Abe Hayeem launched a virulently anti-Zionist tirade on the virtual pages of CiF on March 11th in which, in his usual Pravda-like style, he contorts reality to fit his political message. His gripe this time is Jewish immigration to Israel; by no means a new phenomenon, but one which Hayeem now seems to have decided is a negative one. In sneering terms he describes the work of the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh and then reveals to his audience that “The “community aliyah programme” shown in the pamphlet calls on UK Jews to “start a new life in a vibrant Israeli city” but of these, only three – Haifa, Modiin and Yad Binyamin – are within Israel proper. The other five are Jerusalem (evidently including the illegally annexed eastern part); Ariel, “located in the centre of Israel” (sic); Maaleh Adumim; Efrat (the capital of Gush Etzion); and the Gush Etzion bloc as a whole, which spreads south of Jerusalem into the heart of the West Bank.”
Obviously Hayeem was counting on the fact that the average Guardian reader has a very selective memory when it comes to Middle East history and would therefore not pull him up on the fact that Gush Etzion’s towns and villages were all built on land bought and paid for by the Jewish people long before Israeli independence or make reference to the massacre of 1948.
“The Etzion Bloc, or Gush Etzion as it is called in Hebrew, is located on the main road from the south to Jerusalem, northwest of Hebron. The Etzion bloc was settled and resettled three times, on land purchased by the Jews, beginning in 1927. Each time, residents were forced to abandon their homes in the face of Arab violence. The final saga of the Etzion bloc included two separate massacres and a prolonged and stubborn defense against hopeless odds. The bloc was finally overrun by soldiers of the British armed and officered Jordan Legion, who were responsible for the final massacre of surrendered defenders, a war crime.”
Hayeem’s contortions reach a comical level when, in the space of three paragraphs, he manages to assert that “Jewish people from any part of the world can be housed anywhere they choose within Israel and West Bank” and yet also tries to invoke the strawman of Article 49 of the Geneva convention “an occupier may not forcibly deport protected persons… or transfer parts of its own civilian population into occupied territory”.
As even Abe Hayeem knows, no-one ‘transfers’ Israelis into Judea & Samaria against their will, and the legal appraisals of Article 49 – which were written under very specific circumstances and are by no means a blanket ‘one size fits all’ document – indicate that “because of the ex iniuria principle, Jordan never had nor now has any legal title in the West Bank, nor does any other state even claim such title. Article 49 seems thus simply not applicable. (Even if it were, it may be added that the facts of recent voluntary settlements seem not to be caught by the intent of Article 49 which is rather directed at the forced transfer of the belligerent’s inhabitants to the occupied territory, or the displacement of the local inhabitants, for other than security reasons.) The Fourth Geneva Convention applies only, according to Article 2, to occupation of territory belonging to ‘another High Contracting Party’; and Jordan cannot show any such title to the West Bank, nor Egypt to Gaza.”.
Hayeem then goes on to invoke three of CiF’s best loved anti-Israeli tropes; water, roads and sewage – always guaranteed to go down well with the punters. He claims that “[p]recious water resources are used lavishly in the settlements, while drastically limiting Palestinians’ access. Use of the super-highways linking settlements to Israeli cities is denied to Palestinians, and sewage from the settlements is discharged into Palestinian villages and agricultural areas.”
All three of these claims are no more than vicious propaganda. Israel of course is far more efficient at grey water recycling than the PA, charges its citizens unpopular high prices for water and supplies the PA with water above and beyond the amounts stipulated in the signed agreements on the subject. The infamous ‘Hari-style sewage canard’ has been thoroughly debunked and of course the restrictions on travel upon certain roads applies to both Israelis and Palestinians, and was initiated after Israeli motorists lost their lives due to drive-by shootings and fire-bombings which are tragically not a thing of the past. Even the US government takes the issue of the dangers of travel upon roads in Judea & Samaria so seriously that it restricts the movement of its personnel to daylight hours and to certain roads.
“Personal travel in the West Bank for U.S. Government personnel and their dependents is not allowed except for limited mission-approved purposes and in the areas described below. U.S. government personnel and family members are permitted to travel to Jericho, or to transit through the West Bank by using routes 1 and 90 to reach the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge, or the Dead Sea coast near Ein Gedi and Masada. They are also permitted to travel north on Route 90 from the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge to the Sea of Galilee. Use of these routes is approved for transit purposes during daylight hours, with stops permitted at only Qumran National Park off Route 90 by the Dead Sea. Each transit requires prior notification to the Consulate General’s security office. Personal travel by U.S. Government personnel and family members to Jericho takes place only on certain designated days and requires prior notification.”
Like so many others, Abe Hayeem has bought into, and apparently wishes to propagate, the concept that the settlements in Judea & Samaria are an ‘obstacle to peace’, conveniently ignoring the fact that between 1948 and 1967 there were no Israelis in Judea & Samaria, the Gaza Strip or the Golan Heights, and neither was there peace. His closing insistence that “[u]nless Britain acts firmly to end Israel’s impunity to international law and agreements, hopes of establishing a lasting and just solution for peace in the Middle East will be indefinitely delayed.” is nothing short of ridiculous, particularly when one considers the reality of British citizens living in contested territories such as Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands.
I am delighted to report that I will soon become the personification of what is apparently Abe Hayeem’s worst nightmare. I write these words surrounded by a sea of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap with piles of objects scattered all over the living room floor according to their fate. There is a pile for the charity shop, a pile for recycling and a pile to be packed and shipped off to Haifa in just over two weeks time, and despite the inevitable stress of moving house, this is a very happy time for my family because we are finally going home to the Israel we have missed so much over the last few years and especially to our little corner of it up on the beautiful Golan Heights. So here’s another one for Abe Hayeem’s statistics; yet another British-born Jew en route for a ‘settlement’.
Of course the irony is that the more he and his fellow travelers on CiF and elsewhere continue to cultivate their virulently anti-Zionist stance which has long since spilled over into plain old-style Jew-hatred, the more British-born Jews are likely to look for a better life in a country which not only welcomes them with open arms, but in which they can raise their children free of the blight of antisemitism. ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ is the concept which has kept the Jewish people going through thick and thin for millennia and it has survived much larger things than Abe Hayeem’s nasty anti-Zionist rhetoric. I have no doubt that it will continue to do so.