Friday, 8 June 2007

Pizza Now

...Upon hearing our plans for the book, he told us that he’d be shutting up shop shortly, and that he’d come outside and chat to us if we wanted as soon as he’d cleaned the place up. We retired outside to eat, then Yehiel – a stocky man with closely cropped hair in his mid thirties – came to sit with us and give us his views on settlements and Israeli politics. Wiping his oil-stained hands on his t-shirt, he launched straight into a vehement tirade against the Israeli public and the government who lead them... (read on here)

Settling off

Boarding the bus at Jerusalem’s tahanat merkazit felt much like the start of any journey through Israel. A typical mix of childlike soldiers, scholarly datim and swaggering hilonim jostled for space as they approached the steps to the coach that was to take us to the Israeli settlement of Ariel - deep inside the West Bank. The first thing that struck me as we took our seats towards the front of the bus was that the windows were reinforced with bullet proof glass, a pertinent reminder that the number 480 bus might be a standard route, but this was to be far from a routine journey... (read on here)

First Impressions

...Visiting an illegal hilltop settlement near Nablus, our guide turned to us and asked "is this hilltop illegal or not?". When we shrugged our shoulders in response, he replied "I don't know either. If it's legal, they should stop telling the settlers to leave. If it's not, why did they build a water tower for the residents, and why did they hook up the caravans to the national grid?" - pointing to the pylons on the hillside and the huge concrete water container perched atop the summit.

He wanted us to see the government as confused and indecisive in its West Bank policies, and - regardless of our conflicting political leanings - I agreed with him wholeheartedly. On reflection, however, I don't think they're confused at all. I think they're trying to dupe the public, and the rest of the world, into thinking that they're all about withdrawal-for-peace, but in reality are happy to bankroll and support the settlement juggernaut as it rolls deeper and deeper into the occupied territories.... (
read on at commentisfree)

Setting up camp

...Haya, one of the founding members of Gush Emunim and a pioneering settler in the West Bank since 1974, admits that at first the group were viewed as a bunch of lunatics. Thousands of settler activists came to the mountains of the West Bank in 1974 and 1975 and stayed in tents until the army evacuated them. Seven more times they did this and every time the rest of Israel looked on in disbelief. Who were these wailing rabbis and scarf-wearing women who brought their many long-haired children to live in the middle of these ancient olive groves? " 'Who are these strange, hallucinating people?' they asked," Haya recalls, smiling faintly... (Read on at commentisfree)