While the world was harrumphing yesterday because Israel’s new foreign minister affirmed the obvious futility of the Annapolis peace conference, an axe-wielding Palestinian terrorist slaughtered a 13-year-old Jewish boy and wounded another.
This disgusting crime took place at the town of Bat Ayin, a Jewish settlement a few miles southwest of Jerusalem. This means that in much of the world, the attack will be considered an understandable reaction on the part of a Palestinian humiliated by the sight of Jews living in that part of the country. That’s the way all such murders have been treated by the international press. Jews who live over the “green line” are considered provocateurs at best, and deserving of retaliatory Arab violence at worst.
But though I don’t doubt the murdered child, whose name was Shlomo Nativ, will be simply called a “settler” in most accounts, it isn’t likely that we will hear much about the history of the area where he lived.
You see, Bat Ayin is part of the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements. Far from being built after the 1967 war and thus, wrongly considered a violation of international law, Gush Etzion was settled by Jews prior to 1948. In 1948, the Gush Etzion bloc was attacked by Arab gangs and after a long siege, overwhelmed by the attackers who were aided by Jordan’s Arab Legion. Most of the Jewish inhabitants were massacred. After this territory was retaken by Israel in June 1967, some of the survivors of the 1948 attack returned to the area and began the work of restoring Jewish life to this part of historic Biblical Judea.
Just to confirm how normal and legitimate their town is the people of Bat Ayin have chosen not to build a fence around their homes because they believe it would be a sign of insecurity.
Objections to Gush Etzion cannot be about expropriation or “illegal” settlements. The problem that Gush Etzion presents to the Arab and Islamic world is that the people who live there are Jews.
In recent years we have heard much about the suffering of Arabs living in the West Bank who have to put up with the inconvenience of Israeli Army roadblocks and a security fence, both of which are the direct result of a campaign of terrorism aimed at Israelis. What we don’t hear much about is the constant harassment and attacks visited upon Jews who live in the West Bank. A lot of people don’t think the idea of maintaining Jewish communities over the “green line” is wise. But what the “resistance” to the Jewish presence in the territories amounts to is not a protest against specific measures or even a dispute about land. As the attack on Bat Ayin confirms yet again, the hatred and violence directed against the settlers is a measure of the Palestinian antipathy for Jews, pure and simple.