But what might have been most striking was the statements made by the settlers. The Congresswomen drove out to Shiloh, a West Bank settlement that almost certainly will not be part of Israel in any peace deal.
“I’m holding the Bible; Shiloh was our first capital before Jerusalem and it has layers and layers of history,” Tzofiah Dorot, the director of Ancient Shiloh, told the women. “This is the heart of Israel and I don’t see a future for the state if you take the heart out.”
All of the women said they were sure that their settlements would remain part of Israel.
“This is our homeland, the homeland of the Jewish nation -- period,” Tamar Aslaf told the delegation. “A Palestinian who lives here is welcome to stay. It’s his home but it’s our homeland.”
Several of the settlers described a scenario in which Palestinians could stay in their homes but not receive national or voting rights. That drew a sharp reply from the congresswomen, five of whom are African Americans.
“Some people would call that apartheid,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the only white congresswomen on the trip.
“It’s easy to sit in your comfortable house and decide what is good for the Jews,” Dorot responded. “I’m begging you to see that we’re not pieces of Lego you can move around. This is life and death. We all need to think out of the box. I’m asking you to forget about the two-state solution.”
Now we shouldn't generalize. The type of person who lives in Shiloh is not a carbon copy of Israeli society has a whole. We of course know that there are Israelis who support a two-state solution and those who oppose it, and likewise for Palestinians.
But the statements are nonetheless revealing. Most obviously, of course, is the fact that some of the settlers explicitly forward as a "solution" the permanent political inferiority of Palestinians -- a complete non-starter for anyone who cares about human rights and human equality. With due respect to Dorot, the policy of the global community towards Israel is not solely about what is "good for the Jews" but rather about achieving justice and equality for all persons (though the interests and rights of Jews are of course important components of this). But the explicit call to abandon a two-state solution is, if anything, more striking. The vast majority of the Jewish community -- including important institutional actors like the ADL and AJC -- do not just oppose a one-state solution, they find it fundamentally outside the contours of what it means to be "pro-Israel". As David Harris of the AJC put it, "The one-state idea is a recipe for Israel's destruction. Those promoting this proposition ... are not remotely offering a peace option."
I entirely agree with this assessment. And here it helps us draw important lines. If we are to say, as I think we should, that "pro-Israel" cannot encompass one-staters, then the Shiloh settlers are as much a threat to Israel's democracy, security, legitimacy, and longevity as any other one-stater. And they shouldn't be treated any differently.