Opinion

I've Never Lived in a Stolen Home. Maybe Leaving It Is Harder

From Umm al-Hiran to Amona, the comparison shrieked to the skies: apartheid police. One police for whites and one police for natives.

Pro-settlement activists scuffle with Israeli police during an operation by Israeli police to evict residents from Israeli settler outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank February 1, 2017.
RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS

Once, I moved house. It was sad. It was sad to part from the walls and the memories. The sorrow passed. I got over it. I am not alone: A lot of people have moved home, some because they wanted to, others not: because of a contract that expired, a relationship that fell apart or a new job.

It’s always sad to leave home, though not every such departure features (ostensibly) heart-wrenching articles, phony assertions, utterly incredible cries for national compassion and scandalous compensation. It doesn’t always take eight Israeli army battalions and 3,000 policemen to move a person from what had been his home.

On second thought, I've never lived in a stolen home. Maybe leaving it is harder.

On Wednesday the Amona Show arrived at its last act. More than anything else, the illegal outpost’s evacuation proved how racist the Israeli police are. It seems that people can be evacuated using bare hands, without need for rifles or helmets, without truncheons and mainly, without the discourtesy and penchant for violence that the police and border police have demonstrated when facing the weak, Arabs or Ethiopians. Suddenly the demonstrators are not shot with live fire. It was not the police who swept into Amona, but “Salvation Army” soldiers in blue jackets with an Israeli flag sewn to the sleeve.

Why? Because the evacuees are white Jews, representatives of the most privileged, most powerful group in Israeli society. Because the chief of police hails from the same neighborhood. Because the government didn’t want heart-rending pictures to start making the rounds.

From Umm al-Hiran to Amona, the comparison shrieked to the skies: apartheid police. One police for whites and one police for natives. It can no longer be denied.

Israeli police mobilise on the second day of an operation to evict residents from the West Bank settler outpost of Amona where hardline settlers are barricading themselves on February 2, 2017, after the High Court determined the homes were built on private Palestinian land.
THOMAS COEX/AFP

The evacuation of Amona proceeded after foreplay that dragged on and on, including the usual repertoire of schticks, featuring endless hearings in the High Court of Justice, sitting as an especially incongruous Purim-costumed version of a state with justice and equality before the law, including the justices playing dumb, the young girls in braids and tears, the young mothers with babies, the guitars, the prayers, candles and all that tired jazz. The cries of “wickedness” and “discrimination” and “Citizens type B,” the little girl asking her mother, in front of rolling cameras of course, “Mommy, will we have somewhere to live?” as though she didn’t know the answer.

The army that cordons off the area but allows hundreds of youngsters to freely infiltrate, barricading themselves inside homes while vowing to eschew violence; the soldiers demonstrating their sensitivity as they prepare for action – any moment now they’ll be bursting into tears; the nauseating headlines – “This was my home,” “The final hours”; the Palestinian landowners for whose benefit this show has been put on, who will never be allowed to get anywhere near their land, now evacuated; the childish name chosen for this mission – “Locked kindergarten” [from the song based on Rachel’s poem, “It’s not nice to see the kindergarten locked”] – how very poetic and moving. And, of course, the appropriate Zionist reaction, without which no eviction could possibly proceed – build another 1,000 housing units, and counting.

The music never stops – until it does, and the Amona Show is going to be the last one. The eviction season is over. The pretending is over. Barring something unexpected happening in Washington, we can forget this theater of the absurd, this evacuation sample, in which – for a moment there – Israel wraps itself in the image of a state of law and order, moves out a handful of settlers who occupied land “illegally” – bad lot, those settlers – as though there was a single settlement in the land that conducted itself legally, and in their stead is instating another thousand people on land that is just as stolen. But now annexation is approaching, the arrangement is nigh, the masked ball is winding down, and following it will come the hangover of the settlers’ triumph.

Few Israelis have ever visited Amona. Most have no idea where it is. Presumably, few care about its fate. Even after all the tear-jerking, Amona did not touch the hearts of the secular community. Yet ironically it is Amona where the independence of the state of settlers has been declared. It is this inane eviction that attests to their grand victory. There will be no more Amonas. It was the National Theater’s last show.