Israeli Settlements: They're Not Helping Holocaust Survivors Or the Peace Process

As we remember the horrors of the Holocaust during this week of remembrance, Israeli leaders strive to build permanent homes for these battled souls. On Tuesday, Uri Ariel, the Minister of Housing approved the construction of 50 additional housing units, specifically earmarked for Holocaust survivors. This sounds justified at first. However, these homes are set to be established beyond the infamous Green Line.

The Green Line is used to refer to the imaginary line that indicates Israeli borders before the Six-Day War. Israel has received much criticism in the past for constructing homes beyond this Green Line in the past. As recent as November 2012, European nations condemned Israeli officials for approving the construction of over 1200 housing settlements in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Yet the question remains, do the tenants change the scenario?

In this case, Holocaust survivors are expected to inhabit these units. One must address whether placing them in such a hostile neighborhood and situation is the safest option. Moreover, this would seem as a provocation on the part of Israel, as Abbas and other Palestinian leaders and American leaders including the president have called for the end to settlement construction. By housing these innocent survivors here, they become political pawns in the issue of settlement construction. This does not change the fact that Israel is expanding, via settlements, beyond the Green Line.

Moreover, the timing of this expansion is quite suspect. The announcement was made by Uri Ariel on April 9, days after Holocaust Remembrance Day. That's also just days after damaging reports, echoing the discontent cited in the Dorner Report years earlier, had re-emerged. These reports and surveys, posted by Haaretz, reveal that 92% of Holocaust survivors claim that the state does not allocate enough funds for them.  In 2008, the Dorner Report concluded that about one-third of these survivors were living beneath the poverty line. Moreover, it was discovered that the Israeli government was only compensating individuals a sum that amounted to no more two-thirds of the agreed-upon sum of reparations. Therefore, before one sees this announcement by Uri Ariel as a call to support Holocaust survivors as a moral duty, one must question why these sentiments were not felt and acted on earlier.

For decades, this group in Israel has been ignored and mistreated. The Israeli government is attempting to repair this injustice by housing these individuals in some of the most contested, dangerous, and controversial areas in the region. This seems more of a provocation on the part of the Israeli government as opposed to a sincere sign of homage. 

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Shimon Moshehai

Shimon is a recent college graduate with a bachelors degree in Political Science from UCLA. His research interests are Middle East Politics, Religion, and International Relations.

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