The settlement enterprise is a phenomenon that, in theory, continues the path of the settlers of old. Yet it has several unique features that make it a completely different undertaking, light years away from the Zionism that built this country.
This is not the first time in the last decade that when Israelis and Palestinians go over the line in butchering each other, people pull out the interim agreement, as if it were some kind of magic charm. For those who have despaired of prospects for an agreement in the foreseeable future, it is an artless attempt to stop the bloodshed. But for the pro-settlement right and its representatives in the government, an interim agreement means something else entirely. In their eyes, a cease-fire is merely a means of defending themselves against the aggression of the goyim and an ideal opportunity to continue the expansion-fest.
No interim agreement will be implemented and no understanding honored when it comes to halting the rights-trampling settlement enterprise unless international pressure is exerted on Israel and the Americans use sanctions to bring about a permanent agreement. But before that, Israeli society must dissociate itself from the post-Zionist settlement movement.
The settlement enterprise is a phenomenon that, in theory, continues the path of the settlers of old. Yet it has several unique features that make it a completely different undertaking, light years away from the Zionism that built this country. The two basic goals of the Zionism of old no longer have any connection to what is happening in the territories: Settlement today is not a tool for rescuing a people seeking refuge, nor is it a tool for normalizing Jewish life. The opposite is true. The endless war that the settlers are trying to impose on us, which they need like fire needs oxygen, is endangering our future and fanning the flames of a new wave of hatred against Jews in the Diaspora. By the same token, in creating a colonial reality here, the settlers are impeding the normalization of Jewish life.
No normal society can flourish in the oppressive conditions generated by the settlement enterprise. The fact that Israeli governments, one after another, have blessed this enterprise, and society at large has surrendered to it, makes no difference. The rabbis in the territories are right when they speak of the newness of the settlement enterprise of today. There, on the hilltops of the West Bank, the foundations of real post-Zionism are being laid - the post-Zionism of blood and land.
The old Zionism took over a portion of this land in order to build a home for a persecuted people. It was the suffering of the Jews - and not historical right and, it goes without saying, divine promise - that constituted the one moral justification for this act of conquest. It has been a long and painful process, accompanied by a cruel battle for survival. Over the years, we have killed and evicted and made the lives of the Palestinians miserable. But we did it because, in the final reckoning, we had no other choice.
This is not so for post-Zionism. This new movement tramples on the rights of others and makes their lives miserable needlessly, with no other reason than an urge to expand. Some call it heeding the will of God. Others believe it is a historical decree, and disobeying it is tantamount to treason. Ein Harod, Nahalal, the Jewish neighborhoods of Haifa and Jerusalem - these were the foundations of our national renaissance. Elon Moreh, Netzarim and Kiryat Arba are threatening to drown us.
In the days of old Zionism, religious and secular could live together because their primary objective was the same. Mapai and the General Zionists, from Chaim Weizmann and Meir Dizengoff to Peretz Bernstein, had no trouble understanding the language or thinking of Mizrahi and Hapoel Hamizrahi. By contrast, Yitzhak Levy and Effi Eitam, and the leaders and rabbis of the settlement movement, speak a language that is foreign to the overwhelming majority of Israelis. These people think in terms that the world after 1945 hoped would disappear forever.
But gravest of all is the fact that Israeli society as a whole has become captive to their blackmail and threats, overt and covert. Because of them, young people drafted into the army today are forced to fight a war in which they are constantly walking the fine line between legitimate combat and war crimes.
The old Zionist army "shot and cried." It attacked and it destroyed, not always out of necessity. But it also agonized over these deeds, and at least some of its officers asked themselves tough questions. On more occasions than one, they shared their thoughts with their subordinates.
The new army - at least from the impression one gets from the public appearances of its commanders - enjoys an unusually clear conscience. Two of this army's more prominent representatives are Dan Halutz and Shaul Mofaz. The former will be remembered in shame as the man who felt nothing while dropping a bomb apart from the slight quiver of his plane. Today we are not talking about knocking out an atomic reactor in Iraq, but sowing death and destruction in a crowded population center. Mofaz, not a very shrewd character, wrecked the credibility of the defense establishment.
Of the old senior command, very little is left. In the post-Zionist settlement enterprise of today, the rational dimension of old Zionist culture has also been razed to the ground. More than ever, that Zionism awaits our return.