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July 5, 2001

By Ali Abunimah


From: Ali Abunimah ahabunim@midway.uchicago.edu
To: morning@npr.org
Subject: NPR--Settlers

July 4, 2001

Dear NPR News,

In her report on Morning Edition for July 3 about Israeli settlers, who frightened by violence, are considering leaving the occupied territories and returning to Israel, Linda Gradstein made the following point:

"A poll in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper last week found that 19 percent of the 200,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza are ready to leave immediately; another 25 percent would consider leaving if drive-by shootings continue. Most of those who want to leave are those who came more for the quality of life rather than those who came to colonize the occupied territories."

This "quality of life" was then illustrated with actuality of settler children splashing around in a swimming pool.

The argument that some settlers do not want "colonize" the occupied territories but only want a good quality of life is exactly like saying that some slave-owners are not interested in robbing their slaves of all their fundamental human rights, but are merely interested in having inexpensive help around the farm.

There is not one settler who is not fully aware that his or her "quality of life" depends on a brutal military occupation, the theft of land and property on a massive scale, the destruction of homes and the crops and tens of thousands of olive and citrus trees that are the lifeblood of Palestinian agriculture and history. A system of apartheid keeps Palestinians living in intolerable conditions in their own country so that the settlers can enjoy an American suburban lifestyle at a cheap price to them. Settler children splash around in swimming pools, while Palestinians already rendered destitute by Israel's siege must buy water by the cubic meter at a very high price merely to stay alive.

It is unfortunate that Gradstein did not include in this report even a brief summary of the cost of the settlement enterprise to Palestinians, and the losses in land and freedom that continue to increase daily as a direct result. The number of settler housing units increased by 52 percent since the 1993 Oslo accords were signed, alone. Without a reminder of this context, the sympathetic settler mothers featured in this report appear to be nothing more than victims of yet more 'Arab irrationality' and 'hatred.' There was also nothing in her report about the organized violence and terror carried out by settler groups against Palestinians.

While settlers complain about their mortgages, human rights organizations estimate that 8,000 Palestinian homes have been deliberately destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by Israeli violence in the last nine months, making as many as 60,000 Palestinians homeless. This violence is carried out in the name of making the settlements "safe."

The settlers--all of them--have came knowingly to take something that is not rightfully theirs. I do not believe that any noncombatants--Israeli or Palestinians--should be targets of violence, but those settlers who claim that they ought to be able to enjoy the fruits of their theft in tranquility are utterly disingenuous.

Finally, Gradstein knows very well that there are closer to 360,000 settlers in the occupied territories. To exclude the 160,000 in east Jerusalem from being counted, as Gradstein routinely does, is to explicitly accept and endorse Israel's illegal annexation of the city, which under international law is part and parcel of the occupied territories.


Ali Abunimah www.abunimah.org

Amman, Jordan