The Settlers Are Human

Until recently, settler leaders considered journalists the representatives of a hostile media, but now they are invited to visit.

Sukkot is also the festival of the ushpizin, the traditional biblical guests. And because every sukkah is a sukkah of peace, and because there is no Jew who doesn't want peace - as we all know - there are many potential guests.

A very long line is forming this year at the invitations counter of the Yesha Council of settlements. When the council understood that neither the seven traditional ushpizin - those great leaders of ancient Israel - nor their tombs had succeeded in implanting the settlers into people's hearts, it decided to invite new shapers of public opinion, mainly journalists.

Until recently, settler leaders considered journalists the representatives of a hostile media. But now they have discovered among them inquisitive types with open minds. Only donkeys will not change their opinions, and opinionated journalists are the opposite of donkeys.

Operation "Get to know the other" has been crowned with success: Senior journalists have been invited and accepted, become acquainted with the revivers of Zionism and their enterprises - after all, seeing is believing - and left their moods and their prejudices at home.

These are guests who are not hasty, who are not quick to ostracize brothers only because a Jew is also a settler. As civilized people, they see personal acquaintance and a heart-to-heart talk as preferable to separation and alienation.

How did they fail to think of this earlier? How did both sides waste decades in vain arguments, as if Yesha [the territories] had not always been here, as though it would disappear soon? Why did the journalists become enemies when it's so easy to buy them as friends, to brainwash them and wash away grudges?

The visitors return home from their safari full of good impressions. Suddenly, the cataracts have been removed: The settlers don't have horns, they look like human beings. They speak in the language of human beings, milk and honey on their tongues. They have cute children who behave like children. Their wives are as attractive as their homes. They are broad-minded.

So why do the visitors need politics when the view is beautiful, there is a pleasant breeze, the watermelon is cold, and the sabras - you can't get sabras like these in "Israel" any more - are fresh and tasty? Why do they need politics when they can exchange shared experiences from their military service, when there is not a single Palestinian as far as the eye can see, when once again "the city square is empty," once again there is "a land without a people"?

Now comes the high point of the visit: Did you know that the Land of our Fathers is full of boutique wineries, small and wonderful dairies, modern oil presses? Did you know that they have built luxurious bed-and-breakfasts that overlook both east and west, a pleasure for the eyes? Aren't all these evidence of good neighborliness and a normal life? Should we not eat a chunk of cheese and drink a bottle of wine and taste pure olive oil made with the sweat of the brow of non-Jewish workers?

It was worth coming, to see with our own eyes, to return satisfied and write an article. And all 25 minutes from the Tel Aviv bubble.

And what do they need politics for when, for a change, they can make the talkbackers happy? "A great article." "Wow, what fun to read." "Yosh [the West Bank], not what you thought. I liked it." In every journalist hides a small talkbacker who wants to grow.

What's going on here, friends? What's happening to you? Where have you been and what have you been doing for the past 43 years?

Nabot of Jezreel also had a vineyard, and a king wanted to inherit it. He offered the owner another plot of land, or alternatively, monetary compensation. But Nabot refused to give away his ancestral land. His refusal cost him dearly: He didn't live to see the grape harvest.

Ahab sat under the vine, Jezebel raised organic fruits and vegetables, and both began to entertain in their beautiful vineyard. On the holiday, they built a large sukkah and gladdened the hearts of the guests with new wine and oil. Even journalists from the coastal cities got drunk there. Until that purist Elijah showed up and ruined everything.