Remembering the massacre (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By GIULIO MEOTTI 03/15/12)
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There is no better time than the first anniversary of the Itamar
massacre to call for a halt to the demonization of “the settlers,”
the thousands of Jews who live beyond the “Green Line” and their
reduction to second-class citizenship. They are Jews who live in
constant uncertainty, having no idea whether they will keep the homes
for which they have worked hard and risked much. The manner in which
these Israeli citizens are being portrayed is disconcerting.
It will be remembered as a seminal case in the history of blood
These citizens have been
called “leeches,” “snakes,” “vicious,” “primitives,” “medieval,” “obsc
urantists,” “corrupt” and “parasites.” They are the target for the
arrows of Israel haters, both domestic and foreign.
The media paint them as being separate from Klal Yisrael. Their
villages are branded “illegal” and in the end they find that they
themselves have become “illegal beings.” Pariahs. Vilified as a
needless burdens on the defense budget. They have been chosen as
Israel’s scapegoats, the ever-guilty, the Jewish state’s Jews.
Their houses have been demolished, their children traumatized, their
businesses ruined. They have been portrayed as those who take
advantage of all those benefits the government threw at them: low
taxes and subsidized housing. Their human and democratic rights are
often trampled underfoot and disregarded. Their lives have been
condemned to be reversible. A sinister equivalence has been created
between their caravans in the wilderness and suicide bombers and has
turned their houses into something even more urgent to dismantle than
the Iranian bomb.
THEY ARE the Israelis who choose their place of residence by what’s
best for the country, rather than where it’s more comfortable or
stylish to live.
They are normal people, just persevering and tough, who see
themselves as part of a work in progress: Israel. Their lives are a
living statement: this is home and for this land we are ready to
fight and lay down our lives.
Whether in agriculture or industry, education or social services,
their commitment is not just to themselves but to the land and people
They have lovely faces, glowing with solidarity and community spirit,
and make the most daring soldiers in the army, just like the left-
wing youth from the kibbutzim used to. The memory of friends and
relatives who paid with their lives is almost everywhere around their
towns. The hilltop teenagers, with their long hair flying in the
wind, their yarmulkes askew, and their fringes peeking out from under
faded T-shirts, are instilled with ideals that their government
ministers can only envy.
People in the West ignore the amount of blood spilled in their
Overwhelmingly, the Western media and intellectuals ignored and
downplayed the terrorist atrocities suffered by the “settlers.” They
are like the early pioneers who drained the swamps and fought malaria
as they built the foundations of Israel’s land. They are the builders.
Mordechai and Shalom Lapid, who literally gave their lives to build
Kiryat Arba and Elon Moreh, are like the four families who in 1891
made their way from Russia to take home in Hadera.
Their bodies served as Israel’s frontline, like in 1948, when the
heroic resistance of isolated settlements – Mishmar Ha’emek, Ramat
Yohanan, Negba and Yad Mordechai – held back the invading Arab armies
from attacking the heartland of the newly formed and beleaguered
They achieved agricultural breakthroughs by planting tomatoes in the
sands of Gush Katif. They endanger their lives traveling to work or
going to the dentist. On the Golan, they keep the roads open and the
children of the Jordan Valley out of bomb shelters.
What other word is there for people who have lived where most
Israelis even fear to tread, not only with little recognition, but
increasing vilification from part of their own society? They arouse
hostility for the same reasons Jews throughout history have been
reviled – an unwillingness to compromise on issues of Jewish
I know a settler woman who lives in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida
neighborhood, which became a round-the-clock target of shooting and
sniper fire. She and her husband have six children.
He is studying to become a rabbi and he is a caretaker of the
historic graves of Ruth and Yishai which lie next to his home. His
wife is studying about children with disabilities. This stubborn
woman, like Ruth Fogel of Itamar, is a living, wonderful reminder to
the world of what a Jew is.
The writer is the author of The Untold Story of Israel’s Victims of
Terrorism. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 03/15/12)
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