Rabbi Avi Weinstein

As for the Biden Insult, Something that gets to the heart of the matter, but rarely gets mentioned

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2010 at 7:43 am

Most Israelis don’t think of certain Jerusalem neighborhoods as “settlements”, but “suburbs”. Gilo, Ramot, Neve Ya’akov, Pisgat Ze’ev, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol are populated by moderate, bourgeois Israelis.  I imagine that there are some Haaretz journalists in these neighborhoods. Very few of these inhabitants think that they are going to be expelled anytime soon.  These thousands also have relatives and friends across the green line who feel the same way.  Nevertheless, journalists never acknowledge the distinction between these neighborhoods and Beit El which is perceived as the evil twin sister of Ramallah.  One cannot hope to bring around the moderate middle to the possibility of peace, if one does not see the difference between “greater Jerusalem” and Kedumim.  

I understand there may be no legal distinction between the two, but as soon as Gilo (a southern Jerusalem suburb a stone’s throw from Bethlehem) is called a settlement, it is tantamount to delegitimating the entire state.  The building of the Ramot Shlomo neighborhood was ill advised on any number of fronts, but there is a difference between an earmarked Jerusalem neighborhood for a particular constituency, and, say, Kiryat Arba.  

When I was living in Israel, and my sister was working as a foreign correspondent there, I remember her referring to Gilo as a settlement which was technically correct, but totally not a synonym in my Israeli, provincial lexicon. My first reaction was that she really doesn’t know what’s going on!  I am certain that is how many Israelis are feeling now, that nobody “out there” gets what is realistically possible.  Ham-handedness and lack of nuance are not only the province of the Middle East, the West is guilty of it as well. 

If you threaten Gilo, you’ve threatened Israel. 


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