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Catfish and Cod
Monday, August 04, 2003
A magician's trick.
(Link path: Washington Post)

The removal of "unauthorized outposts" is just like an old magician's trick. The Israelis know it; the Palestinians know it; I suspect that the Americans know it, too. Sharon announces demolitions, which are duly shown on TV. The settlers lodge protests with the Israeli Supreme Court, some of which succeed, most of which fail. And then they turn around and build an equal, or greater, number of outposts elsewhere. Watch my waving hand as it vanishes the coin...

...not my slow-moving hand, placing the coin in my pocket. While the meaningless drama of bulldozers plays itself out, the large and established settlements experience "natural growth" and push their boundaries over Palestinian villages and fields. What the Israelis don't tell you is that "natural growth" is, and always have been, propped up by immense subsidies for anyone willing to move to the territories. The huge majority of "settlers" are not Jewish pioneers or Eretz-Israel fundamentalists, but ordinary Israelis who have followed the paths of economic least resistance. The Israeli government is, and has through successive administrations for the last thirty-five years, maintained a housing market such that people must inevitably move to the territories.

Eliminate those subsidies, and you'd see a massive population shift back to Israel proper, where people are shot less. Except for mega-settlements like Ariel, which are deep enough to give protection to people in its center, most settlers are well within Palestinian firing range, and they all know it. Much of Israel proper is, too, but then there will soon be a wall between Israel and the territories to protect them.

The Palestinians have been clamoring for quite some time for territorial contiguity -- that is, for the right to go from one point to another within their territory without having to worry about Israel's permission. Shouldn't the Jews demand the same?