The Kingdom of Judea and the rule of law

by Maskil on 9 Dec 2008

This post was originally intended as a reader’s comment on the JTA coverage of the eviction of a group of settlers from the so-called House of Contention or Peace House by the Israeli security forces. Despite repeated attempts using different browsers, I was unable to post the remarks on the JTA website. So be it; here they are.

As with many online articles dealing with controversial issues, the comments play almost as important a role as the article itself in highlighting the issues.

Here’s what I believe the eviction of these settlers from the building in Hebron is NOT about:

  • Firstly, it’s not about the ownership or occupation of this particular building.
  • It’s not about land for peace, appeasement, or even peace itself.
  • It’s not about any God-given right to the Land of Israel, or any God-forsaken corner thereof.
  • Finally, it’s not about any decisions taken by the High Court, activist or otherwise.

This is a struggle over some very fundamental issues for Israel and Zionism, including:

  • What kind of state will we have? A vibrant, modern, democratic state, integrated as far as possible into the region and the wider family of nations, or the blighted, ugly garrison state whose violence we see depicted on our TV screens each day?
  • Who determines the defence, domestic and foreign policies of Israel? Its citizens and duly elected government (however lame duck), or the radicals within the Settler movement?
  • Whether the State of Israel will have the monopoly over the use of force within its territory (including occupied territories), or whether the parasitic Kingdom of Judea will be allowed to erode this further.

Fortunately, there appears to be a recognition on the part of government ministers and others that this is not just about some dump in Hebron. This is a challenge as severe as that faced by Ben Gurion with the Altalena affair, and needs to be met head on and with the same resolve.

Once this crisis is over (and perhaps once a new government has been formed), Israel needs a clear official policy and legislation governing Jewish settlement across the Green Line; in Judea, Samaria and anywhere else that formed part of historic Eretz Israel and/or Mandatory Palestine. If such a settlement policy is in conflict with international law, “world public opinion” or justice and morality, the Israeli public needs to be given the opportunity (by means of a referendum) to approve or reject it and its consequences.

In the meantime, settler lawlessness is a threat to Israel’s image and standing in the world, undermines the government’s ability to govern and negotiate, and is ultimately a threat to long-term Jewish survival in the Middle East (given that Jewish life is impossible here without the security provided by the state).

Bring on the rule of law!

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