The “Other” Settlers

The New York Times has an interesting article today about the cities of Beitar Ilit and Modiin Ilit. It seems that the talk of natural growth among the settler population has them focussing on some of the places in Judea and Samaria where this is most prominent – namely these two Charedi (Ultra-Orthodox) cities.

I find the article fascinating for a number of reasons. It is obvious that Peace Now and other left-wing organizations have provided the author with statistics (just look at the graph provided of population numbers), and a bit of spin. The spin is the attempt to “water down” the impact of the overall number of 300,000 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria by dividing the population into “Ultra-Orthodox” in these two cities, and the “Jewish nationalists” everywhere else.

I also think the apparent hypocrisy of the left-wing is very intersting. An official of Yesh Din, in justifying a possible compromise where the border will be redrawn to include these two cities, claims that “From a purely geographic point of view, construction there [areas very near to the pre-67 border] is not as destructive as elsewhere”. Which means what exactly? That it is ok for Jews to build in Judea and Samaria if it is “near” the pre-67 border? How near is near? 5 kilometers away? 10 kilometers away? That it is ok to build houses for Ultra-Orthodox Jews because they are not necessarily right-wing Zionists, or to use their euphemism, “Jewish nationalists”?

The overall premise of the article, that in these two areas there is a “surprising potential for compromise” made me laugh out loud! Yes, the author is correct in assuming that most of the Charedim who live in these cities moved to them because the housing was cheaper. But it is a tremendous leap from this fact to the idea that all of them would move somewhere else, and it shows a lack of both information and perspective by the part of the author. There is a huge lack of affordable housing for everyone in Israel, and the problem is acute for Charedim, who have more children on average than other Israelis. The idea that somehow there would spring up a cheap place for these 100,000 Charedim to move to is a laugh. And the idea of them leaving their homes, without somewhere else to go (like the Jews from Gush Katif) is mind-boggling. Anyone who has read the news for the past few weeks and heard about the riots in Jerusalem over opening a parking lot on Shabbat would see that.

The biggest lesson for me from this article, is the very practical fact that NUMBERS COUNT. Places in Judea and Samaria that would theoretically become approved, or, as the Israelis say “in the consensus” are judged by one criteria only. THE SIZE OF THE POPULATION. Whereas those of us who are “Jewish nationalists” see Judea and Samaria as part of Israel because it is G-d’s gift to us, those who don’t hold that view use different ways to explain what parts are “ok and not ok”. East Jersualem is ok now because of the Kotel (Western Wall). And certain places in Judea and Samaria are ok because they are cities.

Every Jewish family that moves to a yishuv makes a difference.


17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tomi Laine Clark
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 10:08:47

    -“From a purely geographic point of view, construction there [areas very near to the pre-67 border] is not as destructive as elsewhere”. Which means what exactly?

    I think what he meant by that was- when negotiating to draw the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state, it will be easier to do so if the Jewish communities inside the 1967 borders are contiguous to the rest of Israel. Settlements that are separated from Israel by Palestinian communities will present logistical problems.

    And I found it interesting that, at least to my knowledge, lefties have reacted with similar dismay to this article. I wonder if there is any demographic that found the piece sound.

  2. neshama
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 17:17:59

    Yes, once again “they” use the divide and conquer tactic (of the administration’s pet media). I like your vantagepoint. I think the article was another way to support Obama’s “No More Jewish Babies” attack on Israel.

  3. Shlomo
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 09:01:25

    What I got out of the article is that these charedim are pushovers who will let anyone do anything to them and not resist.

    The author could have been quoting selectively, but still.

  4. aliyah06
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 13:47:18

    I loved this: “Moreover, protecting the settlements from attack has meant construction of numerous barriers, checkpoints and bypass roads that impair economic development and disrupt daily life.”

    A typical NY MSM Far Left toss-away line about how protecting ANY OF US (not just settlements) from homicidal maniacs who want to commit mass murder of Jews has led to this oh-so-sad disruption of daily Palestinian life. Hey, dope-head, in case you never noticed, busses and cafes blowing up all the time sort of disrupted Israeli lives…..I couldn’t take anything he wrote seriously after this garbage.

  5. shesettler
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 14:09:30

    We live in Kochav Yaacov. Witin the yishuv’s fence is the charedi settlement of Tel Zion. They have about 5,000 or so people and we have 450 familes. One of the things that are good about living here is that because we have such a variety of people, we hope that we are less likely to be evacuated. Hopefully nobody would be evacuated but having charedim and religious nationalists living in the same place helps. We’re aren’t that big compared to Beitar and Modiin Illit but it’s significant enough for us to be somewhat confident that b’ezrat Hashem they won’t move us. Boy you can bet that if they move us you’ll have a great fight. The charedim here are getting cheaper rent than in Jerusalem and we’re only 15 minutes away from Pisgat Zeev and 30 from the bus station. We love it here and hope to stay here.

  6. ronny
    Aug 02, 2009 @ 11:33:01

    I think you asked a very good question about “how near is near”. It is so good, that I will explain exactly “how near is near”.

    “Near” is defined by how much “divine wrath” you will pour out upon the leftist bastards if they attempt to uproot your community. You see, the Charedim, bless their hearts, do not seem to be suffering from a dysfunctional leadership that sells it out when they try to keep hold of their land. B”H, the community activists, the rabbonim, and most importantly, the askanim are all the same page. No question they have their problems. But when it comes to throwing Jews out of their homes they are either on the same page, or close enough that if someone tries to sell out the community they will be run out of town.

    It is important to try to learn the good one sees in everyone. Now in my ideal world, the Religious Zionists, and the Religious Charedim should be brothers in everything. Maybe there should be differences, but in this particular aspect I think they should adopt similar positions.

    It would be a good idea to keep close ties between the activists in both communities so that both would have a wealth of information in how to deal with agent provocateurs, informants, sellouts, and nutjobs (similar to provocateurs but unpaid).

    The most heartbreaking thing about learning of Gush Katif, was to see how the activists constantly sought out das torah, and the Yesha (including “rabbis”!) sought out “das Uri Bar Lev” (it cracks me up that a man named “bar lev” was in charge of this disaster. Remember the other famous “bar lev” in charge of that disaster by the Negev? I wonder if they are related.)

    There was one important result of all this – and that is a lot more Jews now have their heads on a little straighter. The government not only cannot be trusted it should NEVER be trusted. Government should be limited because it is the nature of power to corrupt. The army is NOT a good thing. No army is a good thing. Ever. Under any circumstances. We have an army because we MUST, not because it is GOOD. Love the soldiers (including the commanders), but hate the army. Support the army on all levels, and pray for the day when we can finally throw all the weapons into the sea.

    Now the Religious Zionists as a whole understand this. We will never again hear young religious Jews chanting “we love the army.” Those days are finally over.

    Would to G-d we could get rid of the Shabak and Mossad. Everyone tells me that these are essential to the survival of the state, but I always wonder if they are truly worth what everyone thinks they are worth.

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  8. Batya from Shiloh
    Aug 02, 2009 @ 19:25:16

    shesettler, what a nasty selfish thing to say. All you think of is yourself, nobody else, not our Land nor our People nor the survival of the State of Israel.

  9. sammy
    Aug 03, 2009 @ 16:43:09

    it is known that Israel has made it almost impossible to give building permissions to Arabs in East Jerusalem or any part of the West Bank in an effort to push Arabs to migrate. Do you approve it? Don’t you think this is double standard?

  10. aliyah06
    Aug 03, 2009 @ 18:48:34

    “It is known….” Yes, this is known to people of the Leftist-hate-Israel persuasion who preach it with such fervor to the uninformed until folks like you think its gospel truth.

    OK–I live in Jerusalem. Jerusalem has incredibly difficult building permit procedures for EVERYONE, not just for Arabs. If I dare to put an enclosure on my porch without the proper permit (which is expensive and takes about 2 years to get, at best) the city gets to come out and rip it out and then fine me for building without a permit.

    Travel around Jerusalem–look at Sur Baher, or Umm Tuba, or Beit Safafa, or Sharafat or Tantur — all Arab neighborhoods –and look at the absolute mushrooming of homes in these areas. Know why? Because the builders (1) have title to the property and (2) got building permits to build homes. No problem. The problem arises where Arabs who were originally either refugees or Settlers from Jordan themselves squatted in parts of East Jerusalem, never registered the property in TABU, and never paid taxes. By law (Turkish law, which governs real estate here, not Israeli law)these homes DO NOT BELONG TO THEM and they don’t have clear title to the property. Under those circumstances, the city isn’t going to issue building permits. (Would your town issue a building permit to a guy who 65 years ago threw up a cinderblock house in open space, and then declared it “his home”? Didn’t think so…)

    An aside: the MSM and Left perpetually overlook this in “settler” arguments: Jordan engaged in a huge “settlement” enterprise moving Jordanian Arabs into the Jerusalem area to prevent the Jewish owners who had been ethnically cleansed from returning and claiming the Old City and surrounding areas.

    The problem has been exacerbated for the past several years because Palestinians of the West Bank, for economic or political reasons, have started crowding into Jerusalem suburbs to be on the Israeli side of the separation barrier…..and driving demand for housing and cost of housing up.

    As for “building permission to Arabs in…any part of the West Bank…” — who is feeding you this garbage? Israel has no control over where Bethlehem or Nablus wants to build new housing, and they certainly don’t get their building permits from us….a brand new neighborhood just went up on a hillside across from Palestinian Beit Sahour (in the West Bank) with lovely new houses–believe me, the builder didn’t get his permit from the Israelis. The Palestinians handle that themselves, and since the PA is NOT encouraging their people to migrate, mayhaps the migration from the West Bank is due to other factors? Like corruption, armed militias, lack of crime control, poor infrastructure as a result of spending donations on weaponry instead of sewage systems, inculcating martyrdom and death into students instead of math and hi-tech (prompting parents to move to Canada where no one is going to convince their teen to blow himself up but will encourage him to go to college).

    BTW, back to Jerusalem for a moment—the fix would be for the city to improve conditions in East Jerusalem, but of course every time the municipal government tries to do that, the Arab population complains that city efforts are really a conspiracy to undermine their “Palestinian identity”… the Israelis can’t win: construct a light rail IN Arab neighborhoods, and get accused of “takeover” so then don’t construct light rail in Arab neighborhoods and get accused of racism. It’s all word games.

    Bottom line: people, whether Arab or Jewish, with clear title and permits get to build. Absent that, you don’t get a permit and don’t get to build and the city will rip down whatever you put up.

  11. sammy
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 11:20:01

    thank you for that information, aliyah. i appreciate that. it’s just that i’ve heard so many different “facts” and “thoughts” from both – israeli and palestinian side, that it’s difficult to find the truth. Especially since i’ve seen many reports about Israeli efforts to drive the Palestinians out of their territory. I’ll give you some examples:

    – israel’s taking control of all water resources (Israeli government denies permits to Palestinians to dig new wells on their own land while inside Israeli settlements water drilling continues).

    – The wall. As a result of the wall, about 50,000 Arabs were isolated and forbidden to enter the city from these neighborhoods that were once part of the city.

    – What about taxes? Is it true that in West Jerusalem you get 80% in return of the taxes in services but in Arab East Jerusalem you get 8% only?

    – Or roads…are there some roads that are not accessible for Palestinians, just for Israeli’s and residence of Jersusalem?

    – Or reports about changing in roadside signs across Israel´s highways so that the all names appearing on them in English and Arabic would be a direct transliteration of Hebrew, which can be seen as a step to isolate the Arab community inside Israel and The Occupied Territories.

    with that in mind, i honestly don’t know whom to believe when i heard about building permissions in East jesrusalem. hope you see my point.

  12. aliyah06
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 19:20:07

    Hmmmm….let’s see if I can answer briefly.

    Water. Israel gets roughly 40 percent of its water from the Sea of Galilee and the Coastal Aquifer, both of which are entirely within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Another 30 percent comes from the Western and Northeastern Aquifers of the Mountain Aquifer system. These two aquifers straddle the Green Line that separates Israel from the West Bank, but most of the stored water is under pre-1967 Israel, making it easily accessible only in Israel. We are currently supplying the Palestinians in the West Bank with water, per our agreement with the PA (we also supply water to Jordan, per treaty). Pre-Oslo agreements, when Israel had full control of the West Bank, Israel attempted to ensure a safe supply of drinking water to everyone, and built a water delivery system to the West Bank, although some Palestinian Arab communities refused to be hooked up to the Israeli-built system for political reasons. While Israel was administering these water allocations, Israel’s percentage of the water taken from the acquifers decreased and the Palestinian share increased. Did we stop Palestinians from digging unauthorized wells? Yes. We also stopped Jews from digging unauthorized wells. It had nothing to do with being Jewish or Arab–it had to do with making sure that people weren’t ripping off the system since water is chronically short here. (Even in California, you need a permit to dig a well in your own yard.) As of NOW, 2009–the Palestinian Authority and Israel reached an accord on water rights which is in the Oslo Accord. There are shortages on the Palestinian side but due to infrastructure and allocation problems by the PA, not because Israel has any say or control over the matter. (Rich Palestinians have swimming pools and villas, something the media never seems to mention….) We’re STILL pumping water into Gaza despite a de facto state of war with the Hamas government and their obscene hostage game with Gilad Shalit.

    Roads–I’ve driven all over Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank. I have never driven on a road in the West Bank that didn’t have both Israelis and Palestinians on them. There have been times, for example, at the height of the Intifada, and more recently in Hebron, when roads have been closed to one party OR the other to prevent bloodshed. When drive-by shootings became almost a norm during the Intifada in the West Bank, by-pass roads were built to settlements and Palestinians were forbidden to drive on them–and Israelis were forbidden to drive on roads used by Palestinians. The road to Tekoa from southern Jerusalem was, until a few years ago, “Palestinian only” and Jews who wanted to drive to Jerusalem had to go the long way past Efrat. The policy, when it was in effect, was to stop hotheads on both sides from killing people, not to stop Palestinians from driving on highways.

    The security barrier (which is mostly fence, not wall): its built along a ridge top. That ridge top happens to separate the Jerusalem Basin and Old City and old East Jerusalem from the sprawling townships of Abu Dis, El Essarwiya and other far flung suburbs which historically aren’t considered part of Jerusalem. The inhabitants to the east are neither isolated nor unable to enter the City–it’s inconvenient, but border crossings, especially those designed to stop mass murderers rather than undocumented workers, usually are. To the north of the city, the barrier almost approaches Ramallah, so it would be fair to say that the areas outside the barrier aren’t really part of Jerusalem. They’re more suburbs of Ramallah.

    Taxes–this is complicated. First, the Palestinians of East Jerusalem have repeatedly opted not to vote as an expression of solidarity againt anything Israeli. OK, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a representative on the municipal council–which is where all the decisions get made and where the money for city projects is allocated. Second, collection of taxes from the Arab population is problematic. I can’t find anything specific to Jerusalem on short notice but I found this piece about Arab townships and taxation generally: “Among the jobs of a local council is to build roads, set up a water and sewage system and infrastructure, and other assorted services. The Arab town councils also have to give these services to their residents. Ministry of the Interior data back a few years ago showed that in the past decade the property tax debt in the Israeli Arab sector had accumulated to over two billion shekels. [aliyah’s note: This is because of both graft and Palestinian nationalism which promotes nonpayment as a protest against Israel.] Not only that, but the Arab town councils, which include 10.4 percent of Israel’s total population, receive 24.3 percent of the total balance grants which are given to local councils throughout Israel. The meaning of this for the year 1999 alone is that the Arab local councils received grants exceeding half a billion shekels to their relative numbers. Why do the Arab local councils deserve to be supported by the government at the expense of the Jewish local councils?” I’m not sure the disparity in Jerusalem is 80/8 as you suggest, but I know there is a disparity in Jerusalem. The new mayor is trying to close that gap, but frankly, if you want a say in how the money is allocated, you have to vote! And come to city council meetings. And have a representative on the council (who you voted for). You can’t NOT vote, not have a representative on the city council and then whine that not enough money was allocated for YOUR neighborhood projects.

    Road signs: first, this would only apply inside Israel, as I understood the proposal. Maybe I’m wrong, but I really don’t see the Palestinian Authority letting our highway crews run around putting up signs in Hebrew for “Jenin” and “Nablus.” Inside Israel — what’s the beef? The language is Hebrew. The transliterations already exist on the signs–and some of them are downright silly because of some antiquated rule about how Hebrew should be transliterated into English. “Qasarriya” instead of Caesaria; “Petach Tikwah” instead of Petach Tikvah; “Ben Guryon” instead of Ben Gurion….etc. I don’t read Arabic, but I imagine the Arabic is equally mangled. This is not an issue, it’s a joke.

    I hope this helps.

  13. Tomi Laine Clark
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 19:47:02

    Aliyah, do you have any references for your info above? Not calling into Question the validity, I’m just doing long-term research about the issues in the region and I try to collect sources whenever I can.

  14. sammy
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 21:43:27

    thanks aliyah06, it does help. it’s always good to hear “both” sides.

  15. aliyah06
    Aug 05, 2009 @ 03:52:06

    You’re welcome, Sammy; Tomi, I pulled it all off of the internet except for the stuff that I refer to as my personal experience (driving, location of the barrier in Jerusalem,and the road signs, for instance). I didn’t bookmark the references, but they’re not hard to find…now I wish I had, but I didn’t anticipate anyone needing them besides me…

  16. westbankmama
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 04:59:44

    Thanks to aliyah06 for taking care of the rational arguments on this comment thread.

  17. aliyah06
    Aug 06, 2009 @ 17:09:26

    My pleasure, always. Shabbat shalom!

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