In the words of Ha'aretz publisher Amos Schochken, Gush Emunim has seized control of power in Israel and driven the state into a "flagrantly undemocratic situation."
How was it possible for this much power to be seized by "a right-wing ultranationalist, religio-political revitalization movement," as it is described in Israel: A Country Study?
Gush Emunim was formed in March 1974, a few months after the October 1973 War, known in Israel as the Yom Kippur War and in the Arab world as the Ramadan War.
The outcome of the 1973 conflict ended in Israel's favor, thanks to "an estimated US $5 billion in equipment, of which more than US $1 billion was airlifted by the United States during the war when it became apparent that Israel's ammunition stores were dangerously low."
A few months after the war, Gush Emunim was created by the National Religious Party (NRP). When NRP joined the Israeli Labor coalition, Gush Emunim joined with other religious groups and began building illegal Jewish settlements beyond the Green Line.
Gush Emunim increased its Jewish settlement activity between 1977 and 1984, encouraged by Prime Minister Menachem Begin's right-wing government.
US President Jimmy Carter left the White House in 1981, replaced by Ronald Reagan.
Every American president since has uttered increasingly weak protests against settlement expansion, gradually "believing" Israel's claim that the settlements were not for expansion, but for security.
With the rise and departure of each new US president and congress, Gush Emunim grew stronger.
How strong has the Gush Emunim movement become? From the scattered Gush Emunim settlements of 1974, the number of settlers now living beyond the Green Line has reached a half-million residents, counting those who now live in what Israel considers its annexed areas.
The settlement movement has expanded to include large blocs of settler populations, such as the settlement under construction in the picture above which Israelis call Maale Adumim.
With its growth in locations throughout the Occupied Territories, the Jewish settler population has emerged as a potent political force.
With the rise to power of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the settler movement has gained control of not only the government of Israel, but by extension, now influences the US government and US power centers in the US media and the economy.
Some of this power is exercised by intimidation and money, and when needed, emotional appeals to such "trip lines" as The Holocaust and allegations of anti-Semitism.
The current campaign to agitate for war against Iran, for example, is well documented by Salon author Gary Kamiya, whose posting, The Boys Who Cry "Holocaust," identifies the "boys" as "the same neocon hawks who lied us into Iraq [and are now] using the ultimate argument-stopper to push war with Iran."