"Mobs of Jewish settlers went on a rampage in the West Bank Monday, attacking Palestinian laborers and setting fire to agricultural land to protest against an Israeli government crackdown on unauthorized outposts in the territory.
Six Palestinian laborers riding on a minivan were injured when stone-throwing settlers attacked them, the workers said.
The violence comes as the Obama administration is pressuring Israel to honor long-standing pledges to tear down wildcat settlement outposts in the West Bank and to freeze expansion in existing, government-sanctioned settlements.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has balked at the U.S. demand to halt construction in existing settlements and faces stiff resistance within his hard-line government against taking down about two dozen of the outposts. The disagreement has caused a rift between the allies.
It has also put Jewish settlers and their backers in the Israeli government on the defensive.
Monday's violence was all deep inside the West Bank, where most of the hard-line settlements are located." Yahoo news.
I have some sympathy for Natahyahu. He has the problem of reconciling Americans' notions of Israel and their role as protectors and sponsors of Israel with Israeli and Zionist notions of Israel as a resolutely independent country that does not take "guidance" from anyone outside its own polity. Americans have tended to think that in this relationship "who pays, says." Natanyahu does not accept that. This is a problem for him.
Israel was founded to foster the interests of the "Jewish People," not the interests of the Palestinian Arabs (Muslim or Christian) or the United States. There is an inherent problem in American relations with Israel that starts with the idea of "the Jewish People." The notion of the Jews being a "people" is a bit alien in America where Jews are traditionally thought of as a religious affiliation rather than an ethnic grouping. American government does not deal domestically with Jews as other than a religious choice. There are no set-aside preferential programs for Jews, no affirmative action, no immigration quotas (that I know of). The armed forces, the Foreign Service, etc. do not have promotion quotas for Jews in the way these institutions have quotas for African-Americans, Asians, Amerindians, etc. They are not officially considered to be an ethnic group any more than are Catholics, Buddhists, Wikkans, etc.
A large number of Americans think of Israel as a "project" of recompense and penitance towards the Jews for collective failure in not having somehow stopped Nazi mass murder against them. Another large group of Americans are simply waiting for the rapture and the "end of days" role of the Jews.
Israelis, not surprisingly do not see themselves in these terms. Typically, they are highly nationalistic and focused on their own task of survival as a "nation" against the hostile forces of militant Islam and competing Arab nationalism. Israeli interest in religion as opposed to a supposed ethnic identity varies widely. Many Israelis are not in the least religious. Others are so religious that they reject the concept of the Israeli state itelf as inherently impious.
Natanyahu and his colleagues in government are clearly focused on the state interests of Israel.
The Obama Administration seems to see Israel as a client state within the sphere of American interests, a client that should understand who is "the big dog."
A contest of wills between these two understandings is rapidly emerging. pl