Zacks ’15: Beasts of the southern wild

Opinions Columnist
Thursday, September 20, 2012

There is no place like home, and the Dorothies of the West Bank will tell you – there is no raging tornado like the State of Israel. Other tornadoes eventually run their course and allow their victims to heal and rebuild. But this whirlwind of violence and dispossession does not subside and disappear, nor will it, as long as there are still places like home for non-Jews in Area C of the West Bank.

Under the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, the West Bank was divided into three zones, A, B and C. Area A was placed under Palestinian civil and military control,  Area B under Palestinian civil control and Israeli military control and Area C under Israeli civil and military control. In a temporary system grown permanent, Area C – over 60 percent of the West Bank – rapidly became the new land without people for a people who just can’t get enough land.

Despite the fact that the settler project in the West Bank came into being nearly two decades after the creation of Israel, it has deep, disconcerting roots in the earlier Zionist tradition, roots that are not lost on the settlers themselves even as they are suppressed and omitted by the more liberal segment of the population.

As we stood on the outskirts of an illegal outpost in the South Hebron Hills, an armed young settler explained to me that his actions are no different from those of our common ancestors, the early Zionists, who during the British Mandate for Palestine established outposts overnight in order to delineate the borders of a future Jewish state. A difference, I suggested, would be that post-1967 settlements stand in gross violation of international law. But eying his weapon, a big gun handed to him by the Israeli military and carrying the Israeli Defense Forces stamp, there can be no doubt that he has the backing of the Israeli government, not I. His gun, cable TV, running water and playground demolish the discursive distinction between Israel proper and Israel improper as surely as the bulldozers of Caterpillar will soon demolish – for the second time – eight villages on the land the Israel Defense Forces now intends to utilize as a firing zone in the South Hebron Hills. Needless to say, the settlements located in that same firing zone will remain intact.

I know I shouldn’t use the words “ethnic cleansing.” While I sometimes wish my nose were slightly smaller and my Jewfro more manageable, I am not a self-hating Jew and do not wish to be labeled one. Yet no other term describes quite as aptly the systemic uprooting and forced transfer of entire populations based on their ethnic and religious background.

The settlers know their history – a history most Israelis still refuse to acknowledge. Between uprooting olive trees in the village of Nahalin and spray painting “death to the Arabs” in Susya, they must have found the time to read Ilan Pappe’s “Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” And they continue to cleanse with vengeance – 50 attacks in July alone, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Another 26 incidents documented by Haaretz in August. In one incident, Jewish youths aged 12-13 from the Bat Ayin settlement threw a firebomb into a passing Palestinian car and injured six.

The Israeli Civil Administration helps them in their efforts to transform Area C into a Jewish-only space, happily providing the legal guise needed to demolish villages. It is legal only if one chooses to ignore that which the Civil Administration does not provide to 95 percent of Palestinians in Area C – building permits. Throw in the military, with schemes like the recent Firing Zone 918, and in a few years time, the disinheritance will be complete.

I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore. The settlers poison Toto, Auntie Em gets beaten in the olive groves, Glinda’s soap bubble is confiscated by the IDF. And still, we let ourselves be fooled into believing in Israel’s peaceful intentions and in the inherent anti-Semitism of words like “apartheid.” Now, when a settlers’ government is planning a new and sinister war, and the foreign ministry accuses South Africa of remaining an apartheid state for its demand that settlements’ products be labeled as such, the world needs to act. The United States, as the chief supporter and enabler of Israel, needs to act. It’s never easy, it’s always too late, but nonetheless it must happen.


Mika Zacks ’15 is from Israel and is a member of Brown Students for Justice in Palestine. She’d like to ask all pro-Israeli activists already taking notes for their fierce and powerful rebuttals to read the history of the village of Susya.


  1. There are two UN refugee agencies in the world: First is the United Nations Relief and Works Administrations (UNRWA) for 5 million Palestinian refugees (which includes the descendants of the original 500,000 Palestinian refugees from the Israeli War of Independence) which employs 30,000 workers. The UNRWA has resettled no Palestinians.
    The second refugee agency is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which assists every other refugee in the world-including 100 million displaced people during the last 50 years-and employs 7,000 people. The UNHCR has resettled tens of millions of refugees.
    Looking at these numbers, one would think that the cause of the Palestinians is some how morally superior to that of all other war refugees. After all, why have so many more workers been assisting a dramatically smaller group of people? But if the Palestinians are unique it is only because of their moral inferiority, as they are the only group of refugees that regularly commit acts of terrorism against innocent civilians.
    Another obvious question: why hasn’t the UNRWA resettled any of the Palestinian refugees? The answer, of course, is that the surrounding Arab states would rather have these refugees remain a thorn in Israel’s side, than help them start a new life. The UNRWA is happy to oblige.

  2. Micah I feel sorry for you when I read your so called moderation. With due respect, you have the typical historical Jewish minority, “PLEASE LIKE ME” complex and it is so pitiful to read.

    Throughout Jewish History especially in Nazi Germany there were those Jews who begged to be accepted and liked by the host country’s people. “Like me and I will eat ham for you on Yom Kippur. Like me and I will put up a Christmas tree and call it a Hanukah Bush, like me and I will only pray one day a week, Sunday if you wish (the early German Reformed Jews), etc.” The first Jews to be gassed by Hitler were those Reformers (“please like me…”) who were viewed as a major threat by Hitler and his Jew hating Nazis.

    Fast forward to today: Here you are apologizing for Israel who is expected to live a double standard. Never mind the rockets and atrocities implemented by the Palestine people. If you read your history parts of Jordan are supposed to include part of Palestine–the world has convenient amnesia with this one. In the meantime here you are with your “please like me” attitude and no matter what you do they are NOT going to like you. You can stand on your head, eat ham and cheese sandwiches and they are still going to hate you because you are a Jew, period!

    Look in the mirror and accept that you are a Jew. Say it to yourself over and over and perhaps YOU can accept YOURSELF. Remember, if Israel disappears (the Jewish Host country) there IS NO place for American Jews or the World Jewish community to go in the event of another pogrom, anti-Semitic uprising or Holocaust. If there is another anti-Semitic uprising you are a Jew to these people no matter how much you apologize or try to appease them.

  3. The willful blindness and anti-Semitism in this piece is so upsetting. Your being Jewish doesn’t in some way validate your anti-Semitic statements, and I mourn the hate in your heart. I feel truly sorry for you and hope that you can see how your views only perpetuate the saga of anti-Semitism and violence that the Jewish people continually suffer.

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