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Efrat - July 16

07/20/2014 03:19:25 PM

Jul20

We spent an afternoon in the region of Gush Etzion. This is part of the land that was occupied after 1967 and is called Judea by its supporters. Historically it includes much of the territory included in biblical Judea. This term might also be applied to Jerusalem. This is part of the most dense areas  of Jewish settlement outside the 1967 borders and is widely considered an area that even in a land for peace deal would be incorporated into the larger Israel. We met there with Bob Lang in the settlement/village of Efrat. Bob was one of the founders of this community and has been a significant leader in the movement to develop this area as part of the greater project of Israel.

Bob said many attractive things. He condemned, "price tag actions" violent and destructive attacks on Palestinians, carried out by more extreme parts of the settler movement. He also spoke of his own efforts to work closely with local Palestinians. We saw a joint economic zone (see photos) where Jewish and Palestinian residents shopped and worked side by side. It was indeed a vision of what a post-peace Israel/Palestine might look like. And his vision for moving to that peace by annexing the West Bank/Judea and Samaria and giving the Palestinians full citizenship, was inspiring in its democratic if perhaps messianic vision (he did not speak to whether he would be willing to take this step in Gaza). 

I would have liked to talk more with him and might on a future trip, as I experienced significant dissonance between his vision and my own understanding of the situation. His comments seemed to only acknowledged the Palestinian facts on the ground in ways that were convenient to his project. For instance he seemed more confident that most demographers I have heard that Jewish birthrate could keep up with Palestinian birthrate. Also, it is hard for me to imagine that the Palestinian population would agree to be annexed without significant violent resistance or allow for such an agreement without even symbolic acknowledgement of the right of return. The right in Israel often calls the left naive for imagining it has a partner in peace. It seems equally naive to imagine that an occupied population, living in poverty without full rights will not resist. And while his embrace of full citizenship for Palestinians seemed sincere it is hard to understand how it lines up with a more nationalist and often prejudiced rhetoric associated with the broader settler movement. It is also, a much rosier vision of the possibility of full rights and equality for Israeli Palestinians than has so far come into existence 20% of the Palestinian Israeli population.

It is also curious that his vision of a one state solution lines up very closely with the vision of the farthest left Palestinian supporters. This leaves me wondering if it has more hope than realize or if their agreement is its own argument for the more centrist  two state solution.

Sat, July 20 2019 17 Tammuz 5779