In their attempt to prove allegiance to the settlers, right-wing ministers are finding creative new ways of misleading the public.
The controversy over the slated evacuation of a West Bank outpost reached a fever pitch this past week, with government ministers trying to outdo each other to prove their allegiance to the 50 families living in Amona, located in the heart of the West Bank.
While the state promised it would evacuate Amona, built entirely on private Palestinian land, back in 2010, it has found every possible way to delay the inevitable. According to the latest High Court decision, the state must demolish the outpost by December of this year, a decision that has pushed the government into a crisis over Amona’s fate — and by extension the fate of the rest of the over 100 unauthorized illegal outposts spread across the hilltops of the West Bank.
Now as Amona’s evacuation nears, at least in theory, right-wing ministers are repeatedly making the misleading claim that the state destroys homes belonging to Jews, yet refrains from doing the same thing to Arabs.
Culture Minister Miri Regev wrote on her Facebook page that she did not see “similar treatment toward dozens of illegally-built homes in the Negev, Galilee, and Wadi Ara.” Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin says that he “expects the High Court justices to show diligence and decisiveness, similar to decisions made on illegal Arab building.” There are many other examples.
Of course Amona and Palestinian construction are totally unrelated, apart from the right-wing tendency to respond to every unfavorable development by yelling “But the Arabs!” or “But the leftists!” The state promised to evacuate Amona in 2010, such that talking about “diligence and decisiveness” when it comes to a process that has taken more than six years is a joke. But the big lie — or rather the truth — is that the state certainly does destroy Arab homes, and it does it diligently, decisively, and persistently.
In 2015 Israeli authorities demolished 982 homes belonging to Bedouin citizens in the Negev. A year before that authorities demolished 1,073 homes. The Bedouin have a real claim to the land that clashes with the state’s claim. In Amona, on the other hand, there is no controversy over the fact that the land on which the outpost was built belongs to Palestinians — only over the right of Jewish Israelis to expropriate that land. Apropos decisiveness, I suggest Yariv Levin leaf through court documents on home demolitions and look up the number of times an Israeli court recognized Bedouin ownership over the land and prevented demolition of homes. I doubt the number will be significant.
In Area C of the West Bank — under full Israeli military and civil control — Israeli authorities demolished 250 “illegally built” Palestinian homes thus far in 2016, leaving 1,000 people without shelter. This in addition to punitive home demolitions in a Palestinian population of just 100,000 (in Area C).
Of course, politicians are not the sole culprits spreading this lie — journalists who do not challenge them with facts, do not bother to report on the housing crisis and home demolitions among the Arab population are also at fault.
This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.