The “S” Word

Settler: does the word conjure up Laura Ingalls, Little House on the Prairie, and butter churns or even perhaps pre-state Israelis braving malaria to clear swampland and plant orange trees? Once upon a time, the word “settler” engendered respect and awe. But today, the “s” word has been hijacked by propagandists while we stand blithe and mute, swallowing whole the lie that a settler is not the Mayflower’s William Bradford or a benign Karen Grassle as Ma, but rather a vile being who personifies evil. The “s” word has become a pejorative.

On my personal blog I wrote not long ago about choosing a name for my small women’s choir. After some debate we chose the name: Singing Settlers.  Only one day later, one choir member decided to retract her vote, “Someone suggested that it sounds…well….political.”

My response: “I don’t care.”

She looks at our choir director.

Our choir director’s response, “I don’t care.”

The rest our small group didn’t have much to say either. As of now, we are in stalemate.

But on the ride home from that rehearsal one of the women said to me, “I am surprised at her. It’s almost as if she is ashamed to be called a settler. It makes no sense. If she is ashamed, why does she live here?”

We live in the town of Efrat, in the Judean Wilderness. Efrat has town status and some 9,500 residents. Efrat is part of the Etzion Bloc but has its own municipality. It has been a long time since Efrat was an actual settlement according to Israeli law/reckoning.

Still, to the world at large, our town is a settlement and we, the residents, are settlers. It’s a misguided perception. But you know what? If someone wants to call me “settler” I am happy to accept the appellation and wear it with pride. At any rate, I travel the same roads as the settlers and am subject to the same threats.

I nodded my head in agreement and said, “Yeah. I don’t get it either. This is a chance to get the message out: to restore glory to the word ‘settler.’”

My friend commented, “What is it we do after all? We inhabit the area to make it safe and productive so they don’t have to. It’s a mitzvah*. We don’t ask a thing from the world. They could just say thank you, if they have to say anything at all.”

Nodding once more I said, “And besides, what are we doing that is so political? Bringing song to the Judean Hills—how does that become some kind of political or criminal act? I mean, SHEESH.”

Branding Israel as Oppressor
Branding Israel as Oppressor

Does that sound naïve? I’m not hiding under a rock (only FROM rocks thrown at my car when riding to and from my home). I know that when the “s” word is dropped into conversation, most of the world imagines some larger than life, gun-toting, New York, JDL life member implant to Judea and Samaria. The international vision of settler has evolved into someone who wears a knitted skullcap and long forelocks: someone who has his big foot firmly planted on the hunched back of a keffiyahed farmer, who is small and meek, uses a cane and is accompanied by a pastoral goat or two.

No Room at the Inn?

This image comes to the world courtesy of one of the most successful propaganda campaigns waged in modern times: that of the Arabs against the people of Israel. In the Arab lexicon, which is the lexicon of all those who support them, Israel becomes an “Apartheid” state, though Arab Israelis have full rights in Israel, including freedom of movement, and even serve as parliamentarians in the Israeli Knesset.

In this same lexicon, the Holocaust never happened and is just an excuse for Jews stealing Arab land. The real “Holocaust” is the excessive force the “occupiers” use against “Palestinians.”

Holocaust Appropriation

Note all the words in quotes: settler, Apartheid, Holocaust, occupiers, and Palestinians.  All of these are words that have been co-opted by the Arabs who just won’t accept the physical fact of Israel. Now, one can understand why those who hate the Jews would have no problem accepting and using these new definitions with impunity. The pity of it is that the leftist-liberals—many of them Jewish—have jumped on the bandwagon.

It comes down to this: the world has forgotten that the Jews have a right to live and settle in Israel.

Old Jordanian Stamp

Bear with me and let’s give the devil—the settler—his due. A plethora of biblical and archaeological evidence exists to support a Jewish and Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria. These areas were indivisible parts of the Holy Land promised to and inhabited by the Jews for thousands of years. Dig up a clod of earth anywhere in this area and you’re likely to find potsherds and coins from those times that give testimony to Jewish hegemony in ancient times and over the centuries.

There was never an independent Arab or Palestinian state in either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, but there surely was an independent Jewish state on this soil.

Jordan is Palestine

More recently, Jordan occupied the West Bank. But in 1967, tiny Israel was forced to fight a defensive war against numerous large Arab armies and won. That war victory made Israel sovereign over Sinai (later returned to Egypt as part of a peace treaty), the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip (gifted to the PA by the Israeli government as a unilateral gesture which involved throwing 8000 of their own people, Jews, out of their homes and which is now Judenrein).

Evil Israel, Poor Benighted Gazans

These are the indisputable facts. I’m not making it up. Even Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, an Arab leader based in pre-state Israel, hesitated not one second in declaring to the Peel Commission of 1937, “There is no such country [as Palestine]! ‘Palestine’ is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries, part of Syria.

In a February 23 interview, foremost expert on anti-Semitism, Dr. Robert S. Wistrich said, “There is a bitter irony here. Both liberals and leftists like to proclaim their commitment to universal human rights.

Indeed, they use this terminology as a battering ram to try and delegitimize the Jewish state. They seem to have forgotten that anti-Semitism is in itself a fundamental issue of human rights and that Israelis also have a right to live freely in their own nation-state.”

So is the settler a cruel, inhuman figure or is s/he a hero? Does a Jew have the basic right to live and settle in the Holy Land? Or shall we accept the propaganda in toto: the Jew is just a terrible hook-nosed thief who must not be allowed to live on “Palestinian” territory? Because, you see, you can’t have it both ways. To the other side: ALL of Israel (and not just the West Bank)—Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem— is “Occupied Palestine.”

Where is a Jew allowed to live? In Europe??

We saw how that played out.

*A good deed done out of religious conviction

About the Author
Varda Epstein is a blogger and Communications Writer for