Israel, a State of Armed Robbery

The Israeli regime is based on grabbing land and nurturing the apparatus that secures the plunder — the army, in the local argot.

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Illegal settlement construction in the West Bank in February 2014.
Illegal settlement construction in the West Bank in February 2014.Credit: Nimrod Glickman
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The surprising thing is that some people are still making noises of surprise upon hearing of another successful act of armed robbery, known in bureaucratic terms as declaring a parcel of land to be state-owned. They seem astonished that the Defense Ministry has been made a priority when it comes to the state budget, and that education has suffered the largest government cutback.

Our regime has three foundations: grabbing land and driving out those who live upon it; nurturing the apparatus of bodyguards — the army, in the local argot — who secure the plunder; and crushing the welfare state while wiping out the principle of mutual civic responsibility.

If it did not have these three fundamental principles, it would not be our regime. But dealing with the details, the ad hoc amazement, the one-off surprise, makes us forget the big picture. It makes us forget that this is the regime.

If three Israeli teenagers had not been kidnapped from Gush Etzion and murdered in June, our armed robbers would have found a different excuse to build another huge settlement and, through it, to create more enclaves, open-sky cages (a secondary fundamental principle of our regime) for the members of the other nation. If the war in Gaza had not taken place, the bodyguards would have used other ways to persuade the government that their coffers had to be filled. Even without the need to fill the security coffers after a military operation, the current Israeli government would still have failed to heed the principles of socioeconomic equality.

In an ideal and rational world, all those who had been harmed by the regime would join hands and demand change together. In an even more ideal and rational world, they would also bring about that change. But in the real world, the burden of bringing about change is placed upon the Palestinians.

In the meantime, we must forget about Israel’s Jewish citizens (except for a handful of left-wing activists). We, the Jews, profit from the regime, even when its religion is increased wealth for the few, while the many flounder in the struggle to keep afloat. The Jews-only welfare state is alive and kicking in what settlers refer to as Judea and Samaria or Yosh, its Hebrew acronym.

Yosh embodies the possibility of fulfilling the dream of a personal socioeconomic upgrade for all the Jews in Israel, who suffer collectively from the anti-social-welfare policies. Pack up and move a few kilometers to the settlements or to small communities in the Galilee, and the trend of social-service cutbacks turns over.

The very knowledge that there is a quick way to fulfill the legitimate desire to improve one’s standard of living dissolves the Jewish collective’s power to protest. It is exactly how an alliance was created between Yesh Atid, which drew its strength from protests that started over the price of cottage cheese, and Habayit Hayehudi, which markets the dream of cottages in the West Bank. Add to that the third fundamental principle and we see how everything is poured together in reinforced concrete: Today’s bodyguards are the future managers of international companies, arms manufacturers and exporters, instructors for the armies of billionaire despots. The temporary collective mission to protect the plunder of the robbery (security, in the local argot), ensures the prosperity of each member of this influential guild. The desire to join it, along with the possibility of doing so, also neutralizes the harm caused by our regime’s anti-social-welfare policies.

The Palestinians are the only group in the country (from the sea to the river) that is harmed by the regime’s three fundamental principles and who are trying to fight for change (for the Jews’ long-term interests as well). We usually break this struggle down into details, which we then both condemn and suppress: stone throwing, terrorism, demonstrations, riots, incitement, Qassam rockets, attack tunnels, the UN, rockets, civil revolt, infiltrators, BDS, construction without permits.

For the security guild, everything is equally dangerous, and with good reason. The argument over the details — the effectiveness, value and morality of the measures taken in the struggle — must not allow us to lose sight of the big picture. The Palestinians are defending themselves against the state of armed robbery.

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