Many people say they oppose the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Even pro-Netanyahu hawks sometimes argue that the settlements are “a mistake,” and that the settlers put Israel’s future at risk. You often hear pro-Israeli speakers abroad say that Israel’s problem is those “fanatic settlers.”
That’s why it’s so important to understand that the settlements are a national project, initiated and funded by Israeli government agencies, and not just the work of some rightwing ultra-religious extremists, like so many would like to believe. Even Israelis who claim to oppose the settlements are in practice part of the colonization of the West Bank.
Take, for example, the Hebron 10KM Run, due to take place tomorrow (Friday). Unlike the situation in other settlements, Jews in Hebron live in the heart of a Palestinian city, guarded around the clock by hundreds of soldiers. The settlers’ presence in the heart of Hebron has been a source of continued violence, including the murder of 29 Palestinians by Dr. Baruch Goldstein at the Cave of Patriarchs in February 1994.
In previous years the run was confined to Jewish settlements in the Hebron area. But the 3rd Hebron Run will pass, for the first time, inside Hebron itself, which but for the few guarded Jewish neighborhoods, is an Arab city. This Jews-only sports event will be another symbol of the ethnic segregation in the West Bank.
The run is supported by the Israeli Ministry of Sports and the State of Israel. Another sponsor is shvung.co.il, Israel’s leading track and fitness site, which also sponsors the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem marathons.
Shvung.co.il is Israel’s largest sports community – even I have a username and my track data on it. Now Shvung.co.il is the host of the Hebron Run site.
It’s impossible to separate Israel from its settlements. The Israeli hard-right is correct: we are all settlers.