From Gush Shalom
AN INCREDIBLE piece of legislation is now being debated in Jerusalem.
The country is busy with a settlement called Amona. There, deep in the occupied territories, a few dozen Jewish families have set up an illegal settlement -- illegal even under Israeli law, not to mention international law.
Trouble is, they did not take the trouble to find out who owns the land on which they settled. As it turns out, it actually belongs to private Arab farmers. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the settlers to evacuate the site.
Evacuate Jews? Unthinkable! The Amonites swore "passive" resistance. This means calling upon tens of thousands of settlers from all over the occupied Palestinian territories to rush to the scene. It means crying babies, screeching girls, violent youngsters pushing bewildered soldiers (many of them settlers themselves), men wearing Nazi-era yellow stars, woman clutching their many weeping children, cameras galore. Awful.
So, as the date set for the evacuation comes closer and the court refuses to grant another postponement -- after years of legal playing around -- the government has found a way out: the Amona settlers will move a hundred yards, to land on a part of the same hill which does not officially belong to private persons.
In return for this favor by the settlers, the government promises to enact a "legitimization law," an invention of sheer legal genius. It says that in many dozens of places all over the West Bank, where other settlements have been set up on private Palestinian property, the land will simply be expropriated, and the rightful owners will be paid compensation.
In short: a gigantic act of stealing the property of private persons, who happen to be Palestinian Arabs, in order to "legitimize" the settlements of fanatical far-right Jews.
WHEN I read the text of the proposed bill, I was reminded of a sentence in the Bible that has always bewildered me.
It's in Exodus (12). When Pharaoh at long last allowed the Children of Israel to leave Egypt, after the awful 10 plagues, they did something extraordinary.
"And the Children of Israel 'borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver and jewels of gold and raiment' and they spoiled the Egyptians."
Since the Children of Israel were leaving for good, "borrowing" meant stealing. And not from Pharaoh and the state, but from ordinary people, their neighbors.
It is now generally agreed among experts that the exodus never really happened, and that the story was written about a thousand years after the purported event. But why would a writer attribute to his forefathers such disgusting behavior? Especially when it never happened?
The only answer I can imagine is that the writers and editors at the time saw nothing disgusting in this story. Cheating and plundering non-Israelites was alright.
It is also alright now for the settlers and the government of Israel.