redefining the settler movement

June 6, 2007

In my mind, Jews moving to the West Bank because of religious fervor were the lowest of the low. During the time I spent in Israel, I learned to despise settlers. Where do they get off thinking that this is what God wants them to do? How can they justify this behavior with religious rhetoric?

But then, I find out that there are many American Jews who are moving to the West Bank to cities that are commuting distance from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for purely economic reasons. And then I throw up a little bit in my mouth. I am disgusted by American Jews who make sense of this unethical decision by citing how cheap it is and how they can have an even more lavish home than they had in the US.

Settlements near Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have become a suburban paradise for North American religious Jews. They offer large homes with yards, lawns and swimming pools, and prices are low compared with those of the cramped apartments not only of Israel’s main population centers but also of such smaller cities as Beit Shemesh and Modi’in.

For the record, there is a water shortage in Israel. Israelis, settlers specifically, consume far more water than their Palestinian neighbors and Palestinians are frequently denied access to water that falls in the West Bank. (google ‘palestinian water crisis’ and you will find an endless number of hits). This new generation of settlers define their personal happiness not by God’s commandment to settle the land but by how many valuable public resources they can waste and how short their commute is. In a way, it is even more disgusting to me than religious settlers – at least the latter think they have God on their side.

Beyond that, I cannot even get into the rest of the ironies of this trend – the fact that these communities are “safer” than the ones they left in the US; that they have more security than cities in Israel proper; that the Israeli government cannot offer US olim (immigrants) economically comparable options within Israel proper; that these new communities are popular because they are “gated” communities, giving the olim a feeling of being part of an exclusive community for much less money than gated communities in the US.

Thank you, olim from Teaneck, for making it so clear that this occupation goes beyond religious rhetoric. At its core, this 40-year old occupation is about economic opportunities and natural resources.

““The take-home message is that whatever living standard you could imagine or dream is possible here.”

Right. As long as you’re Jewish and come from an upper-middle class community in the US and therefore feel entitled to all the land, space, and resources you like.



  1. Another layer to the nightmare — thanks so much for posting!

  2. Jews have the right to settle even in NY, Bahamas and Australia…. so why not in Eretz Israel too?
    If the Arabs want peace they have to let Jews into the “territories”. If they don’t…. no one asks them.

  3. Shit. Another most righteous post. I feel sick, in that, ooooh I know this too well. Thank you for bringing the darkness to the light.

  4. interesting post! i would also direct blame at the corrupt palestinian leadership (led by Mahmood Abbas) for not seeking a political resolution to this issue when he had the chance to do so.

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