There is a great piece up at the Haaretz Hebrew site by Yonatan Mandel, a researcher in the Department of Politics and Government in Beersheba and the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne Australia, translated it, and Ofer Neiman sent it along. My excerpt involves the Ulpana Hill controversy, in which West Bank settlers are facing eviction because their homes were built on Palestinian land.
This debate is nothing short of astounding. There’s the Israeli government sitting on top of private Palestinian land, and negotiating with the Jewish settlers such details as the compensation level, the number of houses that will be built instead for them as well as moving them into other areas under the responsibility of the “Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Unit of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria”.
It seems as if the Arabs, the ones who actually own the land, are not a party to the dispute. Nobody offers to build ten buildings in the West Bank to compensate them for any building constructed on their land illegally. Nor has anybody suggested them an even fairer compromise proposal, whereby in return for the five buildings that were built illegally in the Arab area beyond the Green Line, the owners will be given five legal buildings for their use in Israel proper inside the Green Line. Such proposal will of course never be considered. Not only does Israel never compensate Palestinians for construction it mainly talks to them in the language of destruction. But the absence of such proposals from the Israeli discourse, and the general absence of Arabs in the discussion, indicate that something in Epstein’s critique has not faded yet, despite the 105 years that have elapsed. The Zionist movement, and now Israel, still do not see the Arabs. So even in 2012, it still seems to have remained the “hidden question”; it remains and annoying buzz that there is really no need to address. The problem is that today there are far fewer ears that can hear the crying.