Settlements, clearly, are the keys to all this. Further settlement is what energizes the campaign to delegitimize Israel. And, for the first time since its war of independence, Israel is in real danger of destruction. Zionism’s success depended, as Theodore Herzl understood, on international recognition. It will not survive without it. If Israel clings to its settlement policy, it will sink along with its West Bank occupation.
Zionism rested its moral claims on the right of all peoples to self-determination. Settlement and occupation run against its grain, and this is why they undermine international support for Israel. Had Netanyahu realized this—as Peres, Rabin, Sharon, Olmert, and Livni have before him—he would not have appointed a foreign minister who is himself a settler; he would not have rested his coalition on ultra-orthodox fanatics and modern orthodox messianics; he would have not entangled himself in a senseless quarrel with Israel’s best friends over enlarging the settlements. Instead, he would have taken the lead in putting an end to the occupation, with or without Palestinian consent. But he didn't.
Gadi Taub is an assistant professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His book The Settlers and the Struggle over the Meaning of Zionism is forthcoming this fall from Yale University Press.
Netanyahu has thrown Israel's lot in with the American Cheneyites and Palinites who swear allegiance to AIPAC, along with the bloc of voters who he believes will return Republicans to power. According to one blogger I read recently, Israel's government is waiting for President Palin to take over the reins. If this is even remotely true, then my beloved Eretz Yisrael faces an existential crisis of unprecedented proportions.