The United States and Europe in recent days made out a check in the name of “Sussia.” Once again they have raised expectations about their ability to put the brakes on Israel’s colonizing madness. The temptation to be optimistic is great. The fear of bitter disappointment (and the joy of the enemies of logic) are even greater.
- U.S. urges Israel: Don't demolish West Bank village
- EU demands Israel halt 'forced transfer' of West Bank village
Although Sussia is not a story that moves the Israelis as a whole, the bleeding hearts among us draw encouragement from the fact that at least this particular check might be cashed. That is, that the plans to destroy the village might not be carried out. Sussia has become a symbol. And that is precisely the trap.
The European foreign ministers know the name of this village in the southern Hebron Hills as if it were a suburb on the way from the airport to Brussels. The spokesman for the U.S. State Department rolls the name off his tongue as if he had drunk coffee in one of the tents slated for demolition. The call on Israel not to uproot Sussia (and the generally unnoticed Bedouin community of Abu Nwar) is specifically included in the conclusions of this week’s monthly meeting of the EU Foreign Council. It is very unusual that such a small place is mentioned in the written conclusions. The State Department spokesman knew to say that the implications of demolishing the village were greater than the impact on its inhabitants. He also said the demolition would set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation.
But if Sussia is destroyed (again), perish the thought, that will not be a new standard. Even if we start counting from 20 years ago, Israel had already set the standard for uprooting and destroying Palestinian communities in the West Bank – at the height of the “peace process.”
How many harsh documents by the European Union have we read in recent years, including a sharp analysis of the danger in which Israel’s policies place the fate of the two-state solution? True, with modest European funding, various services were and are provided to tens of thousands of Palestinian residents of Area C (water, prefabricated structures, solar-heating systems) – which makes it easier for them to wage their heroic struggle against Israeli displacement plans. The European Union regards the cautious funding as a broad hint that it does indeed envision Area C (60 percent of the West Bank) as an inseparable part of the future Palestinian state. But Israel does not understand hints, it only benefits from the flow of European charity that prevents the humanitarian disaster from growing worse.
Because Sussia has become a symbol, along with its courageous and stubborn inhabitants who have so far thwarted plans to wipe out their community (supported for many years by Israeli organizations, chief among them Ta’ayush and Rabbis for Human Rights), it might be saved. Then the Western foreign ministries will note with satisfaction that their warning worked. But Israeli bulldozers will quietly turn, helped by Israeli public support, to continued destruction of lives and homes in other Palestinian communities, no less courageous and stubborn – just less well-known. Or, on the other hand, perhaps precisely because Sussia is a symbol, Israel will decide to arm wrestle over it, treat it as a special case, and demolish it.
And what will Europe and the United States do then that they have not done yet? Will the United States cease its security cooperation with Israel? Will Europe recall its ambassadors and close its airports to Israeli tourists?
Perhaps the statements about Sussia do show a change of approach, and that Western patience, even that of the United States, is eroding for the Israeli pyromaniac. But the pace of change and erosion is much slower than the fire.