The First Settlement, the Lasting Danger

Gershom Gorenberg

My article on the first settlement in occupied territories, and the obsolescence of settlement as a value, appears today in Ha’aretz. The original Hebrew is here, and the English translation is here. (No, now that you ask, that’s not my English.)

Also in South Jerusalem on settlement:

Israeli Right Supports Right of Return

At a Settlement, a Battle Over Both Law and Judaism

Journey to Hebron: Nightmares and Hope

Road to Annexation: The Paper Trail

Lies, Damn Lies, and Supreme Court briefs

7 thoughts on “The First Settlement, the Lasting Danger”

  1. Thanks for the historical background.

    A couple of comments: As you pointed out in your earlier posting, there has always been a climate of “lawlessness” in Israel
    carried out in the name of a “higher good”
    ….good examples were the people in the Histadrut helping themselves to millions of dollars there for “other purposes”, including lining their pockets, and the “Sayeret Matkal” which also stole other people’s property “for security reasons”. Thus the settlement movement didn’t create a “climate of lawlessness”, it took advantage of already existing norms. In any event, you yourself pointed out that the Cabinet, did in the end, approve the Merom Golan settlement, so that makes it legal, just as the supposedly “illegal” outposts in YESHA get govermental backing (e.g. being connected to the electricity and water grid and with security coordinated with the IDF) but may be still be
    formally “illegal”
    at the moment because they may still be lacking certain bureaucratic rubber stamps on various documents.
    Also, you yourself stated that you are willing to tolerate Olmert’s corruption as long as he carries out the policy which you define as “the greater good”, i.e. destroying the settlements in Judea/Samaria. So there is really nothing new here.

    Settlements on the Golan Heigthts do not “blur” the borders. It is true they are over the line that defined British Mandatory Palestine, but the Syrians never recognized Israel within that line, so settling the Golan does NOT “blur” border, we may say instead that it shifts them.

    Your quotation from Jared Diamond (“Jared” in Hebrew refers to “going down”) is interesting and provides food for thought. However, who is to decide that settlement is now obsolete because “times have changed”. You may think that but other may disagree. The fact that Olmert and even people in MERETZ are talking about Israeli maintaining the settlement blocs shows that there is a general consensus that at least some settlements are good, also. Unfortunately, Israel has no history of having serious national policies debated in the public, in fact the state-controlled electronic media actively discourages it, so I don’t see any serious forum existing for hammering out questions like this.

  2. I should also be pointed out that while the Cabinet did agree to give up all territories captured in the 6-Day War on 19 June, the decision by the Cabinet to authorize the Merom Golan settlement and also Kfar Etzion occurred AFTER the infamous Khartoum Meeting of the Arab states which issued the “3 Noes” regarding peace with Israel.
    It would seem that the decision to go ahead with the settlements was meant as pressure on the Arab states showing them they had something to lose if they just sat on their hands and refused to talk to Israel.

  3. The cabinet decision to leave the Golan “work camp” in place was on August 27, 1967. The Khartoum resolution was on September 1.

    The cabinet decision on June 19, 1967 was not to give up all territories captured in the war. It covered the Golan and the Sinai, and included border adjustments there as well. No decision was made regarding the West Bank.

    The decision to allow settlement at Kfar Etzion was, it’s true, in September, and was influenced by Israel’s reading of the Khartoum resolution. Prime Minister Eshkol’s decision on Kfar Etzion also came after the legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, and the justice minister, told Eshkol that civilian settlement in the occupied territories violated the Geneva Convention, which Israel had signed. Eshkol knew he was violating international law, and went ahead.

  4. Just curious: Since, as an American, your English is better than that of an Israeli translator, why didn’t you write your article in English at the same time you wrote the Hebrew to insure the former version perfectly matched the latter? Or are you saying that it does match, but you’re not taking the credit for it? I’m sure I’m not the only one who compares both versions as a way of learning Hebrew, which is why I’m asking.

  5. Writing is not just a matter of ideas. It is shaped by the language, by the history of the words and their music. When I write for a Hebrew paper, I have the pleasure of writing in Hebrew. Afterward, the article is translated by their staff, as they would do for any other article written for the Hebrew paper.

  6. Without necessarily endorsing the goals of the settlers themselves, I’ve come to the conclusion that settlement in the occupied territories has the beneficial effect of putting time pressure on the Palestinians to reach an agreement.

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