There was an obvious candidate, known only as "J." But at the last moment, the settlers' lobby was mobilized. As director of the "Jewish department," J. had put some Jewish terrorists in prison. So his candidature was rejected and Yoram Cohen, a kippah-wearing darling of the settlers was appointed instead.
That happened last month. Just before that, The National Security Council also needed a new chief. Under pressure from the settlers, General Yaakov Amidror, formerly the highest kippah-wearing officer in the Army, a man of openly ultra-ultra nationalist views, got the job.
The Deputy Chief of Staff of the army is a kippah-wearing officer dear to the settlers, a former head of Central Command, which includes the West Bank.
Some weeks ago I wrote that the problem may not be the annexation of the West Bank by Israel, but the annexation of Israel by the West Bank settlers.
Some readers reacted with a chuckle. It looked like a humorous aside.
It was not.
The time has come to examine this process seriously: Is Israel falling victim to a hostile takeover by the settlers?
FIRST OF all, the term "settlers" itself must be examined.
Formally, there is no question. The settlers are Israelis living beyond the 1967 border, the Green Line. ("Green" in this case has no ideological connotation. This just happened to be the color chosen to distinguish the line on the maps.
Numbers are inflated or deflated according to propaganda needs. But it is can be assumed that there are about 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, and an additional 200,000 or so in East Jerusalem. Israelis usually don't call the Jerusalemites "settlers," putting them into a different category. But of course, settlers they are.
But when we speak of Settlers in the political context, we speak of a much bigger community.
True, not all settlers are Settlers. Many people in the West Bank settlements went there without any ideological motive, just because they could build their dream villas for practically nothing, with a picturesque view of Arab minarets to boot. It is these the Settler Council chairman, Danny Dayan, meant, when, in a (recently leaked) secret conversation with a US diplomat, he conceded that they could easily be persuaded to return to Israel if the money was right.
However, all these people have an interest in the status quo, and therefore will support the real Settlers in the political fight. As the Jewish proverb goes, if you start fulfilling a commandment for the wrong reasons, you will end up fulfilling it for the right ones.
BUT THE camp of the "settlers" is much, much bigger.
The entire so-called "national religious" movement is in total support of the settlers, their ideology and their aims. And no wonder -- the settlement enterprise sprung from its loins.
This must be explained. The "national religious" were originally a tiny splinter of religious Jewry. The big Orthodox camp saw in Zionism an aberration and heinous sin. Since God had exiled the Jews from His land because of their sins, only He -- through His Messiah -- had the right to bring them back. The Zionists thus position themselves above God and prevent the coming of the Messiah. For the Orthodox, the Zionist idea of a secular Jewish "nation" still is an abomination.