After deciding to visit a few wildcat Jewish settlements in the West Bank, I felt anxious. Will they recognize us for the Tel Aviv leftists that we are? Will they become enraged at our questions? Might we face violence? Arriving at the settlement gate, however, I am struck by just how much the place resembles the kibbutz I lived on just a few years ago. But by the end of our journey, it becomes clear that we are not welcome.
By Edo Konrad
The first and only time I had ever spoken to an ideological settler was during the summer 2011 social protests. Out on Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv, where thousands of Israelis gathered to demand social justice, I argued face-to-face with a teenage settler boy. It was on the same day that former MK Michael Ben-Ari arrived with henchman Baruch Marzel and a group of hilltop youth wearing shirts that read “Let the Jews win!” and “Keep Tel Aviv Jewish.” They were there to establish the “Judea and Samaria Tent,” whose main mission was to demand increased government spending on settlement construction and to ensure that the settlement issue was on the protest’s agenda.
“Why are you here?” I asked the boy curiously. To me, a group of people who actively call for taking even more Palestinian land are not allies in my struggle for social justice. His response was frank: “We’re here because we want to make sure that all sectors of Israeli society are represented, not just residents of Tel Aviv. We believe the residents of Migron are no less important, even if the government doesn’t give a shit about them.” The Arabs are the real occupiers of Jewish land, some of the others yelled.
I left Rothschild angry. I was angry with this group of people whose whole raison d’etre seemed to be to make life hell for the Palestinians. But I also began to realize how little I actually knew about them. Growing up in a tightly knit Israeli community in the United States, the settlements and the occupation were entirely absent from any conversation having to do with Israel. It...Read More