A sense of serenity flows through his deep blue eyes, his voice seems tranquil and muffled through his great grey beard. His face is expressionless. Yaacov came to Israel sixteen years ago, he wanted to build and plant in the land promised to his people by the ancient scrolls. We meet at a suburb of Jerusalem for a brief interview proceeding to the settlement of Itamar where he resides. Yaacov makes it perfectly clear; he doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t trust journalists. To him it is however necessary to talk to us even though he suspects we will shed him in a bad light. He feels compelled to educate people on the truth of the conflict since Media doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t report accurately. Media is anti-Semitic he says. Even Jewish media. Yaacov explains this phenomenon as something natural, when people cannot attack God they will attack His representatives instead.
-They talk about a Palestinian state, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pure anti-Semitism; if the Jews have a right to this land then the Jews have a right to this land without having it carved up in twenty different pieces.
Yaacov gestures with desperation and proceeds. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They also mention occupied territories; in a sense this is true, they are occupied. By the Arabs. The Palestinians are like uninvited guests who have settled in our house and now claim half of it. If they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to leave when asked politely, the only way of dealing with them is by forceÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Yaacov explains that most Arabs do not want to live in peace in the Jewish state. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If they want an independent Arab state, they can pick any of the other twentyÃ¢â‚¬Â. With great strain Yaacov utters the word Palestinian and proceeds; Ã¢â‚¬Å“we can offer them BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ peace-map, a peace-map out of Israel.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Yaacov isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t afraid of an escalation, war is sometimes necessary. If the situation explodes on the ground that will be just fine. He claps his hands together; Ã¢â‚¬Å“let it explode, it will give us a great opportunity to deal with the problem once and for all, to finish what we startedÃ¢â‚¬Â. He promises that when time comes, all Arabs will understand that this is not their land and move at free will. Although obviously force isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t excluded as a means of persuasion.
Two states is not an option, nor is the construction of a separation wall a viable solution. Yaacov sees only one solution; a unified Jewish country. Next time, he says, he will see us in liberated Ramallah, Hebron and Shechem.
As we travel by the meandering bypass roads from Jerusalem to Itamar, the land is still its own master. To the east the mountains of Jordan plunge into the Dead Sea, Jericho lays calmly in the valley as it has done for the past ten thousand years. Intermitted the road is flanked by Palestinian villages and Jewish settlements. I remind Yaacov of Ein Yanoun, a Palestinian village that experienced severe harassment from the Itamar settlers a few months ago. I ask him of the story and if there has been any attempts to establish a dialogue. His reply is prompt; the only communication we need is to tell them how to get out of here, they are terrorists.
Disgruntled I recall Adnan who has grown with the olives of Ein Yanoun. The trees that now support his family remember him as a child climbing high in its branches enjoying the view of the valley. In the eyes of Yaacov, Adnan is a colonizer, an enemy with whom they cannot live. Surprisingly Adnan doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t hate the settlers, he knows they will not leave. Why canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t we just live together he asked himself, Ã¢â‚¬Å“here is my land, there is yoursÃ¢â‚¬Â? For every bullet fired and every tree uprooted, Adnans voice will however become all the much fainter.
The political purpose of the settlements has become twofold; to hinder any practical possibility of a two-state solution, and to radicalize the Palestinians and Jews to the degree that any one-state solution would be impossible. As Yaacov has experienced, settlers are disliked pretty much everywhere. Apart from politicians and a prominent part of the Jewish Diaspora, it is hard to find ardent supporters of settlers among the Israeli community or for that matter the media, yet they are the cornerstone of the military occupation and at the heart of the conflict.
Yaacov knows that he depends upon the government. He receives economic privileges and military protection, in return for which he transforms himself into a tool of subjugation and ethnic cleansing. Through the power of the political elite his love for the land becomes channeled into hatred and destruction of another people, his gain is merely a fenced illusion.
YaacovÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s suspicion of journalists manifests itself as he decides not to let us into the settlement, presumably for some misdirected questions. He drops us of at the Tapuach checkpoint near Nablus. The soldiers wave him by with a tired gesture and roll their eyes at us. His car disappears up the mountain to the barbed fortress. At its foot lays the village of Ein Yanoun. History will repeat itself tonight. The settler will once again attack the village, uproot its trees and scar its red soil. The barbed ghetto of Itamar will be Yaacovs only safe haven.
In the wake of the planned evacuation from Gaza, IMEMC launches a series on Israeli settlers.