Rabin and the Settlers
August 7, 2001
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On the op-ed page of today's New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman uses his unique ability to communicate with the dead to tell readers, "Yitzhak Rabin knew that the Jewish settlers, if not rolled back, ultimately posed a risk to the entire Zionist enterprise -- much more than the P.L.O. Because if the extremist settlers got their way, and Israel kept the West Bank and Gaza, Israel would become either an undemocratic apartheid state, with a Jewish minority ruling over an Arab majority, or a non-Jewish state."
It's true that Rabin occasionally voiced frustration with the settlers. But to say he viewed them as a greater threat than the P.L.O is just a perverse exaggeration -- a posthumous smear of Rabin. Mr. Friedman doesn't actually quote Rabin making this claim, probably because Rabin never made it. In fact, by framing the issue as whether Israel "kept the West Bank and Gaza," Mr. Friedman distorts the issue. Only a tiny fringe of Israelis wanted to keep all of the West Bank and Gaza. But only a small fringe -- a fringe that emphatically did not include Rabin -- wanted to give back all of the West Bank. And that is what the PLO is demanding -- plus a capital in Jerusalem.
Look at the record. The Associated Press reported in October 1995, "Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin wants to make several large blocs of Jewish settlements in the West Bank -- including three around Jerusalem -- part of Israel permanently, his spokeswoman said Thursday. . . .In an address to the center-left Meimad religious movement Wednesday, Rabin said he wants to annex the West Bank's Jordan Valley and the settlement blocs of Maaleh Adumim, Givat Zeev and Gush Etzion around Jerusalem. Rabin's proposal would keep about 48,000 settlers, or about one-third of the settler population, under Israeli sovereignty."
On January 6, 1994, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced, "Israel Radio reports this afternoon that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin visited the community of Na'ama in the Jordan Valley and told its residents that the Jordan Valley is of vital strategic importance to the security of Israel. According to Rabin, the residents of Na'ama may have some reason to be concerned due to the arrangements pertaining to Palestinian self-rule, but that the Government does not want the community to be uprooted. He promised that the Government will examine ways to strengthen the settlement economically."
According to a report by Reuters on June 6, 1992, candidate Yitzhak Rabin said, "Jerusalem, the confrontation lines, the Jordan Valley, the Golan Heights, have to remain under our control."
And during the period Rabin was prime minister 1992 to 1995, the Jewish population in the West Bank and Gaza grew to 146,207 from 123,184, according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.
If Rabin, as Mr. Friedman claims, thought the settlers were such a threat to the security of Israel, why was Rabin going around assuring the settlers that they were "of vital strategic importance to the security of Israel"? Is Mr. Friedman calling Rabin a liar? Given the choice of believing Mr. Rabin's own words and actions while he was alive, or believing Mr. Friedman's assessment based on mind-reading of the dead, why should anyone believe Mr. Friedman?
Minority Partners: A front-page, above-the-fold news article in today's New York Times runs under the headline "Law Firms Are Slow in Promoting Minority Lawyers to Partnerships." The article goes on at great length, with a chart and a graph -- yet it never defines what it means by a "minority." Do Jews count? Gays? Disabled people? Whites of Hispanic origin? Do both parents have to be minorities or is just one drop of blood enough? The Times never says, so deep is it embedded in racial group-think.
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