OUTPOSTS -- A CRUCIAL PRESSURE POINT IN ISRAEL-US RELATIONS
Q. What are outposts?
A. "Outposts" are tiny Jewish points of presence in Judea and Samaria. A neighborhood, house or two, makeshift synagogue or even a single toolshed can be labelled an "outpost". Such communities are targets for deportation and destruction; just a few weeks ago, two Jewish families in Hebron, with 6 and 8 children respectively, were ousted forceably from their homes. The outposts, small as they are, are crucial in preventing Judea and Samaria from being taken over by Hamas, and -- unlike the forsaken Gush Katif -- Judea and Samaria are directly adjacent to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Israel's sole international airport (Ben-Gurion airport).
Q. Is it true that the outposts were illegal because they were built behind the back of the Israeli government?
A. This is often stated, but no, it is not true. The government-commissioned Sasson report admitted that "from the beginning of the nineties...governmental bodies and public authorities...played a central role in establishing the outposts". In other words, the outposts were without any doubt sanctioned by governmental authorities. However, the Israeli press, which has its own political inclinations, almost always refers to outposts as "illegal outposts", without saying why. The foreign press takes its cue from the Israeli press.
Q. Aren't the outposts built on private land (belonging to Palestinians)?
A. Peace Now has made a profession of identifying Palestinians who are willing to claim that they are the owners of land being used by Jewish outposts. This does not mean that these Palestinians really are the owners -- this needs to be proven. Unfortunately, due to the particular judge apopintment system used in Israel, there are many radical pro-Palestinian judges, who rule against outposts and settlements without bothering too much about evidence . For example, Peace Now's recent, very well publicized petition against a hareidi new "settlement" neighborhood in Modiin Ilit included 6 separate statements claiming misuse of "private Palestinian land". The Peace Now petition had 18 appendices; not one of them pertained to this crucial claim! Nonetheless, the High Court was quick to accept Peace Now's deficient petition and issue an injunction; as a result, 1500 low-income Jewish families found themselves stranded without a home. Some are living with babies, but without water or electricity, to this day.
Peace Now, while ostensibly an Israeli movement, is supported financially by the European Union (as disclosed by two Israeli newspapers: Makor Rishon and, on the other side of the political spectrum, Haaretz).
One reason why outposts sometimes appear to be "on Palestinian land" is that it is difficult for Jews to get their land purchases from Palestinians recognized. As was recently established by MK Benny Alon by means of a parliamentary query, the Palestinian Authority still retains a policy of regarding those who dare to sell land to infidels - Jews - as guilty of treason. So, Palestinian sellers have every interest in vigorously denying sales to Jews that they themselves have just made -- creating the impression that an outpost which has been duly purchased, is "on Palestinian land".
Q. Is it true that there are many Palestinian "outposts" in Judea and Samaria as well?
A. Yes, there are, but these are not candidates for destruction. While it may seem to you discriminatory to destroy Jewish settlers' outposts only, this selectivity against Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, vis a vis their Palestinian neighbors, was actually upheld by the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ), in 1992. In a landmark case known in Israel as Bagatz Kiryat Arba, the High Court ruled that discrimination against Jewish settlers was legal ("avchana muteret"). In contrast, discrimination against other groups such as women, Arabs and homo-sexuals, is of course illegal and prohibited by law here in Israel.
Q. Are the Israelis living in outposts normal, productive citizens?
A. Definitely: They pay taxes and serve in the army just like other Israelis elsewhere. In fact, groundwork for destroying an outpost containing many young families' homes was done last summer while the young owners of these homes were busy fighting in Lebanon and their wives and small children were home alone. In fact, Roi Klein z"l, one of Israel's most famous combat officers, who sacrificed his own life for that of his soldiers last summer in Lebanon, shouting "Hear O Israel" while intentionally jumping onto a lethal grenade thrown near his men, was a resident of an outpost, near Eli. If the current trend against outposts is not blocked rapidly by Israelis and by the American Jewish community, Roi's young widow might find herself -- and her toddler orphaned children -- homeless and penniless, since homes destroyed in state raids on outposts are not compensated for by the state.
Q. Should American Jews get involved?
A. Yes -- immediately. Please take responsibility -- do not let any more Jewish families lose their homes for no reason. The Jerusalem Post just reported (3 Sep) that the IDF is "planning for...West Bank outpost evacuations....Defense officials said that one of the reasons...was relentless American pressure".
Senior sources have explained to us privately that this pressure is coming straight from President Bush in person. President Bush is saying that Israel's Prime Minister "promised" to dismantle outposts, and that promises (however dangerous for Israel - M. A.) must be kept; insinuating (at least so it seems from here) that if Israel does not keep this "promise", the US might stop insisting that the Palestinians keep their "promise" to stop terror. In this way, President Bush is attempting to create a false impression of moral equivalency between a handful of peaceful Jewish dwellings which have done no wrong, and the behemoth of Islamist terrorism.
And now from a factual point of view: the Israeli government did "promise" the international community - buckling under vast international pressure -- to dismantle certain outposts, but this was not an unconditional promise; it was only if -- as an absolute pre-condition -- terror, violence and incitement had all come to a complete halt on the Palestinian side. This is currently about as far from happening as the Sahara desert freezing over.
Please call your local rabbi or organization leader and urge him to please make immediate inquiry as to the correctness of the above information. If your rabbi or leader counters that the above information is not correct, kindly ask him or her for the correct information IN WRITING and forward it urgently to firstname.lastname@example.org for our response. We Israeli Jews can very much use YOUR political help if we are to succeed in standing our ground here, in the only Jewish country in the world. The political battle for survival will continue here in the Land of Israel -- we are determined and will not give in; but whether or not our battle for survival will succeed -- depends to a huge extent, much more than you think, on you, the American Jewish community. So, thank you very much indeed, in advance for YOUR political help and involvement.
Mattot Arim is an Israeli grassroots organization, working toward peace-for-peace since 1992. For questions, contact email@example.com or spokesperson Susie Dym at firstname.lastname@example.org.