Will Blesch

Occupied West Bank: Just Who are the Extremists?

Occupied West Bank
Photo by “Antifluor” Original photo at:

Allow me to betray my geek side, and note that Leonard Nimoy, as Captain Spock in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, said:

“Logic is the beginning of wisdom, Valeris, not the end.”

I would personally add that falling under the category of “logic” would be a healthy dose of common sense, pragmatism, and a refusal to go to extremes. With that in mind, I have to wonder at the extremist rhetoric found in a lot of Israeli media against those who live in Judea/Samaria … you know, the so-called “occupied West Bank.”

Israeli newspaper

In English language papers, Haaretz seems to me to be particularly guilty of engaging in hyperbole, and left-wing, radical demonization of anyone who lives over the green line. All those “settlers,” those המתנחלים, those … in the words of a Haaretz editorial … “invaders.” (1)

It’s not just left-wing, Israeli (Jewish) media though. Attacks and vilification come from fanatical religious elements as well.

Take, for example, the outrageous, overly emotional, and unnecessarily harsh statements made by Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum, as terror strikes were being conducted throughout Israel earlier this month:


…the real culprits are the settlers in Israel who agitate the nations of the world, in the country and throughout the world, which causes serious hatred of Israel and the severe wave of attacks.” (2) Rabbi Teitelbaum is the Rebbe of the Satmar Hassidic sect.

Now, let me tell you where I am coming from, so that you have some context.

I am secular. I live in the Tel Aviv area. I made aliyah from the United States, and I am a film, media, PR, and marketing professional. I come from a traditional background.

And, what I want to know is, where is the happy medium?

Where are the Haaretz editorials, the Ynet editorials, the Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth editorials that give the hundreds of thousands of regular, everyday Jews living over the green line a fair shake?

I google “Settlers” and “Israel” and a slew of negative articles from Israel’s major media publications are all the first to pop up on page one. Other than wikipedia articles, it’s all negative Haaretz and Btselem articles.

I guess we hate ourselves more than the haters.

Then I wonder, where are the religious authorities denouncing the Satmar Rebbe’s extremism? Why haven’t the Chief Rabbis of Israel come to the defense of Klal Yisrael?

Inside of Israel, I can only think of Rabbi Andrew Sacks, the director of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly in Israel who publicly denounced the Satmar Rebbe. (3) But, it wasn’t for his statements on the מתנחלים.

Are we to believe that the “settlers” (and let’s be honest, how any sane person could call a community, such as Ma’ale Adumim, a city of at least 40,693 people, a “settlement” is beyond me. It’s patently absurd!) are all sneaky, subversive, members of a messianic cult dreaming of a “greater Israel” …  and who “lead invasions into Palestinians’ homes and seize their lands (and who) will do anything to provoke the Palestinians and Israeli authorities, and foment unrest” ? (1)

Really? That’s a normal picture of those who live over the green line?

Give me a break.

You want to tell me, as Aaron Simons stresses in another op-ed for Haaretz, that “yes, the occupation is the central cause of terrorism.” ? (4)

jewish couples

Really? The people living in Ma’ale Adumim are the central cause of terrorism?

The families … you know…made up of fathers, mothers, little kids, babies…who just (horror of horrors) happen to wear knitted kippot … these people living everyday lives, who get up and go to work just like everybody else, are the central cause of terrorism?

Avigdor Lieberman, who lives in Nokdim, is the central cause of terrorism?

By the by, as an aside, Aaron Simons is a History & Politics student at the University of Oxford. He was President of the University Jewish Society and recently founded a new liberal Zionist publication with fellow students called “”

Of his new publication, he notes “We want to fundamentally change the view that to be Zionist means to only hear one side of the story, to shout over any dissent, and to uncritically buy every Israeli government line.” (5)

Yeah. That’s not an extremist view at all! (Forgive the eye-roll.) The boy must be best friends with Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, individuals who never uncritically buy the government line, and who seem to consistently try to lay claim to the mantle of “true Zionism.”

Getting back to the whole demonization of the settlers though …

There is an endemic, pathological obsession among certain segments of the Jewish population, both in Israel and in the galut, to appropriate the words, terms, and expressions used by the enemies of the Jewish people.

They embrace the mentality and in some cases appear to become (like Amira Hass) more “Palestinian” than the Muslim Arabs of Gaza. They adopt the narrative of those who try to undermine the Jewish people’s right to the land of Israel, by arguing that we are, indeed, nothing more than the product of imperialism, colonialism, and that Jews really are the invaders of Arab lands.

(It’s an anti-Israel/anti-Semitic view, and I personally cannot understand how so many in the Israeli media, and in America, seem to bow down to, and worship it.)

Never mind that if you carry through their logic, pretty soon, Tel Aviv and Haifa become the ‘new occupied territories.’ And then, let me ask you, where is the logic in that?

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News said: “The measure of a decent human being is how he or she treats the defenseless.” (6) I see the settlers getting attacked across the board from a host of different directions, and most of it coming from people who are supposed to be their brothers and sisters.

Are there bad settlers? Are there people across the green line who have behaved badly, and who have attacked Arabs?

Of course there have been.

Is it the majority?

Absolutely not.

Lumping the minority, who might be bad, in with the majority who has done nothing wrong is an unjust tactic used by those with a clear, radical leftist agenda.

This then, is a shout out to my fellow Israelis, to all the Jews in America, to those who are secular, and to those who are religious:

Get your act together, please. And start being a little more fair and balanced.



(2) ynet,7340,L-4776541,00.html

(3) The Jerusalem Post


(5) Zionish

(6) “What the Babies Would Say.” Web.

About the Author
Will Blesch is a marketing consultant and the CEO of Breakthrough Business Branding, a strategic marketing and advising firm. He is also politically active, a resident of the Tel Aviv area, an American immigrant, an author and an avowed film fanatic.
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