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‘Articles of Faith’: The Absence of Critical Thinking About ‘Settlements’

Those who insist that the "settlements" represent the biggest obstacle to peace should be asked to explain why their theory doesn't match with the history.

A settler tending to his vineyard in the settlement of Bat Ayin. European anti-settlement activists are pushing to curtail the sale of products from Judea and Samaria.

A settler tending to his vineyard in the settlement of Bat Ayin. European anti-settlement activists are pushing to curtail the sale of products from Judea and Samaria.
Photo Credit: Gershon Elinson/Flash90

CiF Watch has no official position on Israeli homes built across the 1949 armistice lines - the “settlements.”

As a blog dedicated to combating antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian, however, it is within our purview to expose misleading or erroneous geographical, political or legal claims about the settlements by Guardian journalists and commentators – and to combat the demonization of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.

One of the most stubbornly held (often logically and politically under-explored) beliefs about the Israeli settlements (at the Guardian and elsewhere) is that their existence (or growth) represents the biggest obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians – and even, some would argue, between Israel and the larger Arab world.

Whilst reasonable people can oppose Israeli construction across the green line for any number of moral, political and legal reasons, it is peculiar how few critics even bother to defend their view that Israeli withdrawal from the disputed territories will lead to peace (and foster co-existence) with the Palestinians or, at least, will make the Jewish state more secure.

These articles of faith typically ignore historical evidence and political facts which contradict their thesis.

For instance, if this theory is valid, why didn’t Israeli withdrawals from Gaza, S. Lebanon (and ceding military and civilian control over parts of Judea and Samaria to the PA) result in peaceful outcomes? Why didn’t the rocket attacks on Israeli communities, and other acts of terrorism, cease?

If Palestinian/Arab anti-Zionism, antisemitism, extremism and terrorism, is in fact fed by ‘the settlements’ – and represents Islamist terror group’s raison d’être – why weren’t Hezbollah and Hamas (and extremist movements active within the PA) politically neutered by the absence of settlements (and IDF presence) in these territories?

What evidence is there that Israeli withdrawal from most or all of the West Bank (and eastern Jerusalem) will result in the creation of a peaceful, non-extremist Palestinian government and political culture?

The absence of critical thinking about the issue is often typically accompanied by disinterest in Israeli opinion – expressed in political polls and Israeli elections – which demonstrates that while most Israel is support the idea of a two-state solution, they support withdrawals from land necessary for a Palestinian state only if the creation of that state truly leads to peace.

A strong majority of Israelis – who have lived through Intifadas, thousands of rocket attacks and (just as important) the absence of international support for military actions to defend their nation from such assaults - believe that (under current political conditions) such withdrawals will not, in fact, lead to peace or improved security.

Those who insist that the “settlements” represent the biggest obstacle to peace should be asked to explain why recent history in the region should be ignored and why Israeli fears about such a monumental military decision (which can’t easily be undone) are unfounded.

What do they know that Israelis don’t?

Visit CifWatch.com.

About the Author: Adam Levick serves as Managing Editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and is a member of the Online Antisemitism Working Group for the Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism. Adam made Aliyah from Philadelphia in 2009 and lives with his wife in Modi'in.


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2 Responses to “‘Articles of Faith’: The Absence of Critical Thinking About ‘Settlements’”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    "few critics even bother to defend their view that Israeli withdrawal from the disputed territories will lead to peace ".

    I don't think that anyone with any sense thinks that unilateral withdrawal from the occupied territories will further peace, at least right now! But that is not the same as saying that Israel should subsidize MORE building in areas not part of Medinat Yisrael.

  2. Since the land in fact is ours and the fascists are attempting to steal it – yes we should build on ALL our land.

    I have the most basic and simple challenges for anybody in the entire world. All of the states in this regime where established by the League of Nations – where is there a single legal claim for the Arabs to any land west of the Jordan River? Care to take up the challenge? I bet not

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