Thursday, November 26, 2009
While I was reading my fan mail (ok, so all my fans at this point happen to be family and friends, but fans none-the-less) I came across the following question: “why do you describe yourself as a "settler"? That designation for people living in Yehuda and Shomron always bothered me - it seemed to me invented by pro-arab media to imply that we're new there and don't really belong.”
The answer is two-fold. Firstly, it’s simply tongue and cheek, while at the same time describing the uniqueness of our experience in Israel as opposed to people who live on the other side of the line. Kind of like the blog Joesettler, which is a very pro Israel blog written by, well, a settler in Samaria. Though the more I think about it, this answer doesn’t really satisfy me, nor you, my beloved fans. So here is my other reason. When we were up on the Eitam (see full story here)Nadia Matar, founder of Women in Green, made the following statement (more or less): “We are settlers! We are not ashamed of that name. We are proud to be settlers! Settlers are people who come to a place in order to develop it. We are here to live on this land, to make it beautiful, and to reclaim what is ours. And we are ALL settlers of Eretz Yisrael. The people of Tel Aviv are settlers, the people of Jerusalem are settlers, the people of Haifa are settlers, we are all settlers building up OUR land and making it better for our children. “ So there you have it: I’m a settler.
Rabbi/Husband input: Avraham was called a Toshav – a settler. So by using that term we are connecting our experience on this land all the way back to Avraham. In addition, the mitzvah of living in Israel is called “Yishuv Haaretz” – settling the land.
I looked up the word on Wikipedia and found similarly ambiguous connotations of the word. See my comments in parenthesis.
A settler is a person who has migrated to an area and established permanent residence there (yay! – we made aliyah and made Israel our official home), often to colonize the area (not exactly, Efrat has been owned by Jews way before it was liberated in ’67). Settlers are generally people who take up residence on land and cultivate it, as opposed to nomads (true, though the first few weeks here were a bit nomadish, now we, with our community continue to build and develop this beautiful land.). Settlers are sometimes termed "colonists" or "colonials" (not so good sounding) and -- in the United States -- "pioneers" (sounds much better. Last I checked, that was a good thing.)
That makes not just us, but Americans settlers too. As the eve of Thanksgiving is upon us, I humbly submit to you that we settlers in Israel are far more worth celebrating, then those pilgrims who were actually colonist. Maybe a few hundred years from now, they will be celebrating a day that recognizes settlers, except that instead of turkey, they will commemorate the day with a big, nice, juicy rack of Schwarma. Yum!