The continuing expanding colonies in the West Bank are a key reason that Israel has a grim future as a Jewish state (rightly pointed out by Andrew Sullivan).
But what of the argument, made by many Jews and others, that Israel is a refuge for the Jewish people and has the right to exist on this basis alone? The Magnes Zionist takes care of those arguments:
One may wish to argue that Israel provides a cultural center that has inspired a flourishing of Jewish culture outside of its borders. But that involves a Zionist reading of center and periphery that may not be even true. There was more of a Hebrew literary culture in the United States before the establishment of the state of Israel than afterwards, and while it would be wrong to blame territorial Zionism for that culture’s demise, it and the State of Israel bear some responsibility – just as the State of Israel has to bear some responsibility for the demise of Jewish communities in Arab lands, especially since it did everything within its power to bring those communities to Israel, and when they arrived, to melt them in the Israeli melting pot. To this day, official Israel looks askance at the growth of Jewish communities outside its because according to mainstream Zionism, one can only be fully Jewish in the Jewish State.
Which brings me to the “place of refuge” dogma: If Israel exists as a physical refuge to ensure the survival of the Jewish people, then it has failed miserably in that respect. We are told by Israel’s leaders that the Jewish state is, or soon will be, under an existential threat from Iran, or from terrorism. If this is true, then will some one please tell me how Israel is a safer refuge for the Jews than, say, the United States, or even, Europe? More Jews have died because of the Israel-Arab conflict since 1945 than as a result of all other anti-Jewish behavior combined since 1945. And since much of the new anti-Semitism is correlated to Israel’s actions, not only is Israel a dangerous place for Jews living within its borders, it isn’t so good for the physical safety of Jews outside it either.
I repeat – there is a moral distinction between settling refugees in lands in which they desire to live, and repatriating refugees to their own land. In the case of the Palestinian refugees, they have a right to return to their homeland, even if it adversely affects the rights of the Israeli Jews, because they were barred from returning to their homes – despite the calls of the UN. Had the Zionists said, prior to the founding of the state, that the only way a Jewish State can survive is through the forced transfer of most of its native Palestinians, nobody would have recognized the legitimacy of the state. And if somebody had, then that person, or state, would be wrong.