Differing Views On A Settlement Freeze

east-jerusalem1An editorial in Israel’s Haaretz praises the Obama administration’s call for a settlement freeze, writing that “the settlements threaten to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the implementation of the partition solution, which is essential for preserving Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Defending the settlements requires Israel to operate a complex system of access roads and roadblocks, which make Palestinians’ lives more difficult and inflict serious financial harm on them.

Every Israeli government since 1967 has insisted on building and developing the settlements, causing the country severe political damage. The massive resources invested in sustaining and enlarging the settlements come at the expense of other national goals, like the development of the Negev and the Galilee.

For all these reasons, the demand to freeze settlement construction is just and wise. The Obama administration is refusing to accept the natural growth excuse that Israel has made to previous American administrations. Under their protection, Israel has continually increased the number of settlers in the territories and the infrastructure meant for their use — primarily the segregated road system and the invasive route of the separation fence, which is intended to facilitate Israel’s de facto annexation of part of the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the Weekly Standard’s Mike Goldfarb takes time out from his role as the Internet’s leading purveyor of privileged white boy ressentiment to express outrage at the administration’s demand that Israel cease expansion of settlements in Arab East Jerusalem:

Now the Obama administration has decided that Jerusalem must be divided and that the Jews must stop building in areas that should be handed over to Palestinians at some undetermined date in the future. The State Department is demanding “that Israel limit Jewish growth in these areas of Jerusalem, ‘whose status remains to be determined’ in negotiations.” Apparently the third principle that must apply to Jerusalem is that Jews cannot build on land the Obama administration has set aside for other uses — like appeasing the Arabs.

Goldfarb also passes along a quote from an Israeli government spokesman, who complained that “I have to admire the residents of Iroquois territory for assuming that they have a right to determine where Jews should live in Jerusalem.” That’s funny, but I actually don’t think the comparison of Palestinians to Native Americans really works in Israel’s favor, given that most people now accept that the mass oppression and dispossession of indigenous peoples is a bad thing.

You will of course remember Goldfarb’s numerous posts condemning Israel’s bulldozing of Palestinian homes and the various other measures used to prevent Palestinian growth and strengthen the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem. Just kidding. Goldfarb has never expressed any problem with preventing Palestinians from building in Arab East Jerusalem. On the other hand, the Obama administration’s insistence that the Israelis stop expanding settlements on expropriated land elicits an immediate howl of injustice. And also appeasement.

On second thought, this still may qualify as privileged white boy ressentiment.