Some thoughts on the West Bank ... from 1986

Israel's policies regarding settlements in the West Bank aka Judea and Samaria are in the news even more than usual -- with the United Nations Security Council resolution two weeks ago, Secretary  of State Kerry's address last week, and the nomination of a US ambassador to Israel who stakes out a position to the right of Prime Minister Netanyahu by stating his principled opposition to a Palestinian state. 

One of the more entertaining books about Israeli society of the 1970s and 1980s is Zeev Chafets's book "Heroes and Hustlers, Hard Hats and Holy Men: Inside the New Israel," published in 1986 (and with used copies now available for nearly free). I remember enjoying this book when I was in high school.  I recently took a look at it and was sad to be reminded that more than 30 years and so many lives later, not much has changed regarding the major outlines of the conversation about Israeli policies regarding the future of the West Bank. The choices remain more or less those that are described in this piece (except, of course, that all the population numbers have steadily increased). People who think this is an easy problem to solve probably don't fully understand it.  This piece reminds us why the status quo has endured for so long, as all other possibilities have such strong negatives.  And yet the difficulty of the situation notwithstanding, everyone has been paying a terrible price for the endurance of the status quo for so long. 

Zeev Chafets, "Heroes and Hustlers, Hard Hats and Holy Men: Inside the New Israel," 1986


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