Reevaluating Settlement Policy
But the isolated ideological settlements have been detrimental economically and socially. The vast funds poured into them could have been better used expanding educational services and building infrastructure. They have consumed security resources that could have been better used elsewhere. The man-hours spent guarding settlements have undermined the army’s training regime, something which became painfully apparent during the second Lebanon war. They have also created a de facto border more than four times the length of Israel’s border before the Six-Day War. Simple security calculus dictates that diminishing concentrations of soldiers on longer lines of defense equals less security, while higher concentrations of soldiers on shorter lines of defense equals more security.
Almost every embarrassing political difficulty Israel has experienced since the Six-Day War has been because of these ideological settlements or their supporters, and not a single country in the world has changed its mind regarding the official, legally constituted borders of the State of Israel because of them, including and especially the United States.
The have generated alienation within segments of Israeli society. Many Israelis find the settlement subculture abhorrent and resent doing reserve duty because of it. By identifying Zionism with the settlements and calling the opponents of settlements post-Zionists and even anti-Zionists, the settlers themselves have contributed to the spread of post-Zionism. The erosion of Zionist moral self-confidence on the part of large segments of the Israeli public begins with the misguided settlement project. The question is not whether the settlers are brave and idealistic but whether the settlement project contributes to or detracts from the values, goals, and aims of Zionism as it redefines itself in the 21st century.
The British Light Brigade was composed of men who were brave and idealistic beyond measure, but their famous charge was an example of colossal stupidity. General Lee’s Confederate soldiers were brave and idealistic beyond measure, but that doesn’t mean that Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg was smart or that the cause they represented was sublime. One might wonder if Israel’s settlement policy is not the political equivalent of the ill-fated British landing at Gallipoli in World War I, upon which the German Admiral De Robeck commented, “Gallant fellows, these soldiers; they always go for the thickest place in the fence.” Israel’s settlement policy compels Israeli diplomacy to always try to break through the thickest part of the diplomatic fence, the one and perhaps only place where Arab political superiority is manifest.
In political life, stupidity is the greatest sin, not immorality or illegality. Stupidity does greater harm to our fellow human beings than immorality. If we were to judge what is pro-Zionist and what is anti-Zionist according to their contribution to or their deleterious effect on Israel’s economy, security, society, and overall morale and moral fortitude, we must conclude that the ideological settlements in the occupied territories constitute the most anti-Zionist activity conducted by any group of Jews since the advent of the Zionist project itself.
Tsvi Bisk Director
Center for Strategic Futurist Thinking
A division of Ziv Group Ltd