The Logic Behind Israel's West Bank Settlements.

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The Logic Behind Israel's West Bank Settlements.

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1Doug1943
maig 26, 2007, 4:32pm

Could someone explain this to me? I don't mean the moral case, but the practical/military one. (Morally, Jews had a right to remain in Berlin in 1938, but as a practical measure it was unwise to do so.)

Are the settlements intended to be military outposts in a future Palestinian state?

Or was the idea that they would be the seeds from which gradual Jewish colonization of the whole West Bank would proceed? And if so, how realistic is that?

It would make brutal sense if the settlers had some sort of plan to ethnically cleanse the local Palestinian population, a la 1948. Or, if they thought the demographics would favor them so much that the Palestinians would eventually reach the status of American Indians, who could be confined on a few reservations.

But since neither of these prospects look likely to happen, in what way do the settlements make sense?

I repeat, I am not interested in arguing about the morality of the whole thing, just about its practicality, which I have never seen an argument for (with the exception of Moshe Dayan's view, expressed in his autobiography, that Israeli occupation would bring such social and economic benefits to the Palestinians that their hostility to Israel would fade away).

2EncompassedRunner
Editat: maig 26, 2007, 10:14pm

Nawh, you're "not interested in arguing about the morality of the whole thing" about the
- "settlements"
- "West Bank"
- "ethnically cleans(ing)...a la 1948"
- "the status of American Indians"

Your phrasing of the situation and emotive juxtapositions frame an argument that's so contentious I'm not up for it, except to say, I strongly object to your characterization of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

3Doug1943
maig 27, 2007, 12:59am

And there are hundreds of millions of people who strongly object to calling Palestinian suicide-bombers who blow teenagers at discos into bloody bits anything but martyrs in a Just Struggle to Resist Zionist Occupation of Their Land.

Now I think I understand the logic behind what the suicide bombers are doing. They want to make life intolerable for the Jews, so that they will lose the will to defend their country. It's horrible, but, from their point of view, it makes sense.

But the settlements -- what else should they be called?-- don't seem to make any sense at all, from the Jewish point of view. They seem like a different way to commit suicide, without any advantages.

But there must be someone who can explain their logic.

4EncompassedRunner
maig 27, 2007, 2:04am

Hint: maybe no one feels inclined to offer a platform to someone slinging neo-nazi allusions ("Zionist Occupation," as in ZOG).

5Doug1943
maig 27, 2007, 2:19am

Well, if you can't defend it, you can't defend it. I understand. But maybe someone else can?

Simple question: what was/is supposed to happen to all the Palestinians living in the West Bank?

6almigwin
maig 28, 2007, 8:09pm

doug 1943- I think your question is reasonable, and the hostile objections to it are typical of the unwillingness of zionists to discuss the situation rationally. There is no good reason for the jewish settlements except that the oryhodox jews believe that the land is historically judea and samaria, and that the jews have a religious right to the land, besides having won it in war. However, if the Palestinians are ever to have a separate Palestinian state, it has to be in the west bank and gaza, and the settlements would have to go. This was begun, but there was so much objection by the religious right in Israel, and violence on the part of the Palestinians, that it seems hopeless at the moment. Fatah wants to negotiate for a Palestinian state, but Hamas just wants to fight, and obliterate Israel. since Hamas and Fatah can't come to agreement, and Fatah has a bad reputation for corruption, I don't see how progress can be made. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are suffering greatly, with few jobs, high unemployment, poverty, hopelessness, and a very high birth rate. My hope is that both sides will see the value of the two state solution, and that the other middle eastern countries will assist in making the negotiations happen.

7Doug1943
maig 29, 2007, 12:05am

Almigwin: Yes, I largely agree with you. But I have always been curious about what the people who planned and executed, and are now executing, the settler movement, thought would happen with the Palestinians.

Peoples have displaced each other throughout history. The Jews were driven out of Europe, those who were lucky enough to survive; the Greeks from Turkey; the Greeks from Northern Cyprus; the Armenians from Turkey; the Indians from most of North America; and we could no doubt add dozens of more examples of peoples who were pushed out of the land they were on, or who were outright exterminated, or who were assimilated into the conquering people.

But I don't see how any of these scenarios could apply to the Palestinians.

The Zionists certainly don't want to assimilate them.

They had a chance, briefly, in the immediate aftermath of the war, to try drive them out of the West Bank, but they didn't do it.

They didn't even try, or so I understand, to make their lives so miserable that they would leave (I am talking about the pre-intifada days) -- on the contrary.

So ... what was supposed to happen to them, or with them? What were the settlers thinking? It just doesn't make military sense to me, and I have never been able to get someone to explain the cold hard military logic of it.

8John5918
maig 29, 2007, 1:04am

Doug - I can understand why some might not have liked the way you phrased your original post, but I think the basic question is a good one.

I've worked a lot with armed groups in Africa who can be called "rebels" or "liberation movements" depending on your point of view. But once you accept that they can't be beaten militarily, then it's very important to understand what they want. Nelson Mandela, Gerry Adams, and indeed a number of prominent Israelis were called "terrorists" in their time but are now all respected politicians. Even the Lord's Resistance Army, whose methods are generally despised by everyone, has an agenda and if peace is to come to northern Uganda that agenda must be understood. Moral judgements are often suspended, at least temporarily, in order to make peace.

I'm no expert on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but there are a few dynamics which could be possible answers to your question.

- the very cynical one is that the settlements are simply a bargaining ploy. It's not unusual to see fighting intensifying shortly before a cease-fire as both sides want to enter the negotiations holding as strong a hand as possible. The more of your enemy's land that you hold, the tougher your bargaining position can be. You have no intention of keeping that land, but you will sell it very dearly for concessions from the other side at the negotiating table.

- at the other end of the spectrum, there might be a genuine, sincere, committed, fanatical, fundamentalist (the term will vary depending on your view point) ideological or religious belief that Israelis have a right to this land. This ideological belief then trumps military realpolitik.

- the government may recognise that the settlements are not militarily viable but for political reasons may be unable to control the settlers, ie the domestic political price would be too high.

- there may be a state of denial by the stronger military power that they would ever really have to concede defeat and compromise on the issue of the settlements.

- there may be no real policy, just confusion, as Israel has had frequent changes of government with varying approaches, and there is a great deal of diversity of opinion within Israel on the settlements.

Or more probably it is a combination of all of these. But I'd be interested to hear from those who know more about the dynamics of this particular conflict.

9almigwin
maig 29, 2007, 1:38am

i THINK WE COULD SLOW DOWN THE WAR ON TERROR IF WE ALLOWED ALL THE PALESTINIANS IN GAZA AND THE WEST BANK TO EMIGRATE TO THE UNITED STATES. iF WE SPENT ON THEIR ASSIMILATION WHAT WE ARE SPENDING ON THE WAR IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, WE COULD BUILD CITIES FOR THEM IN SPARSELY POPULATED SOUTHERN AREAS OF THIS COUNTRY WHERE THE CLIMATE WOULD BE SIMILAR TO WHAT THEY ARE USED TO, AND THEY COULD FARM AS THEY WOULD HAVE DONE IN PALESTINE. iF ISRAEL ALLOWED THEM IN AS CITIZENS IT WOULD CEASE TO BE A JEWISH STATE. CONSIDERING THE DEADLY NATURE OF ANTI SEMITISM, THE ISRAELIS WOULD NOT LIKE THAT ONE BIT. iF WE COULD RESETTLE THEM IN ARAB COUNTRIES, THEY WOULD PROBABLY PREFER IT. BUT I DONT KNOW OF ANY ARAB COUNTRIES THAT WOULD TAKE THEM. THE MAJOR THRUST OF ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM IS THE PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT, AND THE PRESENCE OF AMERICAN BASES IN SAUDI ARABIA. iF WE MOVED THE PALESTINIANS, AND GOT RID OF THE SAUDI BASES WE MIGHT DEFUSE THE ISLAMIC HOSTILITY.

10enthymeme
maig 29, 2007, 9:24am

I would have thought it obviously practical?

The settlements and their linkages occupy militarily dominant ground from which the IDF can restrict combatant movement, keep ears on the ground, and launch counterterrorist operations with greater efficacy than from Israel-proper.

There's no better illustration of this than Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Ever since the pull-out, the vast majority of Qassam rocket attacks have been launched from Gaza (non-occupied), while the West Bank (occupied) has been comparatively trouble-free. I wonder why that is?

If military viability means freedom from Qassams, then the West Bank will be "militarily viable" for some time to come.

I also agree that the settlements will be a bargaining chip in any future negotiated settlement of the Palestinian 'problem'. One need only look at the Sinai to see that historically, the Israelis have not been shy about trading land for peace.

One can of course question the viability of such a stratagem when negotiating with intransigents . . .

11Doug1943
Editat: maig 29, 2007, 1:00pm

Okay: I extract two arguments from the above:

(1) A bargaining chip, to be traded at some point in the future for peace. Settlements for Peace.

(2) Military bases, for observation and control of threats to Israel proper, presumably to be liquidated when/if the Palestinians accept Israel's right to exist.

And is this what the settlers themselves think? And if not, what do they think will become of the Palestinians.

Almigwin: in a rational world, maybe something like you propose would be possible.

But in a rational world, there would not have been a problem in the first place, because, when the Zionists first proposed to make a Jewish state in the Mid-East, the Arabs there would have jumped for joy at getting high-quality immigrants, backed by overseas money, bringing talent and connections and entrepreneurship to their region.

A Hong Kong all of their own, and in all this merely in exchange for Jewish sovereignty over a tiny fraction of the Middle East, with full citizenship for local Arabs, and good prices for their land for those who wanted to sell, jobs for Arabs, trading partners, sources for the diffusion of technical and scientific and medical knowledge, the Middle East becoming a new center for the best in science, philosophy, music, art (as Vienna was in the 1920s before the Austrians murdered all their Jews) ...

.. they should have welcomed the Jews home, as their long-lost brethern, fleeing from a hostile Europe. By now the two peoples would be on a par with Europe, or beyond it.

If men were rational ...

12enthymeme
maig 30, 2007, 2:14pm

I would go further and suggest that the settlements are a pre-emptive move against a Palestinian demographic bomb. The Palestinians believe that as long as they sit tight and multiply, their overwhelming demographic superiority will place unbearable strains on the Israeli security apparatus and its ability to contain them in any future war. Low intensity conflict induces a sapping toil on the resources of the numerically besieged, and to allow the Palestinians to dictate the pace and momentum of the strategic intiative means defeat in the long term. So the Israelis have tried to introduce 'settlement creep' into the equation in order to mitigate its effects.

By making intractability a two-edged sword - and forcing a settlement sooner rather than later - they deny the Palestinians the lazy option of simply waiting it out.

A more cynical ploy would involve tempering the demographic pressure within Israel itself: future resolution of the Palestinian question could involve the exchange of settlers and settler-land with Arab Israelis who would rather return to a Palestinian polity than live under Jewish rule.

As for what the settlers think . . . who knows? If they're thinking of an Eretz Israel then they are sadly mistaken (just as Palestinians are delusional if they're thinking of untrammelled right of return). But if they're pragmatists - there's a compelling logic to do what they do in the national interest.