In light of the current administration's new found hardliner stance on Israeli Settlements, I thought it might be worthwhile to actually try and understand what it is their talking about. The CBS report embedded below is a few months old, but I found it to be such an enlightening video that I thought it would be worth linking to here. Enjoy:
- Just in case you needed some pundit commentary on this issue, I've attempted to use my free time for the betterment of my readers. Here's Charles Krauthammer
Obama says he came to Cairo to tell the truth. But he uttered not a word of that. Instead, among all the bromides and lofty sentiments, he issued but one concrete declaration of new American policy: "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," thus reinforcing the myth that Palestinian misery and statelessness are the fault of Israel and the settlements.
Blaming Israel and picking a fight over "natural growth" may curry favor with the Muslim "street." But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter. Which makes the Obama strategy not just dishonorable but self-defeating.
- Joe Klein doesn't buy what Krauthammer is cooking:
Charles Krauthammer has a misleading and evasive column about the Israeli settlements issue. He does not deal with the legality of these towns--he can't, of course, because they are illegal under the fourth Geneva Convention, which provides rules for occupying powers...
He rants, instead, about the inhumanity of denying "natural growth" in the settlements close to Jerusalem, which will undoubtedly be incorporated into Israel in the land swap that will accompany the two-state solution (a pact that he doesn't believe will ever happen). No babies will be allowed to be born in these settlements, he says--as if that were even a remote possibility. The truth is, "natural growth" is a loophole, a purposely imprecise term that would allow untrammeled growth everywhere. If the Israelis were serious about this, they would propose a list of specific exceptions--some of the Israeli towns near Jerusalem--where growth would be permitted and promise an absolute end to settlement activity, roads and wall-building elsewhere, pending negotiations with the Palestinians.
- Gershom Gorenberg thinks the "natural growth" argument is factually incorrect:
Barack Obama has not demanded that women in settlements stop having babies. Rather, he has insisted that Israel stop construction in settlements, in line with its commitments under the 2003 road map for peace -- in line, in fact, with American opposition to settlement building since 1967. Consistent with the road map, and with the 2001 report written by George Mitchell, now Obama's Middle East envoy, the president has rejected Israeli insistence that construction continue to allow for "natural growth" of the settler population.
- Jeffrey Goldberg (a Jew) has a provocative post up titled "The Unbearable Narcissim of the Settlers:"
I don't have any problem with the American demand for a settlement freeze; the settlements are an impediment to peace, they are a security burden, and they are petri dishes for the worst sort of fundamentalist messianism (and therefore profoundly anti-Zionist, at least according to the Zionist vision of men like Herzl and Ben-Gurion).
Now, of course, there should be some delineating going on here -- everyone knows that most settlements would actually become part of Israel in a final peace deal. So these settlements should probably be allowed natural growth. But only if the settlements beyond the security barrier, the settlements in the heart of the Arab West Bank that everyone and his rabbi knows will soon dissapear, are frozen in place, and only if Israel acknowledges that the security fence marks the de facto border of the state of Palestine.
- Joel Rosenberg (h/t Leah):
President Obama did defend Israel’s right to exist, but then proceeded to create a moral equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians with regards to the peace process. Let’s be clear: the Palestinians are souls made in God’s image. They deserve dignity and respect and the freedom to govern their daily lives free from Israeli interference. But if they had wanted a sovereign state they could have accepted the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947, like the Jews did. They didn’t, and they lost. They could have accepted any one of the numerous deals Israel has offered over the past six decades, including then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000 for the Palestinians to have a sovereign state, half the city of Jerusalem, all of Gaza and about 93% of the West Bank. But they didn’t.