Building on extremism
While there is an ideological shift in Israeli society towards the right, it is not the only reason why Jewish settlements are quickly being inhabited. Saleh El-Naami investigates
One month ago, Shamon Kara, who lives in the Hatikva Quarter in south Tel Aviv, sold his apartment quickly and left. His relatives told neighbours that he has relocated to the settlement of Beit Ebel, one of the Jewish settlements in northeast Ramallah in the middle of the
In an interview with Israeli Radio, Kara revealed his reasons for moving to this settlement, explaining that they were fundamentally economic. The large financial incentives that the government gives Jews who choose to live in the
There are thousands of Israelis who have recently left Israeli towns to live in Jewish settlements in the
The surge to live in settlements in the West Bank and
Sever Plotzker, a senior economic commentator at the popular Yediot Aharonot newspaper, argues that the expansion of settlement building in the West Bank and
Plotzker noted that the Israeli government constructed a settlement compound comprising of luxurious villas at a price of more than $350,000 each. Anyone who wants to buy a villa can simply purchase it through a payment plan that costs $300 per month. The average annual income in
The leftist Israeli writer Amira Haas asserts that today Israelis become alarmed at any prospects of a peaceful settlement because this will affect their standard of living. According to Haas, the reasons behind the migration to settlements are that "settlements are prospering at a time when most Israelis are suffering from a drop in luxury living. Settlements provide settlers with facilities that are inaccessible to them if they lived within the borders of
She cited that "a peaceful settlement would require the division of water resources equally among Jews and Palestinians, and the Israelis are not willing to decrease their water quotas because of the drought. Accordingly, it is clear that if a political settlement of the conflict is reached, it would be difficult for Israelis to accept the division of water equally with the Palestinians." Hass continued that, "anyone who has lived a life that guarantees him better rights based on ethnic discrimination believes that ending discrimination threatens their privileges."
Haas also noted that the Israeli ruling elite still believes that a peaceful settlement of the conflict will jeopardise a prosperous Israeli economy. She explained that military industry, which is one of
Haas further added that tens of thousands of Israelis who work in the military industry remain employed because of the continued occupation. Occupation has also bolstered the status of military service, which has become a source of wealth since every year tens of thousands of Israelis complete their draft and leave with professional skills. From there they go on to serve in the intelligence community or as mercenary military advisers overseas, or arms dealers.
"Peace would end the careers of many Israelis who have sway over the Israeli government," stated Haas. She concluded that Israelis are drifting towards extremism because Israeli innovation in the field of security is a result of continuous interaction between Israelis and the Palestinians. This interaction results in low-intensity warfare, which is ideal for Israelis since it enables them to test their military inventions on Palestinians.
Sammy Smooha, professor of social sciences at
According to the Israeli thinker and writer Uzi Benziman, Israeli society has come to believe in an "eternal conflict". This notion is based in the belief that "it is impossible to reach a settlement with the Palestinians because their hatred of
At the same time, continued missile attacks after the "disengagement" plan in
Daniel Dor, media professor at Tel Aviv University, suggested that the major factor that feeds the idea of an "eternal conflict" is that Israeli society is convinced that "there is no partner for a settlement" on the Palestinian side. Dor insisted that the leader of the Labour Party, Ehud Barak, is solely to blame for this perception, because as prime minister at the end of 1999 he announced that he "presented [late Palestinian President Yasser] Arafat with the best deal any Israeli leader could offer, but Arafat responded to his generous offer with terrorist attacks in the form of a predetermined Intifada."
Dor believes that Barak's assertion convinced intellectuals on the left, who control the media, including most journalists, commentators, columnists, Orientalists and researchers whom Israelis watch on television and read in the newspapers. Some of the most prominent writers who were considered vanguards of the idea of a peaceful settlement, and leaders in the Peace Now movement, changed their positions and began calling for oppressive measures as a means to resolve the conflict.
A blaring example is Yuli Tamir who is the former director general of Peace Now and currently holds a Knesset seat for the Labour Party. Many intellectuals, such as Yaron London who was once at the forefront of the Zionist left, today do not miss a chance to advocate carrying out "atrocities" in
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