Akiva Eldar’s column in Tuesday’s Haaretz discusses the public relations efforts of the “Israel Project” to support Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. He ridicules the security argument in the first paragraph (below); the next one, quoting Palestinian leaders that Israeli settlers may remain in their West Bank homes if they agree to live under Palestinian rule on a basis similar to Palestinians who live in Israel, is especially worth noting:
The Israel Project’s leadership recognizes that public opinion, even among Israel supporters, is ambiguous about the settlements. Despairing Israel advocates still embrace the delusional security argument, from which even retired general Moshe Ya’alon has distanced himself: They argue that the settlements are necessary for Israel’s security and suggest telling audiences that the settlements were not created randomly. They were put on mountaintops and in militarily sensitive areas to create a security buffer between Israel and its Arab neighbors (Jordan?). If that does not do the job, remind the audience that the settlements constitute an effective early warning system (does this include their well-baby clinics?). And if that is still not enough, point to the Qassams as convincing proof of what happens when Israel evacuates settlements (kindergarten children in Gush Katif protected their friends in Sderot, or was it the soldiers who protected them?).
But the joker is undoubtedly the term “ethnic cleansing.” A weak defense calls for an offensive. The guide for Israel warmly recommends that advocates complain bitterly about the idea that a given area will be cleared of Jews (did someone say Judenrein?). Why can Israel accommodate and even grant equal rights to its Arab minority (the Or Report is just a rumor?), whereas the Palestinian territories must be cleansed of Jews? Unfortunately, the guide does not suggest a response to anyone who heard and/or read the opinions of Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, or of Ahmed Qureia, the head of the negotiating team, who invited the residents of Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim to remain in their homes and live in peace and equality as a Jewish minority in Palestine. Qureia even said he broached this subject with former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.