The Israeli colonies are an American problem in a whole new way. Nearly one out of six settlers in the West Bank is an American. Haaretz broke the story. Oxford scholar Sara Yael Hirschhorn says Americans are starkly overrepresented among West Bank settlers:
Roughly 60,000 American Jews live in West Bank settlements, where they account for 15 percent of the settler population, according to figures revealed Thursday by an Oxford University scholar and expert on this population.
Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said that the new figures revealed that the settlement enterprise in the West Bank was not only an internal issue but “an international problem.”
“Unfortunately, while the Obama administration has been persistently vocal against settlement developments, some 60,000 American citizens are taking an active part in an attempt to make the two state solution impossible,” says Anat Ben Nun, Peace Now’s director of development and external relations.
The study leaves out all the settlers in East Jerusalem: 200,000 of them three years ago, per the United Nations.
And remember that the settlement movement is funded not just by the Israeli government but tax-deductible donations from American Zionists. An issue the US media has refused to deal with.
Hirschhorn has a book coming out, called, “City on a Hilltop: Jewish-American Settlers in the Occupied Territories Since 1967,” that reportedly says the Jewish American settlers are idealists who come out of a leftwing background typically but are ardent Zionists and are applying their idealism to that ideology. I’m dubious about that one. I’ve met a lot of American settlers who are anything but leftwing in their orientation. My research is anecdotal, yes, but I’ve heard fundamentalist religious ideas and Jewish-chauvinist ideas of a very intolerant character. These people’s actions destroy the meaning of leftwing. And yes, one or two are former hippies, slingin M-16s.
I believe I met Hirschhorn in 2006 in Hebron, when she was starting out on this project; and we had this difference of opinion then too; we have different points of view. [Update: Hirschhorn says it wasn’t her on that trip.]