Posted by Orit Arfa
Inside sources tell me that, this time, the "peace process" is a done deal. Bibi King of Israel has already decided to surrender Judea & Samaria (the West Bank); it’s just a matter of working out the terms. We don’t know who or what bought the Prime Minister, the same way someone or something bought Sharon and Olmert, but now King Bibi is deciding the fate of Jews that he (and others) believe that the State of Israel owns.
As for the settlements, my inside sources say this time the Israeli government won’t uproot settlements. They’ll simply remove the IDF and let the de-humanized “settlers” fend for themselves. Since most residents here won’t want to have to defend themselves from Arab pogroms, they’ll probably just take compensation money and leave.
While I live on a large settlement bloc, Ariel, which no Prime Minister has ever agreed to surrender (see Olmert’s hand-drawn “map” of the borders he had proposed), I would want to stay in "Palestine" in the event of an IDF withdrawal. Should a Jewish government go through with a Jewish ethnic cleansing, or leave Jews for slaughter, I would not want to be part of such a Jewish state, so I might as well live under “Palestine.” Perhaps I'd move to Shiloh, about 15 minutes away. I like it here. I prefer olive tree orchards over the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv.
However, it seems I won’t be allowed to. In a brilliant move, Abbas has announced that no Israeli could live in “Palestine.” This way, he can’t be accused of running an apartheid state (assuming he doesn't get overthrown) because there would be no Jews to discriminate against! Obviously, true peace and justice could only ever be had if Jews could live as a protected minority in Palestine, as Arabs do in Israel. Abbas has revealed his Nazi-like motives. And Jews are preparing to move to Israel the Giant Ghetto.
Read Orit's novel, The Settler, about a settler from Gaza who escapes into the arms of a Tel Aviv nightlub owner upon her traumatic evacuation.
12.11.13 at 1:41 pm | The Left-wing columnist could take some advice. . .
10.26.13 at 10:11 am | This is a question I pose in an unlikely outlet,. . .
10.20.13 at 1:05 pm | NBC online humanizes us "settlers."
8.26.13 at 1:45 pm | Michael, there is no moral equivalence between. . .
8.18.13 at 6:50 am | Michael from Ramallah disputes my claims that. . .
8.15.13 at 7:55 am | My dialogue with Michael who lives in Ramallah. . .
12.11.13 at 1:41 pm | The Left-wing columnist could take some advice. . . (1670)
10.26.13 at 10:11 am | This is a question I pose in an unlikely outlet,. . . (33)
7.26.13 at 12:18 am | Dateless on Tu B'Av, I went out with a. . . (30)
July 28, 2013 | 1:23 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
I came across a good "sign" while riding through Bethlehem. It reads in rainbow colors: "Women say no to the rules of Occupation. Civilian zone: No entry to the army. This road leads to Palestinian settlements. Israeli civilians do not be afraid! Come and visit Palestinian settlements. Refuse to be enemies!"
It's an invitation to Jews to enter Palestinian Area A, which is under full Palestinian civilian and police control. It's illegal for Israelis (read: Jews) to enter Area A, or Palestinian "settlements." (I like how they're called "settlements" too!) The Israeli government made it illegal because they don't want liability for anything that might happen to Jews. Jews are often afraid of entering. They fear getting kidnapped or assaulted. With the history of violence between Jews and Arabs, one can understand that fear. But Jews forget that in the 1990s, Jews freely entered all these territories and enjoyed friendships with the locals. Palestinians, likewise, travelled freely to Tel Aviv, Haifa, etc.
Then came the Oslo Accords, which armed the Palestinians. Jew-hating terrorists with brand new guns ruined the party for all. Fences, walls, checkpoints went up. Enmity became commonplace.
I'm not sure who put up the sign, but I assume they're Left-wingers who disdain Israel's military presence in the West Bank. Still, it's a good start for restoring freedom of movement for Jews in the West Bank and creating a "peace process" on the ground, the only kind that can really sustain.
I don't want to be enemies. The question is: do the Arabs? Guess I'll have to pass the sign to find out....
Check out Orit's debut novel: The Settler.
July 27, 2013 | 11:34 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
Israel's blocking of EU projects in the West Bank in response to the EU's directive not to provide grants, gifts, or prizes to Israeli entities beyond the green line is meaningless in light of Prime Minister Netanyahu's intention to release Palestinian murderers to jumpstart negotiations that, in effect, undermine Jewish presence in the West Bank/Judea & Samaria more than any EU boycott ever could.
The EU has proven its prejudice against Jews living in the West Bank (and the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem), but these Arab prisoners have murdered Jewish children in cold blood. This tit-for-tate retaliation against the EU is undermined by Israel's very willingness to appease people who have have done more than boycott Jews, but have killed them. The action to punish the EU seems more like a small appeasement of pro-Israel factions as Israel plans a larger surrender to anti-Settler forces.
According the Reuters article reprinted in the Jewish Journal, an Israeli official said: "From our standpoint we cannot just ignore [the EU sanction] or treat spitting in our face as though it is rain."
And what does he call releasing murderers of innocent Jews? That's a deluge of spit.
July 26, 2013 | 4:30 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
The Ramallah locals are fighting over fashion. The Fox fashion chain (which is like Israel's Forever XXI) is set to open in Ramallah, the burgeoning West Bank Arab metropolis, which I hope to visit one day, even though it's illegal for Israelis to go there. It's touted as the Palestinian "Tel Aviv." The opening of the store is an unintended slap in the face to the anti-Israel BDS movement. Even the people the movement claims to support will not let politics ruin their chances of dressing better and more affordably.
This kind of commercial and, to a degree, cultural exchange, is exactly what we need for true peace to happen. Time to see past dogmatic nationalism to achieve what most people ultimately want: a better quality of life, and much of that starts with feeling better about yourself.
The Ramallah resident quoted in the YNET article said it best (and the fact he wasn't afraid of being quoted is a good sign):
Ramallah resident Lutfi Ahmad hopes the store will open in the city. "I am very happy about the opening of a Fox store in Ramallah. Clothes here are very expensive and we can't deal with such high prices. The Fox store opening here may offer us cheaper clothes," he says.
"I don't really care whether the company is Israeli or not, as long as we find nice fashion in prices matching our living. Otherwise everything will fail."
I hope I can shop in Ramallah one day without fear or restriction, especially when the IKEA opens there. It'll be much closer to me than the one in Netanya.
Orit Arfa is author of The Settler.
July 26, 2013 | 7:24 am
Posted by Orit Arfa
Jared Morgenstern, founder of the “Like” feature on Facebook, is in Israel for a whirlwind heritage tour, and it turns out he likes “settlers.” As Arutz Sheva reports, he spent a day in the Binyamin region in Samaria (the West Bank), visiting the ancient Israelite city of Shiloh, just a 15 minute drive from my city of Ariel.
Apparently, according to an article in Ynet, he’s also looking for a Jewish bride, which makes me wonder: Why aren’t the yentas of Judea & Samaria setting us up? Don’t they know the situation is dire, so dire that I almost fell into the arms of a married Palestinian man in Jericho on Tu B’Av, Jewish Valentine’s day?
Is it because Jared stated he has his eye on Bar Rafaeli? Perhaps he likes the gorgeous blond model type instead of the classic Biblical heroine type. I invite Jared for a date with destiny with me on the Samarian hills. And if it doesn’t lead to us changing our relationship status on “Facebook,” I’m happy if we at least become...friends.
July 26, 2013 | 12:18 am
Posted by Orit Arfa
Date-less on Tu B’Av, the Jewish "Valentine’s Day,” I needed something to do. So when a Palestinian man that I met through an Israeli tour guide offered me to take me to Jericho that night, I took him up on it. After all, Jericho is the oldest city in the world, famous for date production, the first city Joshua conquered as he entered the Holy Land to possess it.
Canaan, as I’ll call him, must have been in his 40s. Pleasant face. Strong body. Sweet smile. Runs a family-operated business. Likes long walks in the Judean Hills.
I’ve been longing to check out Area “A” (Palestinian Authority controlled territories) because I always like to do what I’m not supposed to. Israelis are forbidden from entering those areas, which include Ramallah, Shechem (Nablus), and Bethlehem. But I came to live in Ariel as a peace activist, and true peace can only occur when Arabs and Jews feel safe to travel through each other’s towns in the West Bank, as they did in the 1990s.
Of course, it wasn’t really a date. The man is married with children. Maybe he was looking for some thrills, too. Eager to assure me of my safety, he even offered a reference—an Orthodox Jewish friend of his. He offered me to meet his wife and children.
"But I'm a Zionist settler!" I pleaded, getting it all on the table.
"So? Just say you're an olah hadasah (new immigrant)," he said in perfect Hebrew.
He promised to protect me. How manly.
But it sure felt like a “date.” He treated me exactly as a courtier should. He showed me the hot spots, periodically checking my comfort level: the town square, the brand new hotels, the Palestinian “army” training areas, the fancy villas locals are building, the checkpoint into Jordan. No crying about Palestinian poverty here. He put his best foot forward.
He said no one really cares who enters Jericho. The Palestinian police don't ask for passports, checking to see who is Jewish, who is Arab. It's a tourist town. He pointed out many yellow “Israeli” license plates. (Palestinians have white/green plates.) Arab Israelis come here all the time. European tourists, too. Jews, that’s another story.
It was after the Ramadan break-the-fast, and the place was happening. Shops were all open, including the barber shop where Canaan gets haircuts. Tourists were enjoying a late dinner. Canaan took me to a mini-amusement park where kids were riding bumper cars even at 9:30 pm. There’s a camel for tourists to ride. An outdoor café serves up nargilas to Arabic music.
“But I don’t see women around,” I asked. “And I don’t have a veil.”
He pointed to a couple; the woman wore an off-the-shoulder top. “See?”
We fit right in.
We had coffee (well, I had bottled water) on a bench and talked about our lives in Israel (the PA, for him). He talked about the good times when he was able to work in Israel “proper” before checkpoints went up in response to the second intifada. He showed me on his phone pictures of his good-looking children.
He complained about the days-long bus ride to Mecca years ago for the “Haj.” He's more traditional, and even offered to have a beer with me one day.
He was ready to stay out until late, but my Israeli security friend who was remotely surveying our route through the Waze app was getting nervous. We are both duly aware of the Islamic “mitzvah” of deceiving infidels into submission.
“It’s getting late,” my friend texted me.
Canaan showed me the grand Intercontinental hotel that was attached to the former Jericho casino. Then he offered to take me to a lookout point. This date was becoming too perfect. I told him it’s late, that I have a long ride home to Ariel.
On the way out, we passed the sign for the historic “Mount of Temptation.” Anxious to show me English signage to demonstrate how Americans should feel comfortable there, he asked: “What does it say?”
“Oh, it’s a sign to some mountain.” I dare not utter the word.
He asked me if I was married, if I had a boyfriend, if, as a single woman, I just wanted to have fun.
“I want to get married,” I assured him.
Back at my car, I thanked him for a truly magical night. I got to see a place so many Jews never dare see, despite their historic roots to the city. He gave me something no tough Israeli soldier can give: entry into the most ancient city on earth. He displayed the type of chivalry that can make a woman fall for a man.
He offered to take me to Ramallah and Shechem, and while I really want to go, I’m worried—not that he’ll kill me, but that he'll like me too much. The next day, when I was chatting with a Western-looking Arab journalist who lives in Jerusalem, I told her about my trip and how my friends are scared to go into PA areas. She was not concerned about my safety going in—she often invites her Israeli Jewish friends to Ramallah.
"Don’t trust Palestinian men,” the divorcee warned. I pressed the issue and she corrected herself. “You shouldn’t trust any man. Men should be segregated into barns and we should use them only for babies.”
I probably won't call Canaan again, as much as I want to see Ramallah, which I hear is really happening. I really don’t want to have the “let’s just be friends talk.”
Still, I’ll never forget Tu B’Av in Jericho where walls came tumbling down. I conquered the city, as did Joshua, by not allowing myself to be conquered by fear, prejudice, and world leaders’ attempts to divide people by their race or religion. However, if they attempt to divide us by gender, I’d understand.
Orit Arfa is author of The Settler, a novel that follows the rebellious journey of an evacuee from Gaza. She lives in Ariel, Israel.
July 25, 2013 | 5:15 am
Posted by Orit Arfa
Many journalists, analysts, and students come to Ariel in Samaria, Israel in search for solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Understandable. They never leave disappointed. The solution is in fact right here--the only remedy to the bloody conflict in the Middle East: hummus.
July 24, 2013 | 12:33 pm
Posted by Orit Arfa
My new blog (formerly “zAngel”) is called “The Settler” because that’s exactly what I became ever since I moved to Ariel – the City of Samaria from my hometown of Los Angeles in May 2013. “Settler” is the term used, often pejoratively, to refer to Jews living in the West Bank/Judea & Samaria. And how appropriate that I became a “settler” just as I launched my debut novel, The Settler, about a young woman who finds escape in Tel Aviv nightlife following the traumatic withdrawal from her home in Gush Katif, Gaza in 2005.
The word “settler” has been so bastardized that one would think it’s a badge of shame, a description to run away from. Settlers, after all, are blamed for lack of peace in the Middle East even as Arab-Islamic civil war drenches the region in blood. They’re stereotyped as messianic, religious colonialists. They’re non-human to some, worthy of uprooting, caricature, and hate.
One of the purposes of this blog is to reveal what Jewish life is really like beyond the green line, in Judea & Samaria (aka the West Bank). How do Jews and Arabs live together in one of the most contested places on earth? Enter this world so that you can get past stereotypes and understand that “settlers,” after all, are people too, with thoughts, dreams, hopes, and ideas for Israel that could actually lead us on a true path of peace.
Cross the line with me….