To return to the new Peace Now website click here.

Ma'ariv: "Anti-Zionist Propaganda" by Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now Secretary General

In the past few weeks, the Settlers Council has launched an advertising campaign under the heading "Judea and Samaria-every Jew's story,"


In the past few weeks, the Settlers Council has launched an advertising campaign under the heading "Judea and Samaria-every Jew's story," in order to blur its political identification and to give the campaign an educational nature.  The ads and brochures are signed by a new organization associated with the Settlers Council, named "Judea and Samaria-the PR center."

The figures recruited for the campaign range from King David and Judah the Maccabee to the matriarch Rachel and the prophet Samuel.  All mobilized on behalf of the battle for the greater Israel vision and the continuation of the occupation.  The goal is to present Judea and Samaria as a region that is inseparable from the State of Israel, as if it were the Negev or Galilee.  In the ads, there are no Palestinians, no roadblocks, no military rule and no terrorism.  According to the Settlers Council, Bethlehem is a Jewish city free of Palestinians, and the entire West Bank is empty territory just waiting to be redeemed by the Jewish people.

Beyond the attempt to embellish reality and paint a false picture, the settler leaders, with the encouragement of Jewish and Christian organizations abroad, are trying to give the political battle over the future of the territories a religious nature, which leaves no room for rational compromise.  Instead of addressing the question of the fate of the territories and the millions of Palestinians living in them as a political and diplomatic question, the settlers wish to position the fate of the territories as a religious and Halachic issue.  This approach is supposed to prevent all believers from accepting a decision that is ostensibly opposed to the law of the Torah, and makes the solution of two states for two peoples a sin opposed to Judaism.

The attempt to stress the religious elements of the conflict is dangerous.  When rabbi turns statesman-the democratic regime loses is authority.  In the name of God, it is permissible to oppose a withdrawal by all means.  This could also lead to extremism and bloodshed.  On the Palestinian side too, there are those who choose to cling to religion as an excuse not to recognize Israel's right to exist.

Contrary to Abu Mazen's government, which views the conflict with Israel as a political conflict that can be resolved through political compromise, the leaders of Hamas say that the Muslim connection to the entire land is historical and religious, and no Palestinian has the authority to give up tracts of land.  As on our side, for them too, the connection between religion and the political conflict negates the authority of an elected government to make concessions and political compromises, and encourages violence.

No one contests the fact that the West Bank territories have religious and Halachic importance for the Jewish people.  However, continuing to hold onto the territories at the price of controlling another people is opposed to the Zionist vision, which advocates a Jewish and democratic state.  The continuation of the occupation is also incompatible with Jewish values based on human dignity, an aspiration for peace and the sanctity of the value of life.

Like in a cigarette advertisement, the Settlers Council's ad also has peaceful expanses of landscape, a rural atmosphere and an uplifting feeling.  Everything is perfect, but it lacks the warning at the end: Continuing to stay in the territories and expanding the settlements is a cancer in the heart of the nation, and could cause the dissolution of the Zionist enterprise.