by Apo Sahagian
Recently I witnessed how weak the State of Israel is when dealing with settlers. For a country thatís known to have the strongest military in the Middle East, Israel is completely decapitated in regards to its actions against the settler enterprise. Or maybe the Israeli government is willingly letting the settlers take over, tossing out the window any commitment they have towards peace with Palestinians. I know that political correctness would entail me to blame both Israelis and Palestinians for the stalemate of the peace process. But after today, the bigger chunk of the blame should be laid on the shoulders of Israel.
A few weeks ago, rumors started to prop up that settlers were taking over land in Beit Sahour, a town right next to Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. The one leading this colonization is a woman named Nadia Matar. Ironically, ladies and gentlemen, that is a hardcore Palestinian name. I say this with a smirk on my face. This heavily Arab-named settler is driving the movement to claim Oush Ghrab, a park in Beit Sahour that was once an Israeli military base. When the soldiers left, the residents of Beit Sahour decided to turn it into a decent park for afternoon activities. I played rugby there a few times, and I do know of a Frisbee team that has weekly practices on the park grounds. But Nadia Matar wants the land to herself, because God- the real estate agent that he is- promised it to her. Not to the people that have been there for centuries, let alone the last damned 100 years.
I admit that my zeal to stop the settlers is not as dedicated as my words might make it seem like. When driving by the settlements in Jerusalem, I do not curse their existence, and I daresay I am occasionally indifferent to them. When I was younger, I remember looking over a hill in south of Jerusalem, and the hill was burning away yet no fire trucks were there to stop it. Before, that hill was covered with trees but now there was nothing but fire, yet no one was there with a bucket of water. Today that hill is the settlement of Har Homa, to which Nadia Matar wants to make Oush Ghrab a neighborhood. I say this to Israelís chagrin, but that hill was supposed to be a neighborhood of Beit Sahour. But Israel is holding the gun and dictating here, so what I say doesnít really matter. Har Homa now is a vibrant neighborhood of Jerusalem - as they say.
Now the beast is craving more blood, and Nadia Matar wants more land. To her, Shdema (the name given to this new outpost) is Israeli. Iíd like to believe that there are some sane people within the Israeli government who want to put the brakes on the settlement enterprise. Believe me, there are such people. But itís gotten out of the control, and the government can do nothing about it. Actually, the Israeli army is supposed to protect the extreme settlers when they go out to commit acts of terrorism against the Palestinians. Yes, thatís the word to use when elaborating on settler violence against Palestinians: terrorism. But anyhow, itís gotten out of control; I mean, Nadia Matar doesnít even see it appropriate to Judaize her Arab name, because who cares these days? Crazy people like her can go sit on a hill and simply say that ďItís ours.íí And the government will have to follow. Itís a case of the dog wagging the owner.
In the morning, when I drove by the Mar Elias monastery in south of Jerusalem, I came by the junction where one of the roads leads to Har Homa. The direction-sign states it obviously. But there was a new sign under the Har Homa. That sign read Shdema. The settlers have the audacity to trespass even Israeli public property and impose their dangerous idiocy. And I thought to myself then and there, ďthese people donít care taking over Palestinian property. Now theyíre taking over Israeli property. Israel has lost all control.íí And one day the people that put up the Shdema sign will burn away the hills of Israel into subjugation to their cataclysmic ideology. But when that time comes, I wonít blame Nadia Matar. I will blame the government of Israel for letting it reach that point.
When the hill that came to Har Homa was burning, there were only the people of Beit Sahour there holding buckets of water. Itís time Israel realizes that their end is not to come from the Palestinians. Itís to come from their own.