The settlers, as we know, are the only people in Israel who take the Left seriously. When you read the settlers’ publications you think that the leftists are everywhere: The leftists infiltrate the government, the leftists run the Defense Ministry, the leftists dominate the legal establishment, and the leftists control the media, of course.
You then you look up and see the leftists for what they really are: An exhausted, delusional bunch of people who cannot even bring 200 people to attend a rally and who boast a long list of failure we are too tired to describe.
The settlers do not have a problem with the leftists, but rather, with Israelis who like settlers; Israelis who are unconcerned by the fact that national-religious youngsters are overtaking our elite units. Such Israelis actually appreciate the settlers for that.
These are Israelis who would be happy to take their children to visit ancient Jewish sites in Judea and Samaria and who believe that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are indeed buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs. These are Israelis who are pained every time they hear about a shooting attack in Heron, because it’s their brothers being shot at over there.
And if the settlers have a problem with these Israelis, they have a real problem. Because these Israelis, who are Zionistic, Jewish, and hold national feelings are starting to feel that this is happening at their expense. They are not angry at the settlers, yet gradually they are being overcome by the feeling that the entire settlement enterprise is costing them too much.
They are paying the price in term’s of the state’s global status, mostly in respect to their ties with the United States; they pay in terms of Israel’s Jewish character, as these Israelis do not wish to live in a bi-national country with three million Palestinians; they pay with money that could have been used for education, health, building roads, and education again; they are paying with sleepless nights because they are worried about their son, who serves in a combat unit in the Hebron region; they are paying in terms of the suffocating feeling that their lives are not going anywhere but are merely revolving around the conflict, year after year, with no sign of an end in sight.
The settlers are hereby invited to ignore the Left and its arguments – most Israelis have been doing that for years now. Yet the settlers must respond to the following question: Why are they ignoring us too? We, the average citizens who pay their taxes, perform their reserve military service, and wish to live in a normal state. Israelis who secretly (or not so secretly) don’t especially like the Palestinians and do not view “peace” as a holy vision, but wish to live peacefully and well and cannot understand why they must bear the results of a religious ideology they do not share.
It may be easier for the settlers to engage in a debate on the ideological level, yet most Israelis address the issue of settlements – as they address most issues – on the practical level: Is it good for the Jews or bad for the Jews?
As long as the settlers did not have a direct effect on their lives, these Israelis could sit at home and tell themselves that these settlers are fighting for their beliefs in an admirable manner and are even willing to pay the price for it. Yet now, these Israelis are starting to feel that they are the ones paying the price, and what’s even more problematic, nobody asked them whether they are willing to pay it.
In the face of the sacrifice we are required to make, the only comfort offered by the settlers at this point is the perception that they are the only ones who know what’s best for us. They look at the same country, with the same problems, and reach the conclusion that their solution is better. The settlers believe, mostly for religious reasons, that there is no chance they are wrong, and that they are therefore allowed to act in contradiction of our views even on issues that directly bear on our lives.
This answer is both problematic and irritating. Four percent of the country’s residents cannot decide that they are the only ones who know what’s right. We too live here, we too shall suffer the implications of failed negotiations, and we too hold views about the direction this country should take. It’s hard not to respect those who are wiling to risk their lives and future for the sake of a goal they believe in, yet it becomes a whole different story when they risk the lives and future of others.
Of all the bad things that happened to us in recent years, the worst one is that Israelis are again asking themselves whether we shall still be here in 50 years. The State of Israel’s existence, which up until a few years ago appeared to be guaranteed, is again facing a question mark.
It is not our enemies who threaten us this time, but rather, it is us. The great fear we are facing has to do with disintegration: The international isolation, the division into sectors that are only preoccupied with
themselves, and the loss of our national identity. The fact that so much of our energy is invested in a struggle with the Palestinians exacts a heavy price, and it keeps on increasing with every failed round.
The billions of shekels invested in the territories, all the blood that was spilled there, and the ongoing harm to our quality of life had not been in vain. This was our way to tell the members of an important community here that we love and appreciate them; for many years we were willing to make concessions – some of them painful – so that they could go on living here in line with their faith.
The question that emerges now is whether they also feel that way about us.