The Handsome Jew Riding Through the West Bank

Jewish colonialism is racing forward, self-confident, full of tools and tricks; its ability to repress and dispossess others knows no limits; and there is no responsible adult to say, 'enough, no more.'

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Sheep in the northern Jordan Valley
Sheep in the northern Jordan ValleyCredit: Tomer Appelbaum
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

In the beginning another Jewish family arrives with a herd and a mobile home and a water tank that settles down between the hill and the valley. It’s too beautiful for words. Fellow Jews from the area come to help and the cows or sheep go out to graze. We’re righteous and up to date, and go for free-range milk and meat.

Or, in journalistic jargon, last Wednesday unknown people set up another unauthorized outpost in the northern Jordan Valley, at the site of an army camp that was abandoned four years ago. It joins five other outposts in the area that the Civil Administration supposedly has not approved. One of them, Givat Sal’it, is in an accelerated process of being laundered. Two have been set up in the past 18 months. The Civil Administration has issued stop-work orders against them but isn’t hurrying to implement them, so meanwhile they are flourishing; they’re getting water, planting and paving an access road.

The six outposts stand in the midst of land belonging to the Palestinian communities of Al Aqabah, Hamam al-Malih, Umm Jamal, Ein al Hilweh, Tel Al-Hema, Khirbet Samara and Al Farisyeh. All these communities, like their sister communities throughout the Jordan Valley, have for 50 years been subject to a strict military regime that forbids them to build, graze, travel or connect to the water or electricity grids. And when this isn’t enough, there are evacuation orders signed by a major-general and demolition orders.

That’s the normalcy that has been and that will remain, Raviv Drucker, even if and when Benjamin Netanyahu retires or is forced out of office ("The morning after Netanyahu," Monday). It will remain even if Naftali Bennett and Bezalel Smotrich don’t grab the leadership, but some miracle happens and the political descendents of Golda Meir, Israel Galili and Yigal Allon come to power.

The outposts in the northern Jordan Valley, like those between the villages of Turmus Aya and Jalud (“The Shiloh Valley”), Omer Ranch north of Jericho and those controlling the heart of ancient Hebron, add another important element – private, very focused and efficient violence. The legal system will sometimes deal, albeit sheepishly, with the bureaucratic, thieving violence of the army and the Civil Administration. It is this fissure that Ayelet Shaked and her jurist advisers are apparently trying to seal forever. Bureaucratic cumbersomeness can also slow down the official violence. But the outposts are the neoliberalism of settlement activity. They are unbridled and unrestrained and drive the process forward.

In the pasture where our kosher cows are taken to graze, there are flocks of foreign sheep herded by Ishmaelite shepherds. They are a hazard that must be removed, our rabbis tell us. If at first we don’t succeed, we’ll succeed on the seventh try. Our strength is in our dogs that bare their teeth or in our charging into the foreign, terrified herd; how handsome and erect the Jew is on his noble horse or all-terrain vehicle. You can also kick and smack. Revenge for the years in which the gentiles, may their names be erased, smote our ancestors in exile.

But here the private business ends, because the role of the Israel Defense Forces is to protect every Jew wherever he may be settled in Judea and Samaria. And violence by Jews is liable, as we know, to create friction in which Jews could be hurt. That’s why the solution is to remove the Indians.

On Sunday, for example, Palestinians from the area demonstrated against the new outpost. The army dispersed them with tear gas. And that’s just the beginning. In other places the procedure is already complete: The army declares the area a closed military zone so Palestinian shepherds will not be able to plant or graze their flocks there. That’s what’s happened to Auja and the neighboring Bedouin encampments where the Omer Ranch poked a wedge between them. The area is open and safe for the Jews of the outposts, so that they can now build rows of villas and declare another settlement bloc that the consensus will forbid dismantling.

Jewish colonialism is racing forward, self-confident, full of tools and tricks. Its ability to repress and dispossess others knows no limits. And there is no responsible adult to say, “Enough. No more.”

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