In itself, the story of Zionism is a success. In fact, it is only in this way that Zionism is able to sustain its continuity. Yet, the beauty and strength of human history lies in the endless process of social and ideological change, in the realization of humankind to evolve towards a global village founded on cultural diversity, mutual respect, and universalism. Thus, the very catalyst of Israel’s existence (Zionism), which is based on exclusion, may well be the catalyst for its inevitable demise.
The Palestinian-Zionist struggle is a battle between universalism and apartheid, respectively. The Palestinian aspiration for freedom and independence is historically, morally, and politically a universal and natural social human progression, identifiable with social movements throughout modern history (for example, the French Revolution of the late 18th Century, the revolt against western colonization in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s, and the momentous victory of black majority rule in South Africa in 1991).
Precisely, two different aspects of Jewish settlements demonstrate the extent to which Zionism is a limited and self-destructive social movement, namely, the ideological extremism of Jewish settlers and Palestinian resistance to Israel’s settlement movement.
The illegal construction and expansion of Jewish settlements throughout the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and east Jerusalem is not merely a mechanism for Israel’s demographic and territorial proliferation, it is more importantly an assertive policy of artificial existence and imposed reality. Yet, the physical and ideological fragility of Jewish settlements is ample proof of Israel’s inability to sustain itself on occupied territory. This is twofold.
On the one hand, the ideological extremism and loose-canon mentality of Jewish settlers, a significant number of whom are not even Israeli-born, pose serious threats to Israel’s social and political stability. Within the context of resumption in final status talks, Jewish settlers’ resistance to Israel’s inevitable territorial compromise with the Palestinians will be costly to the Israeli government and people; the consequences will be destabilizing for Israeli society.
The 1995 assassination of Yitshak Rabin should have awakened Israel to the underlying danger of Zionist ‘extremism’ in Israeli society. The assassin, Yigal Amir, confessed that he killed Rabin “.because Rabin wanted to give our country to the Arabs.” What will it take for another Jewish fanatic to narrow-mindedly perceive peace with the Palestinians as a ‘selling out’ of Jewish existence?
On the other hand, Palestinian resistance to Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land, and the close physical proximity between Palestinians and Jewish settlers (particularly in the West Bank), is a bitterly continuous cycle of conflict that will not end without the near-complete uprooting of one entity. To even contemplate the uprooting of Palestinians from existing towns and villages in the West Bank is nothing short of political ignorance. Unless Israel is politically suicidal and prepared to, yet again, create another Palestinian refugee problem, this is simply unthinkable.
Israel has no choice but to dismantle Jewish settlements, a requirement only reinforced by international law. Is it worth noting here the incompatibility between Zionism’s settlement policy and international law (an embodiment of universal principles)? Yes, it is.
The political, legal, and moral status of Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories is a reflection of Zionism’s limits, namely, artificial existence sustainable only by relative military power. Israel’s acquisition of Palestinian land by force and the illegality of Israeli policies in maintaining this land will eventually backfire.
It is difficult, even for the most extreme Zionist, to envisage a peaceful continuity of Jewish settlements without complete disregard to the external factors, namely, Palestinian existence and international condemnation of settlements. Paradoxically, this is exactly what Zionism entails; it is an inwardly oriented ideology that fails to reach beyond its own horizons.
(*The content above reflects the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of MIFTAH)