The Israeli Agency That Oppresses Palestinians 'For Their Own Good'

The Civil Administration’s planning council takes the cake when it comes to doublespeak.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Amira Hass
Amira Hass

And this month’s George Orwell Prize for excellence in misleading language, for rose-colored ink and for doing a hell of a job on sugarcoating lies, goes to…

Yes, clap your hands for the happy winner, the planning and licensing subcommittee of the Civil Administration’s Supreme Planning Council. Its excellence was revealed in full in its decision dated October 24, 2013, which relates to the request for approval of a master plan for construction filed by the Arab village, er, assemblage of Susya.

The West Bank village, which has a population of 300 (dispersed over 40 households), filed five different versions of the master plan, and the prize-winning committee rejected each of them. It wrote that for the sake of the rights of Palestinian children and the expansion of their horizons, and for the sake of the rights of Palestinian women and their salvation from lives of poverty, in order to prevent a rift in society and out of consideration for the limited abilities of the Palestinian Authority, these Arab residents of Susya should move to the nearby city of Yatta, which will provide them with the infrastructure necessary for their development.

With this decision, the subcommittee has devised an innovative, refreshing take on one of the Ten Commandments: Jews to Area C, Arabs to Area A.

Israel the persecuted has for years been fending off anti-Semitic attacks against it. One particularly wicked accusation is the claim that we are a colonialist entity that has stolen and continues to steal land from the Arabs, for the good of the Jews. This decision provides brilliant linguistic tools in the heroic struggle of our country to expel the Arabs and settle Jews in their place, by framing it publicly as an act of enlightenment, love of the people, and the adoration of order and modern planning. Our warm recommendation is to make use of this text in discussions on building the Jewish town of Hiran on the ruins of Umm al-Hiran and on building a national park on the lands of Isawiyah.

And now for more detailed explanations behind the prize:

1. The assemblage of Khirbet Susya (the Hamlet of Susya) in the southern Hebron Hills has been in existence since at least the 1830s. In the 1980s there were 25 families residing in caves or preserved parts of ancient buildings in the village, who made their livings from herding sheep and harvesting olives. The Supreme Planning Council has done a good job by not taking this history into account. What are 180 years when compared with Netzah Yisrael, “the eternity of Israel”?

2. In 1986 the Israeli army expelled the residents of Khirbet Susya from their village, which was declared an archaeological site. Keeping this historic chapter out of sight is a must, since Jewish neighborhoods are allowed to thrive on archeological sites and we don't want the anti-Semites to blame us for our double standards.

3. The army kicked out the 1986 expellees and their descendants another three times. They were expelled and returned to what even the magician of Judaizing rocky ground, Plia Albeck, said was private land that couldn’t be used by the Jewish settlement of Susya, which was founded in 1983. That’s irrelevant too, although the Arabs’ return to their land does prove how compassionate our state is. After all, we could have banished them to Jordan!

4. The Civil Administration subcommittee decision states that Yatta and the Palestinian Authority are not up to the task of preparing the infrastructure for all the assemblages, scattered groups of Palestinians. Is this the position of the committee’s Palestinian members? Are you out of your mind? There’s no such thing as a Palestinian representative on a committee that determines how Palestinians should live. We Jews are the only ones who know what’s good for them.

5. The decision states: “Planning that benefits the residents of the community should serve entire communities, not small groups.” And in clear English: What’s good for the Jews (farms owned by a single family, outposts with eight families that are designated as settlements, scattered mobile homes that end up becoming subsidized luxury suburbs) is bad for the Arabs.

6. “Good planning takes into account considerations of justice across time (intragenerational justice and intergenerational justice),” the decision states. What a delicious formulation! It covers up, so skillfully, our plan that over time there won't be any Arabs in this territorial space. It is unjust that the Jewish Susya, Mitzpeh Yair, Lucifer Farm, Avigayil, Maon Farm and the many other orderly outposts that, with God's blessing, will blossom there will be disturbed by the "planning chaos in the Yatta area" in the form of Palestinian scattered assemblages.

7. Rabbis for Human Rights has been accompanying Palestinian Susya for years, not just with preparing a master plan but also with filing petitions against the Civil Administration’s demolition plans and complaints about the kosher vineyards that have mysteriously popped up on its lands and the numerous physical attacks whose perpetrators are not to be found. But the subcommittee reveals that the Palestinian plan “imposes on [Palestinian] children the fate of living in a small, atrophied village that doesn’t have the tools for development.”

The subcommittee states: “This plan doesn’t have any hope of helping the population move beyond the poverty and ignorance in which their representatives keep them.” “Keep” (shomrim), like Shomrei Mishpat, the Hebrew name of Rabbis for Human Rights, the “representatives” of Palestinian Susya. And thus, by means of delicate innuendo, the officials of the Civil Administration unmask the real face of these rabbis and the face of attorney Quamar Mishirqi Assad and the urban planner Rassem Khamaisi.

8. The subcommittee states: “The current plan constitutes yet another attempt to keep a weak and downtrodden population from having the possibility of making progress.” Idan Landau, a professor of linguistics, writes on his blog that the "yet another" is what particularly drove him nuts. These two magic words beautifully insinuate that anyone who helps Palestinian Susya's residents stay on their land (whether Rabbis for Human Rights, international aid organizations or the Israeli-Palestinian group Ta’ayush) is only keeping them from progressing. It is only the members of the planning and licensing committee − legal representative Niv Yaari; environment representative Nina Lavivsky; infrastructure representative Mali Cohen; Akiva Yaakov, who is responsible for abandoned government property; and the committee chairman, architect Daniel Halimi – who know what’s good for the Arabs.

For their own good: A bulldozer destroying a family’s tents in the West Bank village of Susya.Credit: Rabbis for Human Rights

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