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The Most Demonized Jews on Earth

Over Rosh Hashana and the Jewish Sabbath, we stayed with my in-laws in Beit El.

 

For those of you who are not familiar with Beit El, it is a lovely Israeli community northwest of Jerusalem, right near Ramallah. I guess the more commonly used term for Beit El is “settlement,” but I am loathe to use it since it has all kinds of negative connotations. (Thanks to the world media and Israeli Left, the word “settlement” evokes images of skull-capped rambos making the lives of the poor PLO Arabs miserable). While I knew before my recent stay in Beit El that this is far from the truth (I lived in the community of Efrat, near Bethlehem, in 1993), nevertheless, I had learned much more by the time I drove home last night. And I had gained even more respect for the people living there than before. Unfortunately, I had to receive one of the frights of my life in the process.

 

Before I continue with the story, do you remember how I mentioned that Beit El is right near Ramallah? Well I was not kidding. Here are some pictures taken from my in-laws front lawn.

 

 

In the above photo, the houses in the foreground are Beit El. The houses in the background are Ramallah.

 

The following photos are of Ramallah, taken by my digital camera with regular zoom.

 

 

 

Every night and early morning, we could hear a buzz from the mosques, with what I assume to be prayers emanating from loudspeakers. But for all I know, it could have been chants of Death to the Jews. On Thursday night, we even had the pleasure of hearing the sound of gunshots. (My father-in-law tells me that this is a regular occurrence. On Thursday night they celebrate, and show their joy by firing guns in the air).

 

Ok. I think you get the message that Beit El is very close to Ramallah. Anyway, on with the story.

 

My holiday started off well, with news that my father-in-law managed to secure me a seat in synagogue right near a well known and admirable Israeli politician (whom I shall not name in order not to betray his privacy). Ok, it was the luck of the draw, but I was pretty happy about this stroke of good fortune. As it turned out, he did not show up (he must have spent Rosh Hashana elsewhere). But at least I can say that I almost sat next to an Israeli politician whom I respect.

 

Sitting in synagogue and praying, I would occasionally look up (maybe a bit more than occasionally) and glance around the room. What I saw was a group of men -Sephardim and Ashkenazim, civilian and soldier – united in prayer. And as I looked around, I could not help but think that this is perhaps the most demonized group of people in the Middle East, if not the world. And all because they are living in the land of their ancestors, according to their beliefs (which, may I add, does not involve killing anyone in order to live there).

 

At around 9.00am on Thursday morning, a huge siren sounded during the service, not unlike I would imagine the sirens during the Gulf War to have sounded. It was eerie. As everyone hushed the chazan (the person leading the service) so we could all hear what was happening, a voice over a loudspeaker announced that there was a possible terrorist infiltration. Consequently, we were told to either go home now, or remain in synagogue, but not to walk around outside. My father-in-law and two of my brothers-in-law immediately got up to get their weapons at home. I was left with my two younger brothers-in-law, one of whom was especially distraught.

 

But, as they say, the show must go on. And so the service continued. I must say that I was feeling nervous, but as I looked around the synagogue again, the fact that not an insignificant number of men were armed did help calm my nerves. Thank goodness that these men are armed to the teeth I thought.

 

Soon, I heard rumblings about a terrorist being inside the school (about 1km from the synagogue). That made me more nervous, since I immediately envisaged Chechnya and the hostages. However, about 10 minutes later, this version of events was surplanted by another one, in which a soldier had been shot from outside Beit El.

 

The speculation almost ended when a further siren sounded, and we were told that we could now go outside, go home and check on our families.

 

As it turned out, a soldier was shot, but I am currently unsure as to the circumstances. Here’s to hoping he makes a strong recovery.

 

The incident underscored a number of things about these so-called “settlers”:

 

1. Did anyone ever stop and think that the ones who have guns are armed to protect themselves, and others, from terrorists, and not to harass the PLO Arabs? 

2. Thank G-d they are armed.

3. These people pray, learn, and hold regular jobs. They are just like you and me. The difference is that they are willing to hold on to their ideals, against incredible odds.

4. Anyone who believes that these people are the obstacle to peace is seriously deluded – or ill informed.

 

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for all of you to inform yourselves as to the true situation here in Israel, especially regarding the so-called settlements. And if you want a glimpse into the thoughts of “settlers”, here is a great place to start.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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