Another West Bank Settlement Expansion: Silence = Death

Did you ever consider what the State of Israel could accomplish if it didn't dedicate its resources to security (legitimate) and maintaining the occupation (illegitimate)?

Here's a clue. Today's Israeli media reports that the Technion, Israel's MIT, has developed a breathalyzer device that can detect cancer in any organ at a stage far earlier than any existing method.

The device is now in clinical trial but it has already not only distinguished the healthy from the ill "but can detect precisely the kind of tumor" in 92% of the cases. It has successfully detected lung, breast, colon, prostate and brain cancer, all before the subject or his physician had any reason to suspect he or she had cancer at all.

Imagine the implications. Almost all cancers are curable with early detection. If this breakthrough pans out, the cancer scourge could be eliminated.

Of course, scientific research in Israel takes a back seat to politics. Until peace is reached with the Palestinians, Israel will spend most of its financial resources on defense. And on the opposite of defense.

Today's Washington Post reports that Israel is expanding the West Bank settlement of Efrat by 423 acres to enable the increase in settlers from 9000 to 30,000. Efrat is led by Rabbi Steve (Shlomo) Riskin, formerly of Manhattan, a major activist in the effort to retain settlements at all costs.

I don't know how much money is wasted by expanding Efrat. I do know that every settlement expansion contributes to the death of the chances for peace and shortens Israel's life expectancy. As Congressman Gary Ackerman said last week the "downward spiral" to war is produced by "terrorism and the march of settlements."

Less than a month into the Obama administration, the settlers are sticking it to the new President by expanding Efrat. It's a test for Obama and for Special Envoy George Mitchell. Let's see if they pass.

As for Israel, the test is more profound. Is it to be "the light on to the nations" as the Bible mandates by leading in science, medicine and life saving technology or will it continue the "downward spiral" of land seizures and settlements?

The settlement enterprise will, if it continues, be the death of Israel and all its promise. What are we going to do about it? As the AIDS activists aptly said: "Silence = Death."

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