Opinion

Israel Is Creating More Millionaire West Bank Settlers

Our brethren at Netiv Ha’avot, who are living in a totally illegal outpost – illegal under int’l law, even if ‘authorized’ – will each get a million shekels ($287,000)

A house in the illegal Netiv Ha'avot outpost, in Gush Etzion.
Olivier Fitoussi

 A regular person has barely one father, and who knows if he’s his real father, or whether he is hiding somewhere in the building. But the settlers have many real fathers, whose paternity is not in doubt, as surely as if they’d undergone very reliable genetic testing. These merciful patriarchs have land, lots of land, and they have a path, the Patriarch’s Way (“Netiv Ha’avot”), which is essentially a money trail.

For around 50 years they’ve been giving out prizes for the “Patriarchs’ Lottery.” Only instead of a lottery, all you need is some chutzpah, preferably Israeli chutzpah, to seize land that’s not yours, of course – the Palestinians’, of course – and to build a home on it without a permit, of course. After a few years you’ll get money, land, a home and also legal assurance that it’s totally valid, of course.

Now our settler brethren at Netiv Ha’avot, who are living in a totally illegal outpost – because even an authorized settlement is illegal under international law – will each get a million shekels ($287,000). Subsequently, the project to legalize the outpost will cost the state at least 50 million shekels more.

The news is that all of us, children of the same patriarch, Arabs and Jews alike, will be paying for this prize. According to a Haaretz report, most of these sums will be taken from government ministries, at the expense of the elderly and the preschoolers, the pupils and their teachers, the needy and the disabled. We will all be paying the lucky ones at Netiv Ha’avot with our daily bread.

To facilitate this process the minister of patriarchal justice, Ayelet Shaked, worked to promote the woman responsible for legalizing West Bank outposts, Haya Zandberg, to the post of Jerusalem District Court judge. According to Haaretz, the minister first circulated a draft bill that would remove the authority to deal with petitions filed by Palestinians from the High Court of Justice and transfer it to the Jerusalem District Court, where Zandberg will serve. In my opinion Shaked could do better; why not just transfer this judicial authority directly to the Yesha Council of settlements?

What’s surprising is that Israel’s bulldog press is sitting quietly. Instead of raising hell, with pointed slogans like “theft of the century,” or “Rotten Business 2” (after the Lavon Affair of more than 60 years ago in Cairo, which was the first); instead of showing these children of the patriarchs on the front pages and TV screens, captioned “robbers of Palestinians and Israelis” – instead of that, there is deathly silence. And the whole burden falls on poor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, victim of the hour, conveniently there to cleanse the consciences of most journalists.

I don’t understand Netanyahu. Instead of banging on the door of Arnon Milchan, that cheapskate who asked his friend James Packer to share the burden of giving their friend gifts, and instead of his son Yair being left with nothing to do all day, he should have signed the young man up for the “hilltop youth,” with a security chaperone, of course, and he would be getting a million shekels in his pocket. Not only would Netanyahu have avoided criticism, he would be getting admiring looks from his supporters on the right.

And if we didn’t have enough problems, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, who needs to understand that he’s the ambassador of a world power and not a hilltop youth himself, is threatening a civil war – Armageddon, in the language of the evangelists – if settlements are evacuated.

Then people roll their eyes and ask why anti-Semitism is on the rise. Anti-Semites are getting a big boost from Friedman – who is suffering from vertigo and playing on a field that’s out of proportion to his lofty position – when he bends the world’s leading power to serve the most extreme faction of the Israeli right wing. When the patriarchs seize control of their descendents, darkness celebrates; see Netiv Ha’avot.