A Call to Bring the Settlers Home to Israel

We are American Jews who care deeply about Israel and who are filled with sorrow by the continuous cycle of violence and death in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We call upon the United States government to embrace an initiative which can break through the present stalemate, create a new opening for a negotiated settlement, safeguard the lives of Israeli settlers and remove a major obstacle to peace.

We call upon the United States government:

FOR THE SAKE OF ISRAEL'S SECURITY, BRING THE SETTLERS HOME

For the past 35 years, more than 200,000 Israeli citizens have been induced by special economic incentives to settle in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A recent comprehensive survey* of settlers found that nearly 80% were motivated by a desire to create better lives for themselves and their families and not by ideological or religious reasons. That dream, however, quickly became a nightmare of constant terror, sniping, murderous incursions into settlements, and suicide bombings. Simultaneously, enormous suffering has been inflicted upon the Palestinian population.

The relentless campaign to settle hundreds of thousands of Israelis amidst millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip threatens the moral foundation of the State. One year after the 1956 Sinai Campaign, Israel¹s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion explained to IDF officers the reasons for Israel¹s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. Nearly fifty years later, his speech serves as both warning and grim prophecy.

[I]t was clear that our remaining in Gaza, while the entire world ostracized us would lead to ... finding ourselves in a hostile sea of terrorism. Our military authorities would have had to shoot terrorists on a daily basis. ... We would not have been able to withstand this. For the State of Israel, such a reality would have become a catastrophe ... . Possibly, this would have destroyed us, not militarily, but morally - and in my opinion our morality underpins our very existence.

-David Ben-Gurion, Yihud ve-Yi'ud (Tel Aviv) 1971 p. 294
(Translation: Dr. Shai Feldman and Michael Davis)

The settlers have never enhanced Israel's security. On the contrary, their vulnerability to attack has resulted in the loss of nearly a thousand Israeli soldiers and civilians in the last 35 years and hundreds in just the past two years. Those who live on land expected to be negotiated as part of the new State of Palestine -- especially those in settlements that are distant from Green Line Israel and are surrounded by much larger Arab populations -- are an obstacle to peace; their continued presence prevents a viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

FOR THE SAKE OF ISRAEL'S ECONOMY, BRING THE SETTLERS HOME

The cost of sustaining and protecting the settlers is draining Israel's resources; it limits Israel¹s ability to provide vital social services, build a stable economy, and ensure peaceful coexistence between the Jews and Palestinian Arabs of Israel. The unending conflict, which the settlers exacerbate, has contributed to a severe economic downturn, a rising rate of unemployment (over 10%), a dramatic decrease in foreign investment, and an increase in the number of Israelis (now 20%) living below the poverty line, including 27% of all children.

PROVIDING SUITABLE COMPENSATION OPENS UP THE POSSIBILITY FOR MANY SETTLERS TO VOLUNTARILY RETURN TO ISRAEL PROPER

A popular misconception claims all settlers would actively resist any attempts to bring them home to Israel; but the same survey* revealed if a decision is made for withdrawal, a clear majority of settlers is prepared to accept a withdrawal from the settlements in exchange for suitable financial compensation. Undoubtedly, among this majority, there are many if not most who would leave voluntarily even in the absence of a comprehensive settlement were they provided with the financial wherewithal to do so.

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO BRING THE SETTLERS HOME TO ISRAEL

Please sign the Call and share it with others in your community. In doing so, you will help move Israel one step closer to peace.

*Dr. Micha Hopp, "Settler Attitudes towards Withdrawal from the Territories," July 2002 (Hopp Research Company) http://bringthemhome.btvshalom.org/settlersurvey/

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom - Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace