President of Israel declares Israeli Squatting in Palestinian West Bank a “Right”, key to Zionism

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday declared Israeli squatting on the Palestinian West Bank a “right” and as an essential Zionist principle.

Reuven, a former chairman of the far-right Likud Party now in power, is known to favor a paternalist form of the one-state solution. He has said he would rather give Palestinians citizenship than give up Israeli squatter settlements in the West Bank. (Although, it must be pointed out, he hasn’t actually done anything practical to end Palestinian statelessness and lack of basic rights in the West Bank, and Israeli squatter settlements there often disadvantage native Palestinians by stealing land, water and other resources without offering compensation). Reuven, who speaks fluent Arabic, has a vision of Israel as a multi-ethnic state, and has championed rights for Palestinian-Israelis, even the right to dissent from Israeli government policy. But he clearly also gets the confidence for this relative generosity to minorities from a conviction that Jews will remain on top of the political and social hierarchy. His supremacism extends to the Orthdox/ Conservative/Reform/Reconstructionist divide in contemporary Judaism. Reuven has been dismissive of Reform and Conservative Judaism, the major denominations in the United States, as not really Jewish, insisting that a fundamentalist approach to law is what makes for the essence of Judaism (in the same way that Muslim fundamentalists see sharia as the essence of Islam. He is not himself terribly observant, though).

Rivlin said, “I love the land of Israel with all my heart. I have never and will never give up on this land. For me, our right to this land is not a matter of political debate. It is a basic fact of modern Zionism . . We must not give anyone the sense that we are in any doubt about our right to our land. For me, the settlement of the land of Israel is an expression of that right, our historical right, our national right.”

Yes, and Mussolini thought he had a historic right to rule Libya, too, and Italians saw themselves as “returning” to North Africa in 1911 and after, since it had been part of the Roman Empire. People who say they love the fatherland with all their heart and that its borders extend beyond the present map should be viewed with suspicion. Such claims to supremacism over other people and their territory are frankly absurd, and doomed to the dustbin of history.

What is worrisome is that past Likud leaders, such as Ariel Sharon, staked out claims to the Ghur Valley in Jordan or to southern Lebanon (or once upon a time, Egypt’s Sinai). Zionist leader David Ben Gurion once boasted that Israel had not fixed its borders.

The question is whether Rivlin’s dream of subjecting the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank to permanent Israeli annexation, and his placing of this project at the center of the Zionist project, heralds a permanent split between Jewish Americans and the Likud government of Israel. Because most American Jews don’t approve of this kind of annexationist project.

Related video:

AFP: “Palestinian Christians protest controversial barrier in the WB”

15 Responses

  1. The devil is in the details: Rivlin doesn’t detail Israel’s geography, specifically its political borders.

  2. It is my understanding that “The Land of Israel” belongs to Jews by ‘historical right” is universally accepted within Israel and that the Palestinians are interlopers who settled Palestine after the Jews were expelled in 70 CE (or 135 CE). Indeed Netanyahu has said as much many times.

    The archaeological and historical evidence is that no one, or virtually no one, was expelled from Palestine due to the Roman conquest in 70, or 135 CE, Jewish nationalist mythology to the contrary, and historical, linguistic (see Paul Wexler), and genetic evidence is that that modern day Jews derive from Russian -Slavo-Turks and not from ancient Judaeans.

    Imagine an attempt to write into international law the principle something like: “If some group celebrated your religion 2000 years ago and lived in a certain region of the world, but now others are living there, then you have the right to ethnically cleanse those people and replace them with people of that religion.”

    Laughable certainly. But, of course, this is not the attitude of the Jewish-nationalist. Rather what right holds for Jews is not universal but applies only to Jews, and that international law is not applicable and does not subordinate the “Jewish right of Return.”

  3. The Zionists’ intent is to expand the number and size of settlements on the West Bank. Then, they will incite a series of widespread conflicts with the Palestinians, and declare that the West Bank can not be governed by the Palestinians. Then the IDF will invade the West Bank and Israel will declare it part of Israel.

    • Marco: “Then the IDF will invade the West Bank and Israel will declare it part of Israel.”

      You do appear to be very nearly 50 years behind the times, Marco.

      Didn’t you get the memo in 1967?

    • Annexing the West Bank isn’t enough. Israel can’t handle that many Palestinian citizens while remaining a Jewish state. To annex the West Bank they have to drive out most of the Palstinians as well and this isn’t really politically possible today like it was in 1947.

  4. A heads up Jaun Cole, some of your articles on Truthdig have more then 140 characters for linking to Twitter. I adjust them but thought you would want to know?

  5. osiris322

    “Mussolini thought he had a historic right to rule Libya..Italians saw ‘returning’..since it had been part of the Roman Empire..”

  6. Peculiar and almost funny. Under the subject heading of “Israel’s Treatment of the Palestinians,” I tried to use the “Contact Us” routine on Israel’s Boston consulate to communicate the following message:

    I am appalled by the continuing abuse by Israel and Israelis of the Palestinians. I will not bother to list the abuses; you know them well. Please understand that I regularly communicate my dismay to the government officials representing me.

    A message popped up beside my “content,” telling me “Text contain [sic] invalid characters.” I’m wondering if it’s the sequence of characters constituting “Palestinians.”

  7. The name “Palestinians” was attached to the people who occupied and lived peaceably in Palestine from A.D. 70 until they were forceably subjugated by Jews who entered their land with guns in 1947-48 and who then declared the land theirs and called it Israel. There is no question but that the entire affair was unjust, and it was not initially sanctioned by the UN if at all. How to redress historical grievances? It is not easy because history books are filled with invasions, wars and subjugations. What ought to be done in Israel? Every person in the country must be given equal opportunity and equal rights: to education, employment, living, housing and, above all, to freedom of conscience. Until equality is mandated, no sense of justice will have been achieved. It is a state of insensitivity and injustice.

  8. The word ‘right’ has a number of nuanced meanings. In blunt English it means an entitlement by law, but it is perfectly possible for someone to have a right and not have it. An example would be prisoners being denied the vote in UK elections because that is the UK law. The European Court in Strasbourg deems this to be a violation of prisoners’ rights. In the same way Israeli settlements on Palestinian land can be a ‘right’ for Israelis while being a violation under UN legislation which, since it is unenforceable, they choose to ignore. Many nations choose to ignore international law, and to that extent such laws do not apply within them. Rivlin appears simply to have reiterated what everyone already knows. That is the nub of the impasse and it will continue until Israel determines for whatever reason to accept the relevant international laws, something it has no need even to consider while under the umbrella of the US Security Council veto.

  9. that is so not good. the president is crazy. squatting is o.k. gee perhaps we could go squat at the president’s house or that of his relatives. see how he likes that. Squatting in these days and in a country like Israel is another form of stealing and the last time I checked stealing wasn’t part of the Jewish religion.

  10. Dear Professor Cole

    At least that will make the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions effort simple to operate. Everything Israeli can be labelled,and can rot on the shelves.

  11. I was about 7 years old when the war ended and the allies liberated the concentration camps. I vividly remember the living skeletons and the dead ones the newsreels showed. The experience changed my way of looking at the world. I’m not Jewish, but I understand to the extent anyone who has not been through it can understand the determination not to let it happen again. However, I can’t help but think that Israel is headed down a path that isolates them to such an extent that is self destructive. They seem determined to go it alone and prefer to label anyone who disagrees as antisemitic rather than consider the alternatives. I don’t see a lot of hope for them.

  12. Just to put ourselves in the shoes of the Palestinians….The American Indian tribes just informed all non Indians this is their land and those who choose not to leave will be huddled into ghettos where limited amounts of food, water, medicine and electricity will be rationed. When asked if he wasn’t trying to starve the non Indian population…the Chief chuckled and repeated a line he heard from the Likuds…”We’re not trying to starve them we just put them on a diet.”

  13. Israeli citizenship for Palestinians guarantees nothing. Blacks were citizens under Apartheid and Jim Crow. Hell, Black citizens are gunned down with impunity in the United States today. The famous genocides of the 20th century were primarily of fellow citizens with the exception of the Third Reich.

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