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Settlers Are People, Too

Settlers Are People, Too

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

I want to share a letter I received from a reader regarding the portrayal of Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. The writer’s son and family are longtime residents of Itamar, in the Samarian mountains near Nablus.

Favorable portrayal, in the media, of Jewish “settlers” in Israel is rare to nonexistent. That this should also be the case in our Jewish media is inexcusable. Whether the editorial posture of the paper is meant to distance itself from the settlers,who are deemed in most mainstream publications as extremist (and the equivalents of Moslem Fundamentalist terrorists), or whether due to an over-reliance on syndicated articles which originate from sources less friendly to the settler population, the slandering of such Jews must stop.

The “settlers” are no different or less heroic that the early pioneers of Israel who were faced with similar challenges. There is one challenge, however, that the early settlers did not need to face and that was a country divided about the pioneer vision, a country that no longer speaks with one voice about the right of the Jewish claim to Eretz Yisrael and consequently that no longer offers its support for those who have maintained their faith in the justice of that cause.

In fact, there is in Israel, particularly in the academic milieu, people who are outspokenly opposed to the idea of Israel as a Jewish state, and this opposition is becoming a more and more respectable political stance all over the world. As doubts about the right of Jews to a Jewish state are growing, the doubts within the Jewish world are also growing, so that Jews no longer speak in one voice about the right of Jews to our biblical legacy. The once glorious phenomenon of a Jewish people solidly unified behind Israel, the Jewish state, seems to have vanished.

As the Jews who are safeguarding the vision and right of Jewish statehood against a hostile world, including, alas, many of their fellow Jews, these latter-day pioneers deserve a little more support and certainly fairness from our own media. So, please, before printing an article with the usual inferences or open slander against the “settlers,” how about replacing it with something like an article about Adam Yaniv, the older brother of Shlomo, who was axed to death by an Arab terrorist, currently on trial, but a trial in which Adam refuses to testify for the reasons so eloquently itemized in this article.

We should all remember that “settlers” have an ideology which we may or may not share; but their presence, with great sacrifice on their part, in places vital to Israel’s security, as well as vital to the Jewish historic memory necessary to preserve us as a people, is reason enough to give them a little more fair press.


Jeanette Goldsmith

The predicament of Israel’s settlers is one of the most emotional and dynamic stories in modern Jewish history. As such, perhaps covering them objectively comes across as being too harsh. Most often, when settlers make it into the news it’s because of tragedy or controversy. We see little of their daily lives and their perspectives and opinions. The Times did a fascinating story last week about the residents of Beitar Illit and their vision of compromise with the Palestinians. But such stories are rare.

As the fate of the 200,000 residents of Judea and Samaria hangs in the balance, I agree with Mrs. Goldsmith. We need to know more about who they are and what they think, not just where they are and what the leaders of the world want to do with them.

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