The story of Amona is a big one in current Israeli politics. There’s a lot of human drama that’s unfolding, it’s happening rather quickly, and that’s why I am giving it attention right now.
The truth is, though, a lot of people don’t know anything about Amona.
What’s that? A place? Someone’s name? Why is this “outpost” of about 200 families suddenly front and center in the news?
The answer is that just like the residents of Gush Katif, who were expelled from Gaza during the so-called “Disengagement” under Ariel Sharon’s supposedly right-wing government in 2005, the residents of Amona are about to be kicked off of land that they legally purchased … with mortgages provided by leading Israeli banks.
And, they stand to lose everything if certain NGO’s and leaders on the left get their way.
- Yesh Din
- Peace Now
- Isaac Herzog – “’I understand the pain of the families, but [the High Court of Justice] gave them two years to clear out, and look what this virus has done to the State of Israel and how dangerous it is to democracy, because of this nonsense ….’” (1)
… I don’t mind naming names.
Bear in mind that some on the right are not being too helpful in this situation either, but I digress. I’ll come back to this point a bit later in a later installment in this series of articles.
Consider the latest headline from November 20, 2016 on Ynetnews.com, which read “Amona Residents Prepare to Fight against Evacuation.” (2)
And, bear in mind that like Gush Katif, this is not disengagement or an “evacuation” but rather yet another expulsion of Jews … by other Jews … from their legally purchased land.
The kicker is that Amona is just the first in the cross-hairs of those who would disenfranchise Jews throughout Judea-Samaria … or for the more politically correct among us … the West Bank.
Oh, to be sure, Naftali Bennet along with Benjamin Netanyahu are touting a new deal announced on December 12, 2016 to move the residents of Amona to a nearby plot of land. “It’s on the same hilltop!” they opine with victorious grins. (3)
But is this the point? Is this really a win for the Amona residents?
In the short term, no. It isn’t. On December 25th, 2016 they’re still getting kicked off of land they legally purchased … by a collection of left and right wing Jews melting to NGOs and Israel’s activist supreme court like so much butter.
But why should anyone care?
Let’s go through history to the story of the Ofra settlement, shall we?
- The Ofra settlement was established during the twilight of the Yitzhak Rabin- Shimon Peres government (a left-wing government, no less!) before Menachem Begin took over in 1977.
It’s important to stress that these individuals had government authorization. Ofra in 1977 was not an “outlaw” outpost. The Labor Party was in fact, the authorizing power, behind this community. Following the 1967 war, “two camps emerged regarding adequate policy toward the newly acquired territories … at the head of the bloc supporting political and economic integration stood Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres, both of the Rafi faction.” (4)
- Members of Ofra create a new settlement in 1995, also with left-wing government approval again under the premiership of Yitzhak Rabin.
This community too, was completely legal.
- In 2005 families were already living in bought and paid for homes in Amona, approved by the government.
- Enter a case against these families, which reaches the Supreme Court of Israel. This case states that a certain area of land (about 2 dunams, which is not the whole area of Amona, but rather a very small part of the entire area) were claimed by petitioners (in this case, left-wing NGO’s on behalf of Muslim Arab claimants) to have been taken illegally. This is despite the fact that there was no record of the land belonging to these specific Muslim claimants (or their families) in any of the British Mandate sources or Turkish Ottoman sources.
Now, it should be noted that there is mention of certain Muslim family names associated with the two dunams mentioned above in the records of the Jordanians during the time in which they occupied the so-called West Bank. This was from the years 1949 – 1967.
It should also be pointed out that Jordanian occupation of that land was only recognized as legitimate by Great Britain, Iraq, and by Pakistan (which was a former British commonwealth). No other countries recognized Jordan’s claim to the land in question. (5)(6)(7)
Additionally, it should be noted that Jordan had a practice, at this time, of going around and signing fictitious names to sections of land in order to “Land Grab” as much as possible.
To this very day, there has been no success in proving that the families listed in the Jordanian records actually exist.
Absolutely none of these people have come forward to make a complaint, to say that this is their land, and they want it back. No one has said “This is my parents’ land!” No one has said “This is my grandparents’ land!”
In fact, no Muslim Arab has said anything about actually owning this specific land at all, nor has any Muslim Arab come forward with documents that prove such a claim.
It bears repeating.
This land was empty and had no owners according to both Turkish Ottoman and British Mandate records.
So, where is the moral victory in Netanyahu and Bennet’s compromise and achievement? If I am looking from the perspective of the residents of Amona, I sure as hell can’t see it.
Now, there IS a long-term gain achieved by Bennet’s maneuvering. And if we are playing chess, then the strategy may end up being a castleing move that protects the king. (With the king being the communities of Judea/Samaria as a whole in this quickly thrown together analogy.)
There’s much more to say on these counts, so I’ll continue on in my next article because the picture is large … but let me sum everything up in one nice, neat package for everyone.
In the case of Amona, we don’t have Muslim Arabs trying to throw Jews out of Judea-Samaria. We don’t have Muslim Arabs raising hell over a few plots of land. We don’t have Muslim Arabs screaming in the press over this issue. We don’t have Muslim Arabs acting like enemies in this case.
We have Jews (extremist, left-wing, secular Jews), who believe those who live beyond the green line are a virus, working to throw other Jews out of Judea-Samaria.
Just like other Jews threw Jews out of Gaza … making Gaza Judenrein. (A racist, apartheid policy if there ever was one.)
To this, I gotta say … is it just me? I mean, I’m secular too. No Kippa, no Tzitzit, and no Tefillin for me.
Am I the only one who can point at some in our midst and say, “who needs enemies when you’ve got brothers like these?”
I’ll be back with more on this story, next week.
Note: The author wishes to thank Jeremy Saltan, a Knesset Insider, campaigner and leading political analyst for a lengthy interview on the subject of Amona. Jeremy is a regular contributor on radio and television, a local municipality politician and is one of Israel’s top poll analysts.
- “Herzog Calls Amona Families ‘virus, Dangerous to Democracy'” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
- “Amona Residents Prepare to Fight against Evacuation.” Ynetnews. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.
- “Deal Reached to Relocate Amona Settlers, Bennett Says.” Haaretz.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
- Arieli, Shaul, Roby Nathanson, Ziv Rubin, and Hagar Tzameret-Kertcher. “Historical Political and Economic Impact of Jewish Settlements in the Occupied Territories.” Israeli European Policy Network (IEPN), June 2009. Web.
- Benveniśtî, Eyāl (2004). The international law of occupation. Princeton University p. 108. ISBN0-691-12130-3.
- Yoram Dinstein; Mala Tabory (1 September 1994). Israel Yearbook on Human Rights: 1993. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 41. ISBN978-0-7923-2581-9
- George Washington University. Law School (2005). The George Washington international law review. George Washington University. p. 390.