Let’s get away from all the ‘politics’ for a moment to talk about shidduchim.
A couple of years back, a bunch of my daughter’s friends, some of whom I am very close to, came of marriageable age. While they aren’t ‘chareidi’, they are all big believers in Hashem, and what Israelis would refer to as sincerely ‘dos’.
They like to pray.
They like to visit kivrei tzaddikim.
Many of them, but not all of them, are very into Breslov.
And they all live in the Shomron, close to the bastions of what so many of us call ‘the Hilltop Youth’.
Two years ago, when the shidduch process began in earnest, I had such stars in the my eyes about ‘the Hilltop Youth’, so-called.
Now, I have developed a more realistic assessment of what seems to be going on, and I think it’s useful to share that with you, dear reader, because ‘politics’, and ‘political PR’ keeps getting in the way of actually discussing what is really going on here, and what is really going to get us out of the pit we are all currently stuck in.
First, there is a huge cultural divide between most of the people who settle hilltops in the Shomron, and also in places like Gush Etzion, and the more ‘mainstream’ yishuvim in these areas.
These are broad generalisations, of course, but the ‘mainstream’ yishuvim are not as idealistically motivated by a connection ‘to the ground’ and ‘to Eretz Yisrael’ as many of the people on the hilltops.
Many of the people in the yishuvim are there just because the houses are bigger and much more affordable than in more ‘civilised’ areas.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it’s not ‘idealogical settlement of Eretz Yisrael’ in the same way.
So, when we talk about the ‘residents of YESHA’, it’s a very mixed bunch.
You wouldn’t know this from the news of course, but not all of the people or yishuvim in these areas are ‘religious’ – there are also secular people and secular yishuvim, too.
It’s not just ‘fanatical religious settlers with machine guns and payot’.
Not at all.
Now, let’s take a look a the so-called ‘Hilltop Youth’.
The ‘Hilltop Youth’ from 30 years ago, who have been trying to live on hilltops in the Shomron from an idealogical perspective, are very, very impressive people.
They’ve stayed put in the face of friends and families being murdered by terrorists, stone throwing on the roads, the challenges of having to drive through places like Huwara.
That’s made them very tough, in a lot of ways, and very cynical of the government, and even the bits of the government like ‘Otzma Yehudit’ that claims to represent them.
None of these people – the Israelis that I know personally – talk about ‘Meir Kahane’ obsessively, or how ‘Kahane was right’.
There are no ‘Kach Chai’ stickers, no-one reading Kahane books.
It’s important to understand that tachlis:
Meir Kahane seems to be a particular obsession of Americans and non-Israelis.
OK, so now let’s take a closer look at the Hilltop Youth of our day – the late teens and twenty-somethings.
Until two years ago, I was totally convinced that the Hilltop Youth were idealistic angels, who were just being persecuted because they were anti-establishment, religious and not scared to stand up for their principles.
And that is still a big part of what is going on.
After seeing a few shidduchim come and go, I have come to realise that there is a lot more going on under the surface.
A lot of today’s ‘Hilltop Youth’ kind of gravitated to the area because they were having real issues with their parents, growing up.
Many of them come from broken homes – usually, where the parents were religious, or baal teshuvas.
Many of them kind of ‘ran away’ to the hills of the Shomron, because in that stillness and wilderness, you can still feel a little bit free in your soul.
And there, they met many other young people in the same sort of situation and headspace, who really do ‘love the land’ and ‘hate Arabs’ – but not quite in the way it’s perhaps being portrayed.
In the Shomron, there are still places where you can put up a caravan, or a ‘temporary shelter’, and effectively live somewhere rent-free.
No arnona to pay… no rules to follow….
That’s a huge plus for young people who need to move out of their homes, but who often don’t have any formal training or skills (or desire…) to ‘settle down’ in the mainstream.
The politicians and the army make use of these ‘Hilltop Youth’ to settle places where they don’t want the Arabs to take over.
There is simply no way these settlements would continue without the tacit agreement of both the politicians and the army, periodical ‘destructions’ for public consumption notwithstanding.
Another thing to understand is that while many of these ‘Hilltop Youth’ are religious, many of them are also really not.
I personally know of one ‘hill top’ that started off with a lot of ‘run aways’ from dysfunctional religious homes, but now, 4 years on, most of the hill top is breaking Shabbat and have girlfriends staying over.
Again, it’s not all ‘pious and holy’, and it’s not all black and white – on any level.
OK, so now let’s move to the violence against Arabs.
Two years ago, I was totally convinced that none of the ‘Hilltop Youth’ were doing anything against Arabs except acting 100% in self-defense.
But now…. I have come to an understanding, very sadly, that ‘price tag events’ really are a thing.
I have to say, this understanding has shocked and dismayed me, because ‘price tag events’ – where you go and do something bad to someone because someone totally unrelated did something bad to you – are totally against halacha.
BH, the ‘Hilltop Youth’ who are genuinely with Rebbe Nachman understand this themselves, and they are not participating in this sort of violence.
But to cut a very long story short, not everything the security agencies are accusing the ‘Hilltop Youth’ of doing is a lie.
At the same time, I know someone personally who spent months – months! – in jail for committing the crime of knifing the tyres of a few cars belonging to Arabs.
Clearly, this is totally disproportionate.
At the same time this guy was in prison for months, the judges here were freeing a Palestinian man who’d violently raped a young Jewish woman in Jerusalem – who served way, way less time in prison.
Our ‘justice’ isn’t justice, we all know that.
But why play into their hands, and give them more ‘grist’ for their mill?
Why ruin your own life to have the satisfaction of deflating a few tyres?
That guy was engaged to be married…. the wedding was postponed for many, many months until he finally got out.
And for what?
Tachlis, I made it very clear to my kid and her friends that when it comes to shidduchim, the last thing you want is a husband who:
a) Is on the Shabak watch list.
b) Is justifying their own bad middot, anger and violent tendencies as a ‘mitzvah’.
c) Gets stuck having to live with their divorced mum because they aren’t allowed to go near the Shomron.
There is so much more to say, of course.
Our enemies abroad and sadly, much closer to home, expend huge efforts going on about ‘violent, fanatical settlers’ all the time in the corrupt media.
Because they are trying to tear YESHA away from the Jews, and they are following that well-trodden path of pulling sincere, well-meaning Jews after ‘false leaders’ and ‘agents provocateurs’, to entrap, and smear whole communities.
They did the same thing when they wanted to get Rabin out the way, when he changed his mind about ‘land for peace’.
If all those ‘Kach’ people talking about ‘justified violence’ hadn’t been covered so heavily in the press….
‘The evils’ would have had a much harder time hiding who really pulled the trigger when Rabin was murdered.
And each time we choose guns over God….. we are just playing into our enemies’ hands.
Is Esav the real enemy here?
Are they using ‘Ishmael’ as their delivery mechanism?
Do they have their ‘agent provocateurs’, false leaders and ‘opinion formers’ embedded – for decades already! – all over the Jewish community?
Does is suit ‘Esav’ to claim that YESHA is full of ‘fanatical, violent settlers who hate Arabs’ – so the only real solution just has to be ‘two states’…..
Think for yourself.
PS: They always hide the truth in plain view, as a ‘joke’: