Illegal Settlements Fail To Settle Hearts and Mind in Israel

Based on demography, the fragility of the illegal settlement project in the Israeli Occupied Palestinian West Bank boils down to the failure of the settlement movement to “settle the hearts and mind” of the larger public in Israel. Setting itself apart from and against the larger society that supports it and upon which it depends, a large part of that failure boils down to the religious roots of the settlement project in its current manifestation. This is the thesis claimed in Nonviolent Civil Evacuation: Rethinking an End to Israel’s Settlements in the West Bank. The report by Molad – The Center for the Renewal of Democracy runs some 98 pages and is well researched and documented. It contains a very helpful historical review of the illegal settlement project and runs against the argument made on the right and radical left that the illegal setttlement project is a fixed and established fact on the ground that cannot be undone. Perhaps most interesting are the rich citational network. Going back to the 1980s and the evacuation of Yamit, voices are quoted from mainline settlement thought leaders suggesting that this may, in fact, not be true. The arguement is that, by the 1990s, settlements are steeped in religion, run counter to the larger pragmatic and secular ethos of Israeli political culture, and are actually, isolated. The conclusion is that Israeli hearts and minds are not with the settlements and settlers, and that this endangers the larger settlement project.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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5 Responses to Illegal Settlements Fail To Settle Hearts and Mind in Israel

  1. David Roytenberg says:

    I’ve been saying for years that settlements can be undone, specifically in response to the claim that the settlements are the biggest obstacle to peace. As you mention in your post, Israel has already demonstrated that settlements can be removed, in exchange for peace as in Yamit, or unilaterally in pursuit of Israeli strategy, as in Gaza.

    Conditioning peace talks on building freezes never made any sense and simply served as an excuse for the Palestinians to avoid meaningful negotiations when they were pressured to talk to Israel, for example, under Obama.

  2. dmf says:

    I wish this was true but all too many examples of how ethnonationalism can prop up minority rule.

    • zjb says:

      this remains to be seen; lots of my israeli family and friends are telling me that there’s a groundswell of disgust with settlers and settler violene

      • dmf says:

        that would be most welcome, people I know seem to be losing some interest now that those votes have happened and life goes on, we’ll see if momentum/interest can be maintained

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