The Evolution of a Singing “Settler” [MUSIC VIDEO]

Exactly ten years ago, I sang my heart out in the Neve Dekalim synagogue of Gush Katif, the last stronghold in the fight for the Jews of Gaza to hold on to their homes. I even found myself within the news footage, here, so sweet with my curls against my orange T-shirt:

I sang – sang with all my heart. I didn’t live in Gush Katif, but for those three weeks during which I covered the “Expulsion” from the residents’ perspective, I went back to being that good “religious Zionist” girl, feeling connected to Jewish liturgy, and believing our heartfelt prayers would be answered.

We were naïve. We were so sweet – and so naïve. We had the Jewish prayers, but the “Disengagement” forces had the plan. They had real action. They had the force.

Our innocence was broken along with the walls of the synagogue. My innocence – whatever was left of it – was broken. We failed. We failed miserably. And I believe we failed in part because we relied too much on those sweet prayers which were no match for the psychological training implemented by Israel Defense Forces to shut off the soldiers’ emotions.

Those who fought for Gush Katif have a lot to learn. I’m not sure we’ve done the introspection we need to do to make sure no Expulsions will happen again. The faith we had back then that the “Expulsion” would not pass is the same faith so many expellees invoke to live with that fact that this catastrophe happened. “It was the hand of God,” as one evacuee put it to me.

No, it was the hand of human stupidity.

Even though it is no longer “uncool” to say you opposed the withdrawal from Gaza (yes, we told you it would wreak havoc….), we need a new language for talking about Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank), a new culture that’s sassy, sexy, secular, universal. The “settlements”, as they are often called, are a human rights issue. They protect innocents – both Jews and Muslims – from violence and terrorism. They are a beacon of beauty and sanity in a region that tends toward racism, chauvinism, destruction, and oppression.

I learned a lot from that terrible day in the synagogue, when the Prime Minister of Israel beat out God. We can’t rely on mere prayers, mere hopes, and mere beliefs that reality will change towards our will. We must make it happen. And to do that, we must take bold and especially original action – we must forge our own psychological “training” – the training to get people to fight for what they love and to do what they know is right in their heart, even when society would push them to do what is untrue.

That’s one reason why I wrote a novel about the Disengagement from the eyes of a young woman whose faith broke. That is also why I won’t waste my time singing in synagogues to change reality anymore. Instead, I’ll sing songs of my own, on my terms.

I’ve come a long way in ten years. Just watch the music video for the original theme song of my novel “Home (Lives in My Song)” to see how. Share with #HomeLives.



Orit Arfa

Orit Arfa is a is a journalist and author based in Berlin. Visit her website: