Settlers cleaning graffiti in mosque
Photo: Amichay Ben-Saadon
Settlers escape arrest
Photo: Gil Yohanan

In praise of settler youth

Op-ed: Young settlers are wonderful, idealistic group of people - don’t call them terrorists

I tried to identify the special thing that captivates anyone who meets the youth of Samaria. Yet instead of telling you about it, you should just come and see it. See with your own eyes how our youths volunteer and offer help; how a 15-year-old boy on vacation wakes up early in the morning, prays, and then goes to work the land – exhausting agricultural work performed out of moral ideals.


Yet suddenly, without any advance preparation, we were exposed to huge news stories about terrorism. Jewish terrorism? Don’t make us laugh. After all, we all know what terrorism really is. While every smalltime politician rushes to make another headline with yet another condemnation, top security officials must stop and ask: How did we reach the current state of affairs?


How did we reach a situation where loyal citizens, the salt of the earth, view the IDF as directly responsible for the injustices they suffer daily? How did we reach a point where citizens feel that the army has become the operational arm of our greatest enemies? I know that the IDF is not really like this. After all, I served as a paratrooper, I am a reservist commander, and I fought in Lebanon and in Judea and Samaria’s most dangerous zones.


However, the witch-hunt is under way. The media celebrated, our forum of top eight government ministers convened, Binyamin Ben Eliezer recommended that settlers be shot, and officials even called for defining the Hilltop Youth as a terror group. But all of us know such organization doesn’t really exist, so why spill blood? Why the incitement against such large and wonderful group of people? The teenagers who live in and build Samaria’s hills are outstanding individuals, instilled with motivation and ideals that our government ministers can only envy.


Betrayed time and again

Yet some Defense Ministry officials (and this does not absolve the prime minister of responsibility) make sure to betray these idealistic youths time and again. When razing Migron they lied to us, and when demolishing homes in Itamar they violated agreements with us. It’s easy to raise a hue and cry over the ease with which a Jew harms the army that protects it, Mr. GOC Central Command, but what about a OC Central Command who lies to local security chiefs in Judea and Samaria? The ones who are killed even before the soldiers? Should there be no outcry about that?


As a youth coordinator, I’m amazed every time by the wonderful youngsters growing up in Samaria. Two weeks ago I met such teenager at a hitchhiking post. “You’re going out to have a good time?” I asked with a smile. “No,” he said. “I have an interview. I want to help a disabled child.” When other teenagers update their Facebook status, he seeks more opportunities to help.


Here in Itamar, a day after the terrible attack in which members of the Fogel family were butchered, we convened, encouraged each other, and decided to take the pain and anger to a place of growth and action. The teens who a day earlier lost a comrade and neighbors showed great character in deciding that our answer will be in the form of construction and settlement, immediately embarking on the construction of a new neighborhood.


Yet some two weeks ago, troops arrived to raze this new neighborhood. Hundreds of soldiers, Border Guard police officers and riot police formed a human chain in order to ensure that nobody disrupts the Arab laborers in razing the synagogue and homes. One teen asked me with irony: Where were these troops a few months ago? Why did they not form such human chain to prevent the killers from coming in? When these are the questions being asked, you can imagine the prevalent feelings.


Indeed, we do not endorse harm to the army; every such act is improper. Yet before leveling charges, must get to know the wonderful youths growing up here. We hold workshops to prepare them ahead of joining the IDF, and none of the boys I know took place in the raid on the Ephraim Division headquarters. So tell me, who needs to engage in self-reflection, us or the IDF?


The writer is the youth coordinator in Itamar and a law student




פרסום ראשון: 12.27.11, 18:32
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