Ulpana, high drama in the wild wild West (Bank)

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 11 Comments
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Israeli has legalised the status of three settlement outposts in the West Bank Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Israel has reneged on its pledge to demolish Ulpana, an illegal outpost built on Palestinian land just a stones throw from the religious nationalist settlement of Beit El near Ramallah in the West Bank. The reversal is happening days before the anticipated court-ordered demolition May 1st.

Political intrigue ensues, for the threatened demolition had endangered Netanyahu’s Likud-coalition government, attracted international outrage and condemnation, gathered a cast of unsavory characters, and driven Haaretz editorial staff to reference Netanyahu and most of his ministers as “career criminals..undaunted by condemnation or punishment” and call for him to dissolve the government:

If Netanyahu feels he lacks the political power to obey the High Court’s directives he must dissolve the government and demand an electoral mandate for its peace and settlement policies.

All of this is taking place during a week of Israel birthday festivities that are dominating the international press and helping to mask the story of the court case set for next Tuesday. We’ve got to blast this injustice to the far reaches of the blogosphere between now and next Tuesday so the whole world is perched on the edge of their seats witnessing the political drama/injustice unfold as Israel flips the law in favor of the outpost once again, this time to save Netanyahu’s prospects of solidifying his (religious nationalist) grip over the government. Just last week he said the destruction of the neighborhood would be “an edict that the public will not be able to tolerate.”

I have to wonder: Will the Zion squares be discussing this? The liberal Zionists all over the American press who say the settlements and Israel’s expansion are killing the state? Let’s see. Because this is it, we’re on settlement watch 101 and this is how it comes down.


The attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, will ask the supreme court to delay an order to evacuate and demolish five apartment buildings at Ulpana, on the edge of the Beit El settlement. The case is due to be heard before Tuesday’s deadline for evacuation.

The government had earlier given a commitment to carry out the order, saying it did not approve settlement construction on private land. ….But vigorous lobbying – including threats to bring down the coalition – by pro-settler members of the ruling Likud party, smaller rightwing parties and government ministers led prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to seek ways to avoid confrontation on the issue.


Scores of politicians, including cabinet ministers, have visited Ulpana to pledge opposition to the supreme court order. Moshe Yaalon, minister for strategic affairs, warned at the weekend: “We said we wouldn’t evacuate the neighbourhood. Should this happen, the government will fall.”

As for the unsavory characters, listen to NPR’s audio coverage: West Bank Outpost Ignites Political Battle. You’ll hear an American accent from the last interviewee benignly claiming 

I want to protect my family. I’m trying to provide a good life for my kids.” 

Who is this guy? I googled his name, Alex Traiman, and lo and behold, it’s the movie director at Clarion Fund — Islamophobic Group Clarion Fund Lends Film Footage For Viral Video Pushing Iran Attack— just wanting to provide a good life for his kids. Traiman’s been very busy lately, he’s directing a war mongering film, he’s been living in Beit El settlement on the West Bank. Plus he’s found time to move on down the road to ‘settle’ Ulpana, and talk to NPR too. 

Where are the liberal Zionists? I’d like to see Netanyahu try and avoid confrontation with the Beinart contingent of the  American Jewish community. Are they going to step up to the plate between now (three illegal settlements flipped to legal status this week, international law notwithstanding) and next Tuesday?

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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11 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    April 26, 2012, 5:27 pm

    “Where are the liberal Zionists? ” All those better late than never folks can come out and say well “we tried” 5 decades to late

    • Hostage
      April 26, 2012, 9:06 pm

      “Where are the liberal Zionists? ”

      LOL! This is what liberal Zionism looks like without its makeup;-)

      Netanyahu actually scripted this whole predictable kabuki dance routine about the threat to his coalition. He patented the tactic when he quit as Sharon’s finance minister and split Likud up by calling for early elections after the Sharon’s decision was announced to withdraw Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank.

      The notion that Bibi’s coalition partners forced a reluctant Netanyahu’s hand on this issue is simply ludicrous. In any event, this proves that he’s no rainmaker, so why is it in Washington or Brussels’ interest to prevent his government from falling?

      • Annie Robbins
        April 27, 2012, 5:41 am

        This is what liberal Zionism looks like without its makeup;-)

        ;)..i was a little surprised to realize npr was interviewing the director of the clarion fund bomb iran islamofacist movie as just some ordinary resident at ulpana. what a coincident! it’s an insular little world alright.

    • Krauss
      April 26, 2012, 10:39 pm

      Don’t worry, those clowns will come out when it’s all over and sell scores of book based on empty posturing and false narratives, blaming “all sides equally” like Very Serious People.

      Also, Annie, I believe there were actually three more outposts legalized in the same drive. The Bibi regime has done this in the past. They take an occasion like Independence Day, where they know that the Obama administration cannot really attack them for fear of the donors/lobby and then just go full speed ahead.


      It apparently just happened days ago, in silence until the EU picked up on it. The article says that the US also ‘condemned it’ but I would venture it wasn’t a high official like Clinton in order to let it fly under the radar.

    • seafoid
      April 27, 2012, 10:58 am

      There are a lot of liberal Zionists in Maalaeh Adumim and Givat Ze’ev. Many very groovy lefty patrons of the Jerusalem cinematheque go home to settlements afterwards.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    April 26, 2012, 6:34 pm

    RE: “Where are the liberal Zionists? I’d like to see Netanyahu try and avoid confrontation with the Beinart contingent of the American Jewish community. Are they going to step up to the plate between now …and next Tuesday? ~ Annie Robbins

    SEE – Dear liberal American Jews: Please don’t betray Israel, by Dahlia Scheindlin, +972 Magazine, 2/14/12:

    (excerpts). . . After two weeks in America visiting family and friends, two observations struck me powerfully. First, the understanding that Israel is committing terrible deeds that are destroying itself and its neighbors, has penetrated among you…
    …On this trip, I was stunned to learn that now you don’t even really want to visit Israel because you can’t face what you’re increasingly coming to see as a brutal occupying entity flirting with fascist notions. . .
    …My second observation is that because of your fear – not of the goyim or the anti-Semites, but of yourselves! – you are keeping a low public profile. On this trip, I suddenly realized how naïve it was to imagine that J Street had sufficiently opened the door for anyone who cares critically for Israel to speak out. I underestimated how deep and terrible the intimidation has become and that one political lobby group is far from enough.
    I do understand: those of you who still call the Jewish community home, are afraid of the onslaught that you will receive from your (our) very own people.
    I hold no illusions about how vicious the attacks might be. We Jews, not the goyim, will call you the most painful names, will threaten in various ways to label you as beyond the pale of your people, should you voice your critique.
    You might be chastised in your professional community. You will be hit not only by shadowy bloggers but by the very cherished and established groups you have loyally, even automatically, supported over the years. The anger might come from your friends and it might even come from your family…
    . . . Here’s how that made me feel: abandoned, by the liberal Jews of America. You were swept away by Ruth Wisse’s thesis that liberals betrayed the Jewish cause by believing too much in rational universalism [e.g. universal human rights] and failing to acknowledge the unique, everlasting threat of anti-Semitism…

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://972mag.com/dear-liberal-american-jews-please-dont-betray-israel/35396/

    • Annie Robbins
      April 26, 2012, 7:02 pm

      funny you should link to dalia, dickerson. she’s got a post up about this and i linked to it in the article. the very first link in fact.

  3. Fredblogs
    April 26, 2012, 11:36 pm

    Well, looks like there could be elections this year in Israel too.

    • talknic
      April 27, 2012, 8:53 am

      So what Fred… Consecutive Israeli Governments have only taken Palestinian territory. None have returned any Palestinian territory. They’ve all followed the same Greater Israel script, perpetuated the same myths, told the same lies, ignored the same International Laws and UN Charter.

    • seafoid
      April 27, 2012, 10:36 am

      There could be elections this year in Israel too


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