Ahmadinejad's Iran Is the New Best Friend of Israeli Settlers

As the Israeli public hunkers and frets in dread and denial of what might happen if Iran were left to develop nuclear weapons - and in dread and denial of what might happen if it were prevented from doing so - the settlement movement scores triumph after triumph.

Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston
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Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

The red-bordered headline on Israel's weekend newsstands was as jarring for its calm, consumer-guide choice of wording as for the subject matter, which was, in essence, a countdown to Armageddon.

WHERE IT'S BEST TO LIVE IN A TIME OF EMERGENCY, read the Yedioth Ahronoth banner.

Lest the meaning be lost, the full-out article – framed by stories hinting at IDF preparations for a possible attack on Iran - ranked a long list of Israeli cities, towns, and Arab villages for their survivability and "preparedness for wartime."

Among the "Cities of Refuge" in Yedioth's directory of where to live as the rockets slam into the holy land, was the settlement of Beit El - rated at the high end of the IDF Home Front Command preparedness report's "good" category.

The casual inclusion of Beit El as one more place named among residential centers within Israel proper, points to a quiet but significant consequence of the war of nerves and sporadic bloodshed between Israel and Iran:

It's good for the settlements.

In fact, Ahmadinejad's Iran is great for the settlements. The Islamic Republic does for the settlements what the settlements were never able to do for themselves: Convince Israelis that the settlements are an integral part of Israel.

Do so by convincing Israelis that Muslims want only to kill them wherever they are, that Muslims see all Israelis as occupiers, in Bat Yam as well as Beit El, in Herzliya every bit as in Hebron.

Do so by convincing Israelis that a Holocaust could be imminent, and that no Jews, anywhere, will be spared. By convincing Israelis that occupation – which, they realize, exists for the sole purpose of fostering settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – is not only a side issue, it is, relative to the specter of an Iranian-sponsored genocide, no issue at all.

And that's just for starters.

As the Israeli public hunkers and frets in dread and denial of what might happen if Iran were left to develop nuclear weapons - and in dread and denial of what might happen if it were prevented from doing so - the settlement movement scores triumph after triumph.

Every single day, under the cover of the virtual mushroom cloud that stretches from Qom all the way to our nightmares, a new achievement emerges.

On Monday alone, as Israel girded for a new wave of overseas terror attacks heralded by bombings in New Delhi and Tbilisi, central West Bank settler leader Avi Roeh dictated the shape of how the flagship illegal outpost Migron would defy a direct High Court order: Spend two years building a twin "alternate and legal" outpost nearby, then keep both of them. Two outposts for the price of none – not including large state-paid budgets for new infrastructure and construction.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee, which functions as a highly disciplined subsidiary both of the Yesha Council and hilltop youth, gave the green light to a new visitors center for the Cith of David National Park, itself a grand experiment in getting the government to surrender all authority and control to settlers.

The next step, taken immediately – demolition of a playground, community center, and café, all built at the site by Palestinian residents of the neighborhood.

The settlers know. They know that under the shadow of the Iran cloud, Israelis are apprehensive, depressed, fearful and uncertain. What better time to move full speed ahead and, while they're at it, declare victory.

"It's becoming clear it’s becoming clear to everyone that in the end, the settlement movement will win out - even, if needed, by means of an ugly fight that nobody wants," wrote settler spokesman David Ha'Ivri at the weekend.

David Ha'Ivry is as good an example as any, of how far the settlement movement has come under the sheltering wings of the Ayatollahs. The New York-born Ha'Ivry, in younger days a active disciple of the rabidly anti-Arab Meir Kahane, later served six months in jail in connection with the desecration of a mosque, and was also arrested for celebrating the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in a television interview.

Last month, when settler Yuli Edelstein, the cabinet minister responsible for fostering Israel's image worldwide, organized a government-sponsored tour of the West Bank specifically for foreign correspondents, he tapped David Ha'Ivri as one of the official guides.

To hear Ha'Ivri tell it, these days, as far as the settlement movement is concerned, resistance is futile. But listen more carefully to Ha'Ivry's rap, and you may hear something else as well:

"Migron is the symbol of the great settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria - part of an irreversible process."

In a time of hope against hope, when the Iran conflict seems to offer little horizon of resolution, and in a country where the unthinkable can turn overnight into the inevitable – and back again - there's something perversely encouraging in the surety and finality of Ha'Ivri's observation.

After all, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – the effort that for the settlement movement once posed a far more direct and dangerous threat than Iran - was once considered, by all parties involved, irreversible.

Israeli settler outpost in the West Bank.Credit: AP



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