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Can a settler be against the occupation?

Is it possible to oppose the occupation from within the settlements? Does one become a settler because of their race, religion, political views, ideology, or just by living beyond the Green Line? One settler sets out to find answers, and you might just be surprised with what she has to say.

By Orit Arfa

A view from the Israeli settlement of Beit El with Ramallah in the background. (Photo: Michael Omer-Man)

People who’ve read my op-eds in Arutz 7 might think that publishing an article with such a title — in such an outlet — means I’ve defected from the cause of the “settlements.” (I know, they’re Jewish communities.)

I have defected — from dogma, party lines, slogans and talking points that people invoke to make themselves feel righteous, or worse, to secure donors who like tough-talkers. Lately, leftists, centrists, rightists, pro-this, anti-that just play with themselves, convincing themselves they’re right so that political discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today amounts to ideological masturbation — or ideological prostitution.

Well, I’m here to have some forbidden intercourse, always more exciting.

Back to the title.

Yes, I’m a “settler.” I live in the city of Ariel. I became a settler for a job, because I’ve lived in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and I prefer the countryside, because rational values are at stake here. And because I want to see the West Bank with my own eyes, rather than pontificate, and work to make things better.

But what is a settler?

Is a settler defined by geography? If a Jew’s kitchen is the only part of the house situated in the West Bank, is he a settler only when he’s cooking? What about Jews who’ve returned to their grandparents’ home in Gush Etzion?

Is a settler defined by his or her religion or race? If so, what is a Christian living in Ariel (I’ve seen the crosses)? What about a Muslim from Dubai who settles in Jenin?

Is a settler defined by ideology, which is often cast as extreme religious-nationalist? If so, secular liberals might be surprised to know that allies exist within the settlements. Take statements I’ve heard from religious and secular Jews alike in the West Bank (or Judea and Samaria, for those hung up on terminology.)

• “Israel shouldn’t discriminate by race or religion.”

• “Let’s live under one secular democracy and share the land.”

• “Israel made many mistakes in its treatment of Arabs.”

• “Tear down the wall!”

But “out-of-the-box” statements by those dastardly settlers don’t make it into the mainstream media because they go against the stereotypical image of kippah-wearing rock throwers.

Now for the other loaded term, Occupation.

Some Palestinians refer to all of Israel as “occupied.” Generally, it is defined as uneven, military rule in the West Bank, with Jews, as Israeli citizens, enjoying more rights than Palestinians. Thanks to the Oslo Accords, the majority of West Bank Palestinians live under the Palestinian Authority which runs their local affairs in Area A, but who are at the mercy of the Israel Defense Forces or the Civil Administration to travel, work, or build in Israeli-controlled territory, living under threat of random checks, restrictions on movement and military policing. If Palestinians have their own state, some argue, their problems would be solved, no matter the PA would likely control their lives by impinging upon freedom of religion (no Jews), speech, and women.

People on all sides have gotten so pre-occupied with who’s doing the occupying that they forgot what really matters: ethical governance. When governments are based on ethnicity, and not ethical standards, they seem to have more leeway in oppressing, or “occupying” their own. Jews can kick Jews out of their homes in the name of Zionism and Hamas and Fatah can engage in street wars in the name of Palestine.

How have enlightened people made the state a god, to which they easily sacrifice the happiness and freedom of citizens to preserve the state’s prestige — either Israel or Palestine?

I’m against the Occupation – the Occupation of Jews over Arabs, of Arabs over Jews, of Jews over Jews, and Arabs over Arabs; I’m against Occupation when it routinely stifles anyone’s civil rights in the name of some collective.

Granted, I don’t have to suffer through checkpoints, but I hate feeling afraid to enter Palestinian areas, which the IDF forbids. Driving Route 60 alongside Palestinians, I wish I could stop for a bite in Ramallah without constantly looking over my back. I’d gladly welcome peaceful Palestinians for some of Ariel’s own Palestinian-made hummus, unless they prefer Café Café. Better yet, a rebellious drink at a pub?

I care less about living in Israel or Palestine and more about living in a country that allows me the most freedom to be who I am, to start a new business, to purchase property (in Ariel or even Nablus), to express myself — whether as a religious Jew, a heretic, a Buddhist, a Christian, a slut or a saint. A state should enable the best of its citizens to flower — not the other way around — guarding them against murder, theft, fraud and any other assault.

If that’s anti-Zionist, ask American Zionists why they don’t move here.

Let’s start by judging people by their actions and character, not ethnicity or geographical location. I’d take an Arab Jeffersonian over a Jewish Stalinist any day. Let’s make the quality of life of people the modus operandi in any attempt to solve this mess, not what flag they’ll wave or what anthem they’ll sing. I know settlers who will work with Palestinians to make that happen. In fact, they already do.

Some settlers may very well be among the most “post-Zionist” in the sense that they don’t place racial purity above moral governance. They’re pro-people. We cried over the destruction of Jewish Gaza because we viewed something more sacred than the institution of the state: the private home. Alternatively, fringe elements who want peaceful Arabs forced out of their homes exist everywhere.

If only people would stop boycotting or maligning us long enough to figure out that “settlers” could lead the fight against the…Occupation(s).

American-Israeli Orit Arfa is author of The Settler, a novel about a young woman’s crisis of faith following her withdrawal from Gaza. She has reported for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, The Jerusalem Post, and other outlets. Her views are her own.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Kolumn9

      You are not alone on 972mag. In fact there is a Jewish settler that lives in Bethlehem that regularly posts articles on this site.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Haifawi

      I’ve always thought that the Israeli left should make a libertarian argument against the Occupation. The impending class-revolution can come after we all have civil rights.

      However, you choosing to live in Ariel under the current political situation makes you complicit in the Occupation (unless you use your presence there to subvert Israeli policy in the West Bank)

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      • agreed haifawi, though i’d say “makes you complicit in a regime of Jewish-supremacist segregation” rather than “complicit in the Occupation”

        Reply to Comment
    3. ish yehudi

      nsttnocontentcomment

      Reply to Comment
    4. Orit, I had very mixed reactions when reading this post, partly because it contains a few internal contradictions, but mostly because it seems to veer away from other articles by you. “Let’s make the quality of life of people the modus operandi in any attempt to solve this mess, not what flag they’ll wave or what anthem they’ll sing,” is something I agree with whole-heartedly, as well as the need to focus on ethical governance (with which military rule is obviously not compatible). But then I remember your piece on a trip you took with Machsom Watch, which you described as ‘far-left and Arabist’; and on hearing a Palestinian nursery owner state that it is possible for Jews and Arabs to coexist, you wrote quite sneeringly, “Sure they can, when Jews are as naive as Gordon [the tour leader].” What has stayed with me from that piece is the way that you talked about Machsom Watch ‘loving’ Arabs, in a way that carried a pejorative note – the term Arab-lover is hardly a compliment around here, and you know that. Were you just doing your best to fit your writing style to your Arutz 7 audience? Have you changed your mind since you wrote that rather snarky piece, in which every Palestinian comment on peace was followed up by your own hostile take on the Islamic meanings of such words? Because I can’t reconcile articles like that with your seeming support for coexistence here and what you say about settlers being able to contribute to the fight against occupation.

      I agree with you that they could, although I definitely don’t agree that they should ‘lead’ it – this idea carries exactly the same arrogance found in certain left-wing peace groups that style themselves as rescuers of Palestinians. Your mention of coffee in Ariel (as a special treat for ‘peaceful’ Palestinians) is also reminiscent of this patronising and unhelpful approach: we will all sit cosily together in a nice hotel, and drink coffee, and hear each other’s stories, and maybe do some yoga and deep breathing, and then you can go back to your walled-in town and the risk of night raids and the life under martial law and I will return to my home with the guaranteed running water and the freedom to move. The so-called peace movement is already saturated with such initiatives. Are you offering something more practical? I have sometimes thought that it would be helpful for West Bank settlers who share your views to join the groups escorting Palestinian children safely to school, for example. But given your portrayal of Machsom Watch and life in the seam zone, you don’t believe that Palestinians under occupation have any practical needs as a result of occupation. You emphasise that the nursery you saw in the seam zone was ‘bright and well-stocked’, your only fault to find with the checkpoints was that here soldiers are reduced to prison guards and unable to behave like the ‘warriors’ they should be in your eyes, and the Machsom Watch members’ accounts of their work were characterised by you as ‘tugging on heartstrings’. Such language suggests that you do not see any real need for checkpoint monitors, or recognise that there are any injustices in the seam zone. Palestinians are presented throughout as duplicitous, meaning something else entirely when they say ‘peace’; and the Jews who do practical solitary work are portrayed as their dupes. This article was written not even three months ago. Based on that, I don’t see what you honestly expect to contribute in the fight you say in your 972 piece that you want to be a part of. Or is that the real nature of your struggle is simply against the negative judgments that you face as a settler? If it’s any consolation, the attitudes in that Arutz Sheva piece aren’t made any worse by your geographical location – they’d be equally disturbing coming from people within the Green Line. I do believe that it is attitude and not geographical location that matters in the situation we now have, and it is your contradictory attitudes that raise my concerns here rather than your residency in Ariel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Thanks for your comment, Vicky, you hit the nail on the head.

        something smells like a “powerful living” self-centered dual-talk type of discourse. like the fruity figure of gabriele d’annunzio that danced between anarchism and fascism.

        there are more interesting examples of radical ’67 settlers (i’d call myself a ’48 settler) that actually walk the talk of ta’ayush (arabic for ‘living together’, and monkeyclownian for ‘struggling together’), like Eliaz Cohen (who also wrote evocatively for +972, google it) and others from the group “eretz yoshveya”.

        Reply to Comment
      • haifawi

        Oh wow, I read that Machsom Watch article. I didn’t realize it was the same author.
        The tone is completely different!

        Reply to Comment
        • I accept that people can and do change their minds – it happens all the time. But for this author to make such a volte-face in the ten weeks since that Arutz 7 article was published? That’s pretty unbelievable. She writes that she has ‘defected from dogmas, slogans, party lines, and talking points’, but gives no concrete examples of how exactly her views are different now and what precisely she is prepared to do to help achieve ethical governance – or even what ethical governance looks like to her. Major questions. In the absence of any specifics, it’s hard to see this article as anything other than an attempt to talk out of both sides of her mouth – to win some smiles from a different crowd (“Stop maligning us”) while still getting to live as she pleases. On some issues she is right: is what is happening in the Negev any more acceptable because it’s occurring within the Green Line? Are the JNF’s land confiscation activities in the Galilee more moral than the Civil Administration’s? But rather than giving practical examples of how such injustices can be opposed throughout the region (with full participation from any West Bank settlers who choose it) this article seems to say, “I’m no different from those of you within the Green Line and so I want the same get-out clauses that you get, the same absolution, the same excuses.”

          There are parts of the article that resonate with me – ‘We cried over the destruction of Jewish Gaza because we viewed something more sacred than the institution of the state: the private home’. I agree that it is important to shift the focus from states (one, two, three, whatever) to homes and the people who inhabit them, because this is a far better and more sensitive framework for understanding rights. But these words were written by the same woman who characterises the Nakba as Palestinians mourning the founding of the state of Israel (not their dispossession) and calling its existence a ‘catastrophe’. In that definition she focuses on the state all right, not the private homes that hundreds of thousands of people lost and are mourning. They don’t even get a mention with her. So what does she really believe? Who knows? She needs more than a piece on 972 to demonstrate good faith, if she has any to demonstrate.

          Reply to Comment
    5. chela

      worst 972 article ever!!!
      typical “peoplewhohappentobefacistanddontknowityet”

      is it posible to rate this article as stupid??? is not even considerable for a serious analysis

      Reply to Comment
    6. Danny

      The author says essentially that the solution is equality.

      However, a two state solution in which Palestinians control Ariel is not acceptable, and a single state solution with equal rights, equal resources, separation of church and state, etc, is unthinkable. In other words, do nothing and imagine we all love each other.

      In the light of the massive suffering and injustice of at least the occupation, this article is lazy and dishonest.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Tzila

      Mrs Orit Arfa: you are not openly offering any
      kind of solution or exposing clearly anything, you are just justifying yourself for living in Ariel.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Richard Witty

      There are four “others” that dissenters and the world really have to attempt to humanize, if they are to confront injustice and war, and more importantly to create a future that is sustainable.

      One “other” is the settlers. They are human beings. While the settlements themselves came to be through a combination of state design, quasi state land titling. The choice by settlers to reside there is much more a result of what they were told than their own malevolence.

      There are settlers that have resided there for now the third generation (yes, some are there). Who is going to tell, on the basis of ideology, that those are not those grandchildrens’ homes?

      2. The orthodox and ultra-orthodox. Look into how dissenters relate to and speak of religious. They use generalizations, not analysis, and never learning of the reasoning and principles that would affect the religious’ decision-making process.

      3. The Muslim orthodox similarly. Ignored, disrespected.

      4. The Palestinian community. As much as the western left romanticizes the fight for Palestinian rights, to most that have met very few Palestinians, they are almost a cartoon character, rather than real people.

      Very very sadly, BDS contributes to this process of dehumanization, proposed almost as much as the wall.

      If settlers can make a real-world connection with real-world Palestinians and in a manner that humanizes all, MORE POWER TO THEM.

      Reply to Comment
    9. CigarButNoNice

      I’m against Israel’s military occupation of its own land, as well as its failure to solve the problem of illegal Arab settlers colonizing those same lands. One and the same failing, come to think of it.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Hussein

      As with other similar articles from settlers (and others) trying to convince us that everything on the ground is honky dory and that the only issue is screaming “why can’t us all get along”! Why can’t the occupied and the occupier JUST GET A LONG, why can’t the oppressed and the oppressor just GET ALONG. after all, among those occupying oppressors exists a minority who do want to get along, of course on their own terms, and with “good” “peaceful” “submissive” Palestinians.

      As a Palestinian let me tell you what will work. COMPLETE EQUALITY! in one or two states, nothing else will ever be acceptable. The second any idea comes to your mind, that starts off or is based upon you having a more favorite status on our shared land than us, quickly get it off your mind because it will be a no starter.

      Are we asking too much to say that we want, need, require, and demand a solution that will give us all regardless of our background or other differences SAME RIGHTS, SAME SECURITY, SAME FUTURE, SAME HUMANITY? is that tickles your fancy then start making proposals that guarantees the above, otherwise, it is rejected before it starts.

      Of course we are the weaker side, and of course your arrogance (at least some of you) knows no limits, which makes it understandable that you demand of us to be LESS than you, but this will not last forever.

      Your atrocities against us can be healed and reconciliation can be reached when/while you are still the stronger side. if things turn around, then we may not have a reason to treat you different than you’ve treated us.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        If things turn around you will treat us substantially worse than we treat you based on the experience of every minority in the Middle East.

        Everything else you say is pretty much meaningless because there is zero chance that the ideal world you use as a backdrop for your proposal is even remitely achievable. In the meantime we will look out for our own security and you would best turn your efforts towards learning to live with the fact that the Jewish people are not about to place their fate at the mercy of your ridiculous proposals. For one thing we have learned to read. When people write like you have they are talking about two Arab states or one Arab state, with security for Jews nowhere. Its like asking us to accept living in Syria or Iraq promising us that we will be secure because you wish it to be so. Thanks, but no thanks, you have no credibility. We’ll stick with the IDF defending us until you come along with a plan that doesn’t at its core demand that we commit suicide to satisfy your perceptions of the conflict.

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        • Hussein

          As I said EXACTLY… You indeed feel intoxicated with the power of IOF and the infamous cultist domineering lobby that you can dictate everything and nothing else will matter. I can not help but feel I am reading a NAZI talking and the Holocaust actually teaches you NOTHING. When you behave exactly like your victimizes once did and INSIST that it is the right thing to do, then you forfeit you right to complain about any kind of atrocities nor about antisemitism anywhere around the world until you acknowledge your evilness in Palestine. I for one would like to reach a reasonable compromise where we all live together as EQUALS, but it seems lost on most those on the other side. We will have to wait and see what transpires, because it looks bleak when talking to your ilk.

          Reply to Comment
      • Shmuel

        “As a Palestinian let me tell you what will work. COMPLETE EQUALITY!”

        In an Israel which would have peace with it’s neighbors, it’s minorities, including Arab minorities (20% of Israel’s population) would have the same kind of equality as the minorities of all western nations which are currently at peace with their neighbors.

        Even in the Israel which is at war (now), Israel’s Arab minority enjoys greater equality than most of their Arab brothers enjoy in most Arab countries and the equality that western powers granted to THEIR minorities when THEY were at war. For those who don’t want to remember (most posters of this magazine), America, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand interned full fledged citizens of theirs who were of German, Italian and Japanese origin during WW2. Israel does not do that to it’s Arab citizens.

        “of course on their own terms, and with “good” “peaceful” “submissive” Palestinians.”

        Yes, Palestinians who are willing to respect the right of the Jewish people to have self determination, to have our own state and to live peacefully side by side with our neighbors. The fact that you consider that SUBMISSION, says oodles about you!

        Reply to Comment
    11. Orit

      Since some comments are reasonably intelligent rather than talking points, slogans, etc. glad to respond.

      Vicky, I’ve written what you’d consider much more “horrifying” pieces than my Machsom Watch piece, but I’ll turn to Emerson’s seminal essay, “Self-Reliance” for some words about consistency, which is why I’m publishing here.

      “The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.

      But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone, scarcely even in acts of pure memory, but to bring the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day.”

      Nevertheless, nothing substantive here contradicts my MachsomWatch piece, although, in Israel, a lot can happen in a few months, especially when you use own eyes to understand.

      Gordon’s tour was rehearsed, filled with slogans, watchwords, getting emotional at just the right time. I’m sure she’s sincere, but she’s part of an industry that I’m not sure really cares about the day to day lives of Palestinians. I’m skeptical of her “talking heads,” one of whom brings his child along as an example of a victim of the Occupation, to pull on heartstrings. I resent the cynical use of children. If the IDF leaves the area, and Islamic police compel sharia law instead, it would also be an assault on the civil rights of Palestinians. Radical Islam has a tradition of deceiving the West, not to mention oppression of women, intolerance, and fascism. But it’s okay to occupy your own….

      The role of an army, and the IDF, should be to guard against foreign invasion, not to be policemen. Without an Occupation and checkpoints, a diligent police force would still be required to guard against terrorist activity or land theft on either side, which, in a state with equal rule of law and private property, would be crimes, not nationalistic battles.

      Gordon does not seem to care that the Palestinians are incited against Jews, and that checkpoints exist in part because of Jewicide. One terrorist ruins it for everyone else. You cannot deny the security angle of checkpoints.

      My solution has been stated generally. We need to examine core principles, which involves questioning the nature of the state. I believe Israel should separate religion and state, with a hands-off government (that owns neither Jews or Arabs), while installing basic rule of law to guard against assaults on others.

      If Palestine becomes such as state (and accept Jews/Israelis as a protected minority), then two-states wouldn’t be a problem.

      Should I continue with this forum, I hope to tackle the issue of land and nationalist sentiment in the future.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzila

        I can understand your point but again,what you propose ?

        Reply to Comment
      • I didn’t consider your Arutz 7 article to be horrifying. It’s pretty standard fare, which makes your aversion to talking points and sloganeering feel ironic – you were trafficking in watchwords when you painted the Machsom Watch women as gullible and the Palestinians you met as deceitful. The naive leftist Jew and the scheming lying Arab are common tropes in right-wing media. I was hoping from your article on 972mag that you were planning to provide more than standard fare, but from this comment still doesn’t seem so. In your Arutz 7 article you decided that the people you met must be harbouring secret dreams of Muslim supremacy and you added interpretative glosses to their statements accordingly, apparently without any knowledge of the spectrum of religious practice and theological understandings that exist in Palestinian society or any interest in hearing about it. And if you are prepared to do that to them – pigeon-hole every person you meet according to your perception of Muslims, without troubling to learn how they think – then why should they not pigeon-hole you based on your location, deciding what you are and what you really mean as soon as you say ‘I’m from Ariel’?

        The strength of Machsom Watch is that they listen. When my boss was left in tears at the checkpoint, a Machsom Watch woman comforted her and heard her out. They’re well-liked not because Palestinians view them as suitably naive victims in some cunning master plan, but because their work has some effect (soldiers do tend to alter their behaviour when they’re around) and because a little kindness in that situation can go a surprisingly long way. Had my boss recounted her story to you while crying, she might have been cast as manipulative in some op-ed – especially if she brought along her daughters (who witnessed the incident) to talk about their experiences. The possibility that the emotion is real and that people have an honest need to feel heard by someone doesn’t seem to have registered here, even though you yourself have written a fairly emotive piece in which you ask to be heard, including a mention of your tears for Gush Katif. Your readers might assume that with that poignant sentence you’re making a calculated tug on heartstrings in aid of a settlers’ cause (to drum up support against evacuations). Or they might believe you sincere in what you say – a compliment that you didn’t pay to Omar the nursery owner or to the Palestinian parent. The fair hearing you expect for yourself doesn’t match up with what you’re giving to others.

        This is also seen in your treatment of rights. Peaceful Palestinians may keep their homes. Peaceful Palestinians get coffee invitations. But who defines ‘peaceful’? According to the police who recently arrested a Haifa activist on grounds of incitement, owning novels by Ghassan Kanafani is enough to demonstrate violent intent. You might be prepared to cut Palestinians greater slack than that, but you are still making basic rights – to a home and shelter – contingent on them meeting a standard of tractability that is never applied to Israeli Jews. House demolitions were used as collective punishment for paramilitary activity during the Second Intifada, a cruel illustration of that schoolmarm-ish phrase, “One terrorist ruins it for everyone else.” (I wonder if this idea would still carry weight with you if you had been walled-in in response to what the Itamar settlers did to Yanoun.) If Palestinian militants aim to collectively punish Israelis (“All it takes is one murder…”), this ceases to be a nasty but necessary educative process and becomes terrorism instead. The double standard is built on the fact that for people under martial law there are no rights, only privileges. It is tacitly accepted that Palestinians are inferior to Israeli Jews – who are therefore entitled to withhold from Palestinians the very things that they themselves take for granted and see as necessities in their own lives. A right for an Israeli Jew is a privilege for a Palestinian Arab. It has always been this way, long before the suicide bombings. This is the whole meaning behind separate legal systems. The same attitude pervades your post, which devotes no words to the inequality enshrined by law, but instead promises coffee to the deserving. How is this any better than ‘enlightened occupation’?

        I’m sorry if I come across as overly harsh, as there were things I agreed with in your article and found very interesting. But those ideas feel tangled up with the concerning contradictions and double standards outlined above, and it’s hard to tease them apart.

        Reply to Comment
        • Orit

          You can take what resonates with you and what doesn’t it. This is not an “outreach” piece on behalf of the settlers or a popularity contest, but a way to introduce new thought.

          By “peaceful” I mean Palestinians who don’t want to kill me, or who wouldn’t enter Ariel foaming at the mouth hating settlers and looking simply to justify their hatred. It’s a shame I need to make that distinction, but judging from some posts here, it seems that I do.

          And I still feel very much discriminated by the PA (and sometimes scared for my life) as I’m sure some Palestinians do as well, so institutionalized discrimination works both ways. We all have grievances. I can’t even enter most Arab/Muslim countries just because I was born Jewish and have an Israeli passport.

          The hardest thing for people to do on all sides is break out of emotional sentiment and tribal affiliations.

          Reply to Comment
          • In your article you wrote that only ‘fringe elements’ among settlers want ‘peaceful Arabs’ out of their homes. When I read that, I thought immediately of the government plans to forcibly transfer 27000 Palestinian Bedouin out of Area C that were issued two years ago, the demolition order that hangs over Khan al-Amar (which lies in the way of the planned expansion of Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim), the way that Khan al-Ahmar residents were given old shipping containers on the edge of the Abu Dis rubbish dump as replacement homes, and the recent spike in home demolitions across the entire West Bank. If it is only fringe elements who want this, then where was the outcry from Ariel residents like yourself? Either all these thousands of people just aren’t peaceful enough to deserve their homes, or concern for them isn’t all that great. The one example of displacement that got a specific mention in your article was Gush Katif, which speaks volumes. I don’t think you can turn your eyes away from injustice on this scale and then say that you’d welcome Palestinians who don’t want you dead or who aren’t ‘foaming at the mouth looking to justify their hatred’. If anybody hates, they don’t need to go looking to justify it in Ariel – they only have to look at the bulldozers rolling into Walajeh, and count the number of settlers who came out to protest. They only have to remind themselves that the government thought it quite acceptable to move Palestinians into containers in a rubbish dump in order to build homes and amenities for Jews like yourself. If you want an honest friendship with Palestinians – and it’s possible – then you need to decide where you stand on this.

            The PA works in close collusion with the occupation authorities. It is not a functioning autonomous government. Palestinian political figures whom the Israeli authorities do not happen to like end up in Israeli jail cells, frequently without a charge, let alone a trial. PA forces have suppressed anti-occupation demos at the behest of the IDF. The PA is part of the occupation machinery, and it is ultimately the Israeli authorities who act as gatekeepers for who may and may not enter/leave Area A; consequently it isn’t really possible to claim that ‘institutionalised discrimination works both ways’, as though we’re talking about two equal separate powers. My landlady, who is facing home confiscation now, hoped that the PA could help her. She made a trip to Ramallah to find out. They can’t, any more than they can help all the other people who lost their homes in the same way. The PA are corrupt and tattered puppets in a regime that privileges you at the expense of her. You’re of the right ethno-religious background; she’s not. She would not hate you; perhaps you would feel comfortable talking to her. But I think you need to recognise the difference in your situations.

            This brings me back to the first question that surfaced when I read this article: what are you going to do about that? I’m not expecting a detailed answer; it can take such a long time to find one. Being aware that the question is there is enough.

            For what it’s worth, I can understand that you’re scared and I can see that it must have taken some courage to write such a piece. I’ve read your work elsewhere and seen the reactions you got. You now get to sit between people who are angry that 972 would publish a settler and people who want to heap on the disgust because you went into a Nablus cafe and ate treife. That can’t be a comfy position to have, and my criticisms to the contrary, I do appreciate that you’re trying to get past tribal boundaries with your writing.

            Reply to Comment
          • Orit

            Problem is, people in this region don’t judge people as individuals but according to what group/tribe/government they belong to. All Israelis are Occupiers and all Palestinians are Terrorists. Jews think I should live/think a certain way, Palestinians think I should live/think a certain way. Same goes for some Christians. I’m tired of people thinking they can make a claim on me because I’m of a certain ethnicity, race, religion, or geographical location. We are all caught up in a spiritual occupation of each other. We need to move away from tribal/group models and create systems that let individuals just…be, with their basic rights protected, so that not everything is us vs. them. What am I doing about it? Starting with shifting paradigms. But even the question makes a certain claim of me, as if I’m not a worthy human being unless I fight what you may consider the moral cause of the world. Would you like me to ask you what you’re doing to stop Palestinian terrorism? I don’t think so.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Orit

            Forget it. You may as well be talking to a stone.

            Our Vicky here has her agenda and you will not even make a small ripple if you try to budge her from her agenda. All you will succeed is give her an opportunity to make her sound bite to make US look bad and make themselves look as innocent as lambs.

            Much as I hate to say it, these are not messianic times. If they refuse to see OUR humanity then we should likewise refuse to see THEIRS. It isn’t nice but it’s simpler that way.

            Reply to Comment
          • Orit

            Vicky’s all right, not a stone. She at least took time to read other things I wrote, offer analysis (however flawed), and needle me politely, rather than just offer the usual knee-jerk talking point settlers-are-evil fare.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            You are right Orit, Vicky is much more subtle. But at the end of the day her agenda is the same as theirs. Jews get nothing, Arabs take over and Jews just have to rely on THEIR “good will”. And “our Vicky here” will keep on tugging at your heart strings about how evil we are and how innocent they are. Her world is just as cartoonish as those other ones but she is somewhat more eloquent and subtle.

            No thanks. Not for me at least.

            Reply to Comment
          • Orit

            Vicky’s cool. No sinister agenda on her part and you’re judging her without basis. She was the most thoughtful one here, actually. I appreciate the concern.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            Orit

            You are welcome to your opinion but I have debated her before.

            Her attitude to the PA should also be a clue. She considers them as paid collaborators of Israel.

            Good luck debating with her. I’ll pull my big nose out of it from now on. Sorry for butting in.

            Reply to Comment
          • Orit,

            First, sorry for calling you “Orbit”; that just came out in typing and I didn’t notice it at all.

            Apart from that, my only motivation for commenting is to repeat this from you:

            “We are all caught up in a spiritual occupation of each other. We need to move away from tribal/group models and create systems that let individuals just…be, with their basic rights protected, so that not everything is us vs. them.”

            Where reality is, I don’t know. Sometimes I have an inkling where it is not.

            I may well not like many of your views, but I think that completely irrelevant. Voices like yours are essential now; that is what this outsider thinks.

            Reply to Comment
      • Baruch Schneider

        Orit,
        You seem to be ignoring how much all Jewish communities beyond the green line rely on the state- for military protection, for land subsidies, for sanctioned water rights. The Jewish communities of Gaza, Judaea and Samaria would not last one day without state support. Even the luxury you have to dream of a world beyond isms is provided by the state from which you seek emancipation.

        Your arguments are long-winded and fatuous.

        Reply to Comment
    12. “The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.

      But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone, scarcely even in acts of pure memory, but to bring the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day.”

      This is the Emerson quote Orit provides, and I thought it deserved repetition. I am a kibitzer with no danger of life or livelihood in your land, just an abstract interest in nonviolence, social process, and constitutional rights formation, yet I chance a comment based on Orit/Vicky’s exchange.

      Elsewhere Orit says she wrote her novel with a fair amount of alcohol. We do not always know what we are going to write. It comes from our hands, but may shock or disturb the writer. Is this what I am? Will others known to me turn away now? Will I place myself in a no man’s land, spurned by my former enemies as well as friends? Have these new words changed where I am, who I am? It would seem, from the novel synopsis, that at least its focal character faced some of these questions. I cannot expect someone who is changing the terrain of her world to become what I want. If such a person can speak to those in her past as well now to some formally barred from her vision, I think a service to discourse is being done.

      Vicky says in her second comment “There are parts of the article that resonate with me – ‘We cried over the destruction of Jewish Gaza because we viewed something more sacred than the institution of the state: the private home’. I agree that it is important to shift the focus from states (one, two, three, whatever) to homes and the people who inhabit them, because this is a far better and more sensitive framework for understanding rights. But these words were written by the same woman who characterizes the Nakba as Palestinians mourning the founding of the state of Israel (not their dispossession) and calling its existence a ‘catastrophe’. In that definition she focuses on the state all right, not the private homes that hundreds of thousands of people lost and are mourning.” Perhaps the dissonance reflect the new terrain foraged. But it might be a mistake to claim Orbit must go “all the way,” for then there would be no new terrain, only a convert. If there is to be movement, all past positions must give.

      To go forward does not have to be by declaring past blame. No nationalism is easily, if ever, declare its origin a horror. Nakba as a mourning of dislocation is distinct from Nakba as mourning of Israel’s being. The latter will simply not be tolerated; the former may yield a pledge of no more along the lines suggested by Vicky in her quote.

      So too the tension between occupation and past terror must be addressed. As Israel will not abjure its existence, past acts of terror are unlikely to be unconditionally condemned. Yet the present can say no more. One can say that road of anger, revenge, and resolved desperation is over. And that means that those very Palestinians Vicky speaks for, not the PA, not intellectuals, but those of daily constricted lives, must not condemn that past but say no more. I see no other way which breaks the ideological fortresses.

      Orbit ends her present piece by saying ‘If only people would stop boycotting or maligning us long enough to figure out that “settlers” could lead the fight against the…Occupation(s).’ The key word is “Occupation(s).” If some settlers can so see themselves, can see that occupation has become reciprocal in some sense, never mind who suffers more, perhaps a breach in the wall has been made. This is not to disparage the concept of BDS, but to see a place beyond tactics where a new view can slowly be formed.

      I don’t know if what I see in this exchange is real. I don’t know if Orbit is real fake. It really doesn’t matter what I think; but to find a public voice is always a self fraught enterprise. What I do think, however, is that some position with apparent contradictions will be necessary, at least in first steps, to move things forward, if any forward is to be.

      Reply to Comment
    13. tod

      Yes, a misleading and shallow article.

      Quoting Nazmi Jubeh: “Any Jew who wants to live in our community, following the rules which this entails, must be free to do so. It’s quite a different story, however, to request that the settlers who arrived here by force and in defiance of international law can ipso facto be entitled to see their actions justified. In other words, those who want to live in a future Palestinian state must do so under the law and not as colonialists. When Israel was created, the Palestinians were already here, and accounted for the vast majority of the local population. This is why there are now over one million Palestinians in Israel, many of whom are known as ‘internally displaced persons’ [IDPs]. In constrast to this, settlers arrived in the Palestinian territories through violence and incentives received in recent years from Israeli governments. Equating the former to the latter is not only simplistic, but also morally reprehensible.”

      “What about Jews who’ve returned to their grandparents’ home in Gush Etzion?”: gush etzion is a very specific case and you know that the Etzion Block of today is huge in comparison to the past.

      Reply to Comment
    14. carl

      “Yes, I’m a “settler.” I live in the city of Ariel.”: I would feel so ashamed to write that I am a settler from Ariel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        You should just feel ashamed. Period!

        Reply to Comment
    15. Palestinian

      Gush Etzion : We establish one small Palestinian community in Denver and next claim the USA is all ours ! (Orit’s mentality)

      Grandparents? Oh the colonists from Europe

      A Muslim from Dubai in Jenin: A Palestinian whose family was ethnically cleansed by Jews from Poland and Russia ?

      Living under the corrupted PA is way too much better than living under Israeli occupation.

      Jews have kicked Palestinians (not Jews) out of their homes in the name of Zionism!

      Zionosophy,UN speeches and shedding crocodile tears wont legitimize settlements in historic Palestine. Blaming “both sides” wont clear Israel’s name !

      Honestly, I would rather deal with Ben Ari than a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        LOL

        Palestinian, I see you are still echoing your mindless accusation about “Polish Jewish Thieves”

        And I see you are still pretending to be a descendant of indigneous people rather than a descendant of thieving Arab land thiefs who took over Palestine in 634 AD.

        But I bet you still can’t prove that you are a descendant of indigenous people rather than a descendant of thiefs.

        Reply to Comment
        • Palestinian

          And you are still playing for the losing team ? Throwing accusations and asking the other team to provide evidence for you ? 7 out of 9 presidents werent “native” to the land (according to your definition)…guinness world record “The youngest invented nation” :)

          Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            If it looks like a duck, squacks like a duck and acts like a duck, it IS a duck. Have you heard this saying, Palestinian?

            The Jews preserved their Jewish culture, their Jewish religion, their Jewish language (Hebrew). Now here they are back in their ancestral ancient Jewish homeland. I would not call that losing, would you Palestinian?

            Now, lets take you for example. You talk Arabic, your religion is Islam and presumably you are Arabic in appearance. Yet you still claim that you are not a descendant of the Arab invaders who invaded Palestine in 634 Ad? And you consider yourself the winning side? You are a laugh a minute.
            :)

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            Does it really look like a duck ? Ducks from Russia, Poland , Germany, Iraq, Morocco, Yemen, Argentina, South Africa, Canada, France ,India, Ethiopia ,and even China :S ! I almost cant tell the difference (sarcasm)

            And 7 ? Funny

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            … Or thieving turkeys from the Arabian peninsula who think that the whole world belongs to them …

            You want Jews to return to where they came from? They have returned to their ancestral home land.

            Maybe you too should consider returning to where YOU came from?

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            Turkeys aren’t native to the Arabian Peninsula (lol) but Shimon Peres is native to Poland .Back to Poland and Russia yalla

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            “Turkeys aren’t native to the Arabian Peninsula (lol)”

            Yes they are. Not the birds but people like you who act like turkeys and whose ancestors hail from Arabia.

            “but Shimon Peres is native to Poland .Back to Poland and Russia yalla”

            “Yalla”? That’s Arabic isn’t it? More proof that you are from Arabia.

            You want people to return? Please do so yourself, return to Arabia, yalla
            :)

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            No they aren’t,educate yourself before making a fool of yourself.

            Do Jewish Americans descend from the so-called “tribes of Israel” ? Because the last time I checked the speak English not Hebrew …

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            According to me they do. But according to you they don’t. Simply because no amount of proof satisfies you.

            So, I apply the same standard to your “good” self, it is only fair. Prove that you are not an Arab and that ONLY your language is Arabic.

            Even the PLO disagrees with you because this is what the very first article of the PLO charter says:

            “Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.”

            Now who is a fool, Palestinian?

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            Turkeys aren’t native to the Arabian Peninsula ,don’t argue with your ignorance.

            Palestinians are Arabs and part of the Arab world ,that doesn’t mean they come originally from Arabia. Understood?

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            “Palestinians are Arabs and part of the Arab world ,that doesn’t mean they come originally from Arabia. Understood?”

            Not understood.

            You require Jews to prove that they are descendants of the Judeans who were natives of Palestine.

            It is therefore only fair that you prove that your forefathers are native of Palestine rather than descendants of thieving Arab invaders from the Arab peninsula.

            Fair is fair
            :)

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            Ok,after you give me solid evidence that you descend from the Jews who lived in Palestine 3000 years ago ,deal ?

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            Deal.

            I already gave you evidence before in an earlier argument with you but here it is again.

            Archeological and historical accounts such as (Josephus) tell of the Jewish rebellion against Rome around 70AD. That proves that Palestine was inhabited by Jews. Most Jews were subsequently forced to flee Judea which was renamed by the Romans to Palestine. There are Jewish synagogues in modern Rome in Italy which date back to Roman times. And there are historical accounts of how Jewish communities migrated across Eastern and central Europe. These accounts detail the history of Jews continuously from Roman times to our present day. Read them yourself.

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Europe

            There are others. Just google “history of European Jews”.

            Now it is your turn. Prove that you are a descendant of indigenous people rather than descendants of land thieving invading Arabs who invaded Palestine in 634 AD.

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            I never denied that Jews lived in Palestine for a period of time,but that doesn’t make you one of their descendants.I’m still waiting for your evidence ….

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            I gave you my evidence. Now where is YOUR evidence?

            Or are you breaking your own deal that YOU proposed?

            How unusual
            :)

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            You haven’t proven that your ancestors lived in Palestine 3000 years ago.You are lying , as usual .

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            And you haven’t proven that you are a descendant of indigenous people rather than thieving Arab colonisers.

            Moreover, I at least presented evidence that Jews are descendants of the people (Judeans) who owned Palestine 3000 years ago. You did not even present evidence to prove YOUR claims. The fact that you consider my evidence as non proof is your problem.

            But True to form, you broke your own proposed deal. Obviously you are unable to prove your own credentials which even the charter of the PLO disputes. Here it is again. Just to refresh your porous memory
            :)
            “Article 1: Palestine is the homeland of the Arab Palestinian people; it is an indivisible part of the Arab homeland, and the Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.”

            Even the PLO says that you are Arabs. Why are you so ashamed of being an Arab?
            :)

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            You are a regular comic “Palestinian”. You are playing a kids game aren’t you? It goes like this:

            1. You promise me to prove that you are a descendant of indigenous people rather than thieving Arab invaders after I prove that Jews are descendants of the Judeans who owned Palestine way before the Arab invasions.

            2. I give you evidence.

            3. You reject the evidence.

            4. You then refuse to prove that you are a descendant of indigenous people.

            That is a cute game. I would like to play it too.
            :)
            First you prove that you are a descendant of indigenous people rather than thieving Arab invaders, THEN I will prove that Jews are descendants of Judeans.

            Deal?
            :)

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            You haven’t given any evidence.Jews lived in Palestine thousands of years ago,but how are you related to them ? I asked first you answer first.

            Reply to Comment
      • Max

        nsttnocontentcomment

        Reply to Comment
      • Max

        Tell me, Since you accept Gush Etzion, what about Hebron where the Jews, who had a presence there, were massacred?

        Reply to Comment
    16. Woody

      I prefer to listen to ex-settler, Lia Tarachansky and her reportage for TheRealNews. Lia also comes from Ariel and shared all of the same view – only she switched perspectives out of a feeling of justice and now her life’s work is to help us all. On the whole, reading this article I got the idea that this is an amateur who happens to live in a settlement and struck up some sort of warm conversation with the staff at +972, resulting in a rather lukewarm piece. It’s weird – Lia Tarachansky can talk romantically about her days in Ariel, but goes to the neighboring villages and documents the crimes the state commits. Please ask Lia for an article next time and don’t allow this rather commitment-less piece of opinion writing.

      Reply to Comment
      • Orit

        I hope you have a lot of oil or Vaseline handy for that extra lubrication.

        Reply to Comment
        • shmuel

          Orit, your words are delicate and pure as your soul.

          Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            “Orit, your words are delicate and pure as your soul.”

            The above comment was written by that OTHER Shmuel, NOT ME, although I agree with it mostly.

            Having said that, I don’t agree with Orit’s over simplification of “the collective”. In principle it would be nice to relate to each other only as human beings but I am not a firm believer in Messianic times. In the meanwhile, the collective is a form of protection.

            Reply to Comment
          • Shmuel

            PS
            It sounds to me that the words of that OTHER Shmuel (who still hasn’t got a bit of common courtesy) are sarcastic.

            I on the other hand was not sarcastic.

            Reply to Comment
        • And you wrote about “talking points, slogans etc ” ??

          Reply to Comment
      • Max

        Tell me, I always read about the crimes that the state commits…. its interesting how you all ignore the crimes that the “Palestinians” commit. Sure there is injustice and no lacking problems and yes, I think we can say “crimes” when a Military busies itself with Policing, but it seems that the daily acts of terror against the Jews is below your radar. Is your ignorance premeditated? Or is your blindness racially motivated?

        Reply to Comment
    17. rose

      I would kindly ask to +972 of not publishing these kind of garbage-articles in the future. Todà rabà.

      Reply to Comment
      • Marcos

        Because Rose is the arbiter of all that is worthwhile.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          The self righteousness and the pomposity of some posters in + 972 is … is …. is …. just laughable.

          Reply to Comment
          • Marcos

            These narcissists depict serious deficits of self-awareness. Reasoning or positive discussion is beyond their skill-set.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Oh they are self aware alright. They just choose to be assholes in the true tradition of all Jooooooohaters of the past. They just have a different name for their Joooooohatred. They call it anti Zionism but REALLY it is the same old shit. Yet SOME idiot Jews fall for it and echo the assholes.

            Reply to Comment
    18. Max

      I find the responses here to be one of the highlights of this virtual experience. The author shows, not only here, but in other works that she thinks, she observes and come to decisions and informed opinions. She does not take up one particular line, nor does she follow blindly. That indifference to many of the responses here who are trapped in their ways and narrowed views.

      Machsom Watch is held as heroes by some of you here. here is an org that claims to be fighting for Human Rights, but claims ignorance and innocence when their actions may lead to assisting terror. And yet, when this author shows true concern for an equal existence regardless of race or religion she gets attacked.

      The authors crime is that she thinks, and does not just follow, she will be hounded by this for time to come, or at least until others learn to think and see a more complete and accurate picture without being tainted by those shackled to their respected sides.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Max

      I am curious as to how many of the Palestinians following this post actually critique the PA openly regarding the lacking of Human Rights, Oppression of the Free Press, and brutality of the Palestinian Police force. How many are actually willing to do this openly in public. Unfortunately many of the Crimes committed by the PA against their own do not get the privilege to be put out there. Any heroes out there?

      Reply to Comment
      • There have been plenty of mass anti-PA protests in the streets of Palestinian towns and cities, and I doubt the people who participate would consider themselves particularly heroic.

        Reply to Comment
        • Max

          Agreed Vicky, but I would like to see some of these folk tell the rest of the world about what goes on there, including on this site as 972 should be providing a more complete picture. It is rare that you see comments made in English describing the crimes being committed by the PA.

          Reply to Comment
    20. Philos

      Orit, I want the occupation of Israel by wealthy American Jews who import their strange ideas that the solutions to our problems can be found in reading Ayn Rand, owning private property, getting rid of the welfare state, owning a gun and fighting the ‘Injuns’ (aka, the Palestinians). I am sick to my stomach of all these Americans. They’re an alien and malign force in Israeli society, and will ultimately rent Israel apart. And then, they’ll fly back to NYC and LA, sip on their fairtrade kosher coffee at the “temple” and say, “Yea, so I tried the whole Israel thing for a few decades but then, like, all this civil war stuff happened, and I was like, c’mon are you serious? They were like killing each other. Like, these Israelis were like, it’s all our fault! Screaming at us “Kahane was an American!” but some of the guys from the yishuv and the garin saved us. It was a bummer. I spent like half my trust fund there but my bubba is getting pretty old now so I should be ok.”

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        What? You are racist against Americans? What have Americans ever done against you?

        Ahaaaaa ENVY. I sense ENVY, from little old you
        :)

        Reply to Comment
      • Orit

        Philos! That’s hilarious! Thanks for making me smile;)

        Reply to Comment
    21. Larry Snider

      In March 2008 my friend Leah Green brought our interfaith delegation to meet Rabbi Menachem Froman in Tekoa. He gave us all hope and one day in 2009 we accompanied him and Sheikh Ghassan Manasra to the State Department to share their vision of faith leading to peace with George Mitchell and others on Capitol Hill. May we make room for many positive visions of peace.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Kevin

      Orit’s words: peace, love, unity, respect…
      Orit’s actions: racist privilege, perpetuation of injustice, banality of evil, total complicity in human suffering…

      She exploits racist privilege, the fruits of violent injustice against Palestinians – but wants to feel good while she does it. What’s more, she wants us to pat her on the back for it!

      Totally #peoplewhohappentobefacistanddontknowityet
      Orit is the physical embodiment – the very definition of all that is evil about Zionism.

      Reply to Comment
      • IlonJ

        Blah blah blah blah blah …

        More sound bites?

        Reply to Comment
      • Typical of anti-Israel propagandists to feel good about grouping people together based on stupid assumptions. Your post Kevin is just baseless garbage, period. Btw, I wonder what you would say if I made a comment like that about Arabs living in Tel Aviv.

        Reply to Comment
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