Just before the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, a television station in Israel aired my series The Land of the Settlers. The message of the series was that the only way to achieve peace was dismantling the settlements. It created an uproar in Israel.
I myself am a settler. I was born in Germany one year before Hitler came to power. When my father saw the Nazi threat, against his family’s opinion, he decided to migrate to Palestine. The rest of my family ended up in Auschwitz. Shoa is very important to understand the Israeli mentality; in fact, during the five wars we have lived through, there has always been the fear to experience a new holocaust. Such a fear was particularly strong in 1967, before the Six-Day War. As a result of the Israeli victory in that conflict, the people were euphoric, and were convinced of having finished, at last, with the “Palestinian problem”. But it paved the way for Messianic Zionism. According to that ideology, Israel is not a refuge for Jewish people or a state among states. It is the land that God gave the Jewish people.
Today, as a result, we have 250,000 settlers on the West Bank, more terrorism, and a question mark on Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. Besides, we cannot be the oppressors. Ariel Sharon, father of all settlements, began his withdrawal from Gaza and now, it is up to the Palestinians to prove they can run a state of their own. But even without war, Israel is in danger of disappearing if it remains in the West Bank. Our country will lose its Jewish identity and would become a bi-national state if it remains there. Israel’s existence cannot be based on the acquisition of more and more land, but on recognized borders and Jewish and universal values.
“What Israel must do”, by Chaim Yavin, Boston Globe, September 24, 2005.