Filed under: Israel
I was going to write something about this, but one of Andrew Sullivan’s readers beat me to it.
As far as Etzion and southern settlements go: I encourage you to take a look at a map of settlement activity from Ir Amim. Ir Amim is a wonderful organization, and a great way for Jews and non-Jews alike to understand Jerusalem (where I lived while I was in Israel.) I think you will find that settlements are too complex to lump entirely into the “bad column”. Some settlements are innocuous. Some are heinously awful. Ir Amim has done a great job of determining which is which, and I encourage you to make use of them when you talk about settlement activity. I think it will provide you with more nuance when you approach this debate.
Israeli settlements on the West Bank are illegal, but when you make judgments about the character of a particular move by Netanyahu, the particular nature of the settlement you’re talking about comes into play. The Etzion Bloc were kibbutzes that were overwhelmed in the War of Independence by Jordanian troops after a long last-ditch battle to protect the southern approach to Jerusalem, and many of their civilian inhabitants were massacred. That story is the stuff of Israeli patriotic legend; re-establishing them has a different feeling about it than tossing down entirely new religious hilltop settlements on stolen land.
On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that Palestinians don’t get to start up settlements at the villages they lost.
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