Friday, November 17, 2006

Amos Elon on Yigal Allon
"In the intoxicating atmosphere after victory in a sudden war mystically named for the Six Days of Creation, Israel rejected Hussein's offer [peace if Israel withdrew from East Jerusalem and restored the rest of the occupied West Bank to Jordan]. It insisted that what was by then euphemistically called "reunited" Jerusalem (including the former Jordanian sector) would be Israel's national capital lanezach nezachim ("for ever and ever"). Israel further expected Jordan to cede the entire Jordan Valley from south of the Lake of Galilee to the Dead Sea, as well as much of the heavily populated Palestinian area between Jerusalem and Hebron, including Bethlehem. This was the so-called Allon plan of June 1967, named after Labor Minister Yigal Allon. Allon, later Avineri's boss in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, personally backed the first successful settlement attempt by religious fanatics (first as illegal "squatters") into the predominately fundamentalist Muslim town of Hebron. As a result, Hebron became the festering source of dark hatreds and violent clashes that culminated in 1994 with the massacre by a settler of thirty Palestinians praying inside the main mosque.

Between 1967 and 1978, Yigal Allon expanded his "plan" to include several other heavily settled Palestinian territories. At his urging, the original squatters' colony of Hebron was officially adopted and subsidized; the government built the settlers' houses on confiscated private land and surrounded them with barbed wire and searchlights from high watchtowers. (Pier Paolo Pasolini on a visit to Israel at the time was quoted as saying that only Jewish masochists would reconstruct in their own country the architecture of the Nazi concentration camp.) Parts of the main local mosque were handed over to the settlers to serve them as a synagogue. I remember asking Allon at the time why he insisted on approving such drastic steps. He answered, condescendingly, that the Palestinians "must simply learn" to live with us. As for peace with Jordan, he added, sooner or later Jordan simply had to make peace with Israel. It had no other alternative if it wished to survive."
Josh Marshall and his wife just named their son for Yigal Allon.

update and more:
"To be fair, the right didn't erase the Green Line. In my own research on settlement history, I found the instructions to do that in the office files of Yigal Allon, a leader of the socialist left in the country's early years."

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