Some stuff you have to read with your own eyes in order to believe it. Prof. Richard Landes, who writes a pro-Israeli conservative blog named Augene Stables, is making what seems like a comparative case for Israeli colonialism.
Answering a reader’s question regarding the legality of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Landes writes:
Indeed, in the history of settling conquered areas, including the record of Islamic conquerors, Israeli behavior in the West Bank as been exceptionally mild and constructive. All the indicators of quality of life are higher there than any of the surrounding Arab states. And all this was accomplished with comparatively little violence from the conquering settlers (the norm is harsh violence from conquerors; the action of the most extreme settlers is peanuts in comparison)
Yes, it’s the old “our blacks are better off than in their own countries” argument – making a surprise comeback into Western political thinking. And yes, Israeli occupation might be “better” than the colonization of Australia or the Armenian genocide, but this is hardly a reason to support it, no?
But even if you do accept the twisted logic according to which one crime legitimize another, supposedly milder one, Landes, like most Neo-Cons, is still avoiding the heart of the matter when it comes to the occupied territories: the existence of two populations on the same territorial unit (Jews and Arabs), one having full citizen rights and the other very partial ones.
Recently, I had a conversation with rightwing Israeli writer Ben-Dror Yemini in which he referred to the situation in the West Bank as “Apartheid-land”. We discussed the application of this specific term, and Yemini even claimed to have used it in public as well, but I couldn’t find any reference to that. Anyway, while I didn’t agree with most of his conclusions – Yemini supports evacuation of settlements but keeping the IDF’s presence in the West Bank – his analysis was pretty honest. When dealing with the legitimacy of the settlements, the policy of separation and the lack of rights is the real issue that needs to be addressed. Unlike Yemini, Landes prefers not to see the elephant in the room.
For a more detailed discussion of the Israeli interpretation to the legal status of the West Bank and Jewish settlements in it, check out this post.