Some readers have asked, “What are settlers exactly? And are there any good settlers?” I remember hearing the term before coming here, but it really didn’t register with me. Now, after some experience with them, I would say there are roughly three kinds of settlers: first, the ideological, religious settlers (up to 85-90% in many settlements); second, the economic settlers, who just want the incentives of cheaper rent, utilities, and taxes, etc; third, the “don’t know and don’t care” settlers. But all of them are illegal under international law – the settlers, the settlements, and the settler roads, which are major parts of the apartheid system that is ripping the West Bank to shreds.
Ideological religious settlers are the forward thrust of the settlement movement. They are the religious extremists who feel justified in attacking anyone who gets in the way of their belief that God wants them to take the land any way they can. Even the best case of those who think they are obeying God’s will, hold a worse case understanding of how God’s will is to be accomplished.
When we visited a settlement this morning and met with their “PR man,” Bob Lang, I was disappointed to find his presentation to us was mostly just racist propaganda – as in: on one hand, “everything that is wrong is caused by the ‘Arab/Muslim terrorists,'” and, on the other hand, “this land is meant for the Jewish people because God said so and we were here centuries ago.”
When challenged that perhaps an abuse of power by the Israeli’s is adding to the turmoil, or asked how to deal with the fact that Palestinians have also been on this land for centuries, he just circled around and around, without acknowledging there might be two sides to this conflict. It is difficult to have a conversation with someone who plays the “God loves Jews best card,” the “they’re all terrorists card” and the “security card.”
Those of us serving here believe that God wants this land to be enjoyed by all people living here. We know every Palestinian is no more a terrorist, than every Christian in the USA in the 1960’s were KKK members. And we’d all agree Israel (as every other country) needs to do whatever they can to keep their people safe and secure.
Where we differ is on to what extent an Occupying nation can inflict abuse and human rights violations on the occupied people without the international community crying out and demanding a halt to the abuse. For this spokesman, there are no limits – he made it clear that if there is even one criminal in Gaza, that justifies turning off the electricity to 1.5 million people until they find him/her and turn him/her in. Right now, if Zionist Jews wants to live in the area inhabited by Palestinians, they hold the trump card, and can use any degree of violent force necessary to get rid of the current residents, without the army or anyone else stopping them.
Non-religious settlers don’t cause as much trouble, but their very presence is still illegal and lends support to the more extreme settlers. But ultimately, the responsibility for the continuing problem of expanding settlements and abusive settlers belongs with the Israeli government. It is the leaders of Israel (and their international supporters) who must be held accountable for the expansion of the settlements and the harassments they allow to continue. Please pray with me that this problem is solved as we seek an end to the Occupation.
Peace/Salaam – Pastor Pat
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