Sparsely Populated Palestine

According to Rubin, all Palestine is like Ariel

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin is either delusional or a revolutionary in the art of satire. Her articles and opinion are typically so devoid of truth that they read well as a amusing fiction novel one reads while delayed in La Guardia. Rubin was recently in Israel and Palestine to report on Herzliya conference on Israel security (see: neo-con day camp), her visit paid for by the unbiased Emergency Committee for Israel. Her reporting was more or less what you could expect: Palestine is fine! Israel is the one in danger! Her latest piece covers some of her time spent traveling through the West Bank, visiting various peaceful settlements. +972 gives a great overview of Rubin’s voluntary blindness to the reality of the occupation:

Naturally, Rubin wasn’t taken by her hosts from the Yesha Council (the settlers’ representative body) to Palestinian towns or villages, and the only non-Jews she met were two workers in a Jewish-owned factory. She praises the Israeli landlord for the salary he pays his Arab workers, and engages in a short conversation with the Palestinians, in which she tried to expose them as Hamas-sympathizers, and ends up declaring that “at least for now, economic cooperation has not inspired political realism.” Oh, those ungrateful Arabs.

Rubin is a radical neo-con, so it’s not surprising that her trip to the West Bank reads like a journey to the segregated south, hosted by a hospitable Klan member. Traveling on the Jewish-only highways, Rubin portrays a picture of a pleasant co-existence; she spots a Palestinian in a grocery store and concludes that the boycott attempts goes against the will of ordinary Palestinians. Obviously, she knows nothing about the military courtsthe arrests of children and the tortures, the severe limits on traveling from and to the West Bank or the limited access of Palestinians to Jerusalem. At one point, Rubin claims that 95 percent of the Palestinians have no interaction with the IDF. It’s not clear whether it’s her ignorance that fails her, or if she knows the truth – Palestinians encounter soldiers daily, at checkpoints, during nightly raids, in Jewish Hebron and more – but prefers to engage in propaganda.

In her farcical piece though, Rubin lays this gem:

…What I saw surprised me. Even well-informed consumers of international media imagine that the West Bank is crowded, dangerous and replete with roadblocks and officious Israeli security forces. So when one leaves Jerusalem, crosses the Green Line — a cement wall and a checkpoint (not unlike the set-up for an agent at a U.S. border) — and travels up and down the highways of Samaria (the portion of the West Bank extending north), you realize how little non-Israelis know about the Jews who live in territory that is the focal point of so much international attention.

The media terminology doesn’t comport with one’s direct observations. “Settlements” are not hovels tended by goat herders. Settlers are not uniformly religious. The Palestinians who demand the right of return are generally the descendants of those who left Israel proper in 1948; the region is still sparsely populated and was even more so in 1967.

There is much to say about this snippet. Israeli settlers are certainly not goat herders; the Israeli government provides enough aid for the settlers that they are able to set up shop and properly exploit Palestinian people and resources. Indeed, Rubin hits at the heart of the settlement misnomer. While settlements conjure images of braving hardship in a dangerous land, Israeli settlements are carefully planned and fully financed efforts to control the facts on the ground. Settlements do not have universities and malls and movie theaters. Israeli ‘settlements’ are cities built on land confiscated from Palestinians and built to breed normalcy.

The sparsely populated region, for Rubin, certainly has nothing to do with the defunct Oslo Accords stipulating that Palestinians are only allowed to live in 17% of the West Bank. Driving on Israeli-only roads from settlement to settlement is hardly a good way to see how populated the territory is. Rubin is right, though, in stating that the majority of Palestinian refugees are  descendants of  those who once live in today’s Israel proper. She comes tantalizing close to broaching the topic of those refugees who are prohibited from returning to their homes, choosing to imply the voluntary relocation of 700,000 Palestinians (today 7 million.)  Of course, the Palestinian refugees that ‘left’ their homes in 1948 did not need a change of scenery, but were victims of a systematic process of ethnic cleansing. To say that the refugees ‘left’ their homes and land and nearly all worldly possessions is – predictably, for Rubin – mindlessly adopting the Israeli narrative that has been proved factually incorrect by many sources.

Rubin’s pieces in the Post represents nothing more than sheer propaganda, though, that the Post employs Rubin is not surprising. Likewise, it is hardly surprising that Rubin earned a free trip to Israel. What does surprises me is that anyone takes her words for more than the fiction that it is.

Photo from Ariel University

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