The nation is behind you, Galant
The synergy between settlers and soldiers derives from the intimate relationship between defender and defended, and from the basic fact that the IDF is a people's army.
The seizure of public land, unauthorized road paving, misleading testimony, double standards in land allocation - all under the cover of an army uniform. Is this a precis of the history of Israeli colonialism? Not at all. These claims are the basis of the High Court of Justice petition by the Green Movement political party against Yoav Galant's appointment as the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, accusations that Maariv journalist Kalman Liebeskind has made repeatedly in investigative reports over the past two years.
In the meantime, the High Court has asked the attorney general on Monday to explain how complaints lodged against Galant have been handled. Here is an explanation that has already been written, but in invisible ink:
The IDF, the greenhouse that has nurtured Galant, is the major land broker in Palestinian areas that were occupied in 1967. All the land that private speculators have managed to purchase by cunning and stealth does not come close to the vast territory stolen on military orders signed by our finest commanders. The army's seizure of land "for military and security purposes" quickly turned into large-scale appropriation for the exclusive benefit of Israel's super-citizens, at the expense of the subpar species.
The IDF is simultaneously the representative and the defender of a campaign to peddle the Bible as a real estate deed. Public land, private land, rocky ground, springs, unregistered land, irrigated land, unirrigated land, built-up land, precious artifacts of agricultural and architectural traditions - it's all the same. Military and civilian jurists alike, ensconced in the robes of knowledge and boasting degrees conferred by the finest universities, have concocted infinite stratagems and machinations to plunder all types of land.
The jurists and the military commanders, like the soldiers who tack land seizure orders or demolition orders on olive trees, are the representatives, the emissaries, of the campaign. But in a state in which military service constitutes an admissions test for a successful political career, any lines that distinguish between those who devise policy and those who implement it become blurred.
Lest there be a misunderstanding, let me state that the settlers also play the role of emissary. Even when the puppet rises against its maker and protector, it is still an instrument, and it is implementing the consistent policy of undermining the prospect of a viable Palestinian state (as compared to a state of Bantustans, of the sort that Kadima and Labor are advocating.
Generations of soldiers and commanding officers owe to the settlement enterprise their social capital - their prestige - and their livelihood in the army, politics or business. As the settlement enterprise grows, so does the number of Israeli Jews who profit from it, whether directly or indirectly. And as that dual expansion takes place, the dispossession of those who aren't Israeli Jews also increases, as does the need for more security techniques. Israelis serving in the army - whether recent recruits, career soldiers or reservists - are depicted as altruistic, as having no agenda of their own, as the prime human material behind these security techniques.
The synergy between settlers and soldiers derives from the intimate relationship between defender and defended, and from the basic fact that this is a people's army. In a state in which the social welfare component has long since become watered down, it is the settlements that have become the best prospect for a socioeconomic upgrade for Israeli Jews.
For Galant, the synergy appears to have gone awry; according to the complaints, his actions were a scaled-down version of what his employer, the IDF, has been doing on a macro level.
If he lived in the West Bank settlement of Ofra and he took over land in the neighboring villages of Silwad and Ein Yabrud - just as he is accused of doing to his Jewish neighbors in Moshav Amikam - those who compile a report or file a complaint about it might be subject to a parliamentary investigation.
It would be pointless to file an altogether different kind of petition: one that protests Galant's appointment as chief of staff not because of his private actions but because of the direct responsibility that he, as GOC Southern Command, bears for the killing of hundreds of civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, in non-combat circumstances.
The nation is behind you, Galant.