Yisrael Medad
Analyst and commentator on political and cultural issues.

Hen Mazzig comes out against the “settlements”

Hen Mazzig has decided to come out and attack the “settler movement.” In The Forward. He doesn’t appreciate, among other things, that some who live in Judea and Samaria, or support the right of residency, are adopting “progressive” language and are making claims with which he cannot agree (and with which he doesn’t want others to agree).

But exactly who are those “settlers” he is attacking?

For example, he asserts, based on his own military experience, especially in Hebron, that

many of the settlers…mistreated IDF soldiers

I think it would be fair to ask out of over 600,000, how many is “many”? In fact, throughout most of his article, he seeks to narrow his proof to a small group while leading the reader to assume he is referring to the entire movement of Jews who are religious or secular, fanatic or normal, Ashkenazi or Sfardi. He overly quotes one spokesperson. There is a word for that type of broad brush-stoking a target so as, to borrow a term, engage in a disproportional attack.

That’s not “progressive” terminology but regressive.

He also thinks that

an entire nation of people has lived in the same region for centuries and is also seeking self- determination.

There was no Arab Palestinian nation in the territory of “Palestine.” In fact, they themselves refused to be labelled “Palestinians”, demanding that their erstwhile country be rejoined to Syria for they actually were Southern Syrians. Their own words.

He next claims that

the settlement movement is not only an obstacle to Palestinian statehood, but it actively denies the right of self-determination to the Palestinian people.

Well, based on what they themselves believed, we are left with a quandary: do we believe the leaders of a “Palestinian nation” now, or at least since 1964 when the Palestinian National Covenant was published (which denied Jewish self-determination) or do we believe them during the 1920s when they insisted their self-determination was to be achieved in Syria? Do we really have to make their excuses for them? Doesn’t he realize that a local Palestinian national identity was fulfilled in the establishment of Jordan?

Let’s be fundamental: if it were not for Jews and our Zionism, there would be no “Palestinian Arabs” or an “Arab Palestine.” I should qualify that a bit: if not for Jews and Christian Syrian Arabs who promoted a theme of a “Palestinian nation”. After all, in all the international agreements during and after World War I when the future fate of the Ottoman Empire was debated, the residents of the reconstituted historic Jewish national home were simply “non-Jews”, not even “Arabs.” What Mazzig wishes us to ignore was well known by the entire civilized world: Palestine was to become, at least in the territory of Eretz-Yisrael west of the Jordan River (see Article 25 of the League of Nations Mandate), a Jewish geo-political entity.

Next, Mazzig writes

settlers often resort to demonizing and attacking those who question them, falsely labeling opponents of settlements as “anti-Semites” or “anti-Israel activists.”

Is he now a member of the far/extreme-left wing of the Corbynistas? Again, how often is “often”? Do Arabs and their supporters sometimes engage in anti-Semitism?

Following that, Mazzig wants us to recall that

Many settlers claim that they have a biblical right to the land, and accordingly must “resettle” it. But even if one accepts the Jewish right to biblical Israel, that’s not an excuse to build settlements on non-annexed territory

Well, are the new residential locations in the post-1967 area of Jerusalem okay by him? And if Israel, say, annexes Area C, that, too, is fine? Only an act of annexation justifies the legality, or the “excuse”, of constructing in historic Eretz-Yisrael? The act of conquest and occupation by Arabs in the 7th century CE awards them more right than not only our Biblical history but that all through the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Persian conquests and subjugations? Does Mazzig have anything to say about the Arabs’ outlandish and unsupportive claims that they preceded the Jewish Biblical period as they are “Canaanites”?

Oh, and who told the British, in 1937, that “the Bible is our mandate“?

He admits that

true that Jews came from Judea, and it is true that Jews are indigenous to Israel.

yet suggests

that simply has no bearing on the right to build exclusively Jewish communities over the Green Line today.

And before 1948, would he also claim that? And deny all of modern Zionism? And discount Jews, many of them Mizrachim, for who he has a special place in his mind, residing throughout Judea and Samaria for centuries?

And since the issue of who is indigenous here bothers him, he links that up with his Mizrachim hang-up:

There’s a deep irony to settlers bringing up their indigeneity to the land; the vast majority of settlers I have ever encountered in 28 years of living in Israel are of exclusively Ashkenazi descent, often having immigrated from North America. It’s not just anecdotal. Statistic show that the United States comes in first place when it comes to the number of immigrants moving to the settlements.

So now his real anti-Western prejudice creeps in. Would he write so in 1910 against Russians and other East Europeans? In 1928 against Polish Jews? In 1936 against German Jews? No other Jew is as good as one from Arab lands?

Mazzig is merging quite questionable historical analyses with peculiar sociological and anthropological ideas that seem to make him feel good. If this helps him with his campus speaking tours, I guess that’s a good reason to argue so.

But he’s wrong.

Mazzig, the “strategic communications consultant”, proposes a litmus test:

Do you support the right of self-determination for all people? Or only for Jews?

Since the Arabs do not do that, at least for the Jews (Abbas is still angry at the Balfour Declaration and Hamas declares in quite an outright fashion that we have none), then everything is solved and he can relax. And get on with his speaking tours.

There is more in his piece that could be countered, but I leave that to others.

About the Author
Yisrael Medad, currently is a Research Fellow at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem and Deputy Editor of the English Language Anthology of Jabotinsky's Writings. American-born, he and his wife made Aliyah in 1970. He resides in Shiloh since 1981. He was a member of the Betar Youth Movement World Executive and is a volunteer spokesperson for the Yesha Council. He holds a MA in Political Science from the Hebrew University and is active is many Zionist and Jewish projects and initiatives.
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