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The Settlers

The Settlers: And the Struggle over the Meaning of Zionism

Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    The Settlers
    Book Description:

    The controversy over settlements in the occupied territories is a far more intractable problem for Israel than is widely perceived, Gadi Taub observes in this illuminating book. The clash over settlement is no mere policy disagreement, he maintains, but rather a struggle over the very meaning of Zionism. The book presents an absorbing study of religious settlers' ideology and how it has evolved in response to Israel's history of wars, peace efforts, assassination, the pull-out from Gaza, and other tumultuous events.

    Taub tracks the efforts of religious settlers to reconcile with mainstream Zionism but concludes that the project cannot succeed. A new Zionist consensus recognizes that Israel must pull out of the occupied territories or face an unacceptable alternative: the dissolution of Israel into a binational state with a Jewish minority.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-16863-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    Yisrael Harel, an influential figure among religious settlers, the first head of the Yesha Council¹ and the founding editor of the settlers’ monthlyNekuda, explains the whole controversy over settlement, as he sees it, with a simple hand gesture: two palms held parallel, then moving apart in opposite directions. One hand represents Israel and the West; the other represents Judaism, Zionism, and settlement. Israel is becoming a faint replica of the decadent West, Harel believes. It is materialistic, hedonistic, and spineless; it is stricken with guilt where it once had determination; it has drifted from its original Jewish worldview, first...

  5. I Political Zionism
    (pp. 23-36)

    Zionism, as it sees itself, is application of the universal principle of self-determination to the Jews. As Israel’s Declaration of Independence states, it is “the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state.”¹ Jews have this right not because they are different but because they are “like all other nations.”

    The Land of Israel was thus not the point of origin for the movement founded by Theodore Herzl. It is rather its (necessary) conclusion. The point of origin was the drive for liberty, which many European...

  6. II Religious Zionism: The Politics of Redemption
    (pp. 37-64)

    The relations between Jewish Orthodoxy and political Zionism were complicated from the very beginning. Zionism was an explicitly secular (though not an antireligious) movement. There were other movements of dissent before Zionism, and Orthodoxy frowned on them all. But here was something new, for this secular movement was attempting to realize an old religious vision. Zionism wanted to achieve by earthly means what Jews had been praying for for two millennia: to return to the homeland and resurrect Jewish political independence. This should have been the act of the faithful, not the unbelievers.

    Many of the Orthodox considered it a...

  7. III The Watershed: From Gush Emunim to the Yesha Council
    (pp. 65-98)

    The alliance with Begin’s Likud party seemed, at first, stable. Begin gave his first speech as prime minister elect, in 1977, at the Kdumim settlement. As opposed to Labor, which wavered and stuttered about settlement in the occupied territories, Begin was unequivocal: “There will be many more Elon Morehs,” he promised the settlers.¹

    Begin kept this promise. The difference between Labor and Likud on settlement was striking. In the first decade after the Six-Day War, under Labor, some 20 settlements were created. When Begin came to power the settlers numbered some 6,000 people.² In the next decade, under Likud, an...

  8. IV The Rabin Assassination
    (pp. 99-118)

    On the eve of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, when it seemed that the Oslo process would continue despite difficulties and terrorism, flirtation with messianic radicalism became more tempting: the state of Israel, the settlers felt, had audaciously betrayed them. Even within the mainstream of religious Zionism there were those who toyed with retreating to the earlier, purer language of redemption. Or at least they looked back on it nostalgically. In a symposium to mark the twentieth anniversary of Gush Emunim, shortly before the assassination, Benny Katzover, Uri Elitzur (former editor ofNekudaand head of the prime...

  9. V Disengagement
    (pp. 119-152)

    The denunciation of “the left” was never intended to provoke an answer from the left. It was yet another construction designed to help deny the coming clash between redemption and secular Zionism. Denial, however, continued to exact a high price, and it was about to get much higher, when not only the idea of self-determination, not only the liberal democratic worldview, but the security-based argument itself would turn against the settlers. The ideological edifice built on denial threatened to trap the settlers under it: the security argument, the only area where the language of sovereignty and the language of redeemption...

  10. Conclusion: What Next?
    (pp. 153-166)

    On February 1, 2006, less than a year after the pullout from Gaza, a huge police force armed with crowd control equipment, horses, bats, helmets, and transparent shields, assembled to dismantle the illegal settlement of Amona, near Ofrah.¹ A “battle”—as it was called later—ensued. When the police charged, settlers threw bricks from roof tops and met the charging police head-on. Some 50 policemen and over 150 settlers were wounded, most of them lightly. Both sides—the settlers and the government, which had sent the huge police force—had a vested interest in making the evacuation into a battle:...

  11. Appendix Jewish and Democratic: Complementary or Contradictory?
    (pp. 167-188)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 189-206)
  13. Index
    (pp. 207-217)