Mossa'ei Shabbath Parshath Aharei-Qedoshim 5767
Oh, I have no doubt that some of you will be offended by this post, and not just you in the Efrat-Ofra-Alon Shvuth-"You're hurting our precious image!"-PR crowd.
That's just too bad.
Hey, I'm not above qualifying, nor even apologizing in advance for blog posts, but this ain't gonna be one of 'em!
Let me start by asking you this:
Which group of people drives dusty, old pick-up trucks, raises livestock, lets its kids run around barefoot, often lives in mobile homes, and accused of being religious fanatics and possessing mythical stashes of weapons and ammunition?
Hmm...? Rednecks, you say?
You got it! Jewish "settlers!"
Well,...not all of us would say so, but I will address that momentarily....
This comparison was pointed out to me some time ago. My reaction was an extended pause, followed..."Yeah, I guess we do all of those things, don't we? I hadn't thought of that."
After three years of living in half of a "qaravan" (mobile home) in the town of Ofra, the other half having been inhabited by a new immigrant from Canada (not that there's anything wrong with that), I swore (b'li neder) that I'd never call anyone "trailer trash" again.
But, now it's official. The powers that be in my town, the illustrious (or infamous, depending upon whom you ask) K'far Tapu'ah decided that it would be decorative (I guess that's what the motivation was) for Israeli Independence Day to hang up some of those tacky, plastic, strung-together flags around the town, those flags that one generally finds at a gas station, used car lot, or trailer park.
What were they thinking? I guess it's not considered tacky in Israel, but I'll bet that you Ramath Beth Shemesh (not that there's anything wrong with that) types are cringing at the thought of such flags gracing your neighborhood,...as well you should!
As I hinted above, not everyone residing in Yehudah and Shomron would be pleased with the comparison between "Settlers" and American rednecks.
No, we're not any of those things!" they would cry out.
"We're just your typical suburban, Jewish families with white picket fences."
And they would be correct, leaving out, of course, the part that when some of them are asked by their children, "Are we living on Jewish land? Or are we squatters on Arab land?" they hem and haw and don't know how to respond. Frustrated, and bored out of their minds, their children go hang out in Jerusalem,...searching for what? I'm not sure they even know.
Typical suburbanites. I'm not trying to put down my fellow Jews, Has we'Hallilah. Rather, a few holes punched into their system of denial might do them a bit of good. That may sound condescending, but it's true. Remember, we're talking about some of the same Jews who were silent about the sin of the security fence, or even supported it. After all, their towns were included within the fence's route.
Irrational beliefs such as "The government will never throw US out of OUR houses." isn't going to work for them much longer. Likewise, neither will "My teenager hanging out in a place called 'Crack Square' couldn't possibly be a warning sign"
On the other hand, one resident of Kokhav Ya'aqov takes exception with my differentiation between "settlers," suggesting that he isn't any less of a settler than we are out in the middle of nowhere in K'far Tapu'ah, getting ours dirty. I must say that over time my respect for this Jew has risen, recognizing that he demands his "settler" status, and takes pride in it.
I recall that when I still lived in Ofra, and looking for another town more suitable for me, I was accused by a certain resident of Itamar of "living in Jerusalem's backyard" (just like those in Kokhav Ya'aqov). Although I agreed with her, I defended Ofra as residents continued to believe that agriculture is, indeed, a "Jewish profession," along with medicine, law, and high-tech.
Being a "settler" isn't just where you live, it's supposed to be about what you believe.
...and, in my humble opinion, not worrying about what "others" think.
Taking this a step further, and focusing on the politically-incorrect, "fanatic" element mentioned above, Rav Binyamin Kahane HY"D once said something like:
"Let them all think we're crazy 'settlers.' Then maybe they'll leave us alone."
Oh, gee. There. I went and done it,...mentioned the "K" word.
Oh, yeah, I haven't forgotten that there will be those of you who are offended at "hutzpah" to quote Rav Binyamin HY"D, and probably in your "very humble" opinions, quoting him out of context.
But he was right; he IS right. We're either right and need to stand by what we're doing, or we're wrong and don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to defending our presence in Yehudah, Shomron, and for that matter Azza.
if that means driving around in dusty, old pick-up trucks, raising livestock, letting our kids run around barefoot, living in mobile homes will help us in our fulfillment of the misswah to settle the land, and being passionate about Torah means that we're religious fanatics, and everyone in K'far Shmaryahu and Ramath Aviv Gimmel believe we possess weapons stashes (Arab terrorists tremble in their terrorist shoes at the thought of my set of kitchen knives and spray bottles filled with bathroom cleanser), then so be it.
Maybe they will leave us alone.
For your convenience, so that you can follow along with the various location names mentioned here, I have included this map: