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Israel's settlement plans painted in the propaganda of heroism Open in fullscreen

Ramona Wadi

Israel's settlement plans painted in the propaganda of heroism

The settler population is complicit in state aggression by mere presence in Palestinian territory [AFP]

Date of publication: 19 July, 2016

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Comment: The state of Israel is dependent on its settler population, but also relies upon their exploitation to enhance its colonial, expansionist ambitions, argues Ramona Wadi.

The recent killing of Israeli teenage settler Hallel Yaffa Riel sparked a series of retaliatory measures against Palestinian civilians and also the usual ripple of eulogies and vows by Israeli politicians, who have exploited the situation in order to expand Israel's security narrative.

While the usual psychological jargon of understanding and trauma took centre stage in the hours following the killing, there has been no effort to identify the underlying current in Israeli discourse, despite its absurdity.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin availed himself of the occasion to reiterate: "We will uproot the terrorists and those who dispatch them. We will insist on continuing to build our lives here, without terror, with the continuing commitment to cement our national home, and strengthen Israel."

There are discrepancies in Rivlin's words which should be evident even to the settler-colonial state. His statements are based upon the commitment to colonise. As a result, any reference to alleged terror is made redundant since Palestinians have the legitimate right to defend themselves and their territory, even under the international legislation that has consistently failed the indigenous population.

Eliminating the struggle requires a dismantling of the colonial entity that has thrived through its commitment to indulge in, and refine, state and settler terror. Of course, given Israel's intent to increase settlement expansion and the international community's silent approval of such oppression, it is much more likely that the same cycle of retaliation against Palestinian resistance will continue. This will in turn allow Israel to build both settlements and security narratives simultaneously.

Settlement expansion

Following both the killing of the teenage settler and the release of the Middle East Quartet report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's intent to increase settlement expansion has been celebrated in Israeli media, particularly as Netanyahu stated the intent to use "aggressive measures that we have not yet used in the past."

These "aggressive measures" were left unspecified, yet the mere allusion to further oppression is a further sign that the international community continues to issue mere chastisement while vigorously imparting its approval. Their approach is shielded by the two-state paradigm rhetoric that has expanded in equivalence with security concerns.

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel also emphasised the alleged need for expansion 'now more than ever'

The same Israeli incitement in the form of encouraging settlement expansion was echoed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett who declared "We will build in Sarona and Kiryat Arba, In Jaffa and Jerusalem, in Itamar and Beersheba."

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel also emphasised the alleged need for expansion "now more than ever" and, according to a report in The Times of Israel, "called for Israel to declare its sovereignty over the West Bank".

It is evident that, apart from a few remarks eulogising Hallel, Israel transformed the memorial into a political opportunity. Bennett, in particular, has provided enough evidence of this with a patronising speech in which he declared Hallel "a link in the chain of generations of Jewish heroism against the hatred of Jews".

This abominable statement wholly fails to place the killing within context, and completely absolves Israel of its culpability.

Exploitation

Much has been said about the alleged innocence of the Israeli settler population. Israeli settlers are usually simplified and stratified into groups, with extremists who indulge in price tag attacks and gratuitous murder occupying a particular position in the settler hierarchy as the most vilified and most protected by the state.

Other settlers, who are conveniently described as civilians, are exonerated from any complicity in settler colonialism

The reasons are simple. Israel needs violence to thrive. Extremist settlers perform deeds which are not unrelated to the original Plan Dalet, thus serving the state in perpetuating the need for a security narrative when Palestinians retaliate against such violence. Israel is thus provided with an opportunity to fabricate a distancing from settler terror attacks while providing unmatched impunity for the perpetrators.

Other settlers, who are conveniently described as civilians, are exonerated from any complicity in settler colonialism, despite the obvious knowledge that their presence on colonised Palestinian territory is also a form of political violence.

However, the absence of any overt, bloody crime renders such settlers allegedly innocent. Israel benefits from the settler population that is seemingly non-violent by pointing towards this segment of the population as devoid of any imminent threat.

Clearly it needs a population to thrive, but Israeli settlers who are killed in the anti-colonial struggle are also a commodity for Israel

Both constitute threats to the Palestinian population, yet the more apparent forms of violence committed by the Israeli settlers who enjoy military and state protection, are usually perceived as the greater threat – the reason being enhanced visibility of settler terror.

However, the settler population is willfully complicit in state aggression due to its mere presence in Palestinian territory. This also raises the question of dates and borders, as well as the ever present divergences in discussing occupation as a dissociated from colonisation.

If these discrepancies are not addressed, settler complicity in Palestinian oppression will never be properly addressed.

In Hallel's case, Israel has clearly exploited the entire settler population, showing that state dependency upon settlers comes in various forms. Clearly it needs a population to thrive, but Israeli settlers who are killed in the anti-colonial struggle are also a commodity for Israel. The plan, after all, is called "Greater Israel" and no expense is too great for colonial ambitions.



Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specialising in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine, colonial violence and the manipulation of international law. Follow her on Twitter: @walzerscent

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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