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Avnery on Zinni

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  • Ron Cohen
    Uri Avnery 1.12.01 The Gambler Anthony Zinni has made a request to Ariel Sharon: Please, stop enlarging the settlements. At least for some time. Do you mind?
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2001
      Uri Avnery
      1.12.01

      The Gambler

      Anthony Zinni has made a request to Ariel Sharon: Please, stop
      enlarging the settlements. At least for some time. Do you mind?
      Zinni is a general from the Marines, his thinking is straight and
      logical. It’s difficult for him to understand why Sharon doesn’t comply.
      What the hell is it all about? A few houses somewhere. Is it worthwhile
      killing so many human beings, so many children, Israeli and Palestinian,
      just for that? What kind of madness is this?
      All the more so as the life of the settlers themselves has turned into
      hell. They cannot move about without risking their lives. The settlements
      have become their prisons. The world gets upset when a suicide bomber blows
      himself up in Tel-Aviv, but it does not get upset when settlers get shot.
      They are seen to be a part of the occupation, and therefore legitimate
      targets for the resistance of the occupied people.
      A great many settlers - perhaps the majority – would undoubtedly be
      more than willing to return to Israel now. Those who were looking for
      “quality of life” in a picturesque landscape, and found out that the
      picturesque landscape produces mostly desperate suicide bombers, are now
      dreaming of a quiet home in Ra’anana, the rich people’s suburb near
      Tel-Aviv. But to whom to sell a villa with red tiles and a nice garden,
      which can be hit at any moment by a mortar shell? Only the government can
      buy, and the government does not want to.
      It’s easier for industrial enterprises. Their owners were seduced by
      successive governments (including those of Rabin, Peres and especially
      Barak) to sell their expensive plots in the cities and get instead, for next
      to nothing, land in the industrial parks of the settlements where they could
      exploit Palestinian slave labor. No minimum wage, no social benefits. The
      owners also got ali kinds of subsidies, tax exemptions etc. Now they steal
      away, very quietly, one after the other. Suppliers, drivers, professional
      employees do not come to these places anymore. In contrast to the Hamas
      fighters, they do not want to commit suicide.
      All this is well known to General Zinni’s advisers. They have good eyes
      that hover in the skies. Therefore they do not understand, with their simple
      American mind, why Sharon is so obstinate.
      They understand, of course, that there are political pressures.
      Americans understand political pressures, after all. They, too, have them.
      Sharon must take account of his extreme right-wing partners, also of the
      fanatical settlers’ lobby. But this does not explain the fierceness of his
      opposition. So what’s it all about?
      It would be worthwhile for General Zinni (as for his predecessors and
      successors) to study some Zionist history. They would discover that the
      settlements are part of the genetic code of the movement from the day it was
      born, 104 years ago. Indeed, from the moment of its inception, when the
      Jewish egg met with the nationalist European sperm.
      This genetic code tells the movement to settle all parts of the
      country, to turn all of it into a Zionist homestead. It started quietly,
      “dunam after dunam”. The tempo accelerated during the 30s. In the 1948 war,
      in which the settlements played an important part, Israel conquered 78% of
      the country. After that, some 500 Arab villages were eradicated and
      settlements were put up in their place. Just when this job was finished, the
      war of 1967 broke out, Israel conquered the rest of Palestine and started at
      once to put up settlements there, too. Whoever was in power – Labor or the
      Likud, Begin or Peres, Nethanyahu or Barak – the settlement activity went
      on, without resting for a moment.
      The Goyim can say what they want – that the settlements are immoral, an
      obstacle to peace, illegal, and lately that they are a war crime. But the
      action goes on. During the year in which Barak negotiated the “end of the
      conflict”, settlement activity achieved a pace unequalled in any previous
      single year.
      Sharon is the son of settlers, he grew up in a settlement, settlements
      are the very essence of his life. Throughout his checkered career, whatever
      his job was at any particular time, he devoted his energies first and
      foremost to the setting up of settlements. But even if he had been the son
      of new immigrants from Morocco – he would still have done the same. Because
      the settlement drive is not a personal thing, it is dictated by the
      collective genetic code.
      If there had been no resistance, the settlement drive would have
      continued until all the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had been covered with
      settlement up to the last dunam. From there it would have spilled over into
      “Eastern Eretz Israel” (as Jordan is called in geography lessons), as well
      as all the other neighboring countries that are included in God’s generous
      promise given in the Bible. The army would have conquered, the settlers
      would have settled.
      That will not happen, because pressure creates counter-pressure. The
      unstoppable movement meets an unmovable object: the Palestinian people. The
      war between the two peoples has now reached a climax unequalled during the
      last 104 years (except, perhaps, in 1948). The continuation of the
      settlement activity may bring disaster upon the whole enterprise.
      Classic literature knows the character of the compulsive gambler. He
      has a successful day, he wins and wins, an immense heap of chips is stacked
      in front of him. He could get up at any moment, exchange his chips for real
      money and live on it happily ever after.
      He could, but he is not able to. The compulsion does not let him. He
      goes on gambling, loses and loses, until the last chip is collected by the
      croupier.
      In the classic stories, the gambler gets up, as pale as the wall,
      struggles to the door, puts a revolver to his temple and shoots himself.
      The question is, whether we are condemned to act like him or to say to
      ourselves: Enough! We change our genetic code. It’s time to change the code
      by implanting a new gene of sane living, free from the old compulsion. Let’s
      turn the settlements beyond the Green Line over to the Palestinian refugees
      and bring the settlers safely back home.
      That’s the story, general. The problem is ours. But maybe you can help
      us a little, general, sir.
      ---

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