Lest anyone be tempted to dismiss the title of this issue as unduly melodramatic, we would like to call attention to an early November meeting of the Council of Settlers of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. According to its bimonthly newspaper, Aleph Yud, the settlers decided to take an “active stand” against the Peres government’s efforts to reach some agreement with King Hussein of Jordan about the future of the West Bank. “The plans attributed to the prime minister,” they declared, “constitute a gross violation of the Law of Return,” and “any government in Israel which turns over sovereignty to the enemy will be considered illegal, a government which should not be obeyed.” According to a report in the daily Hadashot, heads of settlements are considering protests which will “interfere with the regular order of daily life in the state.”
The Defense Ministry, which is responsible for “administering” the Occupied Territories, responded by adopting the attorney general’s recommendation to close the newspaper for “incitement and hostile propaganda.” But eliminating the messenger cannot dispose of the message. The settlement movement which nourishes such sentiments is no marginal political phenomenon in Israel. Its political mentors abound in the Knesset and even in the cabinet, and many of its members are functionaries in the state apparatus. It is an armed vigilante network that is largely responsible for the intensifying violence against Palestinians.
The most militant expression of the settler movement is the “Jewish terrorist underground.” An excellent account of this terrorist network by Robert Friedman appeared in the November 12 edition of the Village Voice. Friedman’s account notes the extent to which American settlers, especially those recruited through Meir Kahane’s Jewish Defense League, have played a leading role in the underground. Friedman also sheds light on “one of the best kept secrets in America’s ostensibly liberal Jewish community” — namely “the tremendous [financial] support it has given to Gush Emunim and Rabbi Kahane.” The Voice story names Yehuda Schwartz, editor of the Brooklyn-based Jewish Press, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind and a number of wealthy individuals and influential rabbis among those who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the Gush underground. Meir Kahane, according to Friedman, “has collected millions of dollars from American Jewish businessmen.” The FBI recently implicated Kahane’s JDL in the October 11 California bombing that killed Alex Odeh of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Incredibly, the JDL has a “religious exemption” from filing financial statements with the New York secretary of state’s office. Among the JDL’s financial “angels” is Reuben Mattus, founder and president of Haagen-Dazs. “If they needed money, I gave it,” says Mattus. Perhaps ice cream consumers should know that part of the premium they pay for Haagen-Dazs goes to finance the racist and terrorist activities of Kahane in this country and in the Middle East.
This issue features a short account of some of the Central Intelligence Agency connections of Nadav Safran, the director of Harvard University’s Center for Middle East Studies. At its annual meeting on November 24, the Middle East Studies Association formally censured the center’s director for violating the MESA policy on disclosure of funding sources. MESA also called upon “university-based international studies programs to refrain from responding to requests for research contract proposals from the Defense Academic Research Support Program [of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency] or other intelligence entities.” These resolutions passed by an overwhelming majority. A stronger resolution, unequivocally condemning clandestine agency funding as incompatible with scholarship and free intellectual inquiry, was narrowly tabled for consideration at next year’s meeting. Its supporters are optimistic that this resolution, too, will pass then.