...Here's what I learned about the settlements from the Israeli perspective.
Ancient Jewish rebels hid what came to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls in about A.D. 70 while en route to their dramatic last stand against the Romans, which ended in the Jews' mass suicide and the beginning of the second Diaspora. The Jewish people scattered through the world and the Diaspora lasted nearly 2,000 years -- until 1947 when (in the wake of the horrific Holocaust) the United Nations adopted a plan for the creation of a Jewish state. Those sacred scrolls, which were discovered that same year, 1947, had remained hidden for the entire Diaspora. Notably, most of the scrolls were found in the West Bank, and so legally the Palestinians have a claim to them -- which just further underscores the complexity of this region.
Really, he starts off with 70 CE and, somehow, manages to put in a "legal Palestinian" claim for the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by Jews.
Is that stupid and dumb or what?
Besides the fact that those "ancient Jews" were even more "ancient", having lived in the Land of Israel for some 1300 years or so previous to that revolt (oh, and less than 70 years later, they were again revolting against the Roman occupation regime under Bar Kochba, while creating the literature of the Talmud by the way), if the Jews were there, how can Arabs claim those scrolls?
No archaeology, historical records. No League of Nations, no Arab terror from the Mandate period. No continuous Jewish presence in the country throughout the years of political exile. No reference to waves of immigration from, for example, the mid-18th century. Or that the Arabs conquered the country in 638 CE. Not much at all that would assist you in understanding fundamental aspects of the conflict.
That is just one example of pure ignorance or political bias from Rick Steves, writer of European travel guidebooks and host of travel shows on public television and public radio (www.ricksteves.com).
Another example of intelligent perception on his part:
A more extreme position held by many conservative Jews as well as conservative Christians is that the presence of Palestinians in the West Bank impedes God's will. Therefore, the settlements are God's will and opposing them is the work of the devil.
An example of his command of facts:
Israel is determined to fight what it considers terror in the streets. I was told, "Sometimes we know who the next suicide bomber is before even he does." From 2000 to 2005, the Second Intifada brought a rash of bloody terrorist attacks in Israel. In response, Israel began building a nearly 500-mile-long wall -- which it calls the "Security Barrier," "Anti-Terrorism Barrier," or "Security Fence" -- in the West Bank.
The barrier/fence is how long? Nearly 500 miles? The distance from Eilat in the south to Haifa in the north is 432.5 km which is 269 miles. The original plan was for about 460 miles but, of course, not only is the fence shorter than that expectation but the distance is because it winds in and out and about. It isn't a straight line so that "distance" figure is misleading. (On the fence). Even B'tselem has the length at 440 miles (709 km.) and it is changing all the time.
My suggestion, get yourselves a better tour guide.