Migron — Everyone Loses
Today’s ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice will finally bring to an end the protracted saga of Migron, the community of about 300 Israeli settlers living on a hilltop that’s only a 10 minute drive from the outskirts of Jerusalem. The 50 families who live there are now clearly required to evacuate the trailers they live in on a scruffy hilltop, to move to a new cluster of trailer homes hastily constructed over the past few months, barely a mile from Migron.
No one wins here. The 50 families lose their homes, but even more profoundly, they are being forced to surrender something they believe in, the right of Jews to live in a place with deep biblical meaning, and to compromise a deeply felt ideology and mission to settle these lands. They didn’t move to Migron because it was nice, because it was comfortable, or because it was cheap. The moved there because they felt it was their destiny.
The opponents of Migron, the activists from Peace Now and other groups, have their own deep and noble commitments. A belief in two states for two people, a commitment to defending the rights of the occupied Palestinian nation, and a profound commitment to a future for Israel that does not involve the many harsh and undemocratic measures that the occupation has required. They win very little from the evacuation from Migron. The dislocation of these families brings us no closer to a two state solution, and does little to advance their cause on a political level.
The only victory won here is a matter of principle, although it is an important one. And that is the rule of law. Migron was built on land that wasn’t legally owned by the people who settled there. That does not mean that the settlers who moved there ar thieves. They are highly principled believers, who did what their government encouraged them to do. The government that built them roads, provided them with electricity, army guards, and subsidized homes.
It is the government of Israel that failed here. It is the government of Israel that is the felon.
I have spent a good bit of time in Migron. I stayed there for a shabbat weekend, and got to know one of the families who lived there quite well. I’ve gotten to know a man there who has been part of the community’s political and legal struggle against evacuation. They’re not hateful people. They’re living a life of commitment and sacrifice, and I admire them.
I’ve also met some of the Palestinians who own land where Migron was established. They don’t live on that land. They don’t farm that land. Yet their right to that land should never have been violated.
The residents of Migron have until Tuesday to leave. The images of their evacuation will be powerful. Mothers, fathers and children hastily putting their lives and ideals into boxes and garbage bags, to be moved a few kilometers, in the interest of an important abstract principle, a loss for them that will do nothing to bring us any closer to peace and prosperity.