Opinion

Co-opting a Fetus for Their Land Grab

How obtuse and insensitive does one have to be to exploit a young mother’s tragedy? But this won’t be the first or, unfortunately, the last instance of settler real estate activists riding on blood to fulfill their nightmare vision

The scene of the shooting near West Bank settlement of Ofra, December 9, 2018.
Ammar Awad / Reuters

It was expected. It was obvious. It was almost inevitable. Nevertheless, it was nauseating. The wounded mother is still in intensive care, her prematurely delivered baby fighting for his life, and already both have been co-opted to promote the settlers’ real estate enterprise. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein didn’t waste a moment before insisting that the entire settlement of Ofra be made “kosher” (indicating, by the way, that meanwhile it is decidedly nonkosher).

No doubt about it, their land speed is inspiring — and stomach-churning.

>>Seven wounded, one seriously, in shooting attack near West Bank settlement

And if, God forbid, the baby dies, there’s no doubt that the price will rise further. The leaders of the “settlement enterprise” will certainly insist on honoring his memory with many more stolen acres of income-generating real estate, on which another proud Jewish settlement will rise, perhaps to be named “Fruit of the Womb” or “Fetal Heights.”

How obtuse and insensitive does one have to be to exploit a young mother’s tragedy? But this won’t be the first or, unfortunately, the last instance of settler real estate activists riding on blood to fulfill their nightmare vision.

The worst was Shaked, as usual. Her inability to control her mouth leads her to repeatedly issue declarations so revealing they’re ridiculous. Referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by his nickname, here, word by word, is what she tweeted to her followers: “In response to Abu Mazen’s ‘terror price list’ we present a price list of our own. Every attack will strengthen settlement rather than weaken it, and every potential terrorist will know in advance that this strengthening of the settlements will be recorded in his name.”

This seems to mean that terror is actually good for the settlements. Blessed terror gives this despicable “enterprise” a boost. If only terror would provide us with more and more steaming pints of blood, and another heaping basket of suffering and bereavement, the settlements will expand, increase and truly flourish.

Over all this hovers the question that has never received an honest answer: Why, for God’s sake, are male settlers dragging their children and pregnant wives into danger? By what crooked right are they putting them on the front lines? Where do they get the chutzpah to project a false sense of calm normalcy to their families and induce them to come to territories without a trace of normality, a shred of calm?

After all, these same people castigate those wicked Arabs who hide behind their women and children, send their young ones to the front lines and let their teenagers face down Israeli army sharpshooters at protests. Meanwhile, while they mock and condemn, they hide behind their own children and women, sending their young ones to the front lines and letting their teens go out and riot against Ishmael, while pretending to be peaceful citizens seeking to live their tranquil lives on land they plundered.

Is it possible that they genuinely believe their own nonsense?

Their ready answer is usually, “So what? Children get hurt within Israel’s borders, too.” Indeed. But those hurt in Israel are just ordinary civilians. The settlers, by their own admission, see themselves as emissaries, as functionaries. The vanguard of the occupation. The spearhead sent to expand borders, seize lands, dispossess the natives and make their lives miserable.

Or, in slightly less polite language, the settlers are members of a land-theft gang that the world also views as war criminals. You don’t send a boy to do a man’s robbery job. The robber goes alone, so that he alone pays the price — not his young son, nor his pregnant wife.