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A Stamp for Letters to the Edge of Madness

August 3rd, 2008by Gershom Gorenberg · 15 Comments · Politics and Policy

Gershom Gorenberg

The Israeli Post Office has issued a stamp commemorating the settlements of Gush Katif in Gaza – the settlements evacuated by the Israeli goverment in 2005. Gush Katif commemorative stampThe stamp shows an orange ribbon, originally the symbol of the furious protest movement against the withdrawal. Today the ribbon is the icon of those who have never forgiven the state for evacuating settlements from occupied territory. Below the images of greenhouses and the little kids happily jumping rope is the biblical verse, “And they shall no more plucked up out of their land…” (Amos 9:15), which in context can be read as a promise that no more settlements will be evacuated. Since the current government is negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, based on the premise that at least those settlements beyond the West Bank fence could be evacuated, this promise stands in contradiction to official policy. The settlements beyond the fence are the hotbed of the orange-ribbon movement, of the people who on one level or another question the legitimacy of the government that issued this stamp. At the bottom of the stamp is a list of the evacuated settlements, including Shirat Yam, one of the “outposts” established without government permission. In short, this is a commemorative dedicated not only to the government’s mistake of establishing settlements in Gaza, but also to a movement that deligitimizes the government for its willingness to think, on alternative Tuesdays, about a potentially rational approach to ending the anti-democratic regime in the West Bank.

What’s next? A U.S. commemorative stamp for the KKK?

Superficially, this looks like a poorly considered commercial effort, predicated on the idea that the orange-ribbon crowd will buy lots of stamps, some to collect, some to mail their letters.

More subtly, it’s evidence that governments are not monolithic. They are arenas of contention and infighting. Even at the top, the Olmert government talks of potential withdrawal while continuing to build in the settlements. Lower down, the bureaucracy is full of officials dedicated to the orange ribbon – officials who help build illegal outposts, who make sure that demolition orders against illegally built homes in settlements are never demolished, who even issue stamps meant to rally the hardline forces against giving up one more house. The postal service serves the outer edge of madness, and now has issued a stamp for letters to that destination.

Related posts:

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The Extremists of Your Own City Come First

At a Settlement, a Battle Over Both Law and Judaism

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15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Warren // Aug 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    http://agmk.blogspot.com/2008/07/stamp-to-commemorate-gush-katif.html – “It’s like someone who rapes and murders his victim and then erects the tombstone.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/942325.html – the stamp was initiated by MK Uri Ariel from the National Religious Party. I knew MK’s got a postage allowance, I didn’t know they got to commission their own stamps. The article mentions government approval, but doesn’t say by what governmental body.

    The link to the Israel Postal Company site says the stamp was designed by Aaron Shevo. Here is some of his other work.
    http://www.shevo.com/pictures/cat.asp?id=22&from=We%20won%27t%20forget%20-%20Gush%20Katif&lang=eng
    He’s also designed other Israeli stamps as well as a Rabin commemorative coin.

  • 2 Chris Dornan // Aug 3, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    It is indeed insane. Surely only this could happen in Israel! As insane as it is, and as totally wrong-headed and so on, I can’t help being struck in an admiring kind of way by this kind of dissent making its way onto postage stamps. Where next: the currency?

    You point about the non-monolithic nature of governments is an important one, one that often gets overlooked.

    As we are looking at dissent, consider this. Isn’t this kind of contradiction just the point that Ahmadinejad keeps banging on about. (Forget the normatives for a moment: just look at the structure of the situation.) The above vitality convinces me that Israel will achieve resolution, but the new just dispensation will be free of these contradictions and the Imam’s prophesy will have come to pass. No?

  • 3 William Burns // Aug 3, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    Run, kids! Before you get crushed by giant tomatoes!

  • 4 Rebecca // Aug 3, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    And what is the giant Jewish star with the open door?

    And the names of the settlements – printed in something that looks like classical Hebrew. Are we supposed to get the feeling that the disengagement occurred sometime in the distant past – and if we just had the correct chapter in one of the historical books of the Tanakh, we’d find the story?

  • 5 Y. Ben-David // Aug 4, 2008 at 8:26 am

    The “KKK”? You progressives certainly have a lot of hatred in you.

    What about the members of the PALMACH who carried out a massacre of Arabs in Lod and Ramla in 1948 (something the Jews of Gush Katif never did, settling on empty land)? They did it in the name of Karl Marx and Theodore Herzl , not the Bible. Would you compare them to the KKK?

  • 6 Y. Ben-David // Aug 4, 2008 at 8:53 am

    The hypocrisy of you so-called “Progressives” is truly breathtaking. You set yourselves up as true “tzaddikim” because you call those “vile settlers in Gush Katif” a Jewish version of the KKK, yet YOU, and YOUR YEDIDYAH CONGREGATION are , at this very moment, sitting on STOLEN ARAB LAND, just like your bastion of “progressivism”, Tel Aviv University, sitting on the stolen land of the Arab village of Sheikh Munis. Don’t forget, the Arabs call the Naqba (Catastrophe) the 1948 War, NOT the 1967 War. It is the loss of your Baka neighborhood and the land of your “progressive” Yedidya Congregation that they mourn to this day. All you are doing in calling the people of Gush Katif vile, false epithets, is pathetically attempting to transfer YOUR GUILT , the guilt YOU FEEL for YOUR LIVING ON STOLEN ARAB LAND to somebody else to salve your guilty concience. I can respect someone who says “Yes, Eretz Israel belongs to the Jewish people but for pragmatic reasons, we should be willing to divide it”, even though I don’t agree with it, but your pathetic “Progressive” attempts to vilify those who did the same thing as the warriors of 1948, only in 1967 (which you suddenly turn around and claim is a crime) and to celebrate the destruction of the flourishing communities they built out of some perverse “morality” that your Arab friends view as hypocritical are truly sickening.
    You are always regaling us with stories about what tzaddikim you are, tracking down Arabs with dubious stories of being victims of “racist oppression” IDF soldiers, and your saintly refusal to pay a bribe to a municipal official in order to get a building permits for your Yedidyah Congregation…well why don’t you really do what needs to be done……track down the Arabs who owned the land whose land you are living and praying on and pay them for it, or better yet, you move out and let them move back in. Then I will really respect your “morals”.

  • 7 Shiiz // Aug 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    I think that what this post says is right. I also think that Y. Ben David is wrong.

  • 8 george a.hilborn // Aug 4, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    This argument reminds me of the Pro-Life fetus moralists who are all hung-up on when life begins but yet are some of the strongest Pro-Death penalty supporters. I would have some respect for their position if they were consistent.

    I see the merit in Y David’s position it can be compared to the ” limousine liberals ” who like Robert Rubin in the Clinton Administration whose policies helped Citi-Group and others in the financial world and decreased oversight helping to perpetuate the mess we are in now and blame everything on the mediocracy of Bush. ” People in glass houses should’nt throw stones”

    Israel holds the land because of military superiority and blood , sweat, and tears. I can’t think of another people in history who gave up any of their home land just for peace ,but there is a first time for everything.

  • 9 Marc // Aug 4, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    This is so trite it is almost a parody of the “left” in Israel. “Ooh, the settlements are bad” whine, whine, whine…Not to mention look what a great job the Arabs did with the land when it was “returned”. Ridiculous. To compare this to the KKK is just plain assinine.

  • 10 William Burns // Aug 4, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    The idea that pointing out a person’s hypocrisy amounts to a refutation of their claims is a fallacy, like saying that because Al Gore uses a lot of energy flying from place to place there’s no such thing as global warming.

  • 11 Sabba Hillel // Aug 5, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Pointing out the hypocrisy of the left (as well as the Al Gore analogy above) does not necessarily show that they are wrong. However, it does show thatthey are following an agenda whichdiscredits their arguments.

    That is, Al Gore has shown that he does not believe in the “global warming” mythology that he is promoting. Similarly, the leftists have shown that they do not believe in the “morality” of their cause but are just interested in destroying the state of Israel. If their arguments are analyzed, we find that they want to set the Eastern borde of the state of Israel at a point 200 miles west of Tel Aviv.

  • 12 fiddler // Aug 6, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Gershom, have you read this? http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1008454.html

    Settler group planning to reestablish Gaza bloc

    The Homesh First Movement is expected to announce Tuesday that settlement groups are planning to return to settlements in Gush Katif evacuated during the August 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The core settlement groups hope to return the minute it is acceptable from a security standpoint, explained Boaz Haetzni, one of the leaders of the movement.
    (…)

  • 13 Y. Ben-David // Aug 7, 2008 at 6:08 am

    Fiddler-
    This item you brought is as crazy and unrealistic as when in the 18th century, the Baal Shem Tov and Vilna Gaon and their students started teaching people to prepare for having the Jews return to Eretz Israel by buying land and building agricultural and urban communities.

    Totally off the wall, right?

  • 14 The Educator Who Can’t See Arab Blood // Aug 8, 2008 at 11:46 am

    [...] (Though all historical parallels are rough, this is the basis for my rhetorical comparison in a previous post between an Israeli stamp adorned with the orange ribbon of the anti-disengagement movement and an [...]

  • 15 Michael // Aug 10, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    I thought this was some kind of sick joke until I saw the picture. I shall never use theses stamps.

    The fact that the orange-brigade rallied near the Gaza border last week in the belief that one day they will ‘resettle’ the place that no other Israeli want to go to, just shows that three years after they are more insane than ever.

    I don’t know if the KKK is the correct analogy for the far-right settlers, but delusions of racial supremacy is one thing they have in common.

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