Reprinted from Gush Shalom
Ilana Dayan, Anchor of investigative news magazine UVDA, Channel 2
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IN ANY list of Israel's 100 most important women, Ilana Dayan would occupy a prominent position.
Dayan (no relation to the late general with the eye patch) is the host of one of the most prestigious television programs. While Israeli TV in general is slowly sinking into a morass of stupid "reality" entertainment, her program, named "Uvdah" ("Fact"), stands out as a beacon of responsible investigative journalism, of the kind my late weekly news magazine was known for.
In general, Dayan has always been considered as mildly "leftist" -- since uncompromising criticism of the powers that be is generally identified with the Left.
Now she is being accused of serving the extreme, near-fascist Right. Shocking.
In the furious debate that ensued, Dayan quoted me for support. For 40 years, my magazine carried on its masthead the slogan "Without Fear, Without Prejudice." Dayan claimed that was acting according to this motto.
This compels me to get involved in the dispute -- against my better judgment.
THE BACKGROUND of this affair concerns the very foundation of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Since the Six-day War of 1967, Israel has been occupying, among other territories, the area called by the Arabs, many Israelis and most of the rest of the world "the West Bank" (of the Jordan river) and by the Israeli government and right-wing Israelis "Judea and Samaria," their Biblical appellation.
Almost since the beginning of the occupation, the Israeli right-wing has been making strenuous efforts to "settle the land" -- putting up Jewish settlements, towns, villages and small "outposts" all over the place.
To whom do the lands, on which the settlements are built, officially belong?
Much of it was "government land." This goes back to the Ottoman Empire. Communal land reserves, which did not belong to individual fellahin (farmers) but to the entire village, were registered in the name of the Sultan. Under the British "Government of Palestine" it became "government land." When the Israeli army occupied the territory, the Israel government just laid its hands on all these properties. Which means that this land is now being held solely for the benefit of Jewish settlers.
Other areas of land were simply expropriated by the military government for "security reasons" or "public purposes" -- and then turned over to the settlers.
Many of these settlements are manifestly illegal, even according to the Israeli law prevailing in these areas. But the law is very rarely applied. The Israeli military government, the army and the police quite openly support the settlements, protect them and connect them to Israeli grids. The courts very rarely intervene.
Yet what about settlements which are being set up on privately-owned Arab lands? Ah, there's the rub. All possible and impossible tricks have been used to take them over. Among them, the use of false documents, false signatures, often of dead owners. But the most common method is the use of Arab middlemen.
FOR THE Palestinian people, this is an existential struggle. The Israeli Right, which now dominates the government, does not hide its vision of a country free of Palestinian Arabs ("Araberrein" in German). The vision of the entire country settled by Jews, with no one else around, has strong attractions for some, especially in religious circles.