The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, April 15, 2002  


A disturbing look inside the mind of an Israeli "settler."

"Dvir Shahar, an Orthodox Jew, hears shooting in the night from his new apartment near Bethlehem, but so far no bullets have hit his building. The arrival of tanks and soldiers beneath his windows this week was just another stark reminder of the battle raging a few miles away.

"With his wife, Elisheva, and three sons under 5, Shahar, 26, is one of the first occupants of Har Homa, a controversial housing development that calls itself a 'flagship for the religious, nationalistic public' on Jerusalem's southern edge. Three bedrooms, a balcony and a breathtaking view.

"Shahar's view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also takes some people's breath away.

"'The truth is, this is our country. Hebron was from King David. Beersheva was from Abraham. We just came back. [Palestinians] don't have to leave. But they are guests here. They have to behave nicely.'...

"For its Israeli critics, the Har Homa development is a bull's-eye in the desert, a tempting future target for a terrorist attack. For Palestinians, it is yet another colonization of land they say they are legally entitled to under U.N. resolutions.

"Right now, with the fighting so vicious and close, there are few people moving into this vast and shiny development. The Israeli army is using it as an assembly and rest area for its military operations in the West Bank....

"Seeing himself as an integral part of the Zionist enterprise, Shahar moved to Har Homa last month for more space, but also to stand in the breach between Israel and the West Bank at a time when Israeli-Palestinian enmity has never been hotter....

"With a pistol on his hip and the Torah in his heart, Shahar is undeterred. He commutes daily to a yeshiva in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem. And he sticks to his hard-line views. 'We don't have anything against Ahmed, Mohammed and Abdullah,' he says, speaking figuratively, 'but they have to stop thinking that this is their country.'

"Har Homa, which takes its name from the mountain on which it is built, began rising in 1994, concurrent with the early days of the Oslo peace process." [Ed.: Emphasis added.]

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