Posted by: Lister | January 17, 2008

The Hands of Esau

Uri Avnery gives us another Biblical reference:

One of the most moving dramas in the Bible tells about our old, blind forefather, Isaac, who wanted to bless his eldest son, Esau, a reddish and hairy hunter. But the second son, the homebody (or rather tent-body) Jacob, exploited the absence of his brother and went to his father in order to steal the blessing. He wore Esau’s clothes and covered his arms with hairy goat skins. The ruse nearly failed when the father felt the arms of Jacob and his suspicion was aroused.

That’s when he uttered the famous words: “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau” (Genesis 27: 22).

Yet Jacob, the impostor, did receive the blessing and became the father of the nation which was named after him (he was also called Israel). It seems that Ehud Olmert is a true successor: there is no connection between his voice and his hands.

[…] Before Annapolis, during Annapolis, and after Annapolis, nothing at all was done to promote the Two-State Solution. The negotiations were about to begin – any moment now – a year ago, and now they are again about to begin – any moment now. Yes, the “core issues” – borders, Jerusalem, refugees – will be addressed. Sure. Any moment now.

But in the meantime, the hands of Esau are working feverishly. All over the occupied territories, the settlements are being enlarged. The existing outposts remain untouched; new ones spring up from time to time. Around them, a well-choreographed dance has evolved, a kind of formal ballet executed by the settlers and the army. The settlers set up a new outpost, the army removes it, the settlers return and set it up again, the army dismantles, and so forth.

In the meantime, the outpost gets bigger and bigger. The government connects it to the electricity and water systems and builds a road. And the army, of course, protects it day and night. We cannot leave good Jews at the mercy of the evil Palestinian terrorists, can we?

Bush knows all this and still continues to blabber that “the illegal outposts must be removed.” And so it continues: the voice is Jacob’s voice, the hands are the hands of Esau.

But one cannot fool all of the people all of the time, to quote another American president who was slightly more intelligent than the present incumbent.

And so, after Olmert and Bush repeated the mantra about removing the outposts and freezing the settlements, one of the journalists popped an innocent question: How does this fit together with the announcement about the building of a huge new housing project at Har Homa?

If anyone thought that this would embarrass Olmert, he was sadly mistaken. Olmert just cannot be embarrassed. He simply answered that this promise does not apply to Jerusalem, nor to the “Jewish population centers” beyond the Green Line.

“Jerusalem” – since the time of Levy Eshkol – is not only the Old City and the Holy Basin. It is the huge tract of land annexed to Israel after the Six-Day War, from the approaches to Bethlehem to the outskirts of Ramallah. This area includes the hill that was once forested and called Jebel Abu-Ghneim, now the site of the big and ugly Har Homa settlement. And the “population centers” are the big settlement blocs in the occupied Palestinian territories, which President Bush so generously presented to Ariel Sharon.

This means that almost all the extensive building activities that are now going on beyond the Green Line are not covered by the Israeli undertaking to freeze the settlements. And while Olmert publicly announced this, President Bush was standing at his side, smiling foolishly and painting on another layer of compliments.

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