In most places around the world, land is either property, farm or just plain dirt. Israel, however, is different. Israel isn’t like everybody else.
In Israel, land isn’t just dirt. It isn’t simply property. In Israel, land is a catalyst--to attack Israel.
Consider an announcement on August 31, 2014 by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) Civil Administration. It announced that app 990 acres of land at a place called the Gush Etzion Bloc will now be appropriated by the Israeli government (“Israel converts West Bank land to state-owned”, JTA, August 31, 2014). The acreage had been used as a military base. The IDF was now releasing that land for civilian use—to build homes for Jews.
The IDF said that there were no Arab claims on the land; nevertheless, it would allow objections against this decision to be filed during the next 45 days.
So far as government announcement go, this one seemed pretty straight-forward. It was clear. It was public. It was specific.
It created a mini-fire-storm.
Gush Etzion is part of the Judean mountain range south of Jerusalem. It contains a Bloc of perhaps 22 Jewish communities. Those communities are home to about 70,000 Jewish residents. The area is a 10-minute drive from Arab Bethlehem.
Many argue that Gush Etzion must be part of a new Arab ‘Palestine’. Actually, Arabs and their advocates say two things about the Gush. First, it must be Arab. Second, it must 100 Jew-free.
Arabs and their advocates demand the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from their ‘Palestine’ (“Abbas: There Will be No Israelis in 'Palestine'”, Arutz Sheva, July 30, 2014).
That demand means that if you are Jewish and live in the Gush (as it’s called by locals), you have to be careful. You can be attacked. Your car can be stoned while you drive on the highway. Your property can be burned. You children can be harmed.
In June, 2014, three teenage Jewish boys were kidnapped in the Gush. They were murdered by three Arabs who were Hamas-connected. At first, Hamas denied any knowledge of the kidnapping-murders. When Israel said Hamas had done it, the Arabs denied it. They accused Israel of lying.
The kidnapping-murders provoked a massive Israeli search into local and near-by Arab communities. Most of Hamas’ operatives in the region were arrested. The Judean Hamas infrastructure was essentially destroyed. Hamas didn’t like that. It expressed that dislike by firing rockets into Israel from Gaza—more than a hundred a day.
That’s how the 2014 Gaza war started.
In August, 2014, before the war ended (or, at least, before this chapter of the Arab-Israel conflict had ended), Hamas officials admitted that they were responsible for the kidnapping-murders.
Now, a week after a cease-fire had been installed, Israel announced its intent to appropriate the land upon which the boys had been murdered. Israel said that this land would now be given over for Jewish construction.
Israel has done this before. It’s Israel’s response when Arabs murder Jews: kill us, the Israelis seem to be saying, and we will just build more Jewish communities ‘to grow more Jews’.
The Arabs don’t like that kind of response. It appears they’d rather murder Jews without such trouble.
Arabs don’t like Israel building Jewish homes after Arabs have murdered Jews. They howl with anger at this announcement. Palestinian Authority (PA) Chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, has declared that Israel is committing various (but unspecified) crimes here (“Palestinian officials slam Israeli land confiscation in West Bank”, PLO News Service, August 31, 2014). Senior PA official Hanan Ashrawi said, “"Today's announcement clearly represents Israel's deliberate intent to wipe out any Palestinian presence on the land” (ibid).
Ms Ashrawi didn’t explain how building homes wipes out the Arab presence. She didn’t need to. The ‘Palestinian Cause’ doesn’t have to answer to Western requirements of logic or intelligibility.
The Arab howl created a mini-tsunami against Israel, mostly—we notice--from the US and the PA. Within hours, both the US and the PA condemned the Israeli announcement. The US called it ‘counterproductive to peace’. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ office declared that this announcement “will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza” (“Israel seizes 400 hectares [app 988 acres] of West Bank land”, Al Jazeera, September 1, 2014). Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah called on Israel to cancel the appropriation (“Israel Announces Massive West Bank Land Grab”, Huffington Post, August 31, 2014).
The UK condemned Israel the next day. The UN and the EU joined in the day after that.
As of September 2, 2014, the US, the EU, the UN,the UK and the PA all sing the same song. They're upset with Israel. They’re very upset. They don’t like it when Israel builds more houses when Jews are murdered.
Maybe there’s a lesson here. Maybe Arabs shouldn’t murder Jews.