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After the war his students, led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, remembered. Rabbi Levinger located the new settlers within the historic mainstream of Zionism: “Like emigrants and settlers at the turn of the century and the kibbutz farmers, we, too, are pioneers.” The overwhelming majority of he early settlers, in Gush Etzion, Hebron, and Samaria, were religious Zionists.
To be sure, as the years passed secular Israelis searching for affordable housing relocated into sparkling new settlements that were appealingly accessible to major Israeli cities. Now the largest settlements, closest to Jerusalem, are ultra-Orthodox communities. But the pioneering stronghold of religious Zionism is Hebron, where 700 Jews and their 6,000 Kiryat Arba neighbors (surrounded by more than 100,000 Arabs), remain faithful to its centrality in Jewish history and determined to continue three millennia of Jewish habitation there.
With all that is happening in the Middle East, the Israeli left (enthusiastically supported recently by J Street) continues to cling to its dogma that Israeli “occupation” is the axis on which the region turns. But this anti-settlement fervor should be recognized for what it is, and always has been: an expression of the fear of secular Zionists – including prime ministers across party lines – that religious Zionism may yet challenge their cultural and political hegemony.
For that partisan impulse to override Israel’s ever more precarious security situation could be catastrophic. It already confronts Hamas in Gaza (with Mubarak no longer available to enforce the terms of Egypt’s peace treaty), and Hizbullah, controlled and armed by Iran, on its northern border. Israel hardly needs to add a vulnerable eastern border, where even Jordan has recently rumbled with internal discontent.
More than ever, Israel’s security – and, perhaps, survival – depends upon its continued control of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria, where there is a string of Jewish settlements stretching from Ariel to Hebron. These ridges, demographer Yoram Ettinger observes, “constitute the ‘Golan Heights’ of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” where 80 percent of Israelis live.
Considered in this geopolitical context, Israeli settlements are not an “obstacle to peace” but a vital security barrier. Middle Eastern turbulence and uncertainty should not be permitted to override reality. And Israeli prime ministers might recognize that international law – however distorted its current restatements – protects, rather than undermines, Jewish settlements.
The largest Jewish settlement in the Middle East, after all, is the State of Israel.
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Brothers at War: Israel and the Tragedy of the Altalena,” to be published this spring.
About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.
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Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t
There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.
Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.
Israel has some wild places left; places to reflect and think, to get lost, to try to find ourselves
The British government assured Anglo-Jewry that it is attacking the rising levels of anti-Semitism.
Obama’s Syrian policy failures created the current situation in the Golan Heights.
Our journey begins by attempting to see things differently, only then can we be open to change.
Despite Western ‘Conventional Wisdom&PC,’ the Arab/Israeli conflict was never about the Palestinians
Confrontation & accountability, proven techniques, might also help dealing with religious terrorists
In fact, wherever you see soldiers in Paris today, you pretty much know you’re near Jewish site
Inspired by the Perek Shira pasuk for “small non-kosher animals” we named the bunny “Rebbetzin Tova”
The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps
Plainly, there is no guiding hand dictating choices across the board.
For nearly sixty-five years national self-definition has been the skeleton in the closet of Israeli politics and culture.
During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.
Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.
In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.
Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.
One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/revolutions-and-reverberations/2011/03/09/
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