The Flourishing State of Judea

The State of Judea is also the Wild West, whose residents hold the law in contempt.

The data released Monday by Ariel University Center of Samaria confront Israeli society with the destructive gap between legitimate Israel, which exists inside the Green Line, and the settlements.

The data - excerpted from the 2007 statistical yearbook compiled by researchers at the institution on the basis of information from the Central Bureau of Statistics - show that 92.3 percent of Jewish residents of the territories are satisfied with their lives, a higher rate than the national average of 83 percent. The standard of living in the settlements is far higher than the average standard of living in Israel, and the same goes for quality of life.

The numbers speak for themselves: The income of a family living in a settlement is about 10 percent higher than the national average (NIS 13,566 a month, compared with NIS 12,343). The statistics bureau found the health of 91 percent of settlers was good to very good, compared with the national average of 73 percent. In addition, settlers have a higher rate of participation in the labor force - 62 percent, compared to a national average of 56 percent - and unemployment in the settlements is almost an entire percentage point lower than in Israel as a whole.

Quality of life is expressed by other, no less important, indicators, such as the 71.2 percent matriculation pass rate for Jewish residents of the West Bank (compared with a national average of 65.8 percent), and natural growth, especially as seen in the positive migration (4,700 more people moved to settlements in 2007 than left them). This stands in stark contrast to the negative migration within the Green Line. The settler population has doubled over the past 12 years, due in part to the high birth rate in the settlements - 1.5 times the national average - which clearly shows settlers are feeling financially secure.

Even if the Ariel University Center is interested in inflating the story of the demographic and financial-social success of the settlements, one would have to be blind not to see how the State of Judea has been established alongside the State of Israel - a golem that has turned on its maker. And while within the Green Line, the government is cutting welfare services, education, health and public housing, and shirking its responsibility to its citizens, in Judea a glorious welfare state is flourishing.

That's because it is on the back of the collapsing middle class that the government is providing the settlers with wonderful infrastructure, a long school day, secure transportation to school and extracurricular activities, state and military security, extra social services personnel and other benefits. Most settlers work for state institutions and enjoy tax breaks. The declared standard of living makes no mention of the danger level in the face of terror attacks. No wonder most of them are so content.

The problem is that in this paradise, which suckles its best part from the state it kicks around incessantly, crime is also flourishing, at 22 percent above the national average. That's because the State of Judea is also the Wild West, whose residents hold the law in contempt. Israel must decide whether it wants to survive, because if so, it will have to give up the State of Judea.