Gaza In Theory and Practice


"I tell myself, hey only fools rush in," Sammy Hagar sang back in the twentieth century. But even the leadfooted Arab-American rocker (whose struggle against David Lee Roth for Van Halen's lead vocals enacted the conflict between Arabs and Jews in an even more tragic microcosm) could not have predicted Avi Farhan, the Libyan-born Israeli settler who is vowing to stay on in his home overlooking the Mediterranean—even if that means becoming a citizen of the Palestinian Authority.

To give an idea of how complicated Farhan's story is: If the government of Israel succeeds in evacuating him in August, this will be the second time he's been uprooted from a settlement; he led a famous protest after getting the boot from the Sinai in 1982, and by his own description settled in Gaza at the urging of then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. Nor do Farhan's Nile-to-Euphrates religious Zionism and fondness for mouldy talking points about the Land Without A People make him a model of Peace Now-style love 'n' understanding. But like Abraham Simpson, he's got something you Harvard boys haven't got: life experience. This is from an interview with Laila El-Haddad (in which Haddad, autopiloting a few talking points of her own, unwittingly reveals the crux of the matter):

All I want to do is remain, as a Jewish settler, in Eli Sinai in Gaza, just like Palestinians who live in the Um al-Fahem in Israel.

Um al-Fahem is a Palestinian village. Eli Sinai is an illegal colony built on occupied land.

We are a village, too. The word "settlement" is merely a lexicon—just a figure of speech. It just means settling down in one place. It's not the way the world is saying—that we conquered the territory. They made it into a negative word. Um al-Fahem is a settlement just like Eli Sinai.

But Israeli settlements are racist by their very nature—only Israeli Jews can live there. Palestinians from Gaza cannot live there.  On the other hand, you can live in Um al-Fahem.

I can't even walk by Um al-Fahem—I'll get shot.

Theoretically speaking…

So except for the whole getting-shot part, it might work out. Farhan claims to have plenty of "friends in Gaza," he knows his own situation better than anybody else, and hell, plenty of great things have started out as theories. The policy of evacuating and razing settlements is a particularly dismal example of a government assigning itself to solve a problem it created. Unlikely as it is that Farhan will be able to live in peace (or live at all) under a PA government, he deserves some credit for putting self-interest (and his vision of turning the strip into a new "French Riviera") ahead of the need to avoid "provocations" on either side. Good luck to a man who proves how inventive people can be when beachfront property is at stake.


NEXT: Supreme Court Mulligans

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  1. If self-interest can trump nationalism, then there is hope yet for peace.

    I’d declare myself Albanian if I could have beachfront property in my town. Just tell me where to sign.

  2. “Avi Farhan, the Libyan-born Israeli settler”

    Avi was born in Arab lands. Isn’t he the same race as the Palestinians?

  3. his vision of turning the strip into a new “French Riviera”

    I’m sure that Hamas will be thrilled with the idea.

    Seriously, though you have to admire the guy’s Eddie Willers act, he clearly makes your average arch-Zionist look sane by comparison.

  4. Race is a tricky subject to say the least. As near as any scientist can tell it doesn’t exist objectively, in that your genes are as different from people of the same race as they are from people of a different race.

    Subjectively, of course, race is a big issue. My point being that he self identifies as a jew, lives on a jewish settlement and is considered as a jew by the palestinians. Since race is purely subjective the subjective opinions of all concerned are sufficient to establish that the man is not the same race as the palestinians.

    This is an important point that is often overlooked, but our history is replete with examples that racial categorizations have very little to do with fact. Just look at the nazi classifications for jews and others.

  5. Individualism? Trumping nationalism?

    How gullible are you people?

  6. By that definition of race the fight over Northern Ireland was an interracial conflict. I agree that race has no objective meaning. Maybe we should stop using the term racist. It gets the reader to feel outraged and support a cause, but it doesn?t give any real information. I can see how only allowing Jews on a settlement is discriminatory, but if we?re talking about discrimination in the Middle East, let?s look at the entire picture. The Ottoman Empire discriminated against non-Muslims by allowing violence towards them long before Israel existed. That is why Christians asked for Lebanon?s creation. The Arab Jews were kicked off their land by Arab governments long before any Palestinian movement. Half the Jews in Israel come from Arab lands, yet there is to international pressure on Arab governments to compensate them. The Saudi Arabian government treats non-Muslims as second-class citizens. Women also have second-class status there. If anyone wants to end discrimination in the Middle East I support that, but you have to apply to same standards to every country.

  7. I thought Bush “solved” this problem? 🙂

    The last two centuries are littered with such centrally-designed utopian projects.

  8. jtuf: Part of being racist (whatever it means) in the context of greater Palestine, or the remnants of the OE, one must determine who has title to the land. If I, Dynamist the Jew, prefer to allow only other jews onto my land, who has the standing to tell me that I must act otherwise? I may be discriminitory and “racist”, but it’s my land. If it isn’t my land, who’s is it? And why?

  9. Roth & Hagar, jew and arab united by spandex. All the world needs is tighter pants.

  10. Dynamist,

    The land was appropriated by conquest. Basically we are dealing here with the same attitude seen in the famous property law case Johnson and Graham’s Lessee v. M’Intosh (1823): “The title by conquest is acquired and maintained by force. The conqueror prescribes its limits.”

  11. I don’t get this Avi Farhan guy. He’s putting himself in a position where BOTH Arab and Israeli fanatics would score political points by killing him.

    His life would be like that beerhall scene in The Pink Panther.

  12. Dynamist, The land was appropriated by conquest. Basically we are dealing here with the same attitude seen in the famous property law case Johnson and Graham’s Lessee v. M’Intosh (1823): “The title by conquest is acquired and maintained by force. The conqueror prescribes its limits.”

    I’m praying to God that response was directed to Dynamist’s 4:53AM post about Greater Palestine and not to his 4:54AM post about Roth, Hagar, and Spandex.

  13. Maybe he has confidence that his enormous cast iron balls will protect him from snipers.

  14. “His life would be like that beerhall scene in The Pink Panther.”

    then, Mr. NG, I hereby nominate Tom Crick to play the beer hall wench with the blades coming out of her boobs.

    which two volunteer to be the bathroom stall would-be assassins?

  15. Lee Roth vs. Hagar – now there’s a conflict whose supporters make no rational sense to me. I mean, it’s Van Halen. Fun to listen to, but who cares who the lead singer is?

  16. This might put me afoul of Rick Barton, but I much prefer Roth over Hagar. I’m not opposed to Sammy having his own band, but he can’t just appropriate the old name. I’m pro Van Israel, even if it was known for a long period as Van Palestine.

    paging Stevo…

    Hakluyt: If title by conquest is valid, there will be no peace. And once the conqueror (the OE?) is gone, wouldn’t the title vanish with it?

  17. Dynamist,

    Not to worry-I’m not into metal. I like New Wave and old school punk. Especially, THE RAMONES!! Including the wonderful Joey Ramone. OK, I just mentioned a Jewish Punk rocker. Can anyone think of an Arab?

    Speaking of Punk, check out these gals and guy.

    I saw em here in Denver. They are the Emmas, and they ARE old school punk! Listen to their songs on the site. “I wanna wait” and “I don’t wanna die” are pure genius.

  18. DAMMIT, Rick.

    they’re playing here in chicago at Cal’s when we’re out of town. dammit dammit dammit. cal’s has a neat t-shirt : eat, drink, have fun, get the fuck out.

    didja see that little fyodor is there, too. that’s the link that our own fyodor gives in his handle. could it be???


  19. Hey drf,

    Yep, that’s our fyodor! One and the same. I saw fyodor and his band, which is great, at the same show with the Emmas…the 2nd time for me to experiance fyodor’s band:

    Too bad that you’re gonna be gone then. I’m thinking of going out to Chicago for that show.

  20. drf,

    Didja get a chance to listen to Emmas’ songs on their site? Whaja think?

  21. Arab & Jew, Hagar & Roth.

    Does that make Gary Cherone a Crusader?

  22. DAMN. d’oh. we’re visiting the adirondacks then. hrumph.

    i liked “wanna wait”. “don’t wanna die” wasn’t up when i tried to listen.

    still – sounds like a great show.

    next time you see him, give him a shout from me!


  23. Cynical reflection time.

    People griped that the current Israeli administration would never remove those illegal settlements.

    Now that the current Israeli administration is removing those illegal settlements, people are griping.

    Order is kept in the universe.

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