This is Israel to me,' says a settler from Miami
By SHEERA FRENKEL
EFRAT, West Bank -- Efrat, 10 miles outside Jerusalem, has become known for its Anglo-Saxon population.
Nearly 30 percent of the town lies on Palestinian land that was confiscated from the nearby Arab village of al-Khader, according to a survey completed by Peace Now. New York Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Israeli Moshe Moskovics jointly founded it with money donated by Florida businessman Irving Moskowitz.
Oded Reviv, the mayor of Efrat, said that all of the 24 families he knows of that have moved to the settlement this past year are Anglo-Saxon. The city's tree-lined streets boast New York-style pizza, and the identical, angular red-roofed homes easily could be mistaken for American suburbia. The high demand for homes in Efrat has driven up prices, with a modest family-sized residence costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Moshe and Yonit Rothschild moved to Efrat from Miami four months ago with their two children. They consider themselves part of the "moderate and mainstream" settlement movement.
They said that their decision to live in a settlement had nothing to do with the Green Line, the internationally recognized border that between Israel and a future Palestinian state.
"If you gave me a map, I couldn't draw the green line for you. ... It wasn't a matter of living over the Green Line. This is Israel to me," said Moshe Rothschild, 42.
He said that he and his wife weren't happy about the Obama administration's opposition to new settlements, which he thinks is a "huge mistake."
"I'm not less American than anyone else, and we are entitled to disagree with our president like anyone else is. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding of what the settlements are. When you use the word 'settlement' in the States, they think of fanatics."
When the subject of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is raised, the Rothschilds aren't sure whether they'd be willing to relocate inside the Green Line.
Moshe said he'd "probably be willing to make that concession" if there were a guarantee of peace.
Yonit, 29, is less sure.
(Frenkel is a McClatchy Newspapers special correspondent.)