What's the Deal with Israeli Settlements?


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:

Part 1:

Part 2:


- 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
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.


Leah on 11/6/09 said...

Mike, I am a thorn in your flesh! Sort of. I didn't watch the video, but read the manuscript on CBS.com - so I don't know if I interpreted the tone correctly, But, as usual, I have opinions.

1. Joel Rosenberg, a Messianic Jew and a Conservative has done extensive research on End Time Bible Prophecy especially relating to the state of Israel. His blog is here... The following article is about Obama's Cairo speech with his own analysis about Israel/Palestine near the end.


2. I don't know your stance cause you didn't state it. I have Christian friends who think it is ridiculous to believe that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews just because God gave it to them thousands of years ago, but I think they are severely mistaken.

The Bible is pretty clear that the world will hate Christians, and history is pretty clear that the world already hates Jews. (How many times throughout history has someone tried to annihilate Jews?) The Bible also predicts that near the end of time a large number of Jews will realize that Jesus was the Messiah and turn back to him, and that many nations will rise up to try to destroy Israel. The question is why? The answer is because the world hates God and doesn't know Him. Therefore, while I don't think Israel is perfect, I approach most media reports and the majority consensus that Israelis are the main problem in the Holy Land with a strong degree of skepticism. We can expect that the majority of the world will not support Jews in the end times.

Anyway, my main point is that I don't think this situation can ever be looked through only on a political or economical level, but also must be analyzed through the lens of Scripture.

And just to clarify - as a Christian, no one should be "for or against" Jews or Palestinians - since they are all created in the image of God and since Christ died for every tongue, tribe, and nation. Still, Israel = God's chosen nation, and He is not finished with them.

I think I could go on about this for awhile, but I should probably actually work or something. Thanks!

Mike on 12/6/09 said...

I updated the post above with commentary from people who are more informed than I am to hopefully add some clarity.

In regards to my original post, I didn't state my opinion purposefully because I didn't want to distract from the video's message. Also, my knowledge of end times theology is pretty lacking, so we can leave that conversation for another day.

I bring this issue up however because the settlements seem to be at the forefront of the problem at the moment, but I strongly doubt that any white Christian American (I'm talking about myself here) who hasn't lived in Israel/the Middle East can fully appreciate the levels of pain and frustration that either party has felt. So I don't think that I'm entitled to a hard and fast opinion.

But I do think that separating the settlement issue from the greater issue of Israel's sanctity, safety, and right to exist is both helpful and necessary.

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