Where Has the Hypocrisy Gone?

PALESTINE / ISRAEL, 20 September 2010

by Amira Hass – Haaretz

No one thinks to ask about the consensus among the residents of Palestinian cities and villages on whose land the settlements have been built. The millions of Palestinians don’t count at all.

In the late 1970s or early 1980s, Professor Asa Kasher spoke at a conference of some kind about the differences between Labor Party governments and Likud governments. The Labor governments were hypocritical, and there is something positive about hypocrisy, Kasher said. At least the hypocrite knows there is a binding system of values, and that he is not acting according to them. As a result, he disguises his actions.

It was understood from Kasher’s comments that Labor governments knew that ruling over another people against that people’s will was an impermissible act. The Likud, Kasher said at the time, as memory permits to reconstruct after the passage of 30 years, doesn’t feel at all bound by those values. The impermissible had become legitimate.

By that measure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become a Laborite who is playing the hypocrites’ game, whereas Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is the 2010 version of a Likudnik, by Kasher’s definition. Lieberman is someone who tells it straight while his prime minister blurs and obscures to make it easy for the American allies to feign progress while we mark time in the realm of deja vu.

Lieberman the non-hypocrite knows what he’s talking about when he says no peace agreement will be signed, even in another generation. A peace agreement is not a business contract. It requires a change of values of a kind that does not exist within the vocabulary of the democratic Jewish state, which elevates the system of double standards to a level of virtuosity. The people of this state are incapable of imagining themselves departing from the privileges that this system confers. And who cares if the flip side of those privileges is dispossession, suppression of freedoms and the risk of regional conflagration?

The day before yesterday, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi ) was interviewed on Army Radio’s morning broadcast, and argued that it was impossible to continue the construction freeze in the West Bank settlements while the Palestinians went on building and building.

One cannot expect an interviewer on Army Radio or Israel Radio to surprise and ask, for example: “Since the principle of equality is suddenly so important to the settlement lobby, why then residents of Nablus and East Jerusalem cannot have a housing project in Haifa or live in Ashkelon or in a panoramic neighborhood in the Galilee, while residents of Haifa and kibbutz Hazorea are allowed to build in Nablus Heights or in the East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan?

But the interviewer didn’t even correct a distortion of the facts and didn’t tell the listeners that the Palestinians cannot build at will. In the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control, known as Area C, Israel has frozen Palestinian construction for the past four decades.

It can be assumed that the interviewer, despite numerous reports, is unaware of the building freeze beyond the pale of settlement allocated to the Palestinians. Natural growth only applies to Jews. In Area C, schools, kindergartens and water are only for Jews. The Mekorot Water Company’s wells in the Jordan Valley supply quantities of water to the settlements and their orchards. The water flows from the Palestinians’ land, and the pipes are fenced off. And the land is parched, because the Palestinians are not allowed to draw their own water from those pipes, as Israel imposes on them a quota which is not set to human beings’ needs. In the democratic Jewish state, within its virtual borders, it’s as clear as the sun rising in the east.

If the American partner had wanted to, it would have demanded to begin evacuating the settlements, not only to continue the construction freeze. But the territory robbed by the separation barrier – Ariel, Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim, Efrat in its Anglo-Saxon elegance and East Jerusalem – are all within the consensus. Whose consensus? The people of the democratic Jewish state and evangelical Christians, of course.

No one thinks to ask about the consensus among the residents of Palestinian cities and villages on whose land the settlements have been built. The millions of Palestinians don’t count at all. And hundreds of thousands of Liebermans, if not more, don’t feel the need to be hypocritical.

Go to Original – haaretz.com

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