Friday, August 27, 2010

A Very Fair Presentation of the YESHA Position

Lenny Ben-David alerted me to this post by Fred Barnes, who seems to be here in Jerusalem (first George Will and now Barnes) and I've extracted:

In Defense of Settlers

When direct talks begin next week between Israelis and Palestinians, the fate of Jewish settlers in the West Bank – tens of thousands of them – will be a major issue in the negotiations. But the settlers themselves won’t be part of the discussion. Nor have American officials involved in the talks been willing to meet with them.

You’ve probably heard that the settlers are an obstacle to peace. That’s not exactly true. Their absentee role in the peace process is different. They’re opposed to an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that would uproot a large number of settlers from their homes or would leave Israel with inadequate security, at least from their viewpoint.

Obstacles or not, they’ve become “the most stereotyped and demonized people in the world,” says Dani Dayyan, the leader of the Yesha settler council for the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza. Yet the settlers have a case. It’s neither incoherent nor unreasonable, but it’s politically unacceptable and thus off the table in the new talks.

The settlers insist, for starters, that their settlements aren’t located on “occupied” Palestinian territory. Rather, they live on “disputed” territory, claimed as a homeland by both Palestinians and Jews (some of whom don’t consider themselves Israelis). “This is my homeland,” Dayyan says. “How can you ‘occupy’ your homeland?”

And Israel has a “morally flawless” claim to the West Bank and other land it captured in the Six Day War in 1967, according to Dayyan. “We took what we thought was ours in a defensive war” against Arab countries, he says. “The rule that winner takes all was set by the Palestinians,” since they were prepared to claim any land seized in the war.

The settlers also point to the ancient past. “Jewish civilization and history come from Judea and Samaria,” Dayyan says. “Everything Jewish was born” in the West Bank. King David never visited Tel Aviv, but “his first capital was Hebron” in the West Bank. Today, a Jewish settlement has been established in the heart of Hebron.

There’s an overriding concern. Israel’s security would be jeopardized without settlers in the West Bank, Dayyan insists. “We are the guarantee of Israel’s security. Israel is indefensible without Judea and Samaria.” At one point, Israel is 9 miles wide. The Ben Gurion Airport is “geographically controlled by the hills of Samaria.” Thus, he says, Hamas or al Qaeda terrorists with shoulder-fired rockets could attack the airport and “paralyze” the country.

The worst fear of the settlers is that the West Bank, were it to become a Palestinian state, might fall under the control of Hamas, which favors terrorism as a tactic and the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, it was “ethnically cleansed of a Jewish presence,” Dayyan says. Hamas now controls Gaza.

“It’s na├»ve to think something different would happen if the West Bank is separated from Israel,” he says. “It would be completely impossible to defend Israel without Judea and Samaria.” Besides, Hamas and “Islamic fundamentalist groups won’t recognize an agreement” that provides for Israel’s security.

...The new round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is aimed at producing a “two-state solution” – that is, Israel as a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian state. Dayyan, as spokesman for the settlers, favors a one-state solution, “wholly in Israeli hands.” That’s the “only chance for security to prevail,” he says.

That's a pretty fair summary. But Barnes came via KAIROS and they are not that pro-Israel. They published a document that came under attack in that the document aimed

* To bring about a total Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines by means of economic sanctions.
* To neutralize the support of Christian Zionists and any other Christians for Israel.

Barnes seems to be backslapping his hosts.

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diesto said...

I heard from a right-wing Galut jew (who obviously does not live in the settlements, but sends his children to yeshivah there) that "the settlements are an important bargaining chip for peace negotiations" i.e. "show them we pay a high price".

How cynical can you get?

Gert said...

This is in response to your comment on the Snow blog, re Gideon Levy:

Gee, if only the Arabs hadn’t come to the Land of Israel in 637-38 and conquer the territory, oppress the Jewish population that managed to survive previous oppression from Rome & Byzantium and run the country down. But they did that and tried conquering Europe, too. And they’re “victims”?

How can you reasonably go and blame modern day Palestinians for what their forebears allegedly did half a Century ago? Do you realise that that is precisely the motivation of the Milosevic/Karazic clique, re Muslims in their part of the world?

So this is your justification for being a settler? Revanchist Zionism?

And do you really believe, no matter what faux-justifications you might invoke, that the world will stand by and allow you to conquer the West Bank completely and without opposition?

You aren't just Jewish, you're also American: do you believe the Mexicans have a case for reconquista?

If you stuck to purely theological arguments I might have some respect for them. In reality you're mendacious and self-serving.