Settlers, Tell Us, What Do You Think Will Happen?

Motivated by ideology or real estate, settlers avoid dealing with harsh realities facing their future.

What constitutes the life of a settler? A house on the cheap; a standard of living above the national average; a job usually subsidized by the government; a fierce religious, nationalist, uncompromising conviction on the justness of his cause; a supportive, heavy-handed social environment; a highway system; transportation arrangements; socially enriching activities; and, at times, a life that comes with the risk of danger.

The settler goes to and from his home without seeing anything. He does not see his neighbors, he does not see the danger he exposes his children to, he does not see the moral baggage he carries on his back. He does not want to see all this, and an entire system surrounds him that makes life easy for him despite his blindness.

Some of the highways on which he drives are cleansed of Palestinians; he has never visited the neighboring villages, not one of whose names he would know were it not for traffic signs pointing in their direction. His teachers, functionaries and rabbis sketch out the scenery that is his world, leaving him no shred of doubt: the Arabs are terrorists, all of them are suspicious packages, and the Jews are allowed to do as they wish, for they are the lords of the land, and there is no other but they.

He is convinced that he is a member of a special people, a light unto the nations, and that he, the settler, is the torch bearer at the vanguard. They preach to him on how his life is much more "principled" than that of other Israelis, those who have the misfortune of living in the sovereign State of Israel. There, they are Hellenizing, draft-dodging traitors and hedonists. And what of the settler? Well, he's a good Jew, the best there is, the last of the Zionists. Isn't that good enough? For he is also a victim, the only victim of terrorism, the victim of all Israeli society, constantly persecuted and deprived.

It's hard to contend with such a well-oiled propaganda machine. Nothing can overcome it, not even cold, hard facts. Neither does the fact that the settler's residing in the territories violates international law, that most of the land on which his home sits was usurped from his neighbors by fraud or violence, that no country in the world recognizes his presence in the occupied territories. He will always explain how he was "sent" there by the government, even if he knew that moving into his new home sometimes was the result of deceit or invasion.

The specter of being evicted from his home is what let him buy it cheaply in the first place, like all stolen property. Thus he should have known that his home is liable to be temporary, yet he sees his eviction as an "expulsion," "deprivation" and "an infringement of civil rights." The fat budgets devoted to him and the unfathomable political clout will certainly relieve him of his constant sense of injustice, as will the fact that no other Israeli minority group has extorted the majority and sown fear and terror for so many years. The settler is in his own domain: I am a superior individual and have been sent as an emissary to fulfill a commandment.

Whether motivated by ideology or real estate, he is convinced that he will remain there forever. Now we must ask him in what direction (which is also our direction) is he headed? After years of hearing them say no - no to evacuation, no to a construction freeze, no to the High Court of Justice, no to international law, no to negotiations, no to America, no to the world - they must finally be made to answer the simple, cutting question: To what do you say yes? They will remain in the territories forever, there will be no negotiations, and of course there will be no peace, no to two states and no to civil rights for the Palestinians. Fine. Then what will there be, for heaven's sake?

Go ask them. Try to get their opinion on how things will look here in another decade or two. For how many more years can 3.5 million people live without any civil rights? For how many more years will the world continue to turn a blind eye and remain silent? What will become of a state that is dependent on others like no other country? And what will happen when the Palestinians become the majority? The settlers will be evasive in their response. Make them give one.

Let's ask and then try to understand. We will continue to indulge your religious whims and territorial lust, but give us an answer on where you think all this will lead. Will Jewish immigrants relocate to the territories by the millions? And if not? Will the Arabs continue to compromise, beg and submit? And if they don't? Will the Palestinians live forever under apartheid conditions? And if they don't? Will the world keep quiet and will America continue to act like Israel's patron state? And if not?

Perhaps God will help. But what if he doesn't?