Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Tautology: the redundant repetition of a meaning in a sentence, using different words.

The phrase "illegal Israeli settlement" is a tautology. All Israeli settlements are illegal. Whether they started out as an outpost, a few caravans dragged onto a hilltop in the middle of the night, or whether they are huge developments approved and funded by the government of Israel on confiscated land, all settlements are illegal. Each and every settlement, it must be understood, is built on land stolen from its Palestinian owners.

Since 1967, when Israel imposed its military occupation upon the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza , the colonisation of Palestine has grown apace. Today, more than 420,000 Israeli settler/colonists live in the captured territories, making the possibility of a viable Palestinian state an empty dream. While leaders have talked, while promises have been made, successive Israeli governments - whether of the Right or the Left - have gone about fulfilling the Zionist plan, of settling the land and ridding it of its indigenous inhabitants.

While government approval for several thousand more apartments in a settlement bloc is claimed as "natural growth" by the Israeli government, Palestinians are routinely refused permission to build on their land. From their overcrowded houses they gaze up to the look-alike condominiums, replete with swimming pools and lush gardens - built on t
heir land - of their uninvited Jewish neighbours.

The photo above shows the house of a Palestinian family on the outskirts of
Hebron, overlooked by the massive settlement of Kiryat Arba. They have been encouraged to leave by settler thugs who routinely threaten violence, spray racist graffiti on their walls and throw rubbish down onto their roof. They have been enticed to leave by offers of up to US $3,000,000,000 and the promise of USA passports for all family members if they will sell up. The settlers' honeypot is a large one: Jewish businessmen worldwide (not forgetting Australia's own Frank Lowy) are generous donors to the Zionist enterprise.

There is another form of
natural growth. One or two caravans or demountables are dragged onto Palestinian land, usually at night, by religious zealots. The squatters move in, equipped with a power generator and building tools, and fence off the land around the structures. Soon, a swathe of land surrounding the embryo settlement is declared off-limits to the nearby villagers, for "security purposes". This, in time, becomes, de facto, part of the settlement. And so it goes on, each settlement growing like a cancer. Add a settler-only road and the collusion and protection of the Israeli army, and we have another fact on the ground.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) produces maps detailing road closures and the spread of settlements throughout the West Bank. These maps reveal the stranglehold the settlements have on the Palestinian landscape and on Palestinian life. Dominating the hillsides, built atop the significant water acquifers, menacing existing villages and cutting off Jerusalem from its heartland, the pattern of settlement is revealed as one of calculation. A grand design. The Zionist dream coming to fulfilment.

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