The settlers of the West Bank have accomplished a great many things: They have built entire towns on previously-barren hilltops; they have created a network of schools, religious institutions and cultural centers that rival their counterparts in Israel proper...they have achieved disproportionate influence, through savvy lobbying, clever coalition-building, and appeals to Jewish pride and tradition.
Their greatest achievement, though, is in the interconnected realms of ideology and propaganda. The settlement movement, its supporters, and its apologists (in Israel and in America) have successfully conflated support for their movement with support for Israel and for Zionism itself. They have created a reality in which criticism of the settlement movement has come to equal criticism of Israel...
It is astonishing that what was once so small a movement now defines what it means to be a supporter of Israel. The official position of this blog (yes, we have official positions here) is that the settlements should be fought as if there was no such thing as anti-Zionism, and anti-Zionism should be fought as if there were no such thing as the settlements. This, I think, reflects the centrist position. A centrist on the question of Israel believes that the settlements represent a corruption of Jewish ideals, but that Israel remains the physical manifestation of a righteous cause. The right, of course, believes that settlements are an expression, not a corruption, of that cause. The left, on the other hand, believes that settlements are a manifestation of Zionism's true nature. I disagree with that argument strenuously. But I will say this, though: The left position on this question has the wind at its back.
Let's start from the end:
a. that wind, Mr. Goldberg, is a foul wind (a wind blowing against the direction of travel);
b. the Jewish communities (if you are looking for "illegal settlements", try Armenia), are not a "corruption" but represent the most constant factor of the essential act of Jewish nationalism, which Zionism became in a new organizational form in 1897, for centuries: returning to Eretz-Yisrael, the Jewish patrimony, despite all odds, residing in it, developing it, as formulated in the 13th century by Nachmanides (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, 1194-1270, Spanish Torah scholar and commentator) who counts :
the mitzvah of settling in the land of Israel as number 4 on his list of mitzvot. Hence it is known as the "Fourth Mitzvah." This mitzvah incorporates the command to accept G-d's offer of the land and to live in it. In his commentary, Nachmanides proclaims this doctrine forcefully:
In my opinion, this constitutes a positive command of the Torah, wherein He [G-d] commanded them [the people of Israel] to settle in the land and inherit it; for He gave it to them; and they should not reject the heritage of the Lord! Should it enter their mind, for instance, to go and conquer the land of Shinar [Babylon] or Assyria or another country and settle therein, they would have transgressed the commandment of the Lord...
I know that terminology borrowed from theology doesn't sit well with modern-day liberals, but nevertheless, that idea is what drives the Jews.
c. in other words, that conflation that bothers Mr. Goldberg, is genuine and is an expression of Judaism.
As for the rest of Goldberg's mutterings, I am sorry for his frustration but I and my friends are doing the best we can and I suggest he join us. It's not too late.
And they are not "settlements". Try towns, cities, villages or even Jewish communities. Even as I pointed out, Bill Safire agreed.
P.S. Ron Radosh doesn't think much if Goldberg either.