My haitus from Jew-news briefly pauses tonight — and good thing because I’ve been dying to see repurcusions from the Israel settlement database that was leaked and revealed by Haaretz!
The background: Haaretz leaked that in 2006 then-defense minister Shaul Mofaz asked aide Baruch Spiegel to research the status of all settlements. Haaretz publicized a copy of the electronic mapping database, revealing sweeping appropriations of private land. The consequence: Israel knew it was stealing land.
The actions: Israeli NGO Yesh Din offered Palestinians pro bono legal counsel to reclaim their properties. It also published an English translation report detailing amounts of land, where and what kind of illegal construction. (No building permit? No zoning plan? Private land?)
The results: Reports the Forward, nothing?
Few Palestinians have engaged the legal route, rightly concerned on two fronts: use of the Israeli high court would legitimize the occupier and, of course, recognition that Israel might rule the appropriation legal.
But perhaps what is most simultaneously hopeful and frustrating here is the confusion among Palestinians about Yesh Din itself:
Still, even those who are prepared to put aside their ideological objections seem dubious about handing their case to Yesh Din and its Israeli lawyers — their only option for free representation. “People are very suspicious,” said Dror Etkes, who coordinates Yesh Din’s legal activities. “They cannot understand why an Israeli organization wants to help Palestinians. It contradicts everything they know about the world.”
Yes, it does. And that’s out work out here in the Diaspora and the blogosphere. It was said very rightly that there are two sides to the conflict: those who want more war, and those who want an end to violence. Let’s pray for success to Yesh Din and all the Israeli NGOs who fight for a better representation of Israel to the Palestinians, the world, and (also very important) to Jews themselves.
In the season of freedom, wouldn’t it be nice to be free from our prejudices also?