Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

West Bank Outpost’s Last Stand

In the wake of the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision that Migron, a settlement north of Jerusalem, must be demolished, residents ponder their next step

Print Email
Aviela Deitch, 39, who moved to Migron this September with her husband and six children. Because Israel’s government has always treated Migron as though it were legal, Deitch said there is no reason why it should raze the outpost. (Daniella Cheslow)

To reach the outpost of Migron, a settlement of some 50 families just north of Jerusalem, visitors drive up a road that the Israeli government paid for. Their cars are inspected by an Israeli soldier posted at the gate before they drive past utility poles funded by the government. And then they pass the wreckage of three homes on the outskirts of Migron that the police razed in September.

Like more than 100 similar outposts, Migron is technically illegal in the eyes of the Israeli government. Since this particular outpost was erected a decade ago, the Israeli government has promised to demolish it. But officials sympathetic to the settlers’ cause in key government bureaus have funneled millions of shekels into making it livable—laying water lines and linking the community to utilities. Anti-occupation groups like Peace Now say Migron and its sister outposts are stealing Palestinian land and forestalling any peace deal. Migron’s residents counter that they are law-abiding citizens caught in a legal mess the government created and that the government must clean up.

The issue came to a head on March 25, when Israel’s Supreme Court announced that the state must dismantle Migron by August 1. This was not the first court decision on the outpost: Last summer, the court ordered the outpost evacuated by the end of March. But at the last minute, the government hammered out an agreement with Migron’s residents that would postpone the eviction date, allowing the settlers to remain for another three years while they prepared to move to a nearby hilltop free of Palestinian land claims. The court refused the delay. Instead, the judges sided with Peace Now, the group that brought the suit on behalf of the Palestinian landowners.

Now all eyes are on Migron, whose fate will set the tone for how the government deals with the dozens of other outposts built in legal ambiguity.

Milwaukee transplant Aviela Deitch, 39, has lived in Migron with her husband and six children, aged 3 to 15, for about six months and was appointed community spokesman as Migron grew in national importance. She said residents had been confident that their offer to move within three years would be accepted by the court. “We’re all in different levels of shock, disappointment, and sadness,” Deitch told me in Migron’s synagogue, a low-slung, plain building where locals have met each night since the court decision to talk about what to do next.

“No Arabs have been able to prove this is their land,” Deitch said. “None of us is taking away where people are actually living or farming.”

This isn’t true, according to Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer, who says the land belongs to Palestinians from the nearby villages of Burqa and Deir Dibwan.

Since then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin pledged not to build new settlements in the early 1990s, semi-legal outposts like Migron have mushroomed while the Israeli authorities have turned a blind eye. According to Oppenheimer, court appeals are the only way to force the state to obey its own laws that prohibit land takeover by settlers. The result is long, drawn-out legal battles—the Migron case took six years. And the court rulings read more like neighbors’ land disputes than decisions about the borders of the state.

“It’s not about one house. It’s much bigger than that,” Oppenheimer said. “If you don’t draw a line, the outcome will be that the settlers can build wherever they want.” At stake, he says, is peace itself: “One hundred outposts means 100 new settlements. The meaning of that is no two states for two people.”

In Sunday’s court decision, Justice Miriam Naor, backed by the court’s president, Asher Grunis, noted that Migron’s residents may have “a justified resentment” toward the government because they settled with the state’s blessing only to have the state change its mind. “But the will to consider the distress of the residents of Migron, which we should not take lightly, cannot continue to come at the expense of the petitioners and at the expense of not enforcing the law.”

University of Haifa law professor Emanuel Gross said he was relieved the court upheld its earlier decision to dismantle Migron. “In the long run, you make a mockery of the court if you do not honor your own judgments,” he said. But settlers warn that the ruling could translate into civil war on the ground. They needn’t look far for evidence.

A half-hour’s drive north of Migron is Amona, an outpost of about 40 families built on a hill overlooking the red roofs of Ofra, a settlement of some 3,300 people founded in 1975 and considered legal by the government. In 2006, Amona was the scene of a bitter battle between club-wielding Israeli riot police who faced off against thousands of settlers hurling cinder blocks, stones, and eggs to protest the demolition of nine illegally built homes on the edge of the outpost. More than 200 people were injured. The houses were ultimately demolished; the rest of the outpost—caravans and prefabs—still stands.

Avner Goldshmidt, the spokesman of Amona, last week walked among the ruins of the destroyed homes, today flat concrete platforms surrounded by tangles of steel rebar. He remembered the fight well; he said police broke his glasses in the melee. Residents recently cleared away the piles of housing debris that used to stand as a monument to the destruction. Goldshmidt said this was partly because the wreckage was depressing—and partly because the community intends to rebuild the homes one day.

Israel’s high court has ordered Amona dismantled entirely by December 2012 because it was built on Palestinian land. Goldshmidt said that Amona will not go quietly. “People will fight,” he said. “First, through the courts and politicians—but we won’t leave here peacefully.”

Others in Amona have a less charged response. Revital Halberstedt, 34, moved to Amona six years ago, just after the standoff. Like Goldshmidt, she was raised in the settlements. Halberstedt said she moved to Amona for the close-knit community, the open space for her children, and because she felt a religious calling to secure the biblical heartland for the Jewish people by living there. But she and her husband have a spare house in Ofra just in case, and she would not fight if told to move.

“We are realistic people,” she said. “We are not putting all our eggs in one basket. We need to take care of our family.”

In the village of Burqa down the hill from Migron, engineer Sayel Kanan, 50, said he cannot wait for Migron to be evacuated. Kanan said his drive to work in Ramallah used to be three and a half miles long. Now, because of Migron and other nearby settlements, his route has been reworked and takes three times as long. Kanan also said that activists supporting Migron have torched cars and attacked mosques in Burqa as well. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said none of the residents of Migron have perpetrated the attacks.

Settler advocates say there is still a way around destruction. Lawmakers like Zeev Elkin of Likud have proposed legislation that would allow the state to legalize settlements built on Palestinian land by compensating their owners. Oppenheimer derided his suggestion as blatant land theft sanctioned by bending Israeli law.

Deitch, Migron’s spokesman, said Migron’s residents have not yet decided how to react to the court decision, but she said no one has raised the idea of leaving peacefully without any further negotiations. “Being that this wasn’t just a thieves-in-the night business, we feel a great amount of legitimacy in remaining where we are,” Deitch said.

***

Like this article? Sign up for our Daily Digest to get Tablet Magazine’s new content in your inbox each morning.

Print Email
Aviela, Proud Resident of Migron says:

I would like to point out that no resident of Migron has ever taken part in any violent or destructive behavior to any Arab. This is very important to note. As well, Burka is between Migron and Ramallah. There is no reason Migron is in this worker’s route.

Jewish people should be able to reside in a future Palestinian state, if they cannot control their violent anti-Semitism, we should wait till they will remain enemies and will be no real peace.

People who threaten civil war should be treated accordingly.

The issue of Migron is a microcosm. The current GDP of the areas of Israel, Judea and Samaria/The West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia is approximately $1.6 trillion. This region can grow by at least 5% p.a. over the coming 38 years. If the right command structure is put in place the Holy Land will be a platform of peace, stability and prosperity. The whole world will benefit from this centre of unfolding potential. This is not blue sky thinking. There are concrete benefits to the correct plan and vision prevailing.

Aviela, Proud Resident of Migron says:

It is of vital importance to point out that no resident of Migron has taken part in any violent or other untoward activity toward any Arab. Additionally, Burka is closer to Ramallah than Migron, therefore we are certainly not in this man’s way to get to work. Migron is not on the way to anywhere.

Barry says:

What goes around comes around.

When the Israeli Arab community faces genocide, they have noone to blame but themselves and their leftist allies. If “Palestine” must be cleansed of its Jews, then every Mohammed-worshipper in Israel (and the West, generally) ALSO deserves to deported.

Sara G. says:

The settlers “know” that no Arabs own the land? They “know” the Court decision is wrong, it is inconvenient, should be legislated away, nullified, a blip to be overcome!
So, lets have more negotiations, lost once, go for two out of three, three out of five, lets stall justice, maybe the next court will decide otherwise …
In discussions about the Jewish lawlessness in the land, the setting of policy by any and all without regard to laws and democracy, older Israelis speak with disgust and with sadness. Some say there is no sense in getting angry, they won’t be around to see the final destruction of freedom and justice in the State they struggled to build. And some urge younger family members to invest elsewhere, they see a civil war in the future.

The people of Migron haven’t hurt anyone. Why not let them live in their homes? With more than 11 countries to chose from are the Arabs really lacking lebensraum?

Aviela, Proud Resident of Migron says:

We know it isn’t privately owned Arab land because neither the Arabs nor Peace Now has been able to prove such in a court of law.

The Nuremberg indictment of the German Nationalist Socialist Government makes the following charges (International Military Tribunal, vol. 1, p. 63):

“In certain occupied territories purportedly annexed to Germany the defendants methodically and pursuant to plan endeavored to assimilate these territories politically, culturally, socially, and economically into the German Reich. They endeavored to obliterate the former national character of these territories. In pursuance of their plans, the defendants forcibly deported inhabitants who were predominantly non-German and replaced them by thousands of German colonists.”

If State of Israel replaces Germany, Zionist State replaces German Reich, and Jewish replaces German, this count applies to Zionist goals from the start of the Zionist movement until the present day.

The continued existence of the State of Israel is simply incompatible with constructing the sort of world all human beings — with the exception of racist murderous genocidal Jewish Zionists — want to live.

If we look at Nuremberg Tribunal Law in conjunction with the International Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, we must conclude that the international community has the obligation forthwith to remove or to obliterate the criminal Zionist conglomeration in Stolen and Occupied Palestine.

Gene says:

Joachim, your “comparison” is stupid. Israel did not annex Migron. It did not forcibly deport Arab residents and did not replace them with “thousands” of Jews. Germany was acting on the territory of the sovereign states, while Migron is on territory which never belonged to any state. Do you catch the diffference?

Gene says:

If the reason for the eviction is the ownership of the land then what is the reason for the eviction from the Machpelah house in Hebron?

George says:

Joachim, it has been my experience that most people who convert to Islam are either suffering from deep-seated psychological problems or have a longstanding history of substance abuse. Of course there are other examples which can be called ‘captive’ converts such as prison inmates and people who have married moslems. Could you enlighten us what exactly you found compelling about Islam and why you have remained in the fold in light of the horrific acts of violence committed against both moslems and non-moslems.

And do you also agree that Bin laden was the purest of the pure moslems. His actions springing from core teachings of the Koran and reflecting the purest reflection of the life of your ‘prophet’?

Atara says:

“At stake, he says, is peace itself: “One hundred outposts means 100 new settlements. The meaning of that is no two states for two people.” Nonsense. As long as there is a Jewish Israel, there will not be peace. Leftists oncessionists who self-amputate Israel as defined by the Torah only weaken Israel.

Atara says:

Leftist concessionists. (Sorry)

andrew r says:

“And do you also agree that Bin laden was the purest of the pure moslems. His actions springing from core teachings of the Koran and reflecting the purest reflection of the life of your ‘prophet’?”

Newsflash: The USA was able to invade two countries it doesn’t share a common landmass with, much less a border, without any counter-attack from any party. If all Muslims were supposed to be like bin Laden they would simply attack us the way we (the US and the west in general) attack them. But they don’t.

That should prove the vast majority of Muslims are more civilized than their invaders who are civilized in their own minds.

andrew r says:

“Joachim, it has been my experience that most people who convert to Islam are either suffering from deep-seated psychological problems or have a longstanding history of substance abuse.”

Damn. Is anyone else impressed by the scientific method here? It’s been my experience. Tread lightly: Some people thought they knew everything about Jews based on their own experience, and the result wasn’t pretty.

George says:

‘If all Muslims were supposed to be like bin Laden they would simply attack us the way we (the US and the west in general) attack them. But they don’t.’

You’ll have to do better than that. No, they wouldn’t all attack us they would just give Bin laden and all the Jihadi terror groups their overwhelming support. Which they obviously do.

George says:

‘Damn. Is anyone else impressed by the scientific method here? It’s been my experience.’

Not a matter of ‘scientific method’. Anybody who embraces a belief-system created by a man who among his more noteworthy accomplishments took for a wife, in its fullest meaning,, an 8 year old girl, is riding in an elevator that does go to the top floor.

George says:

That should read, ‘does not go to the top floor.’

andrew r says:

Okay, maybe you need a refresher on what “the way we attack them” consists of. They would build their own airforce, fly over here and bomb us the way we bomb them. They would occupy our cities and massacre our civilians in our homes at random, as we do to them.

No Muslims are doing this. Most of them are obviously not attempting to do this. And without telepathy, you just can’t know how many of them would if they could.

If we have to divide the world in two, Muslim and non-Muslim, it’s clear who commits the aggressive invasions and it’s not Muslims.

andrew r says:

Enough of the goddamned “Mohammed was a pedophile” bullshit. Marriage practices that are not acceptable to us today were common across all societies. England during the Middle Ages had the age of consent at 12, which would be considered pedophilia today. And lo and behold, England was probably not an Islamic state at the time.
http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/teaching-modules/230

It’s not even that you’re ignorant about Islam; it’s almost like this cascades into ignorance about everything else.

George says:

Dear Andrew, I doubt that 8 years of age was ever considered an acceptable age for a female to get married. Certainly not in Western culture. But all of that is beside the point-The point is what person in their right mind would become a follower of a man who had a sexual relationship with an 8 year old, much less to even consider him a ‘prophet’ of God? The answer, only those with deep seated psychological problems.

andrew r says:

To begin with, the details of the Aisha marriage are apocryphal. Including when they had sex (She may have been 10).

Second, let’s look at Deu 20:10-14:

When thou drawest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that are found therein shall become tributary unto thee, and shall serve thee.
And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it.
And when the LORD thy God delivereth it into thy hand, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword;
but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take for a prey unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.

Ooop… Moses commanded his followers to rape enemy civilians. I’ll be sure to inform my relatives how mentally ill we are for having those Seders. Seriously, the fact you label 1 billion people mentally ill on that basis shows a lack of understanding for religious practice. I wouldn’t trust you to know anything about your own faith.

Scott says:

engineer Sayel Kanan, 50, said he cannot wait for Migron to be evacuated. Kanan said his drive to work in Ramallah used to be three and a half miles long. Now, because of Migron and other nearby settlements, his route has been reworked and takes three times as long….most people in Los Angeles have a commute longer than that. Perhaps the UN should address this too

andrew r says:

Most people in Los Angeles aren’t under racial segregation at gunpoint. Had Kanan been Jewish he would have no problem going anywhere in Occupied Palestine (Except Area A which the military regime doesn’t permit Jews to enter). The situation for him is not acceptable.

George says:

Some modernist Islamic apologists try to cast doubt on the age of Aisha when she married and had sex with Muhammad despite the many sahih hadiths in which Aisha explicitly and directly states that she was nine years old at the time. They are clearly embarrassed that their prophet married and had sex with a nine-year-old pre-pubescent child, and they sometimes seek to explain that Aisha was in fact not nine-years-old as the Sahih hadiths of Aisha’s own testimony claim, but some other ages derived from misquotations, indirect sources, fuzzy dating techniques, and downright slander.

George says:

Andrew, I don’t label the majority of muslims born into the faith mentally ill because most of them know nothing of the life history of their ‘prophet’. All they know is to pray 5 times a day and observe the rituals. I do, however, consider those who are born in the West and convert to be suffering from any of a number of psychological problems. Who in their right mind, knowing of Mohammed’s life would accept such a person as a ‘prophet’? And even not knowing his pedophile credentials, just to see the intolerance and hate with which Islam treats its non-moslem minorities, its oppression of free speech, who in their right mind would wish to join such a cult? Only those with severe mental problems.

andrew r says:

“And even not knowing his pedophile credentials, just to see the intolerance and hate with which Islam treats its non-moslem minorities, its oppression of free speech, who in their right mind would wish to join such a cult?”

Clergy has always prohibited free speech in power and any given entity based on religion has always oppressed people outside that religion – Israel emphatically included. That’s not exclusive to Islam at all.

George says:

Andrew, you are one delusional soul. Trying to practise Free Speech anywhere in the Islamic world as it pertains to religion carries with it an explicit threat of danger to life and limb. In case you hadn’t noticed, Christians are in peril throughout the Middle East and many are fleeing for their lives.
Islam is a political system disguised as a belief-system and its method of control is classically fascistic and totalitarian.

andrew r says:

“Trying to practise Free Speech anywhere in the Islamic world as it pertains to religion carries with it an explicit threat of danger to life and limb.”

Ridiculous hyperbole. Tunisia would be a theocracy by now. And that’s only one example.

“In case you hadn’t noticed, Christians are in peril throughout the Middle East and many are fleeing for their lives.”

Christians did not flee Iraq until after the US invasion. The Maspero killings were committed by the Egyptian army that receives foreign military aid. The sections of the Syrian opposition who want to get rid of the Christians (and Alawites) are backed by the US/Saudi/Qatar. Imperialism doesn’t go hand-in-hand with liberal values.

“Islam is a political system disguised as a belief-system and its method of control is classically fascistic and totalitarian.”

Oh give me a break! That you can even say this after the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Syria et. al can only mean your brain is made of cinderblock. And make no mistake, it’s not just because the ruler is Shia/Sunni/Alawite – There are Sunnis still loyal to Assad and Alawites against him, etc.

How many uprisings took place in fascist Germany, Italy or Rumania? Islam is not doing a very good job of keeping the sheep at bay.

George says:

Andrew, you are so full of sh*t. As long as strongmen like Hussein and Mubarak were in charge, christians were protected. Once they were toppled the Islamists had free rein to destroy churches, kidnap and murder christians. Who do you think is responsible for the destruction of churches and murder of christians in Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan,the army? It’s been the various Islamist terror gangs who have been committing the violence.In Iran it’s the government who oppresses minorities. In Gaza and the West Bank it’s a combination of Islamists and government officials who are harassing Christians. And the only people who are gaining power from all these ‘uprisings’ are the Islamists.

Gene says:

“Most people in Los Angeles aren’t under racial segregation at gunpoint. Had Kanan been Jewish he would have no problem going anywhere in Occupied Palestine”
Andrew, had Kanan been Israeli Arab he would not that problem too. Do you think that Israeli and Palestinian Arabs are people of two different races? Kanan also could apply for a permit and cross Migron his usual way. The reason he did not get it is probably because he was involved in the past in criminal activities.

andrew r says:

“Kanan also could apply for a permit and cross Migron his usual way.”

Some roads can be traveled with a permit and others are strictly prohibited to Palestinians. Spinning this as anything other than segregation is pernicious. Especially because no Arab, Israeli citizen or not, can live in the settlements.

And it’s not mitigated by giving Israeli citizens certain privileges over the occupied Palestinians. There are policies that affect Israeli-Palestinians that wouldn’t apply to them if they were Jewish.

“The reason he did not get it is probably because he was involved in the past in criminal activities.”

His whole existence as a Palestinian has been criminalized.

In point of fact, Israeli Palestinians do not have the right to use the settlement roads in the Occupied Territories. The Occupied Territories are a closed military zone, and Israeli citizens in theory require permission to travel in the OT. While the rule is not usually enforced against Israeli Jews — unless they are going to a protest on behalf of Palestinians, the rule is enforced against Israeli Palestinians.

 I can only reply for my area, where Arabs are allowed on all roads, except for inside communities.  Jews, on the other hand, have been banned from traveling on some key roads for many years now.

 Look on a map, people!  Migron isn’t between Burka and Ramallah.  It is not on the way.  This is entirely fabricated.

 In a damages suit on the land, the Arabs were thrown out of court, as they did not have proof to show that the land was theirs.  They were judged to pay damages, both to the State and to Migron.  That should mean something, even though it doesn’t seem to.

ThorsProvoni says:

These are relatively small distances, and it is perfectly possible given the way Palestinian towns are set up for Sayel Kanan to be considered a resident of Burqa and yet be living a little beyond Migron.

Removing the criminal Zionist squatters in Palestine is long overdue.

ThorsProvoni says:

My father’s family belonged to the Polish-Lithuanian Tatar Muslim szlachta (gentry). I am not a convert to Islam, but because I am an expert in modern Eastern European and Jewish historical political economics, I know exactly the sort political pathology vile Zionists (Jewish Nazis) like you represent. Bin Laden was an organizer, who managed to transform some of Abdullah Azzam’s innovative ideas about the nature of communal and individual obligations into a movement to undertake armed actions against the USA.

As for horrific actions, the Zionist settler colonists in stolen and occupied Palestine constitute a criminal conglomeration of racist murderous genocidal invaders, interlopers, and thieves. It is the duty of all decent human beings whether Jewish or non-Jewish to hate and despise their villainy.

ThorsProvoni says:

As I remember from my work for the EU, the Israeli government seized all municipal land in the Occupied Territories and treated collectively owned lands as unowned.

In effect, the legal system associated with the Occupation was set up to rob Palestinians and provided more proof that Zionists considered axiomatic the right of Jews to plunder and to kill non-Jews with impunity.

ThorsProvoni says:

Why should the native Palestinian population have to leave its homeland? The Jewish connection to Palestine is completely mythological. Jews should return to the 50 or so countries in which Jews have lived over the past 1000 years and reform their behavior so that they can get along with non-Jews.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

West Bank Outpost’s Last Stand

In the wake of the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision that Migron, a settlement north of Jerusalem, must be demolished, residents ponder their next step

More on Tablet:

Did ‘Close Encounters’ Herald the Advent of a New Religion?

By Gabriel Sanders — Spielberg’s 1977 sci-fi epic is loaded with portents, but what do they mean?