Israel, where the law is fuzzy where it reigns supreme
The religious settler right is not the enemy of the High Court. It is the enemy of the public order.
The issue of two outposts, Ulpana Hill and Migron, brings an aspect of the relationship between the state and its citizens into sharp focus: the state's duty to protect its citizens from theft and injustice.
Studying the story of these two outposts reveals a complicated reality, from two perspectives. The first is that, it isn't ordinary citizens with equal rights that the state is required to protect, but rather subjects devoid of rights who live in occupied territory that Israel has controlled with its military for 45 years.
The second perspective is that the state, which was involved up to its neck in the establishment of these two outposts, is required to protect those people not from some third party, but from its own belligerence, which is in turn driven by an unfettered appetite for West Bank lands.
The settlers who remind us of the incomparably broad implications raised by the Migron and Ulpana Hill legal petitions are right about this: Thousands of settler families live in houses built on private, Palestinian-owned land.
If the State of Israel was serious about protecting private property in the West Bank, it would have to deploy force at a level not shy of the force it would need to evacuate most of its settlements.
But protecting rights and property was not the intention behind the farce acted out before us. The state's intention was to try and preserve the imaginary integrity of Israel's image as a country of law, a nation where the word of law rules supreme. But clearly behind that mask of law, for all intents and purposes Israel has been behaving no better than an organized crime ring.
This is a country that expends most of its sovereign strength and energy in the West Bank towards one single aim: to strip the Palestinian population of its historic assets and transfer them to the Israeli settler population.
The religious settler right position that they can't trust the "left-wing High Court" seems more ludicrous than ever before. These settlers are a political community with a well-oiled machine of savvy lawyers who petition the High Court whenever they smell their sector's interests possibly being threatened or, alternatively, feel that they could be advanced.
The Gaza Strip settlers utilized the High Court to get heightened compensation from the state (meaning, from the taxpayer) for evacuating settlements in the Gaza Strip. They routinely petition the High Court through an organization called "Regavim," which monitors illegal Arab construction. The purpose of this organization, which is subsidized by the settlers' regional municipalities in the territories (meaning, also by the taxpayer), is to make sure that the Civil Administration does not stall too long in fulfilling its duty to embitter the lives of every last tin-shack dweller on the fringes of the settlement areas.
Nor did the settlers cavil at petitioning the "Torah-denying" High Court when they felt that danger loomed over Haim Druckman's conversion enterprise. (The national religious rabbi's project has more than a few positive aspects, as a source of occupations and strength for not a few of the sector's wheeler-dealers.) They turned to the High Court after the Rabbinic High Court of Appeals retroactively annulled all of Druckman's conversions.
Yes, this is the same Druckman who a few months ago, with 130 other rabbis, signed the petition to the High Court president to overturn the ruling that ordered the evacuation of Migron.
The religious settler right is not the enemy of the High Court. It is the enemy of the rule of law.
The settler right screams its opposition to the High Court only when the justices decline to prioritize the settlers' narrow interests. The settlement enterprise, which, directly or indirectly, provides a livelihood for thousands of families, is the embodiment of the narrow interests of the national-religious public.
But Israel hath not been forsaken. When the High Court doesn't deliver the goods, such as in the case of Migron, the government comes in and buys the settlers' consent to behave. The Netanyahu government is spending NIS 53 million to buy the cooperation of 50 families who, for a decade, exploited their Palestinian neighbors. The Migron outpost was constructed on the land of the Palestinian villages Burka and Deir Dubwan, and Netanyahu's payoff demonstrates for the umpteenth time that the settler right is not only the enemy of the rule of law, but also the enemy of the welfare state. It can, and is supposed to, provide for the needs of us all, especially the weaker among us.
Karl Marx gazed deep into the soul of man when he concluded that being determines consciousness and not the other way around. This certainly seems to apply to the settlers' being.