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Stop Israeli Settlements in the Arab Territories!
Artist: Engel (Nationality unknown)
Dimensions: Approximately 20” x 30”
Publisher: International Committee of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

This poster was commissioned by the International Committee of Solidarity with the Palestinian People to express opposition to the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories.

The graphic depicts a fantastically armed and armored Israeli tank rumbling across hills in the Occupied Territories and leaving in its tracks a continuous belt of new Israeli settlements, which Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1977-1982) called “creating facts on the ground.”


The metaphor is clear and direct: the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and new Israeli settlements go hand-in-hand. Moshe Dayan, Begin’s outspoken Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories were essential:

not because they can ensure security better than the army, but because without them we cannot keep the army in those territories. Without them the IDF would be a foreign army ruling a foreign population.

Source: Settlements and the Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, Institute for Palestine Studies

There is a raging national and international debate over the legality and wisdom of allowing Israeli settlers to expropriate Palestinian land for the establishment of new Israeli settlements. Many of these settlers belong to ultra-nationalistic, religiously oriented Zionist parties such as Kahane Chai (Hebrew: Kahane Lives) and the Gush Emunim (Hebrew: Bloc of the Faithful). Pro-settlement arguments center around biblical prophesies, claimed exceptions to international law, tortured interpretations of international conventions, and current or projected Israeli security concerns.

Israeli settlement practices in the Occupied Territories have been a continuous source of friction between the U.S. and Israeli governments. In 1978, during the Carter administration, the legal adviser of the Department of State to the Congress found that:

the establishment of civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law.

Sources: “Opinion of the Office of the Legal Advisor, Department of State, Declaring Israeli Settlements Inconsistent with International Law, April 21, 1978”. Foundation for Middle East Peace website.

During the administration of George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), then-Secretary of State James Baker III linked Israel’s expenditures for settlements to a dollar-for-dollar reduction in U.S. aid to Israel. The move was bitterly condemned by Israel. In May 1991, Secretary Baker said:

Every time I have gone to Israel in connection with the peace process on each of my trips I have been met with the announcement of new settlement activity. This does violate United States policy.... I don’t think there is any greater obstacle to peace than settlement activity that continues not only unabated but at an advanced pace.

Source: Secretary of State James Baker, May 22nd, 1991. Americans for Peace Now website.

When asked to respond to Baker’s criticism of Israel’s settlement policy, President Bush said:

Secretary Baker was speaking for this administration, and I strongly support what he said.… It would make a big contribution to peace if these settlements would stop. That’s what the secretary was trying to say...and I’m one hundred percent for him.

Sources: Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, May 22, 1991. Churches for Middle East Peace website

Even during the Clinton administration (1982-2000), which can reasonably be said to have invested more time and political capital seeking a Palestinian-Israeli peace than any other U.S. administration, Israeli settlements continued to grow and grate. President Clinton himself publicly criticized the Netanyahu administration for its settlement policies, labeling them:

absolutely, obstacle to peace.

Source: “Does the U.S. Finally Understand Israel?, by Michael B. Oren. Commentary, July-August, 2002,

In 2001 President Clinton said:

For their part, the Israeli people also must understand that they're creating a few problems, too; that the settlement enterprise and building bypass roads in the heart of what they already know will one day be part of a Palestinian state is inconsistent with the Oslo commitment that both sides negotiate a compromise.

Sources: Address by President Clinton to the Israel Policy Forum, January 7, 2001. Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website

The position of the current Bush administration was articulated by a U.S. Department of State spokesperson:

Our position on settlements, I think, has been very consistent, very clear. The secretary expressed it not too long ago. He said settlement activity has severely undermined Palestinian trust and hope, preempts and prejudges the outcome of negotiations, and in doing so, cripples chances for real peace and prosperity. The U.S. has long opposed settlement activity and, consistent with the report of the Mitchell Committee, settlement activity must stop.

Sources: “No U.S.-Israeli Understanding on "Natural Growth" of Settlements”, November 25, 2002. U.S. Department of State website.

Despite vociferous threats and admonishments from a continuous series of U.S. administrations, Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories have multiplied and expanded.

Settlement expansion has occurred even despite the disapproval of a majority of Israelis. According to an Inside Israel report published by the American Jewish Congress (AJC) April 24, 2002, close to 60 percent of Israelis would support a policy of unilateral withdrawal from the territories and the evacuation of settlements.

Ironically, many Israelis see Jewish settlement activity, which the Palestinians call Zionist colonization, as a direct threat to the very soul of the Jewish state. This is because if Israel formally incorporates the Occupied Territories, it is only a matter of time before the more rapidly growing Palestinian population results in a demographic change long-feared by many Israelis: the Jewish population will be outnumbered by Palestinians in Israel proper.

In a number of critical ways, Israel’s appropriation of Palestinian land vividly parallels that of the American westward colonial expansion movement of the mid-nineteenth century. As wave after wave of newly arrived European colonists pushed west to fulfill the “white man's burden” and the religiously tinged principles of “manifest destiny,” their seemingly unquenchable thirst for land inevitably led to conflict with the indigenous peoples. More than half a million white settlers, dubbed pioneers, swarmed over Indian lands between 1862 and the battle of Wounded Knee in 1890.

A string of American presidents both before and after Abraham Lincoln — who signed the Homestead Act of 1862 which distributed “free” land to willing settlers — sent in surveyors, instructed the Army to built forts, waged war, signed and broke treaties, permitted the decimation of buffalo herds and grasslands and, via the policy of moving native people onto “reservations,” engaged in early versions of contemporary “ethnic cleansing” and “transfer” tragedies. The jingoistic yellow press launched an ugly, vitriolic propaganda war against indigenous peoples, the effects of which persist in the American psyche even now.

Much of the mainstream American opposition to Israel’s controversial and internationally condemned settlement policies, as well as to Zionism itself, stems from a haunting, visceral refusal to be forced into reliving America’s darkest national disgraces.

© 2003 Liberation Graphics. All Rights Reserved.

Questions for A New
Democratic Discussion

1) Who, exactly, make up the various ultra-nationalist Zionist settler groups? Why are they at odds with the majority of Israelis who live within the pre-1967 borders of Israel?

2) What religious and historical ideas do the ultra-nationalist settlers embrace and who are their guiding thinkers and models?

3) What euphemistic language was used to describe and justify the American Westward Expansion movement? How are they like or different from the language used in reference to Israel’s settlements in the Occupied Territories?



Please send us your questions and comments (English only please!)