Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Shiloh and Jimmy Carter - 40 Years On

Shiloh, where I live with my wife and where my children were raised and grew up since September 1, 1981, is celebrating the 40th anniversary since its founding in 1978.  On the 1st of the Hebrew month of Shvat, January 9, 1978, the first 8 families and some Yeshiva students arrived and on the 15th, Tu B'shvat, the public ceremony was held.

At that time, Shmuel Katz ran against Haim Landau as a Minister in the new government, a Land of Israel Movement protest was being held outside the Prime Minister's office, Karnei Shomron's land was being prepared, Arik Sharon was planning expansion in the Rafiah Salient and the government was authorizing a limited settlement plan.  The Egyptians arrived in Jerusalem to continue the talks a few days before the founding ceremony with Buhtros Ghali, Ibrahim Kamal and also the American Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Alfred Atherton.

But there is a back story concerning the American administration that should be recalled in connection with the reestablishment of Jewish life in the Hills of Efraim, at the site of the Tabernacle.

Jimmy Carter and his aides were quite opposed to resettlement activity ion Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

On March 8, 1977, then Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin heard this from Carter:

However, with the Likud victory in the May elections two months later, Carter and Company were faced with a new challenge when Menachem Begin, a Land of Israel loyalist was elected.

They had a plan, though:

 On July 19, 1977, Begin came to the White House for a visit and spoke:

To return to Shiloh's founding.  Just at that time, Israel had a delegation in Cairo in a first round of talks following Anwar A-Sadat's Jerusalem visit in November. As Carter notes in his diary on January 30:

That idea of Begin breaking his word was cardinal to Carter and he demanded Shiloh be dismantled.

From William Quandt's book:

And as Jeremy Pressman has observed:

The United States was very concerned about Israeli settlements. When Carter met Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ha’aretz reported, he told the Israeli prime minister “that the U.S. objects to any settlement in the occupied territories.”57 Carter, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Samuel Lewis recalled, “viewed them as illegal and unjustified.”58 

In early May, Carter had U.S. officials privately protest the establishment of a new Israeli settlement at Mes’ha.59 In the summer of 1977, Vance privately told Israeli leaders the United States did not accept the “legitimacy” of settlements.60 In mid-1977, Begin promised Vance that Israel would limit itself to six to eight new settlements “on land within present military bases or on government-owned land.”61  After Israel approved three new settlements in August, Carter reminded Begin privately that settlements were illegal and that Carter might need to reaffirm publicly the 1967 border if Begin continued in this direction. The State Department also publicly condemned the Israeli move.62 

In a September 1977 meeting at the White House, Carter reminded Dayan that the “U.S. has always felt that Israeli settlements on the West Bank are illegal.” With Carter, Dayan promised settlers would only enter in six “military camps” – what Israel called Nahal units – and, more broadly, “no settlement would stand in the way of peace.” Carter reacted by saying he was “still quite concerned about settlements. We consider them to be in violation of the Geneva conference.”63 Dayan’s promise was “the second best and not the best.” The president also asked Dayan to minimize the publicity surrounding settlements or new settlers.64 

In early January 1978, Israel announced new settlements in Sinai, angering Carter and sparking another U.S. missive. In a letter to Begin a few days later, Carter clearly spelled out the U.S. position: “On numerous occasions since [September 26, 1967], United States representatives have expressed the disapproval of, and opposition to, the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories” because they contravene the Geneva convention and “are prejudicial to the achievement of a Middle East peace settlement.” Carter noted Dayan’s words the previous September. Later in the letter Carter warned Begin that it “would be particularly regrettable if a serious setback to the 20 current peace process were to be perceived as a result of Israeli action on settlements.”65 

For the rest of 1978, the Israeli government did not establish any more settlements.66 

In April 1978, Brzezinski was again reviewing the settlement situation for the president. For Begin, Brzezinski wrote, the Dayan statements were “no longer valid.” A different, temporary Israeli freeze also had “now ended.” Begin declined to stop West Bank settlements but would have “due regard for political considerations,” apparently a faint nod to U.S. opposition. Brzezinski concluded: “On ideological and political grounds, Begin is simply not prepared to agree to a full moratorium on all settlement activity. If we hope to persuade Begin to show restraint on this issue, we will have to remind him frequently of our strong opposition to further settlement activity.”67 U.S. officials recognized the Begin government’s deep attachment to the settlement project but were committed to continuing to try to slow it to help advance the diplomatic process...
57 Quandt to Brzezinski, “Israeli and Arab Reactions and Comments,” March 17, 1977, NSA, Brzezinski, Country file, Box 34, folder: “Israel 1-3/1977,” JCL. See also Quandt, Camp David, p. 45; and Carter, White House Diary, pp. 123, 125, 162, 167, 173, 176, 180.
58 Lewis interview, August 9, 1998.
59 In addition to calling in Israeli ambassador Simcha Dinitz, Secretary Vance raised the issue with Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon on May 11, 1977. Brzezinski to Carter, “Israeli Settlement at Mes’ha and Vance-Allon Meeting,” May 16, 1977, NSA, Brzezinski, Country file, Box 34, folder: “Israel 4-6/77,” JCL. These exchanges were consistent with what Brzezinski told Carter to tell the U.S. Amb. to Israel, Samuel Lewis, regarding settlements: “We will continue to make our opposition to these policies known.” Brzezinski to Carter, “Your meeting with Ambassador Samuel Lewis, Wednesday, May 4, 1977, 2:00 pm,” same folder.
60 Sick to Brzezinski, “Summary of Vance’s Middle East Trip,” August 12, 1977, NLC-SAFE 16 A-13-18- 1-2, p. 6. 61 Sick to Brzezinski, “Summary of Vance’s Middle East Trip,” August 12, 1977, NLC-SAFE 16 A-13-18- 1-2, p. 5. On settlements, see also Quandt, Camp David, pp. 81, 83, 111.
62 Quandt, Camp David, p. 100.
63 On this draft transcript of the meeting, most or all of the word conference is crossed out and something is written above it. The word might be convention.
64 Transcript, “Meeting of Foreign Minister Day[an] with President Carter, Monday, 19 September 1977, at White House, Washington, D.C.,” BDP, Geographic, box 14, folder: “Middle East - Negotiations [9/75- 9/77], JCL, pp. 1-2, 11, 14-15; and Quandt to Brzezinski, “Aide Memoire,” September 20, 1977, NSA, 45 Brzezinski, Country file, Box 35, folder: “Israel 8-9/77,” JCL. For a brief assessment of Dayan’s promise, see Quandt to Brzezinski, “Israeli Settlements since September 1977,” memo, February 1, 1978, NSA, Brzezinski, Country file, Box 35, folder: “Israel 1-3/78,” JCL. Quandt also sent “a chronology of our most important private exchanges with the Israelis on the question of settlements” and noted that Carter “has frankly spoken out in press conferences about the illegality of the settlements.” See Quandt to Brzezinski, “Chronology on Discussions Concerning Settlements,” February 1, 1978, same location. The chronology itself was not in the folder but again suggests the frequent attention Carter officials paid to the settlement question. See also Quandt, Camp David, p. 113; and Moshe Dayan, Breakthroughs: A Personal Account of the Egypt-Israel Peace Negotiations (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981), pp. 59-63.
65 “White House to American Embassy, Tel Aviv,” January 10, 1978, NLC-16-101-3-2-7. See also Brzezinski to Carter, “Previous US Votes on UN Resolutions Concerning Israeli settlements,” October 27, 1977, NSA, Brzezinski, Country file, Box 35, folder: “Israel 11-12/77,” JCL; and Quandt, Camp David, p. 179.
66 Gush Emunim, an extra-parliamentary settlers’ movement, established one in late January in Shiloh. Quandt, Camp David, pp. 161-162.
67 Brzezinski to Carter, “Israeli Settlements,” April 19, 1978, NSA, Brzezinski, Country file, Box 35, folder: “Israel 4/78,” JCL. 

I myself have written thrice to Mr. Carter to come and visit to see what has developed here at Shiloh.

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