Friday, October 15, 2010

YK Halevi on Why Settler Issue is More Complicated than it Appears & Oren & Shavit on Recognition of Israel's Jewishness as Existential Issue

Why Israel Won't Abandon the Settlers - Yossi Klein Halevi
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is attempting to legalize two houses in a tiny West Bank settlement called Hayovel that were built without government permission and face possible demolition. The houses were built by two war heroes. Major Eliraz Peretz fell in a skirmish on the Israeli-Gaza border a half year ago; Israelis were especially touched by his story because his older brother died in Lebanon 12 years ago. The second hero, Major Ro'i Klein, was killed in Lebanon in 2006 after leaping onto a grenade to save his men. Fallen soldiers have a sacrosanct status in Israel. Demolishing the houses that Peretz and Klein built for their families seems to Israelis, whatever their politics, an unbearable act of ingratitude.
Increasingly, Israel's military elite is coming from West Bank settlements and, more broadly, from within the religious Zionist community that produced the settlement movement. Perhaps 40% of combat officers are now religious Zionists (not to be confused with ultra-orthodox Haredim), nearly three times their percentage in the general population. The newly appointed deputy chief of staff, Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, is a religious Zionist.
The "settler" has assumed a near demonic image around the world, but most settlers are part of the mainstream. Crucially, few Israelis regard settlers as interlopers on another people's land. The political wisdom of the settlement project is intensely debated, but only a fringe denies the historic right of Jews to live in what was the biblical heartland of Israel. If the international community wants to understand why the Israeli public doesn't share its antipathy toward the settlers or its urgency to uproot settlements, a good place to begin is with Mr. Barak's effort to legalize two houses on a West Bank hilltop. The writer is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)

Good minds think alike. Lozowick beat me to the punch, posting on both articles below before I ever got around to doing the same.

That Pesky Jewish State

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