My new article is up at Slate – on the dispute over settlements and why Obama’s approach is better for Israel. An excerpt:
…Diplomatic entreaties over the two-state solution will continue in closed rooms. The dispute over the settlements, however, is likely to remain public. In that dispute, Obama is working for the classic Zionist goal of a thriving democratic state with a Jewish majority. Netanyahu is undercutting that strategic goal by sticking to a Zionist tactic that became obsolete decades ago.
A look at the history of settlement shows why. Before 1948, settling the land was one method used by Zionists in building a new Jewish society and working toward independence. “Settlement” normally referred to an agricultural community. The idea was that Jews must return not only to their homeland, but to the soil itself. The intellectuals sent themselves to the countryside. Most settlements were either communes-kibbutzim-or cooperative farming villages-moshavim. Both were intended to be the foundation of a socialist society.
Settlement was also-perhaps primarily-a tool in the struggle between two national movements, Jewish and Palestinian Arab, over one homeland. Particularly after the first proposal to partition Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state, in 1937, the placement of new settlements was intended to stake a claim to more of Palestine and to determine the borders of the Jewish state-to-be. In the 1940s, kibbutzim also served as the base for the Palmah, the nascent Jewish army. Settlement was the tactic of a revolutionary movement.
In 1948, the revolution succeeded, and the state of Israel was established. Settlement, like the secret weapons caches under kibbutz cowsheds, became an anachronism….
Read the rest at Slate, and comment there are here at SoJo.