this was possible, that it happened. And if it happened once, it can happen again. Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, came from the same circles, the same ideology as the people in the film. He might be from a different background, but he shares the same values and was just as determined as they are. In essence the extremists are very much against the way Israel is run and want to change it. They want a Jewish Kingdom, a monarchy. They want a king. They want the Torah to be the law.

[....]

What did [convicted violent settler] Shlomi and the others think of the film?

The people I portray in the film, and many like them, weren't shocked by what they saw. They felt I represented what they believed in, although I'm told they didn't like the tone.

The wider Israeli audience [see press reaction in Israel] was shocked by what these guys had to say. Again, they knew about radical settlers, but suddenly, it came to them in full color along with the real "revelation" if you want, that having the Arabs leave is only their first step. What the extremists really want is a different kind of country altogether. A different way of life. They don't want a democratic state. They don't want a country with Western elements. They don't want a country with cinema and television and what have you, all the Western kind of culture, Western music, secular books and all that. They want a pure Jewish country. A Jewish theocracy with a king who rules by the law of the Torah. They want a Temple. They want to destroy the mosques on the Temple Mount and rebuild the temple that's their temple. They want to have sacrificial rituals.

Frontline excerpts "Talking with Jewish Extremists" by Jessica Stern:

...But what about the murder of [Itzak] Rabin? I ask. Do you believe it was religiously acceptable, given that there exists today no ultimate authority to sanction such a step?

"You've got a ticklish point," he says. "Contrary to popular belief, the highest value for a Jew is not the preservation of human or even of Jewish life. The highest value is doing what God wants you to do. So in an attempt to put Jewish values in a hierarchy, human life in general, Jewish life in particular, is high on the list. But it's not the top."

But how, I wonder, does a Jew know what God wants him or her to do in any given instance? Why is it that the only people who seem to know with absolute certainty are the people who become terrorists?

"There are a number of circumstances under which the individual is enjoined to take a Jewish life if necessary without consulting a court," Lerner continues. "If you see a person preparing to commit a capital crime -- rape or murder -- it is your duty to stop him. You must stop him any way you can. It's similar in some respects to the right Jewish law accords the individual to restore his own property from a thief if it is stolen. You don't have to bring him to court. If you can catch up with him, you can take your property back by force. You don't have to bother the court with stuff like that. Rabin was stealing Jewish property, proposing to give it away."

So the death of Rabin was simply "collateral damage" in an effort to recover stolen property, according to Lerner's convoluted reasoning. His murder would not even have required a ruling by the Sanhedrin, if it had existed.

"I had been convinced for some time that Rabin's death was coming, that it had to come," Lerner continues. "I understand what motivated Yigal Amir [Rabin's murderer]. I am convinced that he felt that Yitzhak Rabin was putting the survival of the Jewish people in danger by his policies. There was no other way of removing Rabin from the gun he was pointing at the Jewish people. I'm ninety-nine percent positive that that's what he thought. Honestly, I can't argue with it."

After his arrest, Amir proclaimed that the killing of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was justified, even commanded, by the rulings of Din Mosser and Din Rodef, as described in the Jewish religious law, or halakha.

According to the halakah, the rulings of Din Mosser and Din Rodef apply to those Jews who have committed the most despicable crime imaginable -- the betrayal of their fellow Jews. The punishment of the Mosser -- a person who hands over sacred Jewish property to the gentile -- as well as that of the Rodef -- a person who murders or facilitates the murder of Jews -- shall be death. Since the execution of the Mosser or the Rodef is aimed at saving the lives of other Jews, there is no need for a trial.

[....]

Kach and Kahane Chai were declared terrorist organizations in 1994 by the Israeli cabinet. The banning of the two groups followed one of the most well-known incidents of Jewish extremism, namely the massacre of twenty-nine Muslims in Hebron by Dr. Baruch Goldstein on February 25, 1994. Goldstein, a thirty-seven-year-old doctor and father of seven at the time of the shooting, was a prominent member of Kach. The group had issued statements supporting Goldstein's attack.

Both Kach and Kahane Chai organize protests against the Israeli government and harass and threaten Palestinians in Hebron and the West Bank. Groups affiliated with them have threatened to attack Arabs, Palestinians, and Israeli government officials. They claimed responsibility for several attacks of West Bank Palestinians in which four persons were killed and two were wounded in 1993. In April 2002, the current leader of Kach, Baruch Marzel, was arrested by Israeli police in connection with a plot to leave a trailer laden with two barrels of gasoline and two gas balloons outside a Palestinian girls' school in East Jerusalem. The West Bank settlements of Tapuah and Kiryat Arba are strongholds of the Kahanist movement. According to the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, both organizations receive support from American and European sympathizers. ...

I ask Erzion to explain his feeling of urgency about rebuilding the Temple. "If you seek the kernel of meaning in the Temple," he says, "it is akin to the meeting of love between the Jewish people and God, or the attraction between men and women. The Jewish people are the female aspect, and they are missing their other, an other which can only be recovered when the Temple is rebuilt. The view of God is symbolized by the man, and the Jewish people as a woman.

"It is something so wonderful you can hardly imagine it. None of us has ever seen or touched anything like it. It is not just the stones it's built of. That's just the framework, like the peel of an orange. The Temple is the collective spirit of the people." Erzion is clever, like Lerner. But he is also poetic. Listening to him, I start to feel the loss of this mystical place. I feel the longing. For the Temple, and for this sensual union between God and man that he describes. Fundamentalism is always about longing, I remind myself, often for something that never existed.

[.....]

On May 2, 1980, Fatah threw a grenade into a group of Jews who were praying in Hebron, six of whom were killed. The Jews in Hebron wanted to take revenge. Most of them wanted to go to a market and blow up as many Arabs as they could or do the same in a mosque. But Erzion persuaded his colleagues that wounding, not killing, several Palestinian leaders was a better strategy. Erzion felt that killing them would only make them heroes. This was a clever strategy. The group managed to wound several Palestinian mayors.

In subsequent attacks, Erzion failed to prevail over his more violent colleagues. On July 17, 1983, an Israeli yeshiva student was killed in Hebron. Erzion's colleagues entered the Islamic College in Hebron, determined to kill as many Arabs as they could. They killed three and injured over thirty.

[.....]

Although Erzion appears to have given up violent struggle, at least for now, he has not given up his efforts to prepare Israelis to rebuild the Third Temple when the time is ripe. Yehuda Erzion, Yoel Lerner, and Avigdor Eskin are all members of the Temple Mount Treasury, a group that continues to raise funds to rebuild the Temple.

Gillon believes that the radical right continues to pose a grave threat to Israeli national security, perhaps even more than Hamas. "Here in Israel we don't like to say this very loudly, bur the radical-right Jewish groups have a lot in common with Hamas," he told me. Hamas and the radical-right groups have twin objectives: one religious, the other political, Gillon explains. Both use selective readings of history and of religious texts to justify violence over territory.

Etzion tells me sadly that he has learned the Jewish people are not ready for redemption. He serves as the leader of the group Chai Vekayam (Alive and Existing), which regards itself as "the catalyst for a Jewish renaissance." The group focuses on encouraging Jews to prepare themselves for the imminent redemption through prayer.

The Temple Mount is the only holy place for the Jews, Etzion explains. "The one thing I am sure of," he says, "is that the Dome of the Rock is a temporary building. It must come to an end. Exactly when and exactly how I cannot say. But as a principle, I am sure its end is near."

Other nice links: so who was this Kahane fanatic anyway? See what his fans put on the Internet.

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