Amira Hass
April 20, 2011 - 12:00am

The Israeli settlement enterprise does not need the murder of Jewish families in order to strip Palestinian families of their land and endanger the future of both peoples. But when such a murder "falls into its hands," the settlement enterprise knows how to make the most out of it, by building new neighborhoods and outposts, blaming Palestinian nature and education, and dropping biblical terms like "bitter enemies" and "Amalek."

The history of white settlement in other peoples' countries is full of sickening murders carried out by individuals who belonged to the indigenous peoples or by African slaves. These actions did not prevent the systematic expulsion and near extinction of the original inhabitants. It is not acts of murder that brought an end to slavery or apartheid. At the same time, abominable murders in Algeria did not make French colonialism, or any other colonialism, legitimate.

At the time, the whites attributed the murders to the nature of the savages, their inborn viciousness and their lowly race. The takeover and murderous enslavement were regarded as a divine and courageous mission and as a means of preserving law and order. Now, decades or centuries later, many recognize the brutality that characterized the settlement enterprise of their forefathers.

The attempt to guess what will be in 150 years is best left to soothsayers. We are interested in today and tomorrow. And today we must take seriously the words of the former chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, Brig. Gen. Avichai Ronski, one of the founders of Itamar. Speaking in an interview with the Walla news website, even before the release of the names of the suspects in the murder of the Fogel family, Ronski said: "A village like this, like Awarta, from which the murderers of the Fogel family and of the Shebo family emerged, must suffer as a village. A situation must be created whereby the inhabitants prevent anyone in this village from harming Jews. Yes, it is collective punishment. They must not be allowed to sleep at night, they must not be allowed to go to work, they must not be allowed to drive their cars. There are many ways."

Not a single word about the two murderers who came from Itamar or about the Authorities of Law and Order which excelled at not finding the murderers of two other Palestinian farmers who had been shot to death near Itamar.

Even before the suspects were caught, the soldiers punished Awarta collectively. After all, in the jargon of Israeli street judgments, a Palestinian is convicted even before he becomes a suspect.

The gag order on the investigation of the murder did not allow us to write what the army did in the village during the past month. But why, in order to collect fingerprints or DNA samples, did soldiers have to break washing machines, refrigerators, televisions and toys? Why should bags of rice, sugar and bottles of oil be emptied on the floor?

But for our former chief military rabbi this is not enough. He is demanding more. Will his former colleagues, still in uniform, not follow orders? Will his spiritual pupils not translate his words into deeds? And whoever protests will be accused of condoning the slaughter of infants.

But even without murder, the Palestinian villages suffer, as do the cities and towns, at the hands of the settlers and the Israeli authorities. There is abuse by individuals and structural and institutional abuse. All are exacting revenge on the Palestinians because this is their land. The individuals are taking over olive groves and water springs, and they expel people from their homes. The authorities are prohibiting construction and planting, confiscating land by the force of decrees, destroying houses and expelling. The water sources have been taken over long time ago. And everything is immersed in a mikveh of court rulings.

Our law and order authorities do not protect the Palestinian villages from the thugs who "exact a price" from Palestinians in revenge for the razing of an unauthorized settlers' hut by authorities. How can we expect them to protect the Palestinians against the avengers of the murder of the Fogel family? The settlers are sent there by the state. How can we expect the state to prevent them from continuing to do what they have been sent to do? To plunder, abuse and sabotage the future for all of us.


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