Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The term "settler" as it pertains to Jews who live beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines originated with the Mandate for Palestine which stipulated that the Administration:
shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.
The Mandate was adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, grandfathered across to the United Nations, and has never been abrogated.

We introduce this to illustrate the way in which the term "Jewish settler" has been decontextualized and distorted over the years to use as a cudgel against Israel and to trample on absolutely legitimate Jewish rights and aspirations to live in the territories of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank").

Reuters is one of the worst offenders in this line of attack.  Not only is the news agency pathologically obsessed with Jews living beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines (googling "Jeffrey Heller settlements" yields 2,200,000 results), but their correspondents portray even those Jews whose families owned homes and lived in the Old City of Jerusalem for centuries as "settlers".

Take this Reuters story about the dispute over the Holy City:
Jerusalem is a core issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem as part of its capital in a move not recognized internationally, and Palestinians want the area as capital of a future state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The conflict has erupted lately into weekly protests by Israelis and Palestinians, mostly in the predominantly Palestinian areas of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, where Jewish settlers have been moving in.
Correspondent Allyn Fisher-Ilan artificially bifurcates the city into two based on the Green Line which separated the Israeli and Jordanian armies in 1949 but even the Palestinians today do not officially recognize a distinct city called "East Jerusalem".

And the "Jewish settlers" who are "moving in" to Jerusalem neighborhoods like Sheikh Jarrah (Shimon HaTzadik) are actually recovering, via petition to the Israel High Court, property titled to their families going back to the Ottoman era -- decades before they were driven out by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948-49.

We wonder if Fisher-Ilan would similarly characterize efforts by African-Americans to recover their homes in East St. Louis after being violently purged by whites following the Civil War:
At times, Loewen notes, communities drove out their black residents over a period of months or years by creating an atmosphere of unrelenting hostility, usually accompanied by sporadic threats of violence and brutal police harassment. Often, however, some precipitating event—usually the accusation that a black person had assaulted a white man or raped a white woman—sent the white community into a frenzy. Mobs lynched the accused and then systematically drove all African Americans from their homes, often with only the clothes on their back.
Substitute "Jewish" for "black" and "Arab" for "white" in the above paragraph and you will have an historically faithful account of the insecurity, pogroms, and ethnic cleansing suffered by Jews at the hands of Arabs in the city of Hebron during the 1920s and in Jerusalem, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

So before Reuters correspondents deploy the term "settler" as a pejorative to suggest that Jews are moving into "Palestinian areas", they should be quite sure who lived in those homes and who populated those communities prior to the Palestinian Arabs.

                                 The Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, 1870

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