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1 NOFHARIM: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF WOMEN IN A JEWISH WEST BANK SETTLEMENT By HANNAH MAYNE A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Hannah Mayne
3 To Ori, for inspiring every part of this endeavor
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS My deepest appreciation to Tirtzah, Nechama, and Amos for their continuous generosity and care, and for their inva luable assistance with the ethnographic research. I am also indebted to all the women who invested precious time and energy to meet with me and engage honestly and energetically in our lengthy conversations. At UF, Jack Kugelmass has opened multiple doors to me, also giving me lots of space, and has presented a model of true intellectuality and creativity. Florence Babb allowed me to realize that I am a feminist, and pushed me to think more rigorously about what that means. In addition to expanding my knowl edge of anthropological theory, Brenda Chalfin and Maria Stoilkova have been exceptionally supportive. I am blessed with peers who productively challenge my thoughts and ideas, while encouraging my passions and imagination. In regards to this project, tha nk you to Avi, Jamie, Joyce, as well as many others. Profound thanks to my parents for having the courage to advise me to do what I want, to go where I want to go, and to follow my strengths. I especially want to r wisdom, and her teaching me how to perceive. Finally, words cannot describe my gratitude to Ori, for love, growth, and faith.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 7 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 9 CHAPTER INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 11 Perception ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 11 Close, But Very Far ................................ ................................ ................................ 13 Main Themes ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 19 s Voices ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 23 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 29 2 A WEST BANK SETTLEMENT ................................ ................................ ............... 32 Perspecti ves from those Outside ................................ ................................ ............ 32 Terminology ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 35 A Complicated Situation ................................ ................................ .......................... 37 Going There ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 40 The Checkpoint and the Wall ................................ ................................ .................. 43 Nofharim ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 45 3 THE WOMEN ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 58 Shoshana ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 58 Esther ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 76 Shira ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 87 Racheli ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 113 Batia ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 122 Miriam ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 138 Nurit ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 150 Shlomit ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 166 Michal ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 179 4 ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 192 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 192 Definitions and Categories ................................ ................................ ............. 192 Female Settlers ................................ ................................ .............................. 203 Day to day Existence ................................ ................................ ............................ 207 Normal Life ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 208
6 Modern and Religious ................................ ................................ .................... 214 Reasons for Choosing a Settlement ................................ ............................... 219 Fear ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 221 etz Yisrael [The People of Israel in the Land of Israel] ............... 225 Spiritual Space, more than Political State ................................ ...................... 228 Indigeneity, Autocht hony, and Natural Belonging ................................ ........... 233 Models Beyond Sovereign Control ................................ ................................ 239 Hearing Settlement Narratives ................................ ................................ ....... 241 (Not) Seeing the Other ................................ ................................ .......................... 242 Between Sympathy and Anger ................................ ................................ ....... 243 Blindness and Ignorance ................................ ................................ ................ 245 Ironies of a Border Zone ................................ ................................ ................. 247 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 254 APPENDIX: GLOSSARY ................................ ................................ ............................ 259 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 261 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 267
7 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Tramping to the West Bank from a northern road in Jerusalem. ........................ 48 2 2 Two individuals waiting for trampim at a popular spot. ................................ ....... 49 2 3 The checkpoint at the northern edge of Jerusalem. ................................ ............ 49 2 4 The road that leads to Nofharim, looking west. The wall in the distance separates an Arab village on the left and a Jewish settlement beyond it. ........... 50 2 5 Along the road that leads to Nofharim, looking east. ................................ .......... 50 2 6 Approaching the northern Jerusalem checkpoint from the West Bank side. ....... 51 2 7 The entrance gate to Nofharim. ................................ ................................ .......... 51 2 8 The main street in Nofharim. ................................ ................................ .............. 52 2 9 The oldest houses in Nofharim towards the entrance of the community. ........... 5 2 2 10 Newer houses i n Nofharim. ................................ ................................ ................ 53 2 11 The front garden of a house at the top of the hill. ................................ ............... 53 2 12 The apartment style homes, looking west over a s uburb of Ramallah. .............. 54 2 13 The view over Ramallah from the newer apartments ................................ ......... 54 2 14 Intifada. ................................ ........ 55 2 15 Judean Hills, and beyond the Jordanian Mountain Range. ................................ 55 2 16 The view looking south east: caravans and the sprawling suburbs of Ramallah. ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 56 2 17 The synagogue. ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 56 2 18 mikvah remains of an ancient building and a watchtower. ................................ .............. 57 2 19 Standing at the archaeological site, looking west tow ards the houses of Nofharim and the caravans below them. ................................ ............................ 57
8 4 1 Modern house interior: the dinning room area in one of the homes at the top of the hill. ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 248 4 2 Another house interior: the dinning room area in one of the older homes at the top of the hill. ................................ ................................ .............................. 248 4 3 A father walking two young children up from the caravan s on the eastern slope, to the nursery schools at the top of the hill. ................................ ............ 249 4 4 A boy riding his bike to the elementary school. ................................ ................. 249 4 5 The front entrance to one of the nursery schools (and the photograph that got me into trouble one Sunday morning). ................................ .............................. 250 4 6 A boy returning home from school one afternoon. ................................ ............ 250 4 7 Series of flags. A) E) Finding flags in Nofharim is not always easy, and most do not seem to be well taken cared for. ................................ ............................ 251 4 8 Bookshel ves with numerous versions of the bible, the Talmud, and commentaries, in addition to more modern religious texts. ............................... 252 4 9 Rami Levi, the large grocery store, situated here between a Jewish se ttlement on the upper left and an Arab town on the right. ............................. 252 4 10 Israeli and Palestinian license plates, back to back in traffic, along a road in the West Bank. ................................ ................................ ................................ 253
9 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements fo r the Degree of Master of Arts NOFHARIM: AN ETHNOGRAPHY OF WOMEN IN A JEWISH WEST BANK SETTLEMENT By H annah Mayne August 2012 Chair: Jack Kugelmass Major: Anthropology This thesis interrogates modes of perception regarding Jewish settlements in the West Bank. I question the often polarized and un complicated way settlements are imagined by those outside by examining how settlers view their own lives and how they perceive Arabs in neighboring communities. Unlike previous studies that concentrate on extremist Jewish groups, their mainly male members, and their fringe, illegal activities in the region, this research considers the different perspectives found among women in Nofharim, an established settlement town. Though many people outside of this region perceive it to be characterized by danger, fear, and not uncommon death, women, specifically, depict bus y social and religious lives, many choosing to move here for practical reasons such as cheaper housing prices, an intimate community, and good schools. However, by focusing on those aspects that are normal, women reproduce a political economic discourse th at obscures the security fences and disregards the dramatic political tensions a few dozen meters off from where they live. More than the modern state, women also speak about the importance of the Biblical land, seeing themselves as the natural, indigenous people of this geographic area. Such a discourse of belonging locates Arabs as a theoretical blip on a predominantly religious and
10 network of political, economic, religious, and emotional concerns intricately webbed beneath the surface of the West Bank conflict. Deep down, mere ignorance about cultural others seems to be a dominating issue plaguing the anatomy of this social landscape.
11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Perception One morni ng, when I had just begun research, I was speaking with an Israeli real estate agent, a family acquaintance. We were sitting in an apartment in Bakka, in the South Western part of Jerusalem. She asked me what I was doing at the moment in Israel and I told her that I was embarking on a project in the town of Nofharim 1 Behind where she was sitting, through th e window, I could see the southern edge of the sprawling neighboring hilltop suburb of Gilo. Beyond Gilo is the infamous Green Line. Five more minutes down one road is the city of Bethlehem, and fifteen minutes down a very different road is the large moder n settlement of Efrat. But for most Israelis, towns like Efrat to the south of Jerusalem and Nofharim to the north may as well be in other countries. They are imagined to be far away, dangerous areas, and for political reasons, most Israelis would never vi sit. My brief and awkward conversation with the real estate agent raised issues about visual and conceptual perception the relationship between seeing with the senses, and perceived, intellectual understanding; and, similarly, the difference between vis ually 1 The name of the settlement is changed in this thesis, in order to maintain the anonymity of the community and the individuals who participated in the research.
12 seeing and intellectually noticing, versus seeing with the eyes but not noticing. In this thesis, I interrogate common perceptions of West Bank Jewish settlements and their inhabitants. I address this topic by zooming in ethnographically on the femal e residents of a Jewish settlement, examining the ways in which these women perceive their own lives, their land, and their Arab neighbors. I argue that female voices, often softer and more seldomly heard in this region, show that this internationally reco gnized zone of conflict is thicker, knottier, and more complex than often presumed. Listening to the voices of individual people, in order to understand other ways of life and worldviews, has, for over a century, been a critical and greatly debated anthro strides of field research involved paying explicitly prominent attention to what people discip line have prodded and poked the concept of voice, and even turned it upside down, but it is still a central methodological tenet. Questions about representing the atten writer in choosing and editing those voices (Appadurai 1988; Wolf 1996), are among many other issues that have emerged. As a student of such a methodological tradition, I was ins pired to document a group of voices that seem to be only faintly represented in academic and public arenas. perceived homogeneity and fundamentalism; yet, I think it is wort hwhile to be attentive to them, in the project of understanding the nuanced contours and underlying processes
13 of a conflict with global significance. Consequently, digging beneath the faade of the b of relationships and relief a network of sights and perceptions concernin g the subject of West Bank settlements: how we may perceive settlers, how female settlers perceive themselves, and how they perceive others. Through discourses of pragmatic normalization about their peaceful, suburban community, and through a powerful, spi ritual conception of the land, women seem to simply not see their Arab neighbors. At the same time, they also scholarly representations. What emerges from the particularity words and an illustration of such thickly entangled social, religious, political, and economic circumstances, is a startlingly common theme of distance and ignorance of non perception s, and, through juxtaposition, the way many people outside the area imagine settlers and settlements. Close, But Very Far Three years ago I stayed for several weeks in Nofharim, in the West Bank, at the home of my at that time experience was balanced by earlier moments of activist work in Palestinian West Bank communities when I was in my late teens. During that first visit to Nofharim in 2008, I often went into Jerusalem to spend time with friends. I was startled by the curiosity expressed by my Israeli friends, as though each visit I was coming from a foreign land. My Jewish, Israeli born god mother who lives in central Jerusalem even asked me to
14 show her photographs. I remember being struck by her intrigue, watching her recognize the geographic proximity of a place she could not imagine, that she had never been to, and that she would not travel to for definitive you said that you were going to Nofharim, I had this image that you were traveling far away, abroad even. For me, that area is [ outside of the land (of I, too, was confused and troubled. On the one hand, I felt uncomfortable entering into a space heavily tainted with extensive discrimination against a demographic majority, hard, concrete walls of separation, and the reported shadows of hatred and viole nce. And yet, on the other hand, the bus that got me to Nofharim was modern, like any other, the roads opened to sweeping, hilly vistas, and more than anything else, the community resembled any other modern religious Jewish town in Israel. In fact, I found aspects of Nofharim particularly lovely. People were nice and friendly, busily going about their daily business, living inside modern homes, and working regular, professional jobs in nearby Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. There were fruit trees and flower bushes a t almost every turn, clean, refreshing air, and early morning orchestras of chirping birds. It all seemed so normal and pleasant. I struggled to bridge the great, se Emotionally, my enjoyable visit in Nofharim was challenged by creeping anxieties that I that despite my shallow self acti vism and merely brief sojourns, I was somehow inculcating myself in politically
15 Though I went to Israel in the fall of 2011 with the intention of studying a different topic, my polarized p erceptions of Nofharim nagged at me. Discomfort, I believe, can be a productive location from which to engage in investigation. In the end, I decided to make use of my own personal challenges with regards to this issue and to probe the matter more formally through an ethnographic project. My mixed attitudes about Nofharim also reflected an attentiveness to a relatively diverse spectrum of political positions, something not necessarily common among those who have emotional stakes in and personal ties to the area. From the start, my project is wholly biased because I was only able to conduct research on one side of the fence; nevertheless, I aim to take a bundle of perspectives with me through the study: my positive experiences with those at have grown out of personal relationships and shared religious traditions); my horror and frustration about continuing Palestinian suffering in the West Bank (that has emerged, too, from first hand stories and sites); feelings of empathy towards personal accounts of desire (for safety, happiness, and meaning); and, critical and more distanced anthropological modes of social analysis. These angles often bump up or even crash against each other, but it is specifically such locations of uncomfortable frictio n where further inquiry can constructively emerge. Nancy Scheper Death Without Weeping is a noteworthy example of ethnography that emerges from a place of personal, or ethical conflict. Scheper Hughes, from the very beginning, places her own disco mfort center stage, and from there traces out the network of social, political, and economic conditions that lead [T]his ethnography
16 experienced profound feelings and distress about the topic was she able to engage such a complex project (16). Scheper Hughes further believes that work, if it is to be in the nature of an ethical and a radical project, is one that is In this sense, it is the writer or researcher who experience s the journey, whose beliefs are challenged and questioned. Scheper Hughes, in her ethnography, is therefore honest with her personal sympathies and values, allowing them to appear transparently in her text, thus taking account of, yet not privileging, her own cultural presuppositions. But, at the same time, Death without Weeping is anything but a self indulgent treatise about its author. I am inspired by the way Scheper spine that structures the large scale body of her i nvestigation, while opening a much greater space for the voices and experiences of her informants. In a parallel manner, Lila Abu Lughod calls for anthropologists to map themselves and their emotions into the social landscape of their ethnographies. Candi dly including the self, and tracing the similarities and differences between her and her subjects, she argues, obscures the sense of dichotomous distance between anthropologist and Abu Lugho d incorporates herself into the scenes she describes not as an abstract observer but as a fellow subject, with affective desires and struggles, learning and transforming through the narrative. She writes herself directly into the opening paragraphs of th e preface, husband and father, anxious about the coming reunion with her Bedouin host family. In
17 contrast with the image of the lone, confidently authoritative anthrop ologist, Abu Lughod flattens the hierarchy of power by positioning herself on the side, yet still on the main route, vulnerable, uncomfortable yet excited, hoping to have learned Bedouin social rituals correctly, and just like the female subjects that she will soon introduce, a daughter, niece, and wife part of a larger family. It is from this location of personal affective multiplicity that she begins the unfolding of her ethnographic investigation of Abu Lughod actually goes so fa r as to recommend the unrecognized advantages anthropologists who themselves are caught between cultures and places, inherently break down the self/other boundary 2 According to Abu practical benefits of this position. However, in response to Abu always easy, and more of a rare privilege. Major influences of feminist critique include the deconstruction and ll knowledge 3 For some, this can lead to dismal questioning about the benefits at all of scientific inquiry, if, at the end of the day, it merely provides a partial, prejudiced, and fragmentary view. However, standing on the other side of this critical ou tlook, 2 ers in multiple publications, but an especially detailed explanation is contained in 1990: 26. 3 Sandra Harding (1991) summarizes these concepts in the introduction to her book about feminism in the social sciences. More specifically, Diane Wolf calls for greater attention to be paid by researchers on the self and the politics of their own location in the field (1996: 35).
18 positionality and partiality can actually become exceptionally productive locations: especially deep and sincere investigations of social issues and the unraveling o f hidden structures of injustice and discrimination. Feminist research has also raised concerns about the power relations between the researcher and her subjects, and the consequences of intervention, observation, and publication for the subjects. Diane W olf, for example, lists an array of such potential problems in the introduction to her volume on feminist fieldwork (1996: 19), but she does not mention the struggle of ethnographers who engage practices or behaviors that are personally uncomfortable to th em, and their challenge to balance intimate relationships in the field with critical analysis that can possibly place their subjects in a negative light. Scheper Hughes, in contrast, speaks directly to her tremendous discomfort and inner tensions. She hone stly and self critically relates her own concerted between the actions of the Brazilian mother, and the values and beliefs behind the d potentially lead to an ultimately ill fated life (345). Judith Stacey (1991), in her honest reflections about feminist ethnography, similarly wrestles with the question of betraying critical, yet problematic or potentially damaging knowledge given to her by her subjects. Here, a second sense of discomfort emerges. In addition to my personal struggles about hanging out in a West Bank settlement, I experience a second feeling of betrayal towards the kind, generous women who shared time, energy, and honesty. I feel challenged, as Scheper Hughes and Stacey describe,
19 to balance close up intimacy and trusting relationships with distant, analytical critique of intense social and political circumstances. Methodologically, I turn to the artistic method of juxtapos ition, engendering spaces of contradiction and friction, often rooted in personal emotion, in order to provoke Abraham involves an enormous canvas of gray paint, and through it, a thick, darker, vert ical line. A subtle streak of luminosity peaks through in the long cracks between the black and the gray. Side by relationship between the gloomy backdrop and a lightless boundary drawn through the middle? What are the relationships between the faint distinctions in color fields? And what is the relationship between such a moving and meditative painting and its name both? Multiple importantly, it is the work of the viewer to consider, reflect, and interpret. I am influenced by this creative technique, and, as I struggle with my own opposing e xperiences of settlers and settlements, I attempt to place voices, portraits, and imaginations side by side in order to highlight the contrasts between them, and cultivate a space that motivates reflection on the intricately contested complexity of what is often referred to Main Themes In my personal experience, I have found that both within and outside of Israel, imaginations of the Jewish West Bank settlements are most often quite blurred, usually characterized by themes of da nger, fear, and war. In the academic realm, ethnographic studies on the topic have generally concentrated on extremist, fundamentalist Jewish
20 groups, their mainly male members, and their fringe, illegal activities 4 Across a wide variety of scholarship and overlooks the narratives of spiritual belonging that are at the heart of their controversial activities. Though there are many ways in which their behaviors may resemble the colonial processes in ot her parts of the world, Jewish settlers in the West Bank claim a powerful, personal, spiritual connection to this identified geographic area. Whether we valuable to u nderstand the shape of their thoughts, desires, and perspectives. Many people I have met, including those who are passionately entangled in the settlement. I have therefore s et out to introduce a group of nine women from Nofharim, an established, middle class Jewish community in the West Bank. These female settlers, I argue, reveal emotions and thoughts which are not commonly associated with typical images of settlement reside nts. Through profiling a glimpse of their characters, I narratives that express th eir reasons for residing in such a contested space, their affective experiences, their relationships to the land, and how they perceive their Arab neighbors. Though all the women are ideologically supportive of Jewish settlement in the West Bank, many rec ount how they were motivated to move to the region for practical, 4 For multiple examples, see entries by Aran, Don Yehiya, Heilman, Liebman, and Sprinzak in Marty and volume The Fundame ntalism Project (1991). More recent examples, despite being more nuanced, continue to focus on extremist communities and their male members (Feige 2009; Fischer 2007)
21 political economic reasons, attracted by affordable housing prices, good schools for their children, and the opportunity to live in a safe, family oriented, and religious community. For them Nofharim is a secure, peaceful environment, in contrast with the anxieties of urban life in cities like Tel Aviv. These mothers, perhaps more than their husbands, stress the pragmatic benefits of such a location for raising a family. And in general, the obvious ways by any threat or danger. However, such a discourse of normalization keeps the many positive aspects of life in focused view, concealing matters of unease behind a con ceptual (and physical) fence. Broader issues of political conflict and territorial control, as well as geographically proximate Arab life, are maintained at the far For this segment of the modern religious Israeli pop ulation, the land is highly valuable, primarily because it sits in the heart of the Biblical geography of Israel. Inspired by ancient history and religion, the women perceive themselves as what I suggest the indigenous people of this particular territo centuries of exile and yearning, is seen as the joyous unification of people and place, Though they are clear supporters of the Jewish state I argue that it is nevertheless the spiritually distinguished land that the women value, more than the sovereign country. ities for this politically contested geographic area? Though it is assumed that the settlers are primarily concerned with territorial boundaries and borders, I suggest that, perhaps, if we are attentive to their
22 spiritual discourse, new questions about non sovereign land based coexistence may arise. Polarized depictions of a land grabbing West Bank conflict thus become inadequate. Indeed, with a treatment of political economy, spirituality, and historically rooted desire, the picture becomes a lot more comp licated. given, rugged, hilly terrain represents a second discourse which leads to a disregard for the Arab other. Theoretically, the women are aware of the conflict, but day to day, they are not obviously effected by, and even ignorant of, the dramatic political tensions a few dozen meters off, beyond the barbed wire fence that surrounds their settlement. More than the modern state, women speak about the importance of the Biblical land, and Arab citizens therefore beco me a theoretical blip on a predominantly religious and historical landscape. The surrounding Arab populations are referred to with vague, abstract terms that cannot acknowledge who they are as individuals, the discrimination they face, and their fundamenta lly problematic political situation. The discourses of political economic normalization of their community, and spiritual naturalization of their relationship to the land, push the existence of Arab others to the conceptual periphery. For the women, the r esult of this perceptive distance is a conflicting combination of feelings that waver between sympathy and sadness, and anger and fear but not hatred or violence. Ultimately, blindness and ignorance seem to be quiet, unobserved, yet immense obstacles in any imagination towards peace. Looking forward, the sheer complexity lying beneath such a chasm of knowledge about the other makes the project of reconciliation seem all that much more complicated and challenging.
23 I am very much influenced b y the theories and methods of feminist ethnography, and these approaches have guided the way I carried out and structured this research. I focus on the voices of women for several such reasons. Feminist anthropologist, Ruth Behar, introduces her edited vo lume, Women Writing Culture with the theme of seeing those who are seen and those who are not seen; those who are regarded with respect and those who are gazed upon as objects. It is this sensitive lens that influenced me to think about the lack of deta iled representation of Jewish women in the settlements, and, similarly, the dearth of documentation about The centering of (1991:13). In the West Bank specifically, extremist and male perspectives and ex periences have dominated social analysis. Ethnographic publications on Jewish communities in the West Bank have mostly focused on men 5 and much of this literature concentrates specifically on passionate ideologies, illegal activity, violence, and the infl uence of male rabbinic figures and male attended yeshivot I would like to argue that an examination of women and their experiences generates a very different set of stories, and an undocumented landscape of thoughts and emotions towards this territory, an d towards the Arab population. In contrast with published articles and books that concentrate on the fundamentalist ideologies of male settlers, my conversations 5 See again the entries by Aran, Don Yehiya, Heilman, Liebman, and Sprinzak in Marty and five volume The Fundamentalism Project (1991), as well as Feige 2009 and Fischer 2007.
24 with women highlight more practical benefits for habitation in this area, the advantages of li ving in an intimate, cooperative community, and also more sensitive approaches to the Arab population. within a cultural group where gender roles are stressed and often separate. Practically, it is much easier and more comfortable for me, as a woman, to speak, listen, and connect with other women. Furthermore, my identity as a married Jewish woman meant that I was often spoken to with ease and openness, and with regards to most su bjects, as one on the inside 6 Nancy Hartsock (1987) and Harding (1991), among many understanding of other women. Sociologist Diane Wolf similarly writes: According to their own knowledge and experiences are cr ucial for creating knowledge and for determining how fully they can understand a phenomenon (1996: 13). 6 Israeli and a student in a U.S. university, I was regarded with distance, and often de ference. I also do not dress as they do, nor live in a settlement. However, because I can converse in Hebrew, discuss Jewish law and custom, and understand many of the cultural references, and because I am married, and most of all, because I am related (th rough marriage) to two households in Nofharim, initial distance in a first meeting would quickly dissolve. Interestingly, since I was hanging out in a settlement (a socially prohibited destination for left wing Israelis), and since I was seen as modern re ligious (because I covered my hair, in respect to Jewish law pertaining to married women), it was often simply assumed that I was politically right wing. Furthermore, since I am Jewish, many women assumed that I had recently become an Israeli citizen. Thes e are just a couple of examples of the stiffness of religious and political categories of identification in Israel and the corresponding inferences that are assumed. It is also important to note other assumptions that biased the information I have receive d. Some of the women perceived me as a potential new resident of Nofharim, asking if my husband and I were considering such a move. Others, in varying degrees, saw our conversations as a way to publicize their settlement to audiences overseas. Both attitud es influenced women to embellish the positive aspects of life in Nofharim, and only reluctantly expose the challenges, fears, and anxieties.
25 Consequently, in my case, not only are my gender and cultural background technically advantageous in forming relationships with the women that I study, but the embodiment of my female religious Jewish identity provides me with added senses of spiritual and performative depths of understanding. These advantages, however, come with a counter side too: The proximity of my identity with the women who I study makes critical analysis that much more difficult, as I discuss above. Feminist scholars and writers have often been especially attuned to questions of power and domination, turning to methods of representational particularity and documentation of voice in order to subvert authority and generalizations. Abu Lughod (1990; 1991; 1993), for example, maintains that the process of writing and describing She suggests, however, that by using the method of voice by documenting the true diversity of multiple voices and engaging the intimacies of individual particularities the By working with the assumption of difference in sameness, of a self that participates in multiple identifications, and an other that is also partially the self, we might be moving beyond the impasse of the fixed self/other or subject/object divide that so disturbs the ne feminist ethnography can contribute to anthropology is an unsettling of the boundaries that have been central to its identity as a discipline of the self studying other (1990: 25 26). More specifically, Abu Lughod (1991) proposes a s hift in focus, from culture to contemporary, between a community and the anthropologist working there and writing about it, not to mention the world to which he or she be longs and which enables him or
26 matic connotations of culture: Anthropologist Andrew Beatty, citing Abu contends that such a focus on everyday narrative and the particular distinctly allows us to gras emotion. An awareness of emotion in narrative context brings to light the lation to social pressures, their abrasions with reality, their struggles for meaning (2010: 438). Beatty is arguing for more concerted efforts in the ethnographic representation of emotions. He asserts: only a narrative approach, because it locates emot ion in practice; in the can reveal the dimensions of emotion hidden by other methods. There is nothing very new in this claim. Novelists have known it for centuries. But as ethnographers we have still most of us to learn the lesson (440). as much space as possible for my subjects to represent themselves. I do not elide myself that the types of questions I ask impact the answe rs given, and that my own perspectives and values shape what data is collected and the ways in which it is reproduced. Nevertheless, my aim is to reflect the individual characters of the women, their varying positions and beliefs, the complexity of their p olitical, economic, and religious desires, their multiple roles (as mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, teachers, and friends), the very real contradictions of their affective experiences, and their wide spectrum of emotions. I believe that only their own words can truly reflect this multi dimensionality. As Abu At its best, ethnography constitutes the deepest form of respect for others and offers really rich possibilities for challenging dominant ideologies, intellectual and poli
27 More specifically, Susan Harding, an anthropologist who works on religious and rural political communities, calls for such particularistic analysis in the investigation of fundamentalisms (1991). She problemati zes the stereotypical terms and broad, vague statements that are constructed in our modern imaginations, suggesting more nuanced, partial, and local readings to understand these people who we so often push to the side. Harding herself studies Christian fun damentalisms, but her approach applies correspondingly to my research on religious Jewish settlers as I too try to pry open More recently, Dna Ain Davis and Christa Craven (2011) argue for the value of feminist ethnography as a form of scholarly intervention into neoliberal processes and feminist ethnography, in that I do not study those who are politicall y or economically oppressed or marginalized in obvious ways. Yet, I employ tactics of feminist ethnography (focus on the particularity of individual experiences, writing that is accessible to those outside the academy, and analysis that views power as subt le, intersectional, and multiplicitous) in order to investigate underlying flows of discursive power and authority beneath claims to territorial space and habitation. In other words, I write with a future wider audience in mind, with an ambitious hope of e ven slightly cracking open the door on the polarized discourse surrounding the West Bank. And, as Davis and Craven suggest, I use feminist ethnographic modes to look for insinuations of power beneath discourses of speaking, behind practices of seeing, know ing that they can often be camouflaged by everyday innocent seeming routines and unremarkable appearing attitudes.
28 practical thoughts and approaches and stronger senses of r outine and status quo. The women from Nofharim with whom I spoke expressed explicit desires to just get on with their lives, to maintain comfortable, safe routines, to provide their children with productive and healthy spaces to grow and learn. When I push ed for stories, incidents, or moments of tension, most women would shrug their thin, loaded shoulders. Past conflicts and dramas fall to the side of memory, I believe, when five children have to be coaxed into doing their homework, fed, bathed, and eventua lly put to bed. The crises of provocation. Only the older women, those whose children and even grandchildren are out of their responsibility, could reflect on larger expanses of past time and pull out the narratives of marked moments. In a sense, the anthropological tradition attributed to Max Gluckman and Victor Turner, of focusing on dramatic events, could be said to analytical method. I would like to suggest that women, especially those preoccupied with the incessant and unpredictable flows of childcare obligations, are more likely to emphasize and aspire towards routine. These women do not have energy or time for external, interfering crises and conf licts, and they may in fact accentuate routine in order to iron out dramatic incidents, playing up the safety, predictability, and peace of mind of repetition. Conflicts that do not directly involve them are thus pushed to the far ends of their intellectua l radar, left to be dealt with by others who are more available for such matters. Pivoting thematically around exceptional incidents may therefore inaccurately Lughod, for example, writes that
29 depth, intimate ethnography) as people going through life wondering what they should do, making mistakes, being opinionated, vacillating, trying to make themselves look good, enduring tragic personal losses, In fact, I would like to contend further that it is only through patient attention to the magnitude of the uneventful mundane that powerful hidden discourses can come fully to bare. In the case of Nofharim, persistently repeated descriptions of safe, peaceful, ordinary seeming life reflect the considerable extent to which security fences, military surveillance, and potential violence are kept intellectually at bay. Likewise, continuous reference to the biblical landscape reveals the extent to which contemporary Arab inhabitants are overlooked. Methodology In addition to the feminist writers I cite above, I am also inspired by the lite rary Waiting The Miracle of Intervale Avenue has specifically influenced the way I have structured this thesis In this first introduc tory chapter, I introduce the main, overarching ideas and frameworks. In the second chapter, I contextualize the research, exploring common perceptions and terms surrounding the West Bank settlements, and describing the geographic location of my fieldwork. The core of the project profiles of nine women from Nofharim follows next as the third chapter. Influenced by the writings of narrative anthropologists, this central section th
30 conversations (which, I find, confuses the development of distinct characters), I represent the women one at a time. Acquaintances from outside the academic arena, who read early drafts of these profiles, were captivated and grateful for the opportunity nine such accounts is a lot of material, however, I have included all of them with the hope that readers will peruse through them as much or as little as they desire. In the fourth chapter, I examine common themes that reappear through the words of the nine women. At certain points in this analysis section, I include short vignettes of ethn ographic events, incorporated in order to further illustrate both social life in Nofharim as well as main ideas. I label these episodes according to the time in which they occurred (during a two day period from Saturday morning to Sunday night) to demonstr ate what can transpire within such a short interval. I conclude the thesis with a discussion of perception, the thematic thread that weaves through the ethnography and its analysis. In addition to textual representation, photography is another important di mension in this project. The photographs were taken in and around Nofharim, and these are distributed at the end of the first and third chapters. All photographs are my own. The research for this project was conducted over the course of two and a half mont hs in the fall of 2011. I traveled to Nofharim each week or two, staying for two to five days in order to meet women, speak with them, hang around, attend events, and photograph. (Previous to this research, I had visited Nofharim a handful of times for per sonal reasons, and I was therefore familiar with the location, but did not know more
31 communally oriented town. New residents are first screened by a committee before t hey are allowed to rent or purchase property. I was able to visit so often because I was staying with an established family in the community, to whom I am related through marriage. Nofharim is a pseudonym. I have also changed the names of all individuals m entioned in the ethnographic research in order to protect their anonymity.
32 CHAPTER 2 A WEST BANK SETTLEME NT Perspectives from those Outside Both inside and outside of Israel, I have found that people imagine the Jewish settlements as dangerous, war torn spaces. I conducted an informal experiment to investigate this further, and emailed a couple dozen friends from all across the world, of different ages, both men and women, mostly university educated, and of multiple religious and cultural affiliations. I asked them to briefly describe how they imagine the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. I have listed below excerpts from some of these emails, before moving forward towards the West Bank: This is how I imagine it... The West Banks are a continual struggl e, a ghetto, a dirty place filled with uneducated masses who want to fight. The West Banks are war. It is a place of hunger, poverty and need. I imagine it is dangerous to live there, and dangerous to go there, particularly for Jews. 1 I imagine them as ver y, very gated communities, more religious than most of Israel, adjacent or close to Palestinian communities. Lots of security. I imagine they are pretty tightly knit, everyone knows each other. Very right wing people. 2 I imagine it to be less developed or sophisticated [than the rest of Israel], less cultural, and the energy more tense because of the threat they [people who live in the West Bank] live under. 3 I imagine the Jewish West Bank Settlements as being clusters of homes and farms; people trying to c reate self sufficiency along lines of the American frontiers during the Westward push of pioneers on a much smaller scale. 4 Places where people experience fear, sadness and conflict as part of their daily lives; where a small incident can act as trigger fo r something life 1 Email to author, August 25, 2011. 2 Email to author, August 25, 2011. 3 Email to author, September 19, 2011. 4 E mail to author, August 25, 2011.
33 threatening in a very short space of time; where there is a strong Israeli military presence; where both Israeli & Palestinians are in a form of prison; where the world media often focuses; where most people live a fairly humble existence; where the landscape is dry ; where life can be a struggle for the inhabitants; where individual thought is found less frequently than in some other places on this earth; where family & friendships exercise an exceedingly key role in the inhabitant's life 5 learn how to get on with their daily lives despite this. 6 A Jewish family member, who has visited Israel, wr ote: As far as the West Bank goes, I used to think it meant the west bank of the Mediterranean sea, which would put it at Gibraltar (almost kidding). Only for the last ten years or so do I know that it means the west bank of the Jordan river, therefore I can only assume it means it borders with Jordan. I before responding, but it's like knowing the depth of a tooth cavity you want to avoid unpleasant details, and the west bank, for me, is one... I 7 Another friend wrote me the following list of word Monocultural; Predominantly religious; Sectarian; Old world y; Big families; Tribalized; Devolving; 8 Though it is referred to very often in the media, and though it is the theoretical center of many heated political debates, I find that the West Bank is either a question mark or a war zone in many people In a parallel manner, in the academic arena, West Bank settlers, conflated with the Israeli state at large, are often glossed as colonialists, frequently compared to those in 5 September 18, 2011. 6 Email to author, August 29, 2011. 7 Email to author, August 25, 2011. 8 Email to author, August 28, 2011.
34 South Africa or Australia 9 Indeed, some settler practices may certainly follow the distressing patterns of colonial settlement; however, this critical and comparative discourse rarely considers the diversity amongst settlers and their activities, or the motivations. Generalized understood and acted out 10 Anthropologist Joyce Da lsheim (2011) argues that the reproduces hegemonic categories and limits any form of productive debate. While acknowledging the problems of Jewish settlement, she a lso states: meaningless that which gives meaning to so many lives seems impractical if not impossible, but more importantly, it is a form of violence that contradicts its very In contrast to blank, vague, or violent images my own experience has exposed me to towns and villages that hardly resemble the perceptions I have quoted above nor the descriptions found in academic writing. I am therefore setting out to paint a picture of daily life, as I observe it, in one Jewish We st Bank town. Beyond large questions of 9 Lorenzo Veracini (2006), for example, argues that Israel is a settler society and apartheid state, like that of South Africa. Perhaps it can be excused because he is a political historian, but in his entire book on this comparison, he does not discuss the possible differences or similarities between the actual settlers in these respective cases. An influential article on power and sovereignty in postcolonial states, by contemporary political theorist Achille Mbembe, is another example. Mbembe (2003) unfortunately does not distinguish between the activities of settlers and those of the Israeli sta Bank are rather exaggerated, in my opinion. Though far from an acceptable situation, it is nevertheless important to note that the majority of West Bank Palestinians live in areas where the Palestinian Authority holds civilian and administrative control, as well as control over internal security. 10 Unsettling Gaza represents an important except ion. Dalsheim records politically, culturally, or religiously homogeneous group.
35 rights and legality, I am interested in how individual people, specifically women, live day to day and lay their claim to this land. Because of practical and logistic reasons, I will root this exploration in the expe rience of modern religious, female residents of Nofharim. Why have they chosen to live in such a place (and for many, why have they chosen such a place to raise their families)? How do they rationalize this decision? How do they interact with their highly politicized area? With what fears, anxieties, concerns, and pleasures do they move through this space and time? What is the shape of their claim to this land, and how do they feel about the Arab others who live right nearby, and who are also staking title to this geography? Terminology In Israel, the general term for the entire West Bank area is reflecting Biblical geographic nomenclature. It is used in rather broad terms to indicate this land area of more than 5000 km 2 populated by 1. 5 2.5 million Arabs and over 350 000 Jews. Some people also refer to which stands for Yehudah, Shomron and Gaza. The Jewish areas in the West Bank are sometimes referred to as the shtachim, which in Hebrew means areas or territories. The term shtah im is not political in its origin, yet it has taken on a wholly new valence in the context of contemporary Israel. The shtahim minded, often religious settlers, in a region that many Israelis would not even enter. For many Israelis, the shtahim are out there, places geographically and ideologically outside the familiar territory of their country. Individual settlements are sometimes referred to as yishuvim ( yishuv in singular). This term has a distinct hist ory, often used to define the Jewish community at large in
36 pre used to refer to settled, sometimes communally inclined, communities or towns across the state of Israel. Using yishuv location within the broader state of Israel, and negates the continuing significance of the 1967 borders. In shtahim and yishuvim are specific spaces, this phrase that car ries with it heavy ideological and political nuance, expressing support for the from undisputed Israeli territory to the West Bank area. The Green Line is the border of the West Bank, the line that divides this area from the rest of Israel. The West Bank lies on the West side of the river Jordan, in the center the West Bank area was allocated for a proposed Arab state, part of the two state solution passed by the United Nations General Assembly. However, following the Arab Israeli War in 1948, the area was captured by Jordan. The handful of Jewish settlements that had been developed in the West Bank area in the early 20 th Century were demolished. In 1967, during the Six Day War, Israel captured the West Bank and it has since been under Israeli military control. Since 1967, Jewish Israeli settlements have been re established and developed in this regi on.
37 A Complicated Situation People say that the Middle East conflict is complicated. Many people have sides f years of history, and disparate perceptions of the nations, religions, rulers, and relationships of power that have moved through this geographic space all this sits in the active imagination of different people and multiple groups, each with their own heavy baggage of pain, suffering, and desire. Nevertheless, this project is about drawing smaller circles and zooming in on narrower places. For the sake of contextualization, I have attempted to condense the ible though admittedly simplified story 11 Some boiled down history: For centuries, Christian and Muslim Arabs have lived in towns across the West Bank region. These individuals are also referred to as Palestinians. Until 1920, the area was part of the Ottoman Empire, stretching across a large part of the Middle East. After WWI, the geographic areas, known today as Israel and Jordan (with the West Bank in the center), were allocated to the British Mandate of Palestine. After WWII, the United Nations Gen eral Assembly Resolution 181 (II) Future Government of Palestine aimed to establish a two state solution in Palestine, and the West Bank area was designated for a proposed Arab state. In the 1948 Arab Israeli War, however, Jordan captured the West Bank are a (and hence its name, since it is located on the West bank of the river Jordan). Arabs living in the West Bank area 11 A remarkably thorough and detailed historical account is provide d by Shafir and Peled (2002).
38 became Jordanians. There were a few Jewish settlements in the West Bank area that had been there for centuries, and several others that had been established in the 1920s, and these were evacuated and then destroyed. Then, in the 1967 Six Day War, the West Bank area was occupied by Israel. Though the West Bank came under Israeli military control, it was not annexed. This is where it gets tric ky. Because Israel has not annexed the area, Arab (Palestinian) inhabitants in the West Bank do not obtain Israeli citizenship. In this ambiguous situation, they are not given the rights of Israeli citizens, they cannot easily travel across borders, and th ey cannot benefit from Israeli infrastructure, education, etc. The Palestinian National Authority has authority over civilian law and internal security in the main Palestinian centers, but this administrative body was only meant to be a temporary, interim solution (established following the Oslo Accords) until negotiations would be concluded with Israel. For decades, Palestinians in the West Bank have sought to gain recognition as a state, according to the 1967 borders between Israel and Jordan. Meanwhile, the West Bank area is the heart of Biblical Israel. Since the occupation in 1967, Israeli Jews (mainly from the national religious political camp) have petitioned for permission from the government to establish settlements in this sacred territory. In rec ent decades, the Israeli government has often supported such construction. Occupation of the area is said to be topographically strategic and critical in the military defense of Israel proper. Geographically, however, since the area is occupied, and not an nexed, Israeli settlement of the area is illegal under international law.
39 Arab inhabitants of the West Bank area? A major reason is because Israel wants to maintain a Jewis h majority in its population. The West Bank Arabs number between 1.5 2.5 million, and their birth rate is relatively high. If they all suddenly become Israeli, then Israel as a Jewish state could be threatened. In sweeping generalizations, Palestinians in the West Bank area are becoming increasingly frustrated and angry and want rights as any other human population on the globe. This anger, it is said, feeds the fanaticism of Palestinian terrorists in the region. Secular and left wing Israelis, as well as many Muslim and Christian Palestinian Israelis, as well as Druze Israelis, do not agree with the occupation, and want to give up the land and let the Palestinians in the West Bank create their own state. In opposition, national religious Jewish Israelis a nd politically right wing Israelis focus on the Biblical and/or militaristic significance of the territory and want to tighten their hold. These national religious and right wing groups are also often frustrated and angry about Palestinian bombings, shooti ngs, and other terror attacks, and they claim that occupation and control of the West Bank is necessary to protect the entire state of Israel. The Palestinians in the West Bank are quoted as aspiring to ultimately take over the entire territory of modern d ay Israel, and their repeated acts of violence are cited as evidence that individuals, groups, and leaders cannot be trusted. This fear amongst Israelis influences increasing efforts to regulate, survey, and restrict the movement of Palestinians in the Wes t Bank. And of course, this leads to further Palestinian frustration and anger.
40 It is important to add that there are approximately 1.5 million Israeli Arabs (also referred to as Israeli Palestinians, among many other terms) who live in undisputed Israeli territory. They comprise approximately 20% of the Israeli population. These Arab Palestinians have been legal citizens of the state of Israel since its establishment in 1948, though in the first years of the state (and in some ways, until today) many suff ered from land displacement and discrimination. Their history and current affairs are therefore different from those of Arab Palestinians in the West Bank 12 Going There Since the Oslo Accords in 1993, the West Bank area has been divided into three administ rative divisions, Area A under Palestinian control and Palestinian administration, Area B under Israeli control and Palestinian administration, and Area C under both Israeli control and Israeli administration. It is necessary to pass through an Israeli con trolled checkpoint in order to enter in and out of the West Bank area. There are public buses that go to many of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, but they are not too frequent. Many residents drive personal cars. Another common form of transportat ion into the West Bank is hitch hiking (Fig. 1 1, Fig. 1 2). For example, at a checkpoint at the northern end of Jerusalem, travelers stand on the side of the road with one arm out, forefinger pointed downwards towards the road. Drivers entering the checkp oint, who are interested in taking along others, will slow down and 12 parliamentary and local level politics [in Israel] as a medium for public action implies a certain faith in negotiated impr and that of Arabs in the territories occupied in 1967. The latter group, like Arabs outside of Israel, see y, irrationally and inexplicably obsessed with
41 yell out their final destination. If your destination is along the announced route, you hop into the back or front seat, depending on room inside the car. I once asked a friend who has pr eviously lived in the settlements if Arab drivers ever offer to pick up Jewish hitch hikers, or vice versa. The answer was no. At the larger intersections and junctions, Jewish drivers slow down for other Jews, and, a few meters away, Arab drivers slow dow n for groups of waiting Arabs. Many Jewish people who live in the settlements make the effort to pick up other Jewish passengers along their route. I get the sense that there is a feeling of shared experience and affinity with these other travelers. Thoug them, people who live or travel into the settlements are interested in helping out others who are traveling along the same geographic, political, and ideological route. What creates this sense of affinity? Perhaps shared views an d aspirations, and perhaps shared emotions of fear in the face of the same dangers. In this vein, I also get the feeling that drivers pick up passengers as part of a large scale relationship of reciprocity. They do unto others what they would want others t o do for them: perhaps tomorrow or next week they, their child, or their spouse will also be waiting in the hot sun, on the side of the road, for a lift. The etiquette of hitch hiking ( tramping ) into the settlements is quite particular. After the driver s lows down their car beside the waiting travelers ( trampistim ), potential passengers approach the car to find out the destination. If it works for them, the trampistim will quietly climb into an empty seat. Choosing to tramp also means accepting the auditor y and climatic conditions of the car one enters If it is a burning hot day, and the driver of the car has not put on the air conditioning, you have to suffer
42 through heat without comment. Similarly, if the driver is listening to a radical, right wing, ch management of the world, or if he/she is blaring trance music, you just have to look out the window and bare it. Since most Jews who live and travel to the settlements are religious, men generally sit in the back if a woman is driving, and women sit in the back if a man is driving. There is also often an attempt to maintain space between men and women if they have to sit together in the backseat. Interestingly, if a driver already has a full car (of their own passe ngers, or of trampistim whom they picked up along the way) and they pass other, waiting trampistim they will hold up an open hand which means that their car is fully occupied. Rather than just wiz by, this hand motion seems to indicate a courtesy and re cognition of others who are waiting. In addition, the gesture seems almost apologetic, expressing momentary regret that they cannot help and participate in the tramping network of communal kindness and service. Many people who live in the West Bank rely o n this system of tramping. In the settlement in which I am doing my research, many of the residents work in cities outside of the West Bank, and some of them depend on lifts each morning and evening to get to and from the cities in which they work. There a re public buses, but most do not come very often. Instead, families will often have one car, and so the spouse without the car for the day, and university age children, will rely on tramping. Tramping is also a common form of transportation for friends and family who are going to visit in the settlements. In my experience, an equal number of men and woman use tramping. There are generally many teenagers and young adults at the common tramping stops
43 (intersections, checkpoints, or other particular spots wit h relatively heavy traffic, where trampistim wait for lifts), and often middle aged men and women as well. Sometimes there are older men and women too. I have also found that trampistim are always very quiet, reserved, and polite. When they first get into afterwards, throughout the drive, there is semi awkward silence. When the driver slows down where they want to get off, they hop out, mumble thanks, and close the door on the experience. The C heckpoint and the Wall The checkpoint at the northern end of Jerusalem, that opens to the road to the northern part of the West Bank, is quite simple and small (Fig. 1 3). It consists of four drive through concrete structures through which cars pass, each manned by one or two young Israeli soldiers. Cars entering the West Bank pass through fluidly. Drivers exiting the West Bank area are scrutinized: cars with Israeli license plates are generally waved through immediately; cars with Palestinian license plate s are stopped, often asked to open their trunk, and sometimes questioned. As a Jewish traveler driving through, the checkpoint can be barely noticed a concrete and metal stand that slightly slows traffic, through which we drive and continue onwards. Des pite the simplicity of the checkpoint, the shift in landscape is significant. Before reaching the checkpoint, the road is flanked by the modern housing developments of studded thorny Judean hills. Once through, however, the view opens to dry browns and dusty grays (Fig. 1 4, Fig. 1 5). The road winds along the side of increasingly bare hills, looking out onto further and wider stretches of rocky inclines that plunge into wadis, and
44 the n up other, rough elevations. Here and there, the homes of tiny towns spill over the side of slopes and into the narrow valleys. Quintessential red roofs demarcate Jewish settlements; multi story white structures often indicate Arab areas. The checkpoint a t the northern end of the city is also a controlled crevice in the long, infamous, concrete wall that divides and is professed to protect land under the authority of Israel from areas under Palestinian authority (Fig. 1 6). From both sides of the checkpoin t, the wall seems to cut through the landscape, blocking the vistas of inhabitants on either side, aggressively creating a heavy, thick, opaque barrier between towns, individuals, hopes, and futures. well as the roads that lead to them, are protected and patrolled by the Israeli authority. In the past, there has been shooting from Arabs on Jewish Israeli cars along these roads. In certain places, fences have therefore been erected to shield from Arab v illages that border routes used by settlers. Personally, I find traveling the most uneasy part of my trips to Nofharim. As a passenger in a car with an Israeli license plate, my mere geographic movement in such a vehicle labels me as a supporter of the Jew ish settlements. I feel embarrassed by this identification when I look at the Arab drivers traveling alongside me. I understand their possible feelings of anger and frustration, and I feel vulnerable. Only once I am inside Nofharim, or within the boundarie s of any other Jewish settlement, do I feel safe again, Barbed wire fences surround most settlements, and entrance is limited to guarded gates. Before Oslo, the route to Nofharim involved a road direc tly through Ramallah and an entrance facing a suburb of Ramallah. After Oslo, with the attempts to separate
45 Israeli and Palestinian life and authority, a new road was built that indirectly leads to Nofharim from the other direction and thereby by passes Ra mallah. In the second Intifada, there was shooting from Ramallah towards homes on the northern side of Nofharim. The entrance was then moved to the southern side which is where it is today. Nofharim Entering Nofharim involves a short, steep climb, since mo st of the settlement is on the top of a high hill. After passing through the gate (Fig. 1 7), the narrow, dusty on the trees and the olives are in full ripeness. During my most recent trip to Nofharim, I arrived mid afternoon on a Sunday, a regular school and workday here in Israel. Cars and people passed every few minutes along the main street that loops around t he hilltop. I passed two little girls, perhaps eight or nine years old, walking together alone, chattering quickly in Hebrew. A few moments later, two little boys, about the same age, zoomed along the middle of the downward sloping street beside me on some thing that looked like a tricycle. The main street in Nofharim is paved, well maintained, with pedestrian sidewalks on both sides (Fig. 1 8). Some parts are flanked by nicely tended grass or bush areas. The light is especially strong in Nofharim. Most days bright blue sky contrasts sharply with the white stone of many homes and buildings, the red roofs, and green gardens. Lavender, rosemary, myrtle, and other fragrant plants spill over onto the sidewalks, diffusing their aromas into the nostrils of passerb y. There are several different kinds of homes in the settlement, all modern and simple. When one first arrives at the top of the hill there is a section of gray, stucco,
46 multi storey residential buildings surrounded by tall pines, reminiscent of simple and practical kibbutz architecture (Fig. 1 9). Past this area, the homes on the top of the hill are mainly large, unpretentious but elegant, and built of white Jerusalem stone (Fig. 1 10). Some are single family houses many with colorful flower bushes. tend ed gardens, or fruit trees (Fig. 1 11); others are complexes with several apartments (Fig. 1 12). Almost all of these homes are built on a slope, with windows looking out on the excellent views in whichever direction they face (Fig. 1 13 Fig. 1 14). Below the hill top homes, two and three room rectangular, white caravans overflow down the southern slope (Fig. 1 15, Fig. 1 16). These especially inexpensive habitations often house young families. Like the grey stucco buildings on the hill, and like many of th front steps and lawns. There are no street numbers in Nofharim; instead, brown signs arge, main synagogue (Fig. 1 17) abides by the customs of Jews of European descent. Residents who are descended from (or are themselves from) North African and Middle Eastern countries conduct their own services on Shabbat in a separate room in the synagog ue building. Recently, Yemenite Jews have also begun their own separate prayer gathering. There are several large nursery schools and one school in two nearby settlemen ts, and school buses shuttle the students back and forth. Some high school students, however, choose not to attend these two designated schools; their parents instead organize either lifts or they rely on public buses or tramping to travel to other educati onal institutions In Nofharim, there is also a high
47 well as a small health clinic, staffed by alternating rotations of nurses and doctors, generally only for a few hour s per day. Nofharim also houses the municipality office for approximately thirty settlements in a wide area. (It was reported to me that this is the biggest municipality office in the country.) Nofharim was officially established in 1981 and is therefore c urrently celebrating its thirtieth anniversary. The founding families requested permission from the government to build in the area, to develop a Jewish presence near the growing Arab city of Ramallah. When I spoke briefly with one of the founding members, he told me that they chose the spot because it was the highest in the area, and therefore the best for protection and security. Before 1967, when the area was under the Jordanians, there had been plans to develop the area for wealthy families, and so road s were already built. There is also an archeological site in Nofharim, on the southern slope of the hill, evidence of extended habitation in this location over the course of centuries and even millennia (Fig. 1 18, Fig. 1 19). A stony path leads past seve ral building foundations, a surprisingly deep mikvah (constructed with architectural peculiarities that are proscribed in Jewish law), remains of an olive oil press, a collapsing surveillance tower, remains of a clay oven, a second smaller mikvah and an a ncient (possibly Canaanite) wall. Excavated items include pottery from the Middle and Late Bronze Age, tomb from Iron Ages I and II, seals from the Persian period, cooking pots from the Hellenistic period, an Early Roman refuse pit, an underground dwelling from the Early and Late Byzantine period, and a complete olive oil making structure from the Early Islamic era. One
48 archeologist has theorized that this may be the location of the Biblical Ai mentioned in Genesis, several later books of the Bible, and ear ly Christian texts 13 The Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel reports that in 2010 the population of Nofharim was 1658 14 Figure 2 1. Tramping to the West Bank from a northern road i n Jerusalem. 13 Livingston, October 2011. http://davelivingston.com/ai15.htm Livingston, David. Khirbet Nisya: The Search for Biblical Ai, 1979 2002. Manheim, Pa.: Associates for Biblical Research, 2003. 14 http://www.cbs.gov.il/ishu vim/ishuv2010/bycode.xls Accessed 10 October 2010.
49 Figure 2 2. Two individuals waiting for trampim at a popular spot. Figure 2 3. The checkpoint at the northern edge of Jerusalem.
50 Figure 2 4. The road that leads to Nofharim, looking west. The wall in the distance separates an Arab village on the left and a Jewish settlement beyond it. Figure 2 5. Along the road that leads to Nofharim, looking east.
51 Figure 2 6. Approaching the northern Jerusalem checkpoint from the West Bank side. Figure 2 7. The entrance gate to Nofhari m.
52 Figure 2 8. The main street in Nofharim. Figure 2 9. The oldest houses in Nofharim towards the entrance of the community.
53 Figure 2 10. Newer houses in Nofharim. Figure 2 11. The front garden of a house at the top of the hill.
54 Figur e 2 12. The apartment style homes, looking west over a suburb of Ramallah. Figure 2 13. The view over Ramallah from the newer apartments
55 Figure. 2 Figure 2 15. The view looking east: s Judean Hills, and beyond the Jordanian Mountain Range.
56 Figure 2 16. The view looking south east: caravans and the sprawling suburbs of Ramallah. Figure 2 17. The synagogue.
57 A B Figure 2 18. mikvah remains of an ancient building and a watchtower. Figure 2 19. Standing at the archaeological site, looking west towards the houses of Nofharim and the caravans below them.
58 CHAPTER 3 THE WOMEN Shoshana Shoshana is the first resident in Nofharim with whom I met to discuss my project. She came to Nofharim as a child thirty years ago, as the daughter of one of the founding families, and has lived here, pretty much, ever since. Even throughout national in Nofharim. When she married in 1991, her husband came to live here too, and it is here that they are raising their seven children. She is also involved in the community and seems to know just about everyone. Shoshana is a part time teacher for special education in a settlement nearby. Her husband works for a government office in Jerusalem. Perhaps it is because she has lived in Nofharim for so l ong, or maybe it is just her relaxed personality but either way, Shoshana is remarkably nonchalant about the oshana is the type of far as she is concerned, Nofharim offers her family a positive, safe, comfortable place to live. She is distantly aware of the Arab suburb in full view from her back balcony, but as emotionally or intellectually. What was also interesting about speaking to Shoshana was that her husband, Dror, seemed to repres ent the opposite perspectives. Dror, when he joined our conversation, emphasized a definitively ideological and aggressive attitude towards the
59 project of settlement inhabitance. For him, living in Nofharim is an active political move. For Shoshana, it see med more like a passive, natural, and convenient choice, living a couple blocks from her parents, and providing her children with the same religious and differences are obviously the result of a combination of factors, but I think that gender plays a significant role. Women, like Shoshana, express more pragmatic benefits of living in Nofharim, including quality of life and abstract biblical connections. Their emotions are softer and m ore complicated too. Political and forceful, solid colored opinions seem to be more commonly in the male domain. Shoshana is tall, and her posture is quite relaxed, reflecting her disposition. She dresses as most national religious women, with an elegant h at covering most of her short brown hair and modest, simple clothes her shirt covers her elbows, and her skirt reaches almost to the floor. I find Shoshana especially kind and open she has a bright smile, speaks with a lot of energy, and seems to want to help whomever walks through her door. I thought that our meeting would be more practical and technical, but as we spoke, I realized that she is also very thoughtful and reflective. After opening several questions to her, she spoke to me for over two hou rs in our first meeting. (She spoke mainly in Hebrew, and the translation below is my own. In various cases, I have included especially poignant phrases in her original words, in transliteration.) Throughout our multiple conversations, I was impressed how Shoshana would stop suddenly for a minute to respond gently to her children who were coming in and out of the salon with various complaints, questions, and issues, and then immediately plunge back into the heavier topics of our discussions.
60 In the beginni ng of our first meeting, I explained to Shoshana my motivations for is a hot topic in the United States and in global political discourse, but that very few people ha people both inside and outside Israel imagine settlers as fanatical individuals who live a rad ically political life in the face of constant danger. I presented to Shoshana my speculations, that many people choose to live in settlements for all sorts of other reasons beyond just the political rel in the case of couples where one wanted to move out of political motivation, and the other is convinced because of t he practical reasons you mentioned. But pretty much I asked Shoshana about her memories of moving to Nofharim as a child. pride for coming here, like a commander to his was laughing as she imitated her childhood thoughts, but she became more serious as There were hard aspects, like leaving friends, not parents made it a positive expe rience. They took us twice a week back to our branch of
61 big party every day. Everyone lived together. And we traveled almost every day to Jerusalem for school, so we didn Shoshana pulled out of the immediacy of these memories for a moment, reflecting on those earlier conditions with the distance of her present in Jerusalem mind that part. It was hard for my sister, but for me it was fun Maybe because I was experiences, ag to sleep over the night, and they were so excited! Everything was new. There was another girl in my age group, but she was more friendly and social. If we had somewhere else, we would never have been friends. All the time she was inviting me, camp, us bigger girls for the younger ones. That girl she brought act ion into the scene. wo young children.
62 stayed. In the beginning it was really hard, and I mean really families left. One came for six months and then left. But in genera l, there was a good social environment, so people stayed. Sometimes I felt alone or separated from my friends in Jerusalem. But for sure, there would have been hard things too if I had been in the city. What was hard about being here? I had to wait for ho urs for a tramp sometimes, in the heat or cold. There were times when it was scary, like when I had to wait outside in the dark. But, in Shoshana sat back into her memories for a moment, but she promptly returned to the conve always find kosher food in [ I asked about the population of Nofharim. A few weeks earlier, I told Shoshan a, I had seen a little girl and little boy, with especially dark skin and slanted eyes, walking away from the elementary school. saw are probably the children of a woman h ere who is from the Bnai Menashe [a group from North East India who claim to be the descendants of the tribe of Menashe, one of the ten lost tribes]. At one point, there was a Chinese couple who had converted, who lived here, but they left. Outside of Isra el, they have proper professions, but when they
63 Russians. They have some kind of degree, but they are teaching little children, like ganenet [nursery school te slower as she mentioned her youngest daughter. Sarah, who was quietly playing in the corner, looked up at us, smiling shyly as she discerned her name. problem. Part of it is the language barrier. There is a whole group of Russians here too, by the way. They came in the early 1990s. Several yishuvim agreed to accept groups, to increase their populations and to provide a community for these new immigrants from the Former Soviet Union. About ten families came here to Nofharim. They agreed to become more religious, to fit in with the yishuv. re a group within a group. They have a different culture, in many ways. And they look at us as less Her manner suggested a distanced respect for their strong focus on arts and culture. organize concerts for themselves, but also perhaps to educate us you know, the masses. They looked down at us, in some ways. In every place, the Russians have constructed their own groups. They have their own schools so that they can teach what er in
64 such loan to build in the yisvhuvim. t It was interesting that Shoshana know about the governmental initiatives for s involvement, were not much on her radar. We talked about security and fear, and the difference between living in the settlements versus living in the rest of Israel. noting how l iving in other parts of Israel also involves constant security checks, police and military observation, etc. She reminded me that shooting and suicide bombs are as likely to happen in the rest of Israel as in the West Bank. w I noticed Shoshana's blurring of larger political security and domestic safety. I asked her how the constant army surveillance makes her feel.
65 In March 2011, two Palestinian teenagers from a nearby town entered the Jewish settlement of Itamar, broke into one of the homes, and murdered five members of a family. By mentioning this story, Shoshana was again expressing the overlap between political security and domestic safety. She stood up and led me out to the veranda which overlooks a suburb of Ramallah. I t is so close that I could see people walking along the streets. She showed me how vulnerable her home is to potential political shooting. reasons to fear the same way as someone who is coming from outside the shtahim Bu bat mitzvah (coming of age ceremony and celebration) in Nofharim. However in law were truly scared and both sides understood the other. After the bat mitzvah all significant occasions have since been organized in Jerusalem, or other towns outside the settlements area.
66 Shoshana says that her in laws would actually like her family to move because they are fearful about safety for their grandchildren. clarified, and they support the shtahim family living there. I asked Shoshana how she feels about the tension between ideological ideals and responsibility to her family. I laugh. Beyond ideologies, Shoshan Haya noah lagur kan. door unlocked, there is a nice sense of community, my kids can run around and play with their friends without da them will also live in the shtahim But She recounted to me how the school buses that take her children to schools in other settlements just switched to bullet
67 this new p olicy seemed to derive from the fears of those who live outside of the West Bank area, people who imagine travel along the West Bank roads to be dangerous, attitudes that do not understand the day to day reality of life in the shtahim. It seemed over the t op to Shoshana. not able to believe her sense of security, trying to uncover some deeper feelings of unease. relatively frequent tude is very relaxed which comes through in her comments. I noticed how she spoke openly about all topics in front of her young children. conversation. Two of the elder teenage childre n quietly joined us as well, sitting in the unworried approach, he seems more serious about the ideologies that underlie their choice of location for their home. The disc ussion that ensued from his participation in our conversation highlights the difference in their approaches. I asked Shoshana if Dror carries a gun when he drives to Jerusalem each day to get to work. Dror responded directly from the next room that he did
68 used to think it was important. He came into the main room where Shoshana and I were sitting. Mostly they threw rock Shoshana admitted that perhaps he was right and The conversation shifted to the period before the road was moved, when they used to drive through Ramallah to get to Nofharim. st Intifada, they [the Arabs] threw a lot [of stones]. In the second Intifada in the early 90s it started again. y throw stones
69 issue every day, but that there were such incidents several times a Dror stood up again and asked Shoshana if she had heard what had happened that day in Itamar, one of the nearby settlements. She had, and I seemed to be the only were picking olives from their trees, located quite close to the edge of the settlement. The residents of Itamar demonstrated against the situation, and the Arabs yelled at the name of the family in Itamar that was murdered recently. Dror told the story with disgust and frustration. Before I left that evening, Dror suddenly interjected, reminding me of the political been asking Shoshana a lot about fear and how we live, but the most important thing is our political motivations. There were periods when it was really hard to live here. If you While for Shoshana the political ideologies are obvious and the challenges of living spoke about courage and strength in the face of stone throwing Arabs, and about the need to have rock solid ideologi es to remain in such a place. I wondered if the difference between them is related to gender, contrasting personalities, or is based on
70 the fact that Shoshana came here as a child while her husband chose to come as an adult. When I later asked about her po litical ideologies, Shoshana exclaimed that this Bible makes it very clear that Israel is the promised land for Jews for all time, and that ideally, Jews should reside in t his territorial area. According to Jewish law, many religious rituals are intended to be performed in this particular geographic region. At a later meeting, right before the Jewish holiday of Sukkot (the Jewish harvest festival where religiously observant Jews eat and sometimes even sleep in temporary constructed booths) in the diaspora celebrate this intimately land based festivity in rainy England or cold re part of his general belief and a common conviction among many religious Jews across Israel that Jews and Jewish practice belong in the land of Israel. After praying multiple times a day, and for two thousand years, to return to the land, it is now p ossible. Israeli Jews like Dror get frustrated with those Jews who continue to utter these supplications from other countries. In addition to Jewish claims, Shoshana proceeded to add historical, non Jewish rationalizations. She reminded me of the Balfour Declaration (the 1917 British statement of support for a Jewish home within the geographic borders of Palestine) as well as the United Nations General Assembly Resolution in 1947 (recommending the partition of Israel into one Arab and one Jewish state) whi ch was accepted by the Jewish community, but rejected by Arab political bodies. We spoke further about claims and arguments, and Shoshana agreed that her ultimate claim to the land of Israel is
71 religiously ent day Jewish rights to this land, she concluded, without acknowledging religious authority to what is written in the Bible and specifically to its repeated demand for Jews to live in and rule over this particular territory. While were still standing outs ide on the veranda during our first meeting, I pointed live there. Galilee, for examp right Aval mishesholet hamedina zhe anahnu. I raised the question of a two state solution. responded with a tinge of sadness. I asked her if she is worried about th e current Palestinian request for recognition at the UN. piguim [terror attacks], but what will be new?! I trust the army and The night before, several families in a settlement nearby were evacuated from their homes at 1am and their houses were immediately demolished. They had built illegally and ideologically, wanting to claim space in the West Bank area, but without
72 legal permission from the state. I asked Shoshana h ow this incident made her feel, if t build illegally Several minutes later Shoshana reminded two of her young daughters that there making to send to the children who had lost their homes the night before. The little girls ran out but returned after only two minutes, reporting with tears that they had missed the event. Shoshana gently told them to make the cards themselves. An hour later, the older girl interrupted us to s how her mother her creation a cute card with a simple note expressing her I asked Shoshana how she feels towards Arabs. Despite the barbed wire fence and complete separation of daily life, she told me that she and her husband try teach their children that Arabs can be good people. She expressed the difference between her Aravim [Arab peace with us. They really want it all. You know, we gave almost all of it to them, but living here, but not as a nation. The Arabs who have be en here for hundreds of years
73 I prodded the issue of individual citizens the fact that many Arabs who live in the West Bank struggle to obtain permission to travel into the rest of Israel, how many suffer economically, and how t hey are often hassled at checkpoints. Be tzad ishi, hem bematzav kashe. [On the individual/personal level, they are in a bad situation.] With their authorities and government Aval [But what am I supp osed to do?] They play a game I reminded Shoshana that it is Israeli army personnel who make it hard for Arabs at the checkpoints. Israel Knesset [the parties represented in the Knesset, in addition to several Arab M Knesset ) in other Israeli parties. up against her strong belief in a secure, non threatened Jewish state in Israel. Where were the boundaries of these very different ideas? Where did sympathy end and political ideologies begin? But human sentiment and thought is often not black and white, just as the West Bank is a not a two dimensional political landscape that can be painted with verlapping ideas, a grey zone of contradicting sentiments and unlikely circumstances.
74 Shoshana repeated her agreement with my statement that Arabs are sometimes ill treated at checkpoints. Her next intriguing comment summarized her opposing be too merciful. I Yesh devarim she tzarih way we protec manning checkpoints, but this is both new and uncommon.) I had heard stories of positive Arab Israeli rela tions in the early days of the settlement and I wondered about how this history was shaped in the memory of those who live in Nofharim today. way. Sometimes they threw stones at us, but we continued buying there. My father r recounted to me how he in fact had quite positive relations with some of the Arabs in the area. There was a car garage at bottom of the north drive the car down there witho day I received a call from one of the mechanics, asking if I could go down the road and help him re start his car which had broken down along the way. When they ask you for
75 a favor like that, you k proudly. least in this area, no Arabs were sent out of their homes. All the Jewish settlements have been built on here because the Jordanians [who captured the West Bank in 1948 and ruled until 1967] planned to develop this area as something for the nd when Israel took the area in 1967, it became Towards the end of our first meeting, Shoshana told me that there is more fear lately about what others will say in the world about the Jewish settlements. She told me a story where an Israeli, left wing peace organization told the I sraeli government about Jewish settlement houses on allegedly stolen Arab land. The houses were demolished,
76 and shortly thereafter it was discovered that the peace organization had been wrong, and in fact the land had been directly purchased by the settler s from the Arabs who previously owned it. There is a growing recognition, I think, of the power of the media and global opinion. Shoshana also expressed sadness about the fact that there are very few new settlements today. When she was thirteen and her fa mily came to Nofharim, she was very excited. She repeated me in multiple conversations that she felt a lot of pride, imagining herself like the Jewish pioneers who came to Israel and settled the land in the early 20 th Esther I met Esther in her home on the top of the hill in Nofharim. I knocked and greeted her in Hebrew, but immediately found out that she was born and raised in the U.K. T he rest of our conversation was conducted in English. Esther is a small woman, but with a lot of energy. Before she sat down, she darted around her home, finishing up a few chores. The extra few moments gave me time to notice the shining, clean floor tiles the piles of fresh laundry partially folded on the sofa, and the neat and tidy appearance of everything in the open concept salon where I waited. After less than two minutes, Esther plunked herself down on the sofa facing me with a large plate of lunch. She apologized for eating, and she seemed both irritated by the interruption of my visit, yet excited for a break from all her domestic duties. Behind her half smile, Esther is cautious and aloof. Her dark eyes twinkle, yet they are also critical and impat ient. Throughout my visit, she was increasingly open and relaxed, and we eventually even had an intimate and absorbing conversation, but there
77 was also a cynicism towards the world and a sense of agitation lurking in the background of her words and express ions. Physically, Esther reminds me of Henri course, Esther wears a more modest fabric cap over her shoulder length, reddy brown hair. Like many other modern religious women in Israel, her floor length skirt and long sleeved shirt are simple and solid colored. An important distinction between Esther and the other women is that Esther is both divorced, and originally from another country. Esther expressed strong emotions about the settlement project, and though these are clearly her own opinions, I wonder if they are strengthened by the fact that she is basically a single parent. Esther, unlike most of the other women, does not have a husband to assert aggressive attitudes wit h regards to the political realm, or in the household. I also got the sense that her divorce was not a congenial affair. As one who has been dealt a challenging deck of cards, stronger, harsher, and more negative feelings become more natural. Esther has le arned from experience that people can be nasty towards others and that patience or sympathy cultural groups and religious communities? More importantly, perhaps, Esther was born and raised in England. She describes her independent move to Israel as the ls a powerful sense of connection in the land of her ancestors. Israel is her indigenous geography. More than for others, any threat to her right to live in this country is inherently a threat to her exerted efforts, cultural and religious identity, and
78 ps ychological safety. Since she came alone, all of the territory is, in a sense, her home and the nation is like her family. Undermining these factors means deep personal instability and insecurity. children. Some of her kids have moved out, some have taken paths very different from hers, but it is clearly important to her to maintain her home as an open hub for all her family. I was impressed by her strength she has accepted her situation and is st anding up straight in the face of her challenges. The day we met (in the middle of the autumn holiday of Sukkot) she teaches at an English school in another settlement t hirty minutes away. Once she sat down, I told Esther how surprised I was that she is British. bother asking.) After I explained my project, I asked Esther to tell me about herself, and she plunged into a quick enumeration of autobiographical facts details rattled off as though they were detached from herself: parents were Jewish, traditional but not religious. I had a Jewish education. I came to Israel when I was eighteen. I felt at home here. I felt like an alien as a Jew in England. I went to Kibbutz, I studied here, and then I got married. I have eight child ren. And I have been living here in Nofharim for twenty
79 husband studied in a yeshiva where the other people who founded was very pro Israel, but there was nothing here. No buses or shops. No amenities of any kind. That made me nervous. My husband was a doctor so he was not home a lot, and that e like the open space. When you open the window, there is no one in your face. rabs emitted with almost no emotion. and move She told me a story to illustrate how she had no clue how to deal with her new dest was two. One day the nursery teacher brought him home and showed me how to put gatges [long underwear] under his pants. His lips were blue. She had to show me how to layer his clothes! I was used to one layer of clothing. The first winter was terrible other hand people were really nice. You could knock on the door whenever you needed.
80 quite know where it was, and she just thought I was crazy. But she already thought I did When we first came it was a caravan. We had a generator no electricity. In the beginning, we had no landline. I felt I was doing with active engagement. child born in Israel, born in Jerusalem understand. His parents are from Tunisia, but he is born here. He took it for granted a Despite the emotional intensi ty of the information she was conveying to me, Nofharim, at the top of the hill Then we bought a ready made. Later, when my mother
81 they put it in and it was broken. They suspected one of the Arabs of doing it on purpose. Now it has a bed of flowers inside it I was scared of how to cope with living here! We She smiled in th ss! We gave them a lot of parnasa [income]. You know, people used to get off the bus at the stop in as no barbed wire until then Esther responded immediately, and matter of from here, t here. The issue was the leadership, and today, it is several generations that have been
82 husband used to do duty on Shabbat, he used to have an Arab taxi driver that would take him. The man lived right at least from our side. But then in the first Intifada they started to throw stones. I drove home once and had stones throne at me. I was pregnant. I was really frightened. On the horrible. There was broken glass, but thank God none of my children got hurt. But gotten married, and she went with her husband, and she got a stone to her he ad. She We stay for ideological and religious reasons. This is our land and what belongs to ware that they are who they are, and we are who we are. Even in England, there were many Arabs in the
83 interested in anything more. I went to England in the summer a few years ago. I went into Primark, a large grocery store, and there was a woman standing in front of me by the cashier, covered completely except for her eyes. And when she spoke, I was horrified! She spoke English better than me! She was completely in black, cover ed. She looked like she had been taken out of Saudi Arabia. And everywhere in London, loads and loads there are ghtening. I feel threatened by it known park in England now. That never would especially the means that much to them. Whereas for the Arabs, the land is part of their body. They It frustrates me to see the secular Jew s his four
84 nt nearby], three or have to go into it with people. Since the first Intifada we are portrayed as people with guns, look An hour before I met with Esther, Gilad Shalit the Israeli soldier held in captivity by Hamas for five years was returned to Israel. Shalit was released in exchange for 1027 Palestinian prisoners convicted of murder or carry ing out terror attacks against Israelis. For Israelis, the event was historic and momentous, and many were talking about it for days before and after. For Palestinians, the day was also one of great celebration, and all afternoon I heard the firecrackers g oing off in neighboring Ramallah. Esther had the TV on when I first entered her home, and she left it on silent throughout our meeting. The news channel played repeated scenes of Shalit descending from the helicopter, being transferred from Egyptian to Is raeli personnel, being interviewed, etc. because they will go back to The silence, left by her disheartening statement, was uncomfortable. I shifted the subject of conversation. you connect with this land
85 Esther poi lidays, mainly on holidays, when you have time during you notice. Then I feel connected. I think about my role as a mother, as a daughter of Israel, as a homemaker i f this area Her tone became more frustrated and high pitched and her words accelerated as much off the main road I could be killed. I feel very sorry for the average Arab person who wants to earn a living and feed his family, but how many countries does he have to new claim. Our claim go many countries so many times. Their main land is Mecca, not here.
86 room, and one child starts to play with it As soon as she starts playing with it, the other Nofharim. rritate the neighbors. We respected the fact that it was a all sorts of other p
87 Shira I visited Shira mid day during the week. She works part time as the community director for Nofharim, organizing activities for th e entire settlement. During a typical day, she generally goes back and forth between her home and the office, since they are less than a one minute walk apart. Shira is distinctly active, passionate, and energetic about life in Nofharim, and she clearly m akes an excellent community director, mobilizing involvement and participation. Yet, she is so busy with what happens within the borders of the community that she demonst rated to me, life is especially pleasant and fulfilling in Nofharim. Her job, in fact, is to take daily life from normal, to particularly enjoyable, and she is clearly succeeding. The myriad of organized activities for all ages and types underlines the ord inary, safe, and desirable conditions of Nofharim life. Shira feels anything necessarily negative about them. Shira reminded me that she shops with Arab women, and described pleasant, though fleeting, interchanges. Her deep connection to the Bible dictates a powerful claim to the ground beneath her feet, but again, it is not expressed a ggressively. Since the land is the absolute most significant matter for her, she will even live in a Palestinian nation rather than leave. repeated tension between sincere sympathies towards unknown Arab individuals, anger towards an abstract group of possible
88 terrorists, and ever maintained distance and anxiety about people who live so close yet so far away. room apartment flat was spotless when I walked in, and all items of furniture were perfectly placed. The large square tiles on the floor were shiningly pristine. I used the bathroom, and noticed from the hallway that even the bedrooms were neat and tidy. Back in the salon, one wall was covered by a series of polished dark wood cabinets with glass doors, enca sing four packed bookcases. The books were mostly thick religious texts, like in many of the other homes I have visited in Nofharim. There were tall volumes of the Talmud, a variety of historical commentaries on the bible and Jewish law, and in the middle bookcase, a shelf of contemporary books on Jewish life. On the other walls were hung paintings of flowers, a drawing of a bird, and a scene from the Bible (from my experience, the latter being a rather uncommon find in modern religious Jewish homes). I lat work. Shira is tall, slim, and vivacious. The day we met, a colorful cloth hat hid most of her dark hair. She wore a long sleeve white shirt, and over it a cute white t shirt with little green a nd yellow flowers. (This is a common style for modern religious women in Israel. In these communities, wearing colorful and patterned clothing is absolutely accepted, provided that modesty is maintained. Elbows should be covered, and necklines should not b e too low. It is thus quite usual to see women wearing all sorts of t shirts, but with an additional long sleeved shirt underneath, or, similarly, short skirts length jean skirt is also a popular item among modern religious Israeli women.
89 in the way she articulates her strong beliefs and ideas. At the same time, her face is very open and cheerful. Particularly in the beginning, her responses were exceptionally confident. On the topic of life in Nofharim, and all the activities she has promoted, Shira spoke with much enthusiasm. There is nothing lazy about Shira. Even though she sat back on the couch beside me, drinking her coffee, and speaking sincerely at length, I still felt as though she was perched on the edge of our conversation, soon to spring up and tackle the next twenty tasks in her day. She strikes me as one of those people who has some form of extra s uper strength battery somewhere inside her gut. I commented with admiration on the cleanliness when I walked in to her the couches. Strict routines of pristine domesti c maintenance are apparently the norm for Shira, despite the fact that she has six young children and her husband works full time. In fact, since he works with emissaries for Jewish communities around the world, and must therefore sometimes travel abroad, Shira is not uncommonly left alone with their large family. They also have two colorful love birds, kept in a cage in the salon. The birds were quiet for the first part of our conversation, but then began to screech and squawk for a while, as if they too w anted to join in on the discussion. Since Shira spent a few years in the USA, she speaks English, and most of our conversation was therefore in English. I translated those words and phrases that she said in Hebrew. I asked Shira why she moved to Nofharim
90 community give birth next week in Jerusalem, but no one will cook for her. But here, for me, when I give birth, people will cook for me for a month! Also for shiva [the seven days after the death of an immediate relative] rabbi who can help, advise, and even organize for charity. We build things together. You feel like the place belongs to you. You build the place. Here everything is yours I was used to it because I grew up that way in the Golan Heights. And also as a married couple, we stopped in bank and shtahim are terrible words. West Bank means that this land belongs to the west bank of Jordan, which means that it belongs to Jordan. Shtahim [stru ggle] situation while we go off and live a quiet life. We wanted to live in a community that builds the land. We lived in a place on the way to Chevron [Hebron], and it was more problematic. We felt safe then, bu t maybe because we got used to it. We got rocks
91 to be delivered. It was the end of the ninth month, and both were shot and killed. We t with the memory. it could happen at home, or on the way home. We did everything we could to protect our kid s. But living there has a price. And you know what? Anyone can pay the price in Tel was hard. But it happened once in the two years we can day, in Tel Aviv, a woman was murdered by her German employee.] It happens much more on the roads all over Israel. [The statistics for car accidents in Israel are known to feel that it was more of a problem. Then we went to the US for three years on shlihut [as w ent with three the people of Israel [generally understood as Jews, and not the citizens of the political land of Israel]. Not all of the p or perhaps she has even questioned the value of their work a broad versus the importance of living in the land of Israel.
92 yishuv [a settled area, usually town] and not hitnahalut [Jewish settlement, u sed today with a political valence, and understood to refer to the settling of locations within the post 1967 borders of the West Bank]. We do not want to differentiate between this side and the other side [of the Green Line]. We Anyway, we went to a beautiful yishuv. We would have stayed if we could. There were sixty families. It was very quiet. There was a big Arab city there, but no problems. Then my husband got a job in Jerusalem and we looked for a place in Gush Etzion [the ar ea of the West Bank just south of Jerusalem, inhabited by Jewish agriculturalists before 1948 and then re settlements are more like cities! Not everyone knows each other. You can live there and want such a huge place, but rather somewhere where the winters are really hard, and the situation with the Arabs laugh. home anyway, at s to work. Many people actually work here in the yishuv especially women. They teach, work in the nursery, work in the moatza [municipality office], work at the post office. The fact th at the regional municipal offices are here in Nofharim gives women a lot of
93 I am happy to go a nywhere myself with my six kids, even to the Golan Heights [a three not a problem for me to drive. But it takes time. During the week, I like to be here, to we chose Nofharim and the shul the doctor re they sell things when you need them. They sell clothes before the holidays. They bring d that grandfather lives in Jerusalem, and when I stay there I feel that I have to c onstantly will happen to them. But here in the yishuv gan eden
94 yishuvim a, also with small yishuvim on other side of Jerusalem are far more expensive. We did go to other places not in the shtahim. Living in other places is also important because we can bring Torah everywhere. Living with the hilonim [secular Jews] is good too not in order to change them, but just to share life with Am Israel [the people of Israel]. Living consider other yishuvim outside of the region st is not a perfect community. Someone from all the same, that we are all religious and right united enough. We do not help each other enough. We have to work on it and develop have culture in the shtahim We had a dance performance the other night. A ballet! Women for women [Female performe missed it! They come from around here. They have a group and they perform in
95 leader fr om the big cities as well as the student from the secular world of academia, of the shape of this encounter is not unusual among modern religious people who are involved i n the arts. A parallel tension emerges when these individuals, who reside within the psychological and/or geographic confines of their religious communities, try to demonstrate the authenticity of their work within a field and discourse that are populated by diverse, sometimes morally threatening, and often secular attitudes. Bima Theatre in Tel Aviv! They really got a hold of the best people. And they came here even though we do about being a new married woman how it can be good, how it ushers in a new phase. And they connected it with the seasons of the year. The performance was amazing! So I bring those types of things here. I make shabbatot better. Anther example: a woman here was in a car accident so I organized teenagers to come and take care of her kids each afternoon. I want the community to be a better community, to do things together. We also did a mosaic project together we made meaning. We made a big mosaic sign. We asked two artists from the yishuv because
96 from here, to str engthen our own individuals within our community. They ordered all the materials stones, glue, etc. And we had volunteers ign to stay for years, and are women, so maybe people assumed it was only for other women. And it became a guess, felt uncomfortable to sit with women and chat with them. Maybe from the beginning w yishuv session, and we had five women and five men. But it was more like a formal class. The charedi [ultra orthodox] here! Sometimes women are more busy b ecause they have their jobs and the house jobs. Of course husbands do help, but the husbands even those with modern lives ed to the subject
97 d write the on vacation during Sukkot [the Jewish harvest festival that happens in the autumn], I took all the kids in the yishuv to the moadon. We brought an artist, and we made decor ations for the sukkahs [traditional booths built for Sukkot]. There is a basketball group for men, and now I am starting a group for women! I have four women so far, and exp activities! We had a small newsletter before Rosh Hashana [the Jewish New Year] to summarize the events during the past year. We had a lot things in there, and t he rabbi long columns of activities. week. We have art classes once a week. The women pay a smal l amount each month, depending on the cost of activity. We have folk dancing for women and girls. Women learn Torah twice each week we have one class in the morning and one in the evening. The group changes all the time a wide range of ages and types o f people
98 come. I teach one of the Torah classes for women, usually parsha [the portion of the week] or mishna [the oral code of law, written down in the 4 th century, which provides the structure for the Talmud]. There is a kollel here [full time program of Jewish legal and textual study, normally for men]. Many people who live in Nofharim are rabbis and teachers, so many people can teach. There is a rabbanit on Shabbat. Usually about ten people come, of all different ages. F or men, there is daf yomi [Talmud study which follows one page per day] every night, and classes all the time. There is even a group that studies every night of the year from 8 9pm. There is a very small workout center too. Women have a new, large workout Binyamin [nearby strip mall with large grocery store] so the one here is now closed to have everything! Music, Judo, dancing, art, everything! I can show you the book! This is the regular schedule, and once a month we have a show for kids like a puppet show. The theme is generally connected to the holidays, or environmental issues, or teaching good social behavior. We do not want to bring Cinderella. And we h ave shows for adults too. Thank God teenagers have their own manager, because they have their own world! Teenagers in Nofharim are really lucky. But they also give a lot back t o the yishuv This past summer we had a huge celebration commemorating thirty years since the establishment of Nofharim. We had a big Shabbaton [a celebratory event on the Sabbath] day] is when everyone meets everyone. You can find two people in Nofharim who may
99 not have met each other in many years Am Israel [the peo ple a possibility that there will be an Arab state here. If they would give me the options: leaving and destroying this place, or living here with a Palestinian pas sport I would for sure live here! Jews lived here before the state, with a Turkish passport, a British mitzvah [commandment from God] to live here. Of course I would prefer for it to be a Jewish state, and ideally, please God, for the Ar abs to be citizens too. If it is possible, then it would be better for them to be citizens than the way it is now, for those who really believe in democracy. For me as a human being, I want everyone to be equal and to have the right to choose their governm ent. That is the ideal world. important for Jews to live in the land of Isr
100 possible that one day the Israeli government will tell us to leave. They have the power. you stay here? Maybe if there will be an Arab state around me, and it will be really bad, then n [Hebron]. It scares me. I say kol hakavod drive through Arab areas every day. I choose what level of danger I want to live with. You do what you think is right, even if it may not surviv e. I have faith, because the Right is in government right now, and I trust in God. When they established Israel, they were we are building it knowing that there are othe rs who could destroy it. I also do my best the nation must be Right wing. I hope, I really hope that this means that the people have a connection to the land. The The yishuvim in Gush Katif [the former Jewish area in the Gaza strip] rebuilt a strong community in a new place. But commu
101 sick and died, families fell apart, th ere were a lot divorces, teenagers got really crazy and needed medical help adamah [earth, rebuild with this strength. But honestly, we think of the present. We want to help now We want to build, and kn that does not reflect the way it is here. Unfortunately, even in Tel Aviv, they also get a wrong picture shtahim I got a great picture of what was happening here great schools, great commun ities, the best air. So you live next to Arabs?! So what! Before they built the fence, people in Nofharim bought their challah [specific bread for the Sabbath; reported to have been ordered in to Ramallah every week in the early days of Nofharim], and resi dents of Nofharim had a lady from Ramallah to hold while I get something. We shop together! We sit and eat pizza together! We trust the Arabs more than the people who live in Tel Aviv! They think need to study together we have different langu ages, different culture, but we do live
102 build such a thing in the 21 st century?! You can go above it and under it! People drive me here. Is it ideal for them to go away? No. Jews live all over the world with non Jews around, so the opposite can exist here. I Binyamin, do you ever wonder if you are standing beside the wife of a terrorist? Or, even handing your baby over for a a Jewish st ate, with all the benefits. Some even say it. Look at the example of the Arab communities up north. The Jews give them rights, the state protects them. You see the other countries around us their governments can just kill parts of the population. From wh can enjoy living here? When the Jews left Gush Katif [the Jewish area in the Gaza
103 strip], many Arabs lost their jobs and lost money. One Arab sued a Jewish farmer for happened a few times. Someone from Nofharim took his car to the big grocery store and went shopping. He got back to his car drove itself away! An Arab had jumped in a nd stole the car with all the groceries! in a traffic jam Jewish car, Arab car, Jewish car, Arab car. It happened once that an w, I hear everything that happens in Ramallah, right from here in my house. I hear their muezzin [the individual at mosques who makes the call to prayer] feel when you hear the muezzin that I can live here. I feel happy that we can live beside the muezzin The fireworks [a very frequent occurrence in Ramallah] someti mes do disturb us. Sometimes they wake
104 problems in the water now. They make a lot of noi ever thought about trying to do something with the people, maybe the women, in meet P women on both sides suffer from the same environmental problem from the water. They f negative valence that her answer was taking on. She grew a bit more quiet. A few moments later she continued, struggling with the tension, between a compassionate, idealized attitude towards this Other, and her feelings of animosity towards the unknown A they killed a three year old child from Beit El [a settlement not far away]. They drive like crazy. They cause a lot of accidents. Some of them are terrorists. When people from the the Fogel story [the family that was recently murdered in their home in Itamar], they gave candies to the children in the streets and there were celebrations in Ramallah. Their head of state he s ays he wants peace, but he names streets after terrorists who
105 them as friends. Maybe if we Maybe if they stop terror. Even if they establish a state, things could change, but they cannot saving the Jewish people, and less to thank Go I allude myself that tomorrow they will recognize our country. But maybe if they act its to travel beyond the boundaries of nts in the West Bank] move outside [beyond the West Bank area]? I can guess they made it happen because the government saw that some of them want to bomb restaurants, so
106 I asked Shira about the nature of he r claim to this land and why she believes Jews have a right to govern this area. She to ok out a concordance from one of the bookshelves on the other side of the room, t he bible took place. Here the world was created. This place is sacred to Jews. Later, it hundreds of years it became important to the Muslims. Was there a story about Mohamm holy places for them, then they should come and pray here! of the history of the nat ion. Historically, 1948 was a miracle. Jews from all over the world came here, to survive as Jews. If you see that, you must believe in something! Even if you are not religious, you have strong roots here. Even if your claim is historical. Now the Arabs ar e here, but many of them came in the early 20 th Palestinians are in fact Jewish? Some even say it today. There is a movie that tells how many of the Palestinians, from the on es who were here for many generations, are originally Jewish. Because of the changes in ruling powers, when the area was under Ottoman control, they adopted Islam. Ancient Jews who lived here took on the Arab way of life. Their great grandmothers are Jewis
107 There are ancient Jewish villages here, but no ancient Palestinian village claim is also humanitarian. After the holocaust, the world had to give us a state. And a big one, that can be protected. And you cannot protect Israel without Yehudah aliyah very exciting that Jews come from the diapora. Israel is like a magnet. Something about house [in the U.S.] is a hotel! People who left Morocco, they left homes that were really really a miracle. I have to continue what my parents did: not to be afraid, to give everything I can to be able to live here, to build physically (roads, gardens) and also spiritually (education). I taught in America and here it is so different! Here, t he kids know Hebrew. But also, they know so much more. You cannot compare. Because they know the language, they know the sources. They live where our forefather Abraham lived. You really feel that you are connected to the Tanakh, in life in the shul [syn agogue], through religious life, through prayer. All sorts of programs are created to help educate kids, so they can learn about this place. They bring soldiers from the major wars to tell stories, to give kids the feeling that they must also give, that we
108 murdered by terrorists, and several months later, her husband also died in a car accident that reportedly was caused by an Arab. Assaf. But in two months the army is going to haval beginning [before Israel was established] in the early 1900s was illegal. If we waited for I noted that these laws also pertain to Palestinians in the West Bank, and that their illegal homes are also often destroyed. Shira shifted the direct subject, perhaps under the in the same as killing kids. You know what they built? A huge stadium! At the entrance to Really dangerous. During big games people get very excited. In no time they could be
109 here. The government knew they were building, but they did nothing! It happens all the time. There is one Jewish house that is not legal and no way that it can be made leg al. and Migron [residents] egic place. politicians in office, it [Nofharim] could easily have been destroyed. We were just lucky. I I asked Shira about her ambiguous attitude towards the Israeli government. someone who will bui ld a new place tomorrow morning with no permission, and live an illegal life for a few years and wait for someone to destroy my house. First of all, I hate mitzvah [commandm ent from God] and not a crime, but I do it this way I join a yishuv that is the family. Thank God we have many yishuvim and we should expand the ones that we have
110 soldi ers around Tel Aviv! The Arabs would go closer and closer. If we are here, we keep the soldiers busy here, so they are not close to Tel Aviv. Like in Gaza. When Gush Katif [the former Jewish area in the Gaza strip] was there the Arabs focused on them. Now the goal, it even in pre school. Are we sacrificing now? Yes. Sometimes when I drive along the roads here, and I see stones marking spots of terror attacks, I remember that it can happ every day. Thank God. But seriously, a terrorist can come through the window. theoretically. Logi But that is also the case with every kid in Israel. Most of them know this. They go to the army, and a situation could take their lives. Like Gilad Shalit. He knew he could be captured, even for his entire life. Even the very left wing people go to the army, the state is more import ant than your life. Would we call him [a soldier in the army] radical? I think everyone, living everywhere, knows that he is living in a place that might take a price. Maybe here I have more of a risk, but that store keeper was murdered in
111 Tel Aviv yesterd ay. They [people who live in Tel Aviv] also live in danger. For me, living in Tel Aviv is scary! The negative education for my kids, physical dangers, the smell of it ideology, have Tanakh in my bag because I might need it, to teach something, to help me when I need a prayer You might find this interesting connotation of belonging to me, or to God. In the bible, the people of Israel are the pulled out her prayer bo because I feel a connection to the land of Israel, but also because the word means We had been speaking for several hours, and the conversation was slowing down. Shira asked if I had visited the winery yet.
112 : one is about the Tanakh for the heart. Another station is a trivia station. It asks you questions about facts, about geography and history, about the settlements, and also political questions. For example, did you know that the Arabs wanted to establish statehood before 1967! Their desire for just want the West Bank they want everythi ng! The tourist center shows the actually hate those arguments We have to be here because God, who created the because it has a lot of r home. Despite it showing the
113 ave a chance to get a sense for what the book was trying to express, but, as I flipped through it quickly, I came to a large appendix at the end, listing the names of Shira commented sadly, returning the book to its place on the middle bookcase, amidst the numerous bulkier religious Jewish texts. Racheli Racheli told me to come over in the early evening, warning me, however, that all her five young children would b e home. Her eldest daughter, about ten years old, persistently asked for us to switch to Hebrew so that she would be able to understand. Several times she also complained that she should be interviewed. The youngest, almost two, tried to play with her sibl ings, but again and again ended up crying and running back to her mother. Yet, despite all these interruptions, Racheli somehow kept on speaking with me as though nothing was going on. At one point she stopped mid sentence to change a diaper, and then retu rned right back to the center of our conversation as though not a moment had passed. These interruptions, in fact, gave me the opportunity to notice some of the titles on the tall, elegant wooden bookcases partially filling two walls of the salon where we sat. Unlike other homes in Nofharim, I saw two shelves of books on art both in English and Hebrew. Beyond these, most of the other books were the usual range of Hebrew bible commentaries, volumes of Talmud, assorted publications on religious Jewish life, and entertaining bits and pieces were scattered over the clean floor and piled in corners. As the evening wore on, the smell of baking cake filled our nostrils. Towards the end of our conversation, before I left, I was presented with the source a plate of piping hot date
114 things, and Racheli, without batting an eyelash of disappo intment, told me with admiration that her sister, too, is like me, and bakes with all sorts of healthier g neck, and thicker hips remind me of the female figures neck pinky purple sweater, a long, a line jean skirt, and pink socks with chunky maryjane shoes. Her dark hair was covered with an intricately tied, pastel colored band of cloth, face is oval shaped, with an expression that is especially open and gentle. When she speaks, it is usuall y with a keen earnestness. She is very serious, and her devotion to her ideals is evident. She is one of those people who seems to have it all figured out, and her answers sometimes sounded like carefully packaged explanations, shared many times before. One could perhaps classify Racheli as more zealous than her female neighbors. In addition to a particularly fervent approach to the settlement project, Racheli came to relocation and her description of their move shine light on the interpretive and tangible differences between illegal and legal settlements. For her, Nofharim, in contrast with the majority of families live in permanent ho mes, and their community does not stand in the glare of political attention. Racheli also raises a second comparison. Motivated by the Biblical emphasis on this geographic area, the
115 territory of the West Bank is more valued than the rest of Israel. This is where her ancient ancestors lived and walked, and according to Racheli, settlements today have a guide, she actively promotes the beauty and excellent living conditions and features enjoyed by Nofharim families. Th main occupation is teaching art at a college in Jerusalem and studying at one of the leading Israeli universities, her side goal is to promote the goodness and normalness of places like Nofharim to those who may have other images. When I exp lained the reason for my project, Racheli proudly told me that she was ahead of me, that she was just finishing her M.A. degree in art history. Her research is on a contemporary Israeli artist who became religious several years ago; he is also her boss at part time. Racheli hopes to continue and do a doctorate. tim e. I also work part time instead of working full time. My husband is independent. He Racheli was a
116 decided to show it on the Sabbath evening, so we vetoed it. We asked a rabbi, and you aliyah [migration to Israel, with a connotation of moving upwards] from the U.S. and went to Jerusalem. My parents later moved to Alon Shvut [a settlement area on the southern side of Jerusalem]. A few years after we got married anything was illegal about it. We [south of Israel], in a moshav [semi communal village]. For raising kids, we were looking for a really nice place, to live among good people, to have a nice community, with ogether, and also with a beautiful view. We were looking for a new community, not necessarily in the shtahim when we found out about made bunny ears with my fingers, k expression, yet failing to think of a better way to reference the boundary. the state conquered, but we like to say it was taken over. We freed it back from the Jordanians. Lo kavashnu. conquer, or rule over, or subdue.] Shihrarnu. pokesperson for all the foreign people who come here. You know, a few weeks ago they were thinking about a Palestinian state? So I
117 e normal, that there is no difference here. The heart of Israel is this took place Abraham, Isaac... The core geographically, historically, religiously is he people in Migron, the style. We felt good there. I think there is a special connection between people and land. People here are more down to earth. There is something specia Bar Mitzvah [coming of age celebration and mod ern religious Jews who have come from English Efrat [a Jewish city in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem], but she felt a difference. So I ething in we like the idea of building something new. Immediately after we got married we checked o. We were looking for something ereh mussaf [with added value] Do you know what that is?
118 caravan. In the bathr oom it was so cold that I once measured eight degrees. I mean, the proper, built horrible. Also here. Bu t we were in a caravan for six years, and the winds were so normal! But we believed built and the terrib le thing that happened a few weeks ago [the demolishment of several normal to begin in a caravan, but then to build [a h great community. We like the people. Similar socio economic level, but also people of all different kinds academic, professional. Serious people. They volunteer and care about each other. They take life seriously. Our k ids went to school here the whole time, convenient. We really knew the yishuv when you first come. They brought us a really nice gift a whole havdalah [ritual marking the end of the Sabbath] set and a nice greeting. And then they give you a
119 because we knew people from being in Migron. Then people start inviting you for Sabbath meals, and a lot people brought cakes. I was pregnant when we came, and for care of women who have babies, and God forbid shiva. They send teenagers to baby sit house, with walls and cen Racheli ad Yo u know where Shoshana lives? There was shooting in 2000 and they were getting whole sky. I am an amateur photographer. I studied with a well known photographer
120 who himself studied with Ansel Adams at one point. So I love the sky. I have a whole series of the sky from all different times of the day. When we first came here, in the was 5am. It was so beautiful. I knew it was the sunrise so I ran out to take pictures. I also take p ictures of the sunsets here. When we lived in Migron, sunrise was in our muezzin neighbors next door know Arabic our enemies. Do you see them that not one hundred percent, but we live in coexistence.
121 danger from rockets. The north is in danger from missiles from Lebanon. Tel Aviv is in seriously. Going downtown worries me so much more. [God forbid] there could be a terror attack. We were just there a week ago and there was a hefetz hashud ce place, and that far away. Everything is so far. Nothing is happening. Anything na tion the redemption of Am Israel
122 n the space We chatted more informally and personally for a few minutes while Racheli took care of a barrage of whines and complaints. I noticed how she addressed each child directly, with endless patien ce. make time for your own research, for your photography, for your job all while taking She smiled, appreciating my compliment of a characteristic she clearly values. even have someone to clean or anything. Each night I always make sure the kids get a The kids help, and my We speculated together for a few moments with amusement about the possible reasons for this phenomenon. The air? The open skies and grand views? The sense of a secret, additional five hours in your the tinge of a sense of pride. The traits of a superwoman seem to be a desired or expected quality, at least for the women the mselves. Batia I visited Batia one evening during the weekday. Her large kitchen table was strewn with colored pencils and pens, small stacks of notes, and thick folders of papers and notebooks. Her laptop was piled on top of it all in the middle. There wa s something
123 vibrant about this surface, indicating the regular presence of activity and creative pursuits. In contrast to the energy of her table, Batia greeted me with a shy, friendly smile. She is of medium height, stocky, with short dark hair. The day w e met she was wearing a simple black shirt and a long beige skirt. Unlike most other middle age women in Nofharim, Batia is not married. She lives in a first floor apartment in the center of Nofharim, beneath a larger family home. Her apartment is simply f urnished and does not give the feeling that she has lived there for that long. Like all other homes in Nofharim, Batia also has a wall of brim filled, wooden bookshelves. An awkwardness hung heavy over the entryway when I first came into her apartment, as she shoved aside some notebooks to make room for my laptop. I could are the refore my own translations). But as soon as I explained my project, the tension began to fall away. As our conversation proceeded, Batia elaborated more and more. Some of the topics discussed therefore repeat (more than in the conversations with other wome n), each time expressed with further honesty and candor. Batia brings a fresh perspective for two reasons. First, she is single, and this fact throws into relief the extent to which the family is a central intellectual tenet and practical unit in communit ies like Nofharim. At the same time, Batia also describes being warmly embraced, for many years, by various families. Though she is single, she is simply pulled in as an auxiliary family member. One gets the feeling that even those on the social periphery are not left alone in such collectives. Batia also describes the quiet
124 beauty of this rather rural location, as well as the powerful biblical verses that she teachers her students, rooting Jewish habitation on this topography. In these senses, Nofharim is portrayed as a normal, caring, pleasant community in the present, with the reverberations of past and future divine sanctification. Secondly, beyond her personal position, Batia is also a member of a unique group which brings together secular, left wing w omen from the Galilee and religious, right wing settlers. Her experiences with the group highlight the possible distinctiveness of female only dialogue, as well as the broad political, social, and religious tensions between the left and right sides of the Israeli political spectrum and the respective ideologically polarized populations. Despite the fact that Batia is keenly involved with such a singular organization, however, a parallel association with Arab women is absolutely not an option for her. was younger and doing my first degree. Afterwards I got a sec ond degree in Hebrew literature and I went into education because I was still working here. Then later, I was working i n Ofrah which is close by, so I just stayed. I really love it here. I grew up in Jerusalem, in a home where we were that I would live in a yishuv. My parents even worked in one, and today all six of us kids live in yishuvim. It was obvious to us. This
125 avira [environment] both social and has to choose what is important to them and what works for them. This worked for me. And in terms of bringing up children, there is something nicer, more supportive about asked her how she feels living as a single woman in a community that is primarily inhabited by and geared towards families. and nicer than living in a city where you are alone. In the city it is c importance of the place as part of Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel]. There are people a Jerusalem and there are great things in cities, but there is something more calm and ds. Once I called Bezeq [a large Israeli telephone company] and the woman on the other side of the line asked if I live in a moshav [semi communal, often rural town] because she could ia seemed not to
126 too. I can always go there. If I would move, I would probably go to Jerusalem. In terms of personality, they are very similar. Here the life is just more also depends on the yishuv. All of Eretz Yisrael mostly right wing people, but not neces sarily As a way to respond t o my previous questions, Batia began to tell me about an left wing women in the Galilee, and us, right wing and religious women. We meet together four times throughout th e year, usually in a geographic middle spot. They were here once some were scared and some had a hard time coming here for ideological ry hard for some of them. Last time they were here for several hours and they had a big disagreement about whether or not to come. One of reason, they should go. They sai organization was established eight years ago, to bridge the ideological gulf. It started after Rabin [former Israeli Prime Minister who was assassinated]. Someone had connections through work to the mu nicipality there up north. It began as forums, mostly
127 in the group for f strong. That itself is powerful. When you meet someone face to face, you feel something else. When you know people personally, it makes it totally different. We [religious and non religious Jews, left and right wing] have to learn to live together. Every time they meet us, t understand the need for this kind of connection. No one asks why we are meeting. These meetings make connections. They make people see people not as fanatics, but as normal people. We s ee that we actually have lots of similarities: families, we all go to family, despite the fact that she herself is not married and does not have children. Even for her the idea of the family is absolutely central. milar group, but with women
128 Mamash lo! or in the sea. According to the Torah, a ger [stranger, a cultural other] is someone who ger can take on the conditions and benefits of living in Eretz Yisrael They want to rld is so different They have said that clearly. They have twenty have a place ee. Foreign workers are accepted, no problem. But religious people are not at all. A son of a kibbutz member became l reasons. They tried to say that it maybe was not because he is women who have lost sons at the hands of the sons of the other. [Jewish Israeli women who have lost sons in terrorist
1 29 that is so different between us. I that makes it easier. More nagish [accessible]. The question of why they should come here [the practical attitude] mehil [receptive, able to embrace new ideas] ab out women. There is potential for moving and exciting to watch them see how beauti ful it is here, how nice it is here. It meetings with individuals when Israel is more populated in the bible... everyone was here very strong connection to bibli connection to the land everywhere in Eretz Yisrael here. We do tiyuim [excursions outside]. One thing I also do is to connect the biblical passages to current issues. Every chapter can teach you something about how to live
130 today. This morning I taught literature the piyut [poem, hymn] from Rabbi Abraham Eben Ezra, expressi ng the concept of the importance of the Sabbath to dress, walk, eat, etc. all in a special way. He took these ideas from a sentence in Isaiah that discusses the way to create the Sabbath. We talked about the way we understand these ideas and do them toda y. For example, we speak more deliberately, more relaxed on the Sabbath. It was very special to read that sentence from Isaiah that was written avira and he walked here in t ght. Our job is to hold the land. According to the Arabs, Nofharim the same th of people who are right wing and hiloni Tzionut hiloni l and. So you have that stereotype of the religious right wing and the secular left wing. But in Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel] there are lots of people who are secular but also right eir Jewish identity, and therefore to this land. For example, during the period of the second Intifada
131 in October 2000, it was very meaningful. It was very hard here because there was shooting on our yishuv But it was very emotional to see the way we rece ived support basketball game between two big Israeli teams, and one of the teams sent free invitations to everyone in Nofharim. You know, so we could have some thing fun to go support is still there, I think because the majority in this country is right wing. The media is left gh friends and community, and The conversation shifted towards the role of the government. I co uld see the that word (the same in English and Hebrew), the tone immediately reverted back to a refers to the media or the government, or a blurring of both. Migron it was legally fine! The issue was sinna keylim [modes,
132 tools] of legality. In the end, though, people are just building homes and living their lives. trayed by the state, by the leaders, by the heads of justice and because they will go to jail. The army can come here, but they should not destroy. pays taxes, including the people who live in Migron. But the country destroys their but I understand that people think it [the expulsion of Jews from the West Bank] will bring peac e. But the come this way. Look at Gush katif [the disengagement and relocation of Jewish the in that period [of been traumatic. ds
133 even make it easier. For what is all the violence [of the disengagement and of dest roying illegal settlements like Migron]? For a Jew to live in Eretz Yisrael [the land of wing women in your group the ones from the Galilee ferently. During the last meeting in the summer we stood in a circle at the end. One woman expressed how obvious it is to her that the connection within the group is the most strong, that in the end, we are here for each other. Something moved her. Even ac ross differences of to make something stronger than the political. After the murder in Itamar, they called. They have friends nearby, half an hour away. Because of the group, it was much more significant for Batia pulled out her cell saved. They are clearly very important t o her. She perused through several texts, each month without your return to the meaning and simplicity of lif spoke in the present t ense. The scenario she described was not something that only
134 happened earlier today, but rather something that continues to happen all the time. me! Not everyone, obvi day! I moved several years ago. For several people, it was obvious to them that they would help me move each area of the community. In each one there are women who take charge when a woman gives birth. They make su re someone cooks, that there are people to take care shiva [bereavement], they take care of familie lives in the or families or for kids. I prefer to just spend time with friends, drink tea in the evening. I have several families that I go to all the time, at least half the nights of the week. I bring my computer and just sit and
135 kippot It was getting late, but Batia suddenly suggest ed that she read to me some of the writes on their meetings, the municipality in the Galilee also asked her to write periodically on Judaism, something small about the ho lidays. Past the paper strewn table, beside the wall, there are higher piles of notebooks and folders on chairs and even on the unused oven. She pulled out a thick file. the y were here, I wrote this piece. I called it shirat hayam [the song of the sea, traditionally the song that was sung during the biblical splitting of the sea] because our meeting was like the splitting of the sea. Ideologically, women who never had crossed the green line came here. There was a lot of deliberation about coming here. In the end, the sense of friendship was more important. We met at a yishuv nearby. We went to the winery near Nofharim, saw the movie there, had a reception, ate lunch. In the en d, after strong connection between the kibbutz (now privatized, and more l ike a small town) in the Galilee, and Nofharim. They are similar places. In both, the people live in the are lots of similarities between us and them. Today, for example, t here was a meeting between the head of the municipal office here and head of the office from the Galilee. They had a tour, and they are trying to learn from each other about how to build their
136 can make it happen. For me, to live in Nofharim the Galilee is the same thing, the same importance Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel]. In all areas, government, then hypothetically if such a thing would happen then I could accept have a place here. They have twenty Eretz Yisrael is Am Yisrael [the Jewish nation]. People outside of the Am Yisrael have to understand that they have to accept th e government. They lived here for six generations? The bible was predates no othe Batia returned to her upbringing, to the roots of her political and religious attitudes, and to her family background. aliyah [moved to Israel] by themselves. My mother came from the US, my father from Switzerland. My grand parents are all from Poland. My
137 tzionut ry connected to Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel] and they truly believe in it. For example, when we were kids, we went to activities of Gush Emunim [the movement to establish Jewish settlement in the West Bank area]. Soldiers that get certificates of excellence have to go to the president to accept the honor and they have to shake hands with the head the army because it was just a fter the deportation from Gush Katif. It was such a My father also likes singing the North African and Middle Eastern Jewish songs and poems at the Sabbath table. The Jews from those areas knew the Arabs and what and he sings them with a lo typically Israeli, open concept salon that includes an eat in kitchen as well as a living room area with couches and bookshelves. The organized disorder of t he table seemed consistently religious and stereotypically right wing in some cases, yet surprisingly open and sensitive in other situations. And, unlike the first moments of our encounter, as she flipped through more piles and p ulled out more articles, Batia herself looked more like she belonged to this space.
138 Miriam Miriam is an older woman who lives alone now in Nofharim. Unlike the younger women I had met thus far, Miriam has the mental space that times allows to reflect on th e past and re her life, and the difficulties that she suffered speak to her determined spirit and strong convictions in the settlement project. Yet, Miriam does not express audacious, agg ressive, or zealous passion about the subject. It seems that her late husband was the one who ardently pushed the couple in the direction of fervent action, but Miriam held them back, insisting on a balance between ideology and practicality. For Miriam, co ming to Nofharim was the culmination of a long path, originating in pre WWII Europe. Israel was a refuge for her family, who escaped Germany moments before it would have been too late. She remembers the challenges of living in Israel when it was under Brit ish rule. Persecution is something she personally experienced, over and over, and the independence of Israel in 1948 signified true freedom, once and for all. To maintain this great gift, Jewish territory must therefore be actively brought about and nurtur ed. Like other women, Miriam describes genuinely pleasant social relations and the virtues of life in Nofharim, even for seniors. The rural, outdoorsy atmosphere is especially valuable to her. Beyond the fence, in comparison, lies a large question mark, s tretching abstractly into the future. Miriam is another woman who oscillates quickly between a hopeful faith in the possibilities of Arab Jewish coexistence, and a vague contrasting wish for the Arabs to leave. Ultimately, she stands on the sidelines, not wanting to be directly involved, praying that the government to handle this highly complex problem wisely.
139 er. One of the days we met she was wearing a long black skirt, a wooly black sweater, and a purple, knitted cap on her short, gray hair. Her home also has an older, grandmotherly atmosphere. The walls are crowded with old photographs of her late husband a nd newer pictures of her four children and their many children. In contrast with other homes I have visited in Nofharim, her thick, heavy furniture was more the kind that was fashionable twenty years ago. Miriam speaks quite softly, and often with a big s mile. She recounted many heavy, difficult stories about her life, yet she remained positive throughout, constantly reminding me about the better side of the hard times. Miriam speaks Hebrew and our conversation was conducted exclusively in Hebrew. The tran slation below is my own. shtachim There is a negative Yishuvim. I asked Miriam about how she came to Nofharim.
140 four years ago. We thought it was important to live in every part of Israel. We w ere somewhere near Ashkelon, in an educational area with lots of schools and yeshivot. Everything was great there. It was a beautiful place and there was a great community. We had a beautiful house. We both worked. But we wanted to do something else in our lives that would be important not just for us. We tried once to build yishuvim here. Finally, when we came we were fifty one years old! There was a reflected on the me evening. Our apartment was in the first block of houses, where each one is close to the the apartment be [evening prayers] and right after they prayers, they made an announcement that there was a new family and that everyone had to help out. So many people came to help! They made a line of people, passin g things from one to the other, right up to the second floor, until all was moved. That was the men. And women brought fruit and drinks for us. Someone yishuv imagine it. An women who have babies
141 is to live in all of Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel] I asked Miriam about life in Nofharim. accident in Jerusalem. For one year he was in the hos pital and in rehabilitation. In the very hard until finally he could leave. I traveled every day to Jerusalem to visit with him. I worked in the community center. I work ed and I did rotations with others. When he left the hospital, we had just built the house here. But he was in a wheelchair, and there was no road yet. Friends told us to return to Ashkelon, but David said that he finally had the merit to live here, so we you see the quality of life quali ty, after a while everything becomes so easy. I have no car or license. I tramp Jerusalem for four years. And I traveled every day, summer and winter with tramping Miriam related these even ts to me without complaint, as though it was all perfectly normal. Is her spirit that resilient, or has time erased the difficulties of this experience? Miriam must have noticed my surprised facial expressions because she responded to my thoughts.
142 schedule based on them. Afterwards, there were rotations for people who work in Jerusalem who would pick me up and take me home. They had to go in a circle, but they were already there in J Miriam went on to describe to me the support she received during those challenging years. Like many of the other women with whom I have spoken, she described the committees that organize food for women who g ive birth, childcare for parents who have to deal with sudden situations, and a whole slew of other forms of volunteered assistance. I asked Miriam if she takes part today in the activities of these committees. also had to help him. I had no time to like doing it and I really like them. I volunteer for such a group. understands everything. She comes every week and she walks well. There are also younger people who are older in their character, but younger in years. They come too. aged. They meet in Ofrah [a settlement right nearby]. They have lectures and tiyulim [trips] on history, geography, and other each participant pays, and
143 so I do the administrative part by collecting the fees, etc. That was what I did for work for many years so I k sowing, At tha t moment, two teenage boys came out of the room next to where we sat, in Miriam chatted with them briefly, and asked how much they charge for the job. They quickly respond ed with a sum that seemed rather arbitrary and not thought out. Miriam fished out the corresponding bills from her wallet, passed them the money, and wished them well as they walked out the front door. Sunday. Everyone here in the community does something that they know how to do. It hessed [charity, kindness] committee for women who give birth, for people who are sick. They help not just to bring food, but also to do dishes, to clean. So The conversation shifted and I asked Miriam what she likes most about Nofharim. cold, strong winds. But summer is much longer, and summer is unbelievable! Where we used to live this last statement, but it disappeared yishuv is really nice. So
144 have classes for women and men. And I re ally like the synagogue. Have you seen the aron kodesh [holy ark] When constructing a new building, the ceremony because they knew we wanted to live here. My husband thought that if we wanted to live here, we should give a donatio n to the synagogue of an aron kodesh Miriam stood up and walked around the small table where we were sitting. She reached up and pulled from the wall a framed collage of four photographs. The middle photograph showed a simple, elegant, wooden aron kodesh. The photographs on the side were close up shots of two cloth Torah mantles with embroidered Hebrew verses. memory of his parents. All the idea and compare other arons Afterwards he wrote a small book even hold a pen in his hand in the beginning! Afterwards he worked on the computer and did all the designs, without training, and gave it straight to the carpenter! Everyone lly, really special. It obviously makes me feel very connected to the yishuv minhag [custom] to write a Torah when someone
145 Miriam pointed to the other photog holidays, and the verse for this one is about making God king. The second one is dark e the olive tree which is very strong and stays for many with walker or wheelchair. Yet he wrote articles to C linton, and the Prime Minister, and Sept 1 st parents and sister. We li ved almost the entire time in Jerusalem. But from age kfar [village] I first left for my studies, to be a nursery teacher. After we got married we were in a moshav in the Negev agricultural peop le established it and the children of other moshavim and we lived there for five years. After there was a problem with the school for my daughter, a connection and s entimentality to the adamah [ground, earth]. We have garden outside, with trees, and I take care of it a bit. For me, a house of stone is amazing. It was my dream before. And thank God, I have it now! But also, the houses are like that
146 in Ramallah too. You have to have them built that way here because of the cold not the same now as it was. Jerusalem was smaller, with a totally different social experiences of fleeing Europe during the eve of WWII had an effect on her sense of belonging in a Jewish homel and. I asked her why her parents left Germany in 1939. and it was hard for our family to leave. At Christalnacht, he was arrested and imprisoned. And as soon as he was let out, we immediately left. It seems like everything ten months, and then we received a certificate to make aliyah lived on the second floor of building in the center of the city, beside the big market. The people who lived beside us sold watermelons. Every evening at seven there was curfe w. But, the British allowed one person to guard the watermelons. One night there Th
147 make suc h a balagan [chaos, mess]. In the middle of the night they would come into the house and look at things. They had sticks, and they would just hit things. We were three we Israeli town established in the Sinai Peninsula and evacuated in 1982 by Israeli forces when the area was returned to Egypt as part of the Israeli Egyptian Peace Treaty]. They also sent the people out like in Gush Katif. It was awful. It was about thirty y ears ago. Many people went out to help them. We too wanted her. Then there was Gush Emunim the started the movement to bring people here. We gave them money. A little, bu t not a lot. Every body gave a bit. David always went to help when he had time. We always wanted to go. Our son got married and he moved to a yishuv near Shiloh, not far from here. During Sukkot he came to us to visit, and there was a fight between him and my husband. David was always angry that American Jews fair, and people came to learn abo ut the different, new yishuvim in this area the ones that were already established. It was 1985. We went there. We went from table to table. We knew many of the names, but we wanted to know more details. That was in Sukkot. Throughout the winter we went to different yishuvim to see them. In the end, we decided
148 r. But I Nofharim, however, is really much closer to Jerusalem and therefore easier. We also I had to hat we do Nofharim when it was six years old not the beginning, but almost. We thought it was really important to come to build. We have the merit to have Eretz Yisrael so we have to do yishuv how it is beautiful. They just think about the Arabs beside us. In the beginning of the Intifada, miluim [soldiers on reser ve duty] were in Nofharim. On Shabbat they were
149 invited to eat at different families for the main meals. They noticed that these people that they build, they have homes, they are here are all sorts of people here. It was very important for the miluim to see this. Many of them kept the connections with the families who hosted them, even the miluim who are chilonim all in Ramallah. When we came, the Intifa when it was like that, when we were neighbors and friends. Also in the Galilee it is like situation where we could get along. Obviously not everyone loves everyone. I pray that God will give sehel [intellect] to the government to do the right thing. The problem is that in the Tanakh it is written that there will be a day when the whole world w ill come to Israel at the time of Artists draw pictures, and there are images in the prophecies of the prophets. But, I head. I mostly hope. If not us, then
150 better good things nowadays. When my husband was in such a bad situation, people asked I chatted with Miriam for a little longer and took pictures with her. Just as I was n with him about descriptions, I presume that David would have interjected often and passionately, as Dror did in my second conversation with Shoshana. He may have declared in a louder voice the strong ideologies that are part of the foundational structure of their lives in Nofharim, and he may have expressed more aggressive sentiments tow ards those who softness is an attribute of her femininity, or, if perhaps she is more gentle than her late husband because she was simply the more sensitive one in her m arriage. Nurit Nurit is different from the other women because she did not choose to join the community. Rather, she married into it, in a way, by marrying a widower who is one of
151 re, and her more distant perspectives are therefore enlightening. Her insider outsider balancing act is reflected in the way Nurit continuously weaves back and forth between close and nity. While she feels comfortable to a certain degree, she also repeatedly returns to the topic of her unease, describing the physical, religious, and cultural ways in which she feels that she features. She has fewer stakes in maintaining an imagination of tranquility and borders, and therefore, negatively charged events do not have to be smoo thed under a carpet of intentionally disregarded memories. As opposed to busy mothers who are ce of tainted social energies. mentions the claustrophobia of the fence. (And even for Nurit, a sense of space beyond this physical enclosure is outside her imagination.) With time, however, Nurit began to discern the thick web of connections between Nofharim and the larger Israeli modern orthodox world. In this regard, she progressively charts Nofharim as standard and ordinary, as a social suburb of Jerusalem, and thus as normal. At the same time, Nurit also describes the growing generational gap between religious Israelis her age, and the young couples and families that are flowing into settlements such as Nofharim. Across the modern religious world, she says, people are
152 becoming more rigid in their religious practices, and more narrow in their acceptance of demonstrates this increase in religious strictness, and also places Nofharim as just one more community with its dramas, conflicts, and eccentric personalities. dressed in a long, thick purple dressing gown. The strong morning sun is pushing its light thr ough the half open shutters. Both of us hold hot mugs of fresh coffee in our hands and the aroma swirls up into our nostrils. Nurit is in her sixties. Her dark eyes are full of life, and though she is quite short, her energy is boundless. Her cropped gray hair is styled and her clothes are always prim and fashionable more formal and business like than other women in Nofharim. She speaks English well, though at certain points in our conversation, especially where she became excited, she used Hebrew terms. I have translated some of them, and others I have left because the translation does not carry the full meaning. Nurit works as a mediator, and is now doing her MA part time in conflict management. She is also taking courses in law, which, she says, are ve ry helpful for museum in Jerusalem. Her parents were holocaust survivors, and she was born in Cyprus on their way to Israel as refugees after the war.
153 they met, Nurit lived in Jerusalem and Yehudah lived in Nofharim, and so when they got married, they constantly traveled back and forth. Nurit dug deep into her memories, but responded promptly, lingering over the he road and he showed me see all the yishuv It seemed to be a small place. I was curious. It was at night and it ly see the place. That was before we got married. Then, the first Shabbat I was here, I went around to see the place and I was surprised how small it is, how limited I was inside the fence. Wherever I went, there was a fence. But after a while, I also got a different perspective. On Shabbat, when I went to shul from other social circles, includin g my circles in Jerusalem, come here, often because they have children who have moved here. I realized that Nofharim is not so isolated, but When small places. But suddenly, the fact that Nofharim is not isolated, and that people come here la very difficult for me. I felt like I was torn from the city. My milieu is so different First of
154 are younger. There are not a lot of people here my age. People here also dress differently. Even though I hold right wing opinions, and the way I think abo ut politics is socially. But then suddenly, it was surprising to see people Nurit gestured through these reflective responses. I watched as she tried to articulate her rather complex feelings about living in Nofharim. On the one hand, it was clearly challenging for her socially because it was not an urban center, and because she has a rich social life in Jerusalem. But on the other hand, each time she expressed these negative sentiments, she again came back to her surprising discovery that Nofharim is not as socially isolated as she had thought. was surprising to see people from Jerusalem for two reasons. First, I was surprised because of the distance. I thought of Nofharim as something I was therefore surpri sed to find out that people who live in town, who are not extremists in their opinions, also have connections here. Meeting them blurred my image of third point is that there are a lot of people from the academic world who live in Nofharim. She thought for another moment, yet not for long. Once again, she returned to the t then [at the beginning], and for a long time after, that I dress differently. Everyone here dresses in a certain way. They all
155 used to come to shul dressed differentl y (which I would define as classical European style and with large hats), they would always look, or even say something. There is a it to be negative, but to say that it was different. But it sharpened the feeling that we dress differently, and also later, that we think differently. For example, I think differently about religious issues, about the place of women in Judaism, about femi organization in Israel], and here, they are not. They distance themselves from that. Another example almost all the women here of Kolech, that Kolech is fighting for wome women here who study Talmud. There is one woman who studies at Matan [a religious traditionally exclusive to male learning]. She has been studying Gemara for a few years already. She wanted to join a Gemara shiur [class] here in Nofharim for men. She was participate in th e Gemara shiur Sometimes people here express very extreme political opinions and it was difficult for me to hear it in the beginning. It was also very difficult for me to get used to the distance
156 seen before. I pointed Nurit turned back to me and continued her attempt to pinpoint the essence of both the positive and negative parts of her life in Nofharim a potpourri of issues, involving social, religious, political, and geographic differences and similarities. shul. Not only are women sitting on the secon d floor, separated, with a different entrance, high up (which already makes it hard to see and hear), but they also cover the Nurit returned to the subjec t of her social challenges, and elaborated further: yishuv they also looked at me as someone who came way it happens in a kibbutz and other places where people live together. I got this feeling that they view themselves very positively, they think well about themselves. You know how on Shabbat, if someone needs a place for guests, they ask and people give their empty apartments. In the beginning, I gave my apartment for Shabbat to a family I Kol hakavod kol hakavod I said to her that I was surprised. Do they think of
157 Bar Mitzvahs in city, and I have no one but friends in Jerusalem, and how do you think I hosted all my family for Sha They give rooms in their apartments! [act s of kindness] and mutual help. Yes. I never almost never ezra hadadit [collective responsibility], values about the importance of eretz yisrael they are in the way they think about religious authority, or in other such things. There was a family here that divorced, and everyone took a side they all blamed the woman because she wants to divorce, while the man became a tzaddik [righteous person]. But difficult for people to accept the divorce, and later, there was a fight because they thought a man (who was co rav [rabbi]. The community fought this man terribly the whole yishuv Most went out of their way to fight for the rav It was crazy. Certain ideas that are current in the religious society, hardali [strict r eligious, literally from the root of the Hebrew word for mustard] society, are especially strong in the settlements, more than in the city. Many are fundamentalists
158 in the way they think about rabbanim the rav belong here. I think what happens here is because they belong to the hardali group, it is felt stronger in yishuvim And also, because of the age they are younger. Pe ople who are sixty plus are much more moderate. And especially in town, where there is more pluralism, acceptance of other ways of thinking, where you find all kinds of attitudes. For nother locations. rabbanim as holy authority. For us, one rav is the last autho sometimes ad very
159 good relations. It stopped in the past few years because of the Intifada. I think Israel, a long time earlier, should have made a law that they belong here, that they be citizens. the yishuv and that everyone should lock their doors and darken their houses. I felt a little scared. But, just to compare to how I feel in town: when I walk home from the center of ery much know that the dangers are in the middle of the city, and here there is more separation She gestured towards herself with her hands, physically expressing her feeling of being closed that would be difficult for me to give up. I have a few friends, but the close fri ends we
160 and it was far. They also work in Jerusalem so that was inconvenient for them. And so they left. This family was one of the five families that established Nofhari m. While their children were here, they were very attached, but the moment the children left, they felt became very, very close to me in a way that I would feel it would be difficult to leave. I want to add that maybe we should take into account the stage in life. People here have their families; their married children live around even if they live outside the yishuv, when they come for Shabbat, the families are togethe Nurit explained the challenges of creating a social space for herself in such a family have to invite them for the whole Shabbat. I tried a few times to invite couples for Yehudah want to go to live in French Hill, and even Bakka [neighborhoods in Jerusalem]. It is very important to be here according to my political opinions, but since there are other aspects of life, like children and friends, and studies,
161 and filling my life with othe r things since there are others who want to be here, I feel my friends went to new places to build... and if I had had a feel you belong. But, I religious issues. daven [pray, in Yiddish] in a congregation where men and women sit on the same level. The separation is sitting sections, and there is a curtain not heavy, but one that you can see through. And also, women give drashot [sermons]. You understand the difference? What bothers d from two perspectives: religious, and social. The religious I told you. The social for example, I go to shul. I try to go every Shabbat. In Jerusalem, I would never skip. Why? Because people gather in a shul in the city, and you feel like you belong choose your shul according to who you feel good with. Here, there is one shul It is the central shul of the yishuv and almost everyone goes there, except for the Sephardim and Teimanim [Yemenite Jews] Whe mean? In the city, when I go to shul it also has the social aspect. I love to meet my
162 friends. But here, I meet ever to the intellectual level as well. Here in the shul you meet all types of people. In Nurit commented that I had probably not heard such criticism about the yishuv. Most people, she thinks, are careful to maintain a good appearance and present Nofharim as a successful, happy place. I reflected, and recognized that she was right to some degree, but I also noted that many women are in fa situation and story are dramatically different from those of most women in the yishuv. Nurit agreed, but asked, Nobody talked about how mishige [crazy, in Yiddish] the You need to speak with Yoheved [another resident of Nofharim who is now in her sixties]. She and her husband are idealists, and they came here out of a strong ideological will. They want to live here, but they were so frustrated with the whole story that w Nurit did not want me to record more about the divorce episode. Apparently it is a source of many negative emotions in the community. To change the subject, I asked her to elaborate on the contrast between fashion styles in the city and in Nofharim. shul here, I came with hats that I used to but at that time, the [urban] style was very formal classical, suits, elegan t hats. But here people would look significant for her since she was defined by another person as different from the other
163 dress the same. Here, everyone has these pieces of mat everyone in the same style. Now they have this new fashion with lace over the shirt, or short sleeves on top of long sleeves. Some women they go into a store and look for ho come from [national religious] communities, from other places they dress in ways that are similar is that all my friends are with skirts up to the knee. I walk around Bar Ilan University, and immediately, even from a distance. Here, however, there is a lot of talk about tzniut [modesty]. Today, people start a new fashion because they want to dress more questions. It becomes a sign of identification. Why does everyone look the same? You can be more creative! You can f a group in such a way. I belong to the [national religious] movement, but not in a way that is narrow, as I feel Yehudah walked into the kitchen and cut and non religious women dressed the same way. So religious girls they used to sit
164 and knit kippot [skullcaps] so that the boys knew that they were religious. That was their kippot and religious girls knitted kippot Nurit happens to groups who have to strengthen themselves. A few years ago, someone wrote a book a young known rav from the daati leumi [national religious] movement. He studied in yeshivot. He wrote a book about some of the negative aspects could wanted to re ad it. But when someone here borrowed the book from me, he took it in a angry. There are a few people in Nofharim who are more open. When I came to the university and I held this book actually, another book that this same journalist wrote a guy who studies with me from another yishuv tzitzit bahutz [fringes outsi de of his pants, often associated with more religious opinions and lifestyles] and he sees himself as very open minded, and not rigid. So he sees the book This is what a long time. They had eleven children. A few years before, the father went bankrupt. The economic situation for the family was bad but to add to this, one day he collapsed in the shul
165 People had to help. He had a friend with whom he used to study, and this friend also Yehudah interjected with a critical comment about this counselor help. He approached the rav time, the wife told him about diffic ulties between her and her husband. So he started to give her counseling, to be assertive. One Friday night, they say, she invited the police. She claimed there was violence not physical but emotional violence, something about the way he spoke to her. On e day she decided to leave and file for divorce. So the whole yishuv yishuv They told him not to counse l people who live in the yishuv but after she left, she yishuv but they said that she does belong to the yishuv It was a big argument. They told people not to be in touch with him, not to pra rav. He rav about me, and drive people away from me. The rav minyan so I have to go to ano ther yishuv rav for a one yishuv. rav so he wo fought him, but in such a way! Someone burned his car. They excluded the family. They directed people not to talk to his family or to give them a ride. They threw the kids out of B nai Akiva [the youth movement]. They fought anyone who was in touch with him. They
166 put signs up that he is not respecting a talmid haham refer to a great scholar]. One night, there was a general assembly in the shul T he rav spoke and everyone came, and he said to everyone, that we will not touch him because he had gone to the police, but instead to surround him and shout. And so, from 9:30 to it so they they would dance and blow the shofarot [ram hors], and bang pots, and create balagan [disorder] Some people sat beside his door and said tehilim [psalms]. Th ey threw eggs. left. Ultimately, they felt that this man was a threat because he was responsible for re already broken It was clear that Nurit agreed with neither side, but disagreed with the way the whole situation was handled. image They see divorce as the breaking of a fa mily, and that is threatening because they want everyone to be whole here. You need to speak to others. There are also people who Again Nurit returned to the other side of the coin, referring to the younger members of the yishuv. Shlomit Shlomit and her family moved to Nofharim several decades ago, in the early years, right after the community was first established. Nofharim offered her multiple conditions
167 that she desired, but to which she did not have access in Jerusalem, or in other towns in Israel during that period. In Nofharim, she could live amongst a religious community, as she dreamed, and she had the quiet, peaceful, rural life she valued. She could raise her kids in a middle class neighborhood, where they were accepted despite their dark skin. In Jerusalem, she and her husband would have had to stay in a lower class, non religious area, where neighbors repaired their cars o n Shabbat, and where values and behaviors of which she did not approve were modeled daily. Times have changed since Shlomit left Jerusalem, and today racial and class discrimination is barely felt. But when she and her husband Avraham looked for a better e nvironment for their growing family, they could not afford or were not permitted to purchase apartments in more religious, Ashkenazi, middle class areas in Jerusalem, or even in the suburbs. Only a new, blooming community on the geographic and psychic frin ge of Israeli development, like Nofharim, offered them the opportunities they sought despite their lower economic status and Yemenite Spanish origins. to this community is ima from Yemen in the early 1950s. For centuries, her ancestors in Yemen yearned to dwell in this land; for Shlomit, it is the historic, spiritual, and therefore natural home of Jewish people. Furt hermore, persecution is something Shlomit learned intimately from her given land of Israel, she is finally secure. She feels that she has nowhere else to go in the world, and therefore those who oppose her residence threaten her very sense of personal, familial, cultural, and religious safety.
168 Shlomit is another woman who represents contrasting emotions towards the Arab population. On a large scale, Shlomit is angry with those who engage in acts of terror. She is frustrated with the Arabs who fight against her claim to this geography. These conflict. In fact, she dreams of establishing a medical center of coexistence, where she could treat Arab patients from Ramallah and teach Arab practitioners, sharing her knowledge and skills. The funny thing about Shlomit is that though she moved to Nofharim for the communi to balance her professional role as an alternative health care practitioner and massage therapist, with intimate social relations, so she simply withdraws from the possibilities of close relationships. She is vivacious, gregarious, and boasts a large lipsticked mouth other women in Nofharim. Though one could speculate otherwise, I think that the social distancing is reflective of her distinctive character, and not the result of racial difference remoteness. A Tunisian woman with whom I spoke is also closely involved in her active circle of Nofharim friends. It was challenging to find a time to speak with Shlomit at length since she is so preoccupied with a steady stream of patients. On e evening, finally, she told me to come
169 distractedly. faced, cheerful, retired husband, in direct contrast to his wife, sat relaxed in a comfy chair across from the kitchen area, a dish towel in hand. The strong scent of cumin permeated the entire first floor of their cozy house, adorned with Middle Eastern s tyled hangings and trimmings. Avraham made hilbeh a Yemenite dip like dish from fenugreek seeds, and I inquired. hilbeh amed with delighted surprise. While Avraham prepared me a take home package, we talked about the fact that he makes Yemenite hilbeh despite his Spanish Jewish origi ns. Then he asked about what I was doing in Nofharim. Israelis have no clue! All our cousins, who live south of Tel Aviv, and up north they have no idea! When we first
170 simhas [celebrations]. They think we live Meanwhile, Shl omit had disappeared somewhere, and now came hurrying back into the kitchen to make herself some tea. She offered me tea as well, explaining that just cinnamon and honey makes for a very healthy drink. And the cinnamon, she further added, makes you digest On our way towards her office, carefully holding our hot, brimming mugs, Shlomit stopped to point out a large portrait high up on the wall. In the center was a tiny female face, and all around it was a confusing profusion of yellow, red, pink, and gold gaping in astonishment. F inally, after all the gastronomically related interruptions, we seated ourselves ointments, and numerous certificates, diplomas, and anatomy charts. The uncommon dark w ood ceiling and the thick stone walls added to the sense that we had gone succeeded in getting down to the subject. Shlomit was in good s pirits too. knew that in the city there are things that are not good, and that my children would see yishuv I grew up in a moshav with a ga rden, and close to my school. So we looked for a yishuv close to Jerusalem, especially since my parents
171 to the colder winter. That was really hard. There was snow, even and the houses or electricity. The Arabs gave us electricity and water, but there were often breaks. It was so cold. No insulation. Did you know, they brought the houses from Yamit [the Israeli settlement in the Sinai peninsula that was evacuated and handed over to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace treaty]! The houses were appropriate to the climate there I asked about their experiences as one of the first non Ashk enazi families. he world. he d friends in the yishuv private. Also shuk [marketplace].
172 m such a busy, talkative, outgoing People come to me from all over the country. When people come for medical issues, I orget Our conversation shifted back to their first few years in Nofharim. like vegetable and even shoes, in Ramallah. It was fun because we are somewhat far from Jerusalem, but there were stores even cheaper than Jerusalem! We could just go fear of us, that Israelis could do something bad
173 For Shlomit, the nostalgia was for the lost sense of adventure. Shopping in Ramallah had been fun, something different, and also convenient. She related the following story, with much amusement: that time, I always went aro und with a kefiye [a traditional Arab headscarf]. I liked it. It used to be that mitpahot way they used to be sown, so I preferred the kefiye. and I was driving the danger of the situation, the unusualness of her behavior and character, and her in Arabic. H e was shocked! His jaw just dropped! There I was with this kefiye and speaking in Arabic, yet going to Nofharim! And you know, because of my brown skin, I this suburb, wit to do with himself! He probably came from Tel Aviv or something. The shock on his kefiye
174 it. But all those [Jewish religious] women today with those constructions on their heads! Shlomit prides herself on being different from the women around her. I wondered if this attitude led to her become socially separate, or, alternatively, if she stressed her individualism and independence in order to sustain her detached deportment in the community. I asked Shlomit for mo re stories from those early years. Right before, there was a woman from Nofharim who had a stone thrown in her eye. We gave the prime minister the stone, with the date of the inc ident written on it. Shamir [the prime minister] was ok. He was a real Zionist, and he was a real leader. Today, there government member who ca me to Nofharim. He wanted to visit a home here, one with many young children. He wanted to see how they live in those little apartments that are so cramped. I ran over to prepare food and drinks for his visit. He came, and he promised to do things here. Bu t the next day, he died! The residents in Nofharim were anyone for anything. In tehilim [psal ms] of David it says not to place your trust even in
175 The phone rang and Shlomit answered it quickly. After hanging up, we returned to my initial question. reason why we came to Nofharim was for the education of my eretz yisrael. settlement. It wa built it. The government gave permission for construction, and they gave mortgages to people, like everywhere else. I wanted my kids to see Shabbat. What it Shabbat? My son he would see people heading out to go to the sea on Saturdays. He would see Jerusalem [a specific area that was built in the 1950s to house Jewish immigrants from Arab countries] with v move to the more religious areas. The model here, in contrast, is people who observe and respect the Shabbat. Everyone goes to synagogue. There are religious activities. They censure things, and they are careful about what is presented. The performances raise my children in a certain environment. What do the Jews do in Brooklyn? The same thing! They l ive in their own areas. I sold my house in Jerusalem to come here. I lost in Shlomit explained to me the sacrifice she made, a sacrifice primarily for the sake ion.
176 was even asked to come to Switzerland! My husband used to be a teacher in a town criteria to move there. We could have perhaps afforded a house in an ultra orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem, but places, sometimes even today. My parents are from Yemen, and they came by foot. It took them ten months to travel to Israel. They arrived in Aden [a seaport city in Yemen] hould come here. Anti understand that. The absurd thing is that the Jew comes from Yemen, after having been for more than two thousand yeas in galut [exile], but when he comes, he kno ws Hebrew. How did he know? If an Ashkenazi man sits with a Jew from Yemen and they talk about the weekly portion of the Bible, the twenty that with the Yeminite Jews. Because of the history, they were like ambassadors, maintaining the language. They still spoke Hebrew. Today, I can speak with a Jew who came from Yemen two months ago! Did you hear about the two boys who ran away through the Eretz yisrael
177 lem Hate of eretz yisrael that is important. Are the Bedouins not stealing government land? The government makes Shlomit sat back to calm down for a moment, the Jews come, they bring priha [prosperity, development], and so the Arabs want it too. But they hate us. To be a citizen, one must accept the existence of the country. Wherever they have lived, the Jews helped the govern ments of their countries. They contributed to the culture. Here, the Jews give the Arabs money and work. I grew up in an old moshava. I knew an old woman whose husband worked in the field and had an Arab worker. He lived there with them and ate there. One husband. It seemed that he had gone to check the water, but when he got there, the Arab killed him and another man. They [the Arabs] put on the clothes of being intelligent that woman telling us this, and eretz yisrael because I want a re ligious education for my children, and because I grew up in a place that was anti
178 socialism! When I meet people outside of the Kol hakavod katyusha [rockets] on their heads! This place is strategic, eretz yisrael It is written it is promised to Avraham. Their [Arab] certificate of land title says that the villa is theirs since four hundr ed years ago, they want to live here, they can stay in Sitting back again, Shlomit tried to be more sympathetic, however her frustrations s naively, but apparently this body language means something utterly different in this part Twenty minutes before, Shlomit had been expressing nostalgia for the days when she could shop in Ramallah at Arab stores when there were positive relations, and when there was not even a fence. Those earlier sentiments did not, in any way, foreshadow the anger and frustration that then followed. And yet, both these sets of
179 As we moved to the topic of her work, Shlomit again expressed her desire for peace and coexistence, as though suddenly all the mistrust and indignation had disappeared. Syndrom since then has developed an approach of mental and physical exercises that is proving gre to speak about and teach her unique and exciting approach. Shlomit emphasized that since her practice is based here, all these miracles happen here in Nofharim. Then she to taught Arabs from the north of Israel. I wanted to establish a treatment center for kids Fund. I really wanted to do it. Ho can help people. I want to give my knowledge and experience... I hope one day there Michal Micha l, unlike the other women I met with for this project, does not live in Nofharim. She grew up there, but left in her 20s and now resides with her boyfriend in a neighborhood in Jerusalem. She is no longer part of a religious society, though she is still co nnected to aspects of the religious way of life in which she was brought up. As accept all the daily strictures.
180 Michal is currently doing her MA in philosophy, and she teaches philosophy and Hebrew language. She is short with chin length reddish brown hair. She is serious, patient, and highly self reflective. Her smile is shy, but it stretches across and her round, freckled face. Her pants and wooly sweater were in warm, earthy tones the morning we met at her apartment. She also has a cat that periodically tried to join our conversation. I wanted to speak to Michal about her perspectives on Nofharim, with her particular geographic and emotional distance. She visits about once a month, since her mother still lives there, but she is otherwise disconnected from that world. Interestingly, in her conversation with me, she went back and forth between references to Nofharim including or excluding herself from the community in Nofharim, and settlers in general. On the one hand, they are familiar family friends who are nice, generous, and welcoming. They are just normal people. But on the other hand, their political and ideolog ical views could not be further from her own. Michal thoughtfully traces the challenging contours of this personal, inner tension. Michal also highlights the theme of perception, and lack of perception. For her, the simple absence of education and awarene ss of Arab others is a critical issue in the growing political conflict. Her childhood memories poignantly reveal the complexity of the situation, and illustrate the inadequacy of polarized, black and white representations. when I was about four and I lived there until the age of twenty three or twenty four. In the middle, I left for a year of sheirut leumi [national service] and then midrasha [intensive religious study], but i t was my home base even through those years. When
181 we went, Nofharim was about six years old. I have a bit of memory about the place yishuv was on the lower part of the hill. We played with our neigh bors a lot from school or nursery. I remember that being in grade two was really fun because it was the last year girls and boys were together in the same classes. We also did fun activities all the time. From grade three and on, I went each day to Ofrah [a settlement nearby]. I remember taking the bus. Until the Intifada, we drove through Ramallah, and that was such an experience. We would drive past the mosque and watch all the people sitting outside playing sheshbesh [Middle Eastern version of backgamm on]. There was this one family with albinism that es we would make faces. I was never scared. We were taught that there was tension, but we also had a feeling of connection. After the Intifada began, they built the new road, and that was it. Then there was true he growth of the yishuv Whenever a new family arrived, we would invite them over or bring them cake. The dynamics, at least in the beginning, were that everyone knew the other and were concerned about the other. It was recognized that anyone new who came would be welcomed. There was a lot of hospitality almost every Shabbat when I was older, I realiz ed how much effort and energy was involved to worry about
182 all. For me, it took too much energy and diminished our privacy. When I was older, I recognized that it was meaningful for my mother, but I also felt that it was too much. In our family, my father was sick for a long time, and people really helped us. We received owe a that I asked Michal to elaborate on t his tension her sense of gratitude to the her mother was always occupied with hosting and assisting others. of kid. I was quite introverted, in my own world. For me, my involvement was more through my parents. Kids in my age group they would recou nt how they helped with all sorts of things in the yishuv ted myself, into my own world, so I communal activity bothered me sometimes for Shabbat to prepare this or that, to host
183 kollel [full time program of Jewish legal and textual study, normally for men]. There were two pa rallel national religious kollels one in the Golan, in Hispin, because this is also an ideologically important place, and one in Nofharim. The one in the Golan closed, so we went to Nofharim. As kids, they instilled in us the importance of being there, t hat this was part of the reason to move there. We felt that. Ideologically, we felt that we were helping all of Eretz Yisrael because we were beside Ramallah, because we were a presence for the army base. We were taught that our living there was important for the whole country. Our education stressed the political and ideological messages. All the discussions about Oslo and the demonstrations against it were an important part of Michal looked m anything. Today I see it from afar. It was less that they said bad things through their towns things at leas t is a form of recognition. But there was a total lack of recognition, a problem with that system of education see the situation, that the
184 of day to seeing them. It of course depends on the family. There are people who are very extreme in their erms of to on the school bus, and there was snow. The bus had to stop, and we had to get on another bus. When we got off the first bus, all sorts of Palestinian kids came and started to throw snowballs. I remember that incident really well because it was one of the only times that there was a real connection between us. We would drive through each day we would see them she added.
185 Sh towards the Palestinians. In Nofharim, many are not radically against the Palestinians, yishuv eretz yisrael is ours. se!), and also at the Shabbat table. They were always stating the importance of being there. That where they lit a big torch, and there was always a discussion about eretz yisrael After Gush Katif, they spoke about Gush Katif, and hitnahaluyot [settlement, usually in the medinat yisrael [the he country, moshavim and kibbutzim y ones who Some kibbutzim are also like that. They see themselves as the most important in the establishment and development of the eretz yisrael. yishuv but yes, there is a phenomenon of process, of becoming more radical. I think more fanatic. The families that came when I was younger were educated, really nice,
186 a bit different and more religious because my father learned in the kollel so in Bnai Akivah I was the most religious kid. Bu t with time, people have become a lot more religious and also more ideological. For example, there is a woman we know who was like family. She was religious, but not extreme at all. Yet, through the years, she has eretz yisrael between us and the Palestinians means that people have to explain and define themselves, and they become more politically radical as well as more religious. To be against something makes you become more extreme, and it makes you define yourself as separate. In political arena, with the right and left, and also with regar ds to the religious and secular, everything seems more extreme today. For example, in Nofharim, there are women who have started to wear head coverings. Women who used to not cover their hair now put something on. There also used to be women who wore pants I see families who I knew becoming more religious, in terms of their strictness to halakha Before a moment passed, she launched with fe rvor into another example. tehilim [psalms] all the time! And they have these meals together where they perform many blessings. They try to bring more and more religious acts into their daily lives. The increase in political ideo logy is also not specific to Nofharim. The signs along the road to Nofharim, about Meir Kahana [a militant Israeli
187 political figure], about demonstrations, about support for Migron [the illegal settlement trampim I hear discussions about needing to be like this or that. There always was such extreme ideas were directed against the Arabs, but now there are also such ideas against the government. There is this notion that the g overnment is pursuing or chasing the settlers. During the disengagement, they talked about that a lot. You see, before, when soldiers used to come, we always felt that we were on the same side. But after the disengagement, there began this impression that the settlement movement is not only in opposition to the Arabs, but also working against the army and the police. Now disengagement was an important turning point. There was always a feeling that In the second Intifada, w hen they shot on Nofharim that was stressful. That was an experience of real fear. There was also a period when people [Arabs] would come into the yishuvim at night, break into a home, and kill a family. There was a period when it happened a lot. Many pe ople were also shot as they were driving along the roads, and go anywhere. When I left to do sheirut [national service], I was scared about returning
188 home, and worried about my family. But there was no chance they would have left. People get used to things. And people there were a lot less scared than people outside. They are so connected to the place! Moving them would have been like planting something, taking it out, grow. My mother trained in any profession, connected to my fath person who can open a new life for herself. My mother lives alone, but very much in the brother studies at Otniel [a yeshiva in the West Bank]. One of my sisters also lives in a My parents were more dossim the idea of the importance of mitzvoth [commandments]. I grew up in an environment with separation between women and men. It is also a question about how much one is exposed to or know present themselves. For example, my mother wants
189 travel there, to see all those signs along the road, the experience (and challenges!) of finding way they think not just what people believe, but the way they think be in a space that is politicall become aware, I feel estranged. I feel more about the situation sadness, and a and polit want icated Another story: They live downstairs from my mother. Once, they wan ted me to come get something.
190 helped our family so much. Yet, their ideas are so extreme. On the personal level, in relations with the person themselves, I can feel connected and close to them. But then meal, and I felt that I owed the m so much because of all the help and support they have given us. a nd I know her words, as though she was actually speaking to herself, trying to comprehend and ple, tension between getting close and hearing their stories, versus viewing from a distance, looking critically, and noting the bad. And a lot of the time, there is such a conflict within y may move to Nofharim,
191 but they still may teach in the university, or engage in secular professional work, etc. They speak the language of the majority, yet they also have a language within their smaller group that is not understood by the larger majority Michal summed up all she had said, about the Israeli Palestinian issue in the West Bank, as well as the religious lack of knowledge on all sides, from ev for Michal. Yet, there is something so very true about her assessment, rooted in the honesty of her individual experiences and sincerity of her personal tensions.
192 CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS Much of th e ethnographic literature on Jewish communities in the West Bank portrays an image of fundamentalist groups and their unusual, extremist lifestyles. Until recently, most of this literature was represented in The Fundamentalism Project published in a serie s of five volumes in 1991. Each article in these volumes, that aims to cover the topic of fundamentalism in Jewish society, discusses Gush Emunim, a political movement in the 1970s that aspired to establish settlements in the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights. Most of these examinations of Gush Emunim portray the members as radical religious extremists, and with the assumption that the organization represents all settlers. Recent representations in academia as well as public discourse continue to r eproduce this view, and only a minimal number of scholars have begun to interrogate these stereotypes. From my own ethnographic research, the socio political group of Gush Emunim fell apart more than two decades ago, and those who live in the settlements t oday do not affiliate with any such organization nor feel represented by one. Perpetuating conventional descriptors reinforces a vague, modernist project, and with terms th at cannot contain the heterogeneity and complexity of this diverse, dynamic population. Definitions and Categories Israeli anthropologist Gideon Aran begins his article, in the first volume of The Fundamentalist Project with the following introductory se ntences:
193 During the mid 1970s, public attention in Israel turned to a band of skullcapped and bearded young men, assault rifles on their shoulders and rabbinic texts in their hands. They spent their nights in the territories conquered and administered by the Israeli Defense Forces since the 1967 war. There they skillfully outmaneuvered or aggressively attacked soldiers and then compelled them to join in an ecstatic Hasidic dance. Joined by their wives and numerous babies, they pitched tents as they repeate d the Other articles, in further volumes of The Fundamentalist Project present the Gush Emunim side by side with the ultra Orthodox hassidim Jewish fundamentalism in the 20 th Century. Again a nd again, the Gush Emunim fundamentalists are painted as religiously motivated eccentrics, charismatic messianists, without sign of moderation, and willing to engage in violence for the sake of ultranationalism. American so ciologist Samuel Heilman in understand the significance of the present moment, and see ho w past and future are secularism, to ground it in the 1990s, in contrast to the previous two decades of aggr essive endeavors, their actions more often take the form of defense or protest (190). Israeli political scientist, Eliezer Don Yehiya, also writing in Volume Four, describes a distinctively nuanced perspective, different from the other contributors:
194 The settlers in the occupied territories are an increasingly heterogeneous group from an intellectual and even a religious point of view. Many settled in the Territories not for ideological reasons but because homes were cheaper and the quality of the ex urban or suburban life was deemed superior. Most of the residents are not religiously observant much less religious fundamentalists, especially in the larger settlements. In the smaller settlements [in contrast], especially those deepest in the occupied territo ries and closest to dense Arab populations, most of the settlers are religious Jews, many of them graduates of the nationalist yeshivot (286). is generally characterized by intolerance toward outside society. Some times such an attitude generates a politically revolutionary radicalism that hopes to destroy the sinful society and its regime by use of force and replace it with a religiously pure state. The passive approach of the Jewish tradition forecloses so radical a solution (295). Many of the founders of the Gush Emunim project, Don Yehiya explains, combine vering the spiritual light within Zionism and transforming it into a force shaping Jewish society and Because they view Jewish national state building as a spiritual activity, the founders of Gush Emunim could not assume radical revol utionary activities used by other zealous religious groups, and they rejected the violent enterprises of the The authors in The Fundamentalism Project rely upon a defined category of the fundamentalist o ther, conceptualized as distant and even exotic. Responding to these chapters, Israeli scholar Shlomo Fischer argues: the picture that emerges from these descriptions is that of a group which is wholly Other to that of enlightened, rational empirical mode rn thought that proceeds by subjecting ideas to rational criticism and empirical testing and that is quite ready to alter its views and notions according to the outcomes irrational (ap ocalyptic, mythological, subject to charismatic authority),
195 absolutist and totalistic (not to say totalitarian) and hence rigid and not subject to change or even negotiation (2007: 11). Fischer suggests, therefore, to shift the way we think about modernit y, and recognize that its basic cultural and institutional characteristics do not necessarily lead to a liberal, benign or emancipatory social order. They can lead to such an order but there can be and have been other outcomes as well. If we think about m odernity in this fashion, then what extent resurgent and political religious movements and regimes share characteristics with modern regimes and even to what extent they bear the c ultural and institutional characteristics of modernity (17). Provocatively, Fischer further argues that fervent and swayed by charisma can only strengthen the endeavor o n the part of the Israeli secular mainstream (which to one degree or another most Israeli academics belong to) to establish a clear distance between e the articles in The Fundamentalism Project focuses on the modern theme of self expression amongst what he terms, radical religious Zionism in Israel. To do this, he looks at the relationship between radical religious Zionist thought and the realms of em otion, individualism, and personal creativity (42). He further shows how predictions in the 1990s among social scientists, that radical religious Zionism would only become more extreme, have not transpired (44). As an example, he presents the case of Gush Katif, where the majority of rabbis and leaders in fact prohibited violence, and continuously committed themselves to democratic parliamentary rule, even if they disagreed with its decisions (50). religious Zionists, as he describes this category. By concentrating rigorously on the
196 writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (which deeply influenced the settlement movement), further religious Zionist philosophies that have since emerge d, and the male attended yeshivot where these ideas are read and studied, Fischer paints a picture where all settlers are profoundly affected by the mystical and spiritual writings that inspire the settlement movement. I do not disagree that these philosop hies and ideas have been significantly influential to the establishment of settlement communities, however, at the individual level, they may not play as dramatic a role as Fischer portrays. In Nofharim, the women with whom I spoke never mentioned Rabbi A. I. Kook, nor any of his followers. Most are certainly familiar with the main ideologies, but as women, they never studied at the religious Zionist yeshivot to which Fischer frequently refers. Secondly, on a practical level, most of these mothers of relati vely large families simply do not have the time to spend reading and discussing such intricate political and religious ideas. Thirdly, the population of Nofharim, like the population of most established settlements in the West Bank, is not made up of the s ame type of people as the small yeshiva towns and illegal hilltops. The latter, the ones that Fischer cites, are often inhabited by politically and religiously engaged rabbis, students, and other ideologically motivated individuals. Some of these small gro ups believe in extreme ideologies that have no room for compromise or contradictory Arab narratives, and it is these people who sometimes take violent measures to maintain or even extend their grasp on land. Unfortunately, the ugly aggression of their acti ons and convictions is all settlers. Yes, there are radical extremists in the West Bank, people who perpetrate violence against Palestinians, and even left wing Israelis who do not value the spiritual
197 significance of their biblical land. However, I would like to argue that those who engage in such brutality, and those who believe such hateful ideologies, are not the majority, even in the West Bank. Unfortunately, ethnography like the media has too commonly depicted the vociferous behaviors of these zealous characters on the fringe, to the exclusion of anyone else. Ironically, the literature on the fundamentalism of settlers was meant to deconstruct the divisions between east and west, betw een religious and secular. Yet, argue Joyce Dalsheim and Assaf Harel (2009), binary formulations are ultimately reproduced, pitting the religious settler against the secular liberal Israeli (220). Like Fischer, Dalsheim and Harel assert that representatio ns of settlers not only portray religious settlers as categorically moral legitimacy for those writing against the settlers. They reaffirm a moral high ground for Israelis by inscribing a deep division between Israel inside its internationally recognized borders and its settlements in the post 1967 occupied territories (219). However, Dalsheim and Harel are unique to point out that Gush Emunim began to lose strength right at t he time when and these outdated representations fail to take account of the diversity within the religious settle r population, as well as the similarities between Jewish settlement on both sides of the Green Line. Dalsheim and Harel have both lived in Israeli left wing, liberal communities, and both are now working as anthropologists in the U.S.A. The conclusion of t heir article proposes a pertinent point of view, especially considering their personal backgrounds: If we find historical connections and continuities between the left and right, secular and religious practices of Zionism, and we find one set of practices
198 morally problematic, does that result in undermining the moral legitimacy of intense virulence expressed toward religiously motivated right wing settlers by members of the acade my who identify with the secular or liberal left, the problem of living together with significant differences remains. It may be this moment of discomfort that maintains these depictions, but such representations do little to enhance our understanding or t o open new spaces in which to imagine possible futures. Perhaps more than anything else, the challenge remains to come to know those others many of us love to hate, to know them in their full humanity and come to face to face with the dilemmas and contradi ctions inherent in such knowledge (233). Dalsheim (2011), more recently, further develops these points. Hegemonic discourse surrounding the conflict, she argues, marginalizes nuances, presents a looks at Israelis on both sides of the political spectrum during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005. located less in their differences than in a desire to differ entiate The appearance of incommensurable discourses in conflict conceals continuities and commonalities among these Israelis who are all part of the settler project in Palestine and who are all subject to the disciplining processes of state rationality. The appearance of deep differences and conflict enables settler colonial practices to continue throughout Israel and the occupied territories while maintaining a sense of moral legitimacy for the Zionist project as a whole through denoun cing and delegitimizing religious settlers (5 6), precisely this foundational commonality that produces a particular anxiety and actually fuels the antagonism between th among the Israeli left who are driven by an anxiety of losing their right to a sovereign state. Provocatively, Da lsheim questions secular liberal humanism among left wing Israelis as well as those abroad, asking why such exerted efforts are made to
199 understand and defend radical Muslims and their acts of violence, yet no such endeavor is attempted for the case of sett lers (26; Chapter 9). Through ethnographic analysis, Dalsheim interrogates the stereotypical image of the settler. She comments on the absence of non Ashkenazi settlers from popular and academic representations, despite their statistically significant numb er (94). Similarly, attracted to economic opportunity yet, at the same time, do not see any moral problem with their new locale of residence (104). Settlers, she also s uggests, may be not as ideologically certain as they are assumed to be. Demonstrating with discrete examples, she shows how settler ideologies can also involve patience, compromise (106), and areas that cannot be known or controlled (114); more boldly, she writes that incomprehension of religious belief on the part of the secular anthropologist could fit comfortably into neat, pre assumed categories are most often not heard and dismissed (138), Dalsheim says, and she therefore calls for scholars to pay heed to marginalized voices, especially D Nofharim. In contrast with common representations, the women I spoke with do not fit of cu ltural backgrounds, a range of religious and political outlooks, and a multiplicity of reasons for making Nofharim their home community.
200 Hadas Weiss is a third anthropologist who has assessed the Jewish settlements with a more nuanced outlook. Like Dalshei m, she argues that some people become settlers for reasons other than the mere political, and that it is because of the forces of normalization that they become implicated in political projects (2011a: 113). Tracing the history of changing values and growi ng capital regulation, Weiss describes settlement establishment as a form of state and private investment, initially aimed to ease the population pressures in the main centers of Israel (39), affording would be settlers the possibility of ascending to a c omfortable middle class life, combining improved prospects (better schools, private homes, prescreened like minded neighbors, local sources of income) with easy dismissal of ostentatious display. Release from the pressures of conspicuous consumption and mi nority status in secular society allowed religious nationalists to infuse their children with self worth that was independent of their financial and social standing in Israel at large (37) According to Weiss, the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, and events leading up to this community piety and asceticism (38). Yet, despite this sensitive analysis, Weiss still relies on the model of the settler as other, and, in addition, he r economic framework seems to go a little too far. She outlines an impression of these subjects of nts, making religious 124, n11), she nevertheless blurs the values and ideals of th ese very different populations (2011b: 42). At the time of writing, a heated discussion began over a liberal, religious Jewish listserve to which I subscribe. A day before, a church in Israel had been defaced by a
201 Jewish extremist group. The perpetrators are a group of radical Israelis who carry out aggressive and often violent responses to settlement demolitions by Israeli security forces, or retaliations for Palestinian terror attacks. The victims can be Palestinians, left wing I sraelis and peace groups, or the Israeli police and military. One member of the group, a high school teacher in the U.S., wrote an email response was written by another member, a published Jewish scholar, also from the U.S.: This is indeed very disturbing and unacceptable behavior, but I'm curious about the subject heading of your e mail. You seem to assume that all such disgusting acts are perpetrated by "settlers." (Incidentally, I am beginning to wonder, in the aftermath of other e mails on this list, whether "radical settlers" is meant le'apuqei [to exclude] other "settlers" or whether the word "radical" is simply being used to describe "settlers" in general -I will read generously, though, and assume that you mean this term to limit the more general group of "settlers.") Unless you have more information about the actors in these cases than the article mentions, I can't imagine how you've come to that conclusion. In fact, in one case where the article mentions that a suspect was identified, that person is from Jerusalem (I'm assuming that you don't mean to characterize all residents of Jerusa lem as "settlers") I can only assume that everyone on this list is opposed to acts such as this, and I assume that just about everyone that I know, if not everyone that I know, on both sides of the Green Line is against this as well. We should certainly th ink how we might support the nurturing of a more civil society in Israel, but I am quite sure that blaming "settlers" for every woe that besets Medinat Yisrael [the State of Israel] is not the way to create a more civil society. It's certainly not the way to find and sustain partners in our holy work. 1 Following a stream of further emails on the subject by other members of the listserv, many in defense of the high school teacher, the scholar wrote again: 1 Email to listserv. Feb. 23, 2012.
202 My intention was certainly not to distract from impor tant questions but to raise what I believe is an additional important issue, important both on the ethical plane and on the strategic plane. That is, separate from the fact that it is wrong to caricature, stereotype, or marginalize a subset of our people ( or anyone else, but in this case we are talking about our brothers and sisters), I believe that a lot of the discourse about "settlers" has the effect of driving a wedge between different groups who could well be partners in the work that many of us believ e is important. It's not just liberal Jews who bring flowers to burnt places of worship; a little over a year ago, a group of leading rabbis from West Bank communities and yeshivot brought copies of the Koran to a torched mosque with words of peace and con demnation of the torching. It is not defensive to point out the unfounded assumption in the subject heading of your post, an assumption that I thought reflected a tendency that I have noted elsewhere on this list of stereotyping and of an us versus them w ay of seeing Jews who live on the other side of the Green Line. Unfortunately, there is enough prejudice and hatred to go around on both sides of that line. If we seek to be people who fight against prejudice and hatred, then we ought to be doubly careful about our own ways of using language and images so as not to increase hatred and prejudice and so as not to marginalize or alienate others who seek peace and justice. 2 I quote this exchange because it shows one dialogic example of how settlers are perceive d in the public arena, how the theoretical conversations about definitions and identities in the academic realm that I sketch above are talked about in the everyday. The scholar respondent, who I have quoted at length, is also exceptionally reflective abou t this subject a topic that emerges frequently, yet is rarely probed, in a wide variety of social, political, and religious settings. As the scholar respondent asks, is the writer of the first email referring to those settlers that are radical, or is he implying that all settlers are radical? From the context, I think that the answer is closer to the latter. Certainly, many argue that simply residing in the occupied territories is itself radical and represents a deeper, structural violence against Palesti nians. However, this reasoning generally discounts the strong spiritual 2 Email to listserv. Feb. 25, 2012.
203 motivations that drive many settlers to live on this land motivations that do not exclude an acceptance of Arab residence on the same territory. Ultimately, as the second writer note s, painting all ed. dialogue and consideration. Female Settlers I would like to argue that most of the women in my study are not radical, extreme, or violent. Some may feel angr y towards Arabs for allowing terrorists to flourish in their midst, but they do not hate them, nor would they engage in violence. Though I cannot feel of zealousness or militancy. Perhaps part of it is that they all seem to be to o busy getting on with their lives. The scant literature on female settlers tells a different story. The descriptions are of women who organize their hours and motions with the foremost intention of settling this land. Brutality and stubborn determination constitute more than acceptable means in such a righteous pursuit. Tamara Neuman (2004), for example, writes about charismatic mothers in Hebron who use their maternal identities to subvert the political element of radical settlement activity, and replace it with the sentimental. But Neuman, an anthropologist, has chosen a famously extreme and dramatic site for her fieldwork. The women I spoke with in Nofharim are dramatically less involved in the settlement project, day to day, and I doubt they would parti cipate in any of the dangerous and ostentatious events that Neuman lists.
204 Israeli anthropologists Gideon Aran and Tamar El Or (1995) tell the story of Rachelim, a settlement established by protesting mothers in the memory of Rachel, a woman from the settle ments who was killed with her three children in a terrorist attack. Aran and El Or read this spontaneous and unusual event as an example of both feminist and fundamentalist actions. The women temporarily left husbands and multiple children at home, creatin violent demonstrations were more appropriate than male force and aggression (73). But they are fundamentalists, the authors assert, because: The full realization of the experience of motherhoo d would mean evacuation of the territories, or at least an acknowledgement of the contradiction conflict. Other women in Israel face a similar problem. A mother in Tel Aviv can also b e said to be undertaking unnecessary risks in the interest of realizing a given social goal life in an independent Jewish state. If this mother does not believe in a totally national narrative, she may experience the contradiction between her two tasks a nd acknowledge the fact that her life in Israel poses a continuous threat to herself and her children, as well as a threat to the Palestinians. The women of Rachelim cannot live this f a messianic, religious, radical dream through feminist practice (74). I think that most Israeli mothers avoid the tension Aran and El Even the very left wing peop loyal to the state, you know that the state is more important than your life. Would we call him [a soldier in the army] radical? I think everyone, living everywhere, knows that he is And where is the dividing line between risk taking for a national state (allowing your son to fight in the army, as one example), and risk taking in order to fulfill a life of spiritual meaning?
205 I wonder if th e women in Nofharim who I met participated in the demonstrations for Rachelim. None ever mentioned it. Most of them, I think, would not have risked nights in the cold, away from their families. They do not believe in such sacrifices. At the same time, the murder of Rachel and her children was an event that lay too close to home for organized protests against such violence. Aran and El Or conclude that the demonstrations fo strength from an authentic feminine and maternal experience, could not be expressed, because it was held captive by a fundamentalist religious worldview in which peace is understood the authors correctly, worldview, is the acceptance of real risk; with the former, individuals will undertake uncertain and even dangerous chances in order t o realize the path towards their notion of utopia. One could argue that the women who founded Rachelim were taking significant risks and engaging in extreme actions but are all settlers such risk takers? What if the women genuinely believe that the vigil ant safety of their community outweighs the slim chances of terror attack, for example? Do they qualify as fundamentalists? When I asked Racheli if she sees herself as sacrificing, to live in Nofharim, she told me, dangerous. Really, the whole south is in danger from rockets. The north is in danger from missiles from Lebanon. Tel Aviv is in seriously. Going downtown worries me so muc h more. [God forbid] there
206 could be a terror attack. We were just there a week ago and there was a hefetz hashud Another woman who I had spoken to expressed thoughts along a similar line. When I asked her if she was afraid after two of her cousins died in terror attacks, she Jerusalem, or even Tel Aviv. There are also too ma ny car accidents. So why should I be A recent write up in the online Jewish magazine, Tablet presents a portrayal of reports on female students fr om a high school in a small hillside settlement. Text and an accompanying photo slide illustrate the young women as hippy dressed political radicals who physically engage in the fight for settlement expansion. The photographs are both gorgeous and disturbi ng: attractive, nose ringed, nail polish sporting, high boot wearing teenagers are seductively posed against the stunning natural beauty of the Judean these descri ptions. Values of modesty and humility are too robust, and more critically, people seem to be too preoccupied with the daily routines of their individual lives. and alters i ts power to act upon the real locutionary acts, which, repeated, become think, has b ecome a form of conceptual institution. Through this study, I try to interrogate and complicate this established perception.
207 Day to day Existence The case of Nofharim is only one example, but I would like to argue that, in many respects, it can stand for m ost established settlements that abide by Israeli law. If we take scissors and cut the map along the security fence surrounding Nofharim, removing the wider contexts of its geography, the space resembles any modern religious Jewish moshav [small communal style town] As the individual portraits show, day to day life involves regular routines, like in any suburban neighborhood. People wake up in the morning inside modern homes (Fig. 3 1, Fig. 3 2); they get ready for work, and take their kids to school (Fig 3 3 to 3 6); in the afternoons they pick up their kids, do groceries, and make dinner; some evenings they attend activities. During the time I spent in Nofharim, I rarely felt pressure from the tensions that exist, a few dozen meters off, beyond the barb ed wire fence. Life in Nofharim in fact contains multiple ideal features. Communality, generosity, and care are stressed. Residents live among others of similar religious and political backgrounds. Social activities support amiable relations, and all the necessary facilities and institutions are within walking distance. For mothers, accessible resources and dependable social networks make raising children much easier. The location is also beautiful. Women state that they have chosen this community for a ho st of reasons, many non supports a view of the settlement where practical qualities of the location are highlighted and underscored. However, a discourse of normalization a lso seems to be lurking
208 separation, temporarily blocking out security worries, keeping fear under the carpet, and concealing critical questions about such a disputed landscap e. Normal Life I took the bus to Nofharim one afternoon. Since it winds through a larger settlement first, it takes almost twice as long as driving in a private car, and generally even longer than if one waits at stops and tramps. But, it was early on in m y research, tramping Once the bus completed its tour of the larger settlement, and those passengers had all descended, I was the only person left. Excited by the rare opportunity and the wide windows, I pulled out my camera. I assume that this is not a common occurrence for the bus driver, and he asked me in Hebrew where I am from and what I am doing. I told him that I study in the United States and that I am doing a project on Nofharim. He lo oked quizzical. I explained that many people in North America talk about the West Bank, but many do not know what it is like there, and some even imagine constant war and everyday danger. I want to create an illustration of day to day life in a Jewish sett lement, I added. The bus driver seemed interested by my answer. He was a small, dark man, probably in his late 30s or early 40s. He wore a humble black knitted kippa on his head, which indicates that he probably identifies religiously as mainstream orthod ox. Here there are homeless people lying on the street. H
209 helps everyone else. If something happens, you are surrounded by people in a moment. I asked the bus driver if he was from this area. The bus driver in this episode, as well as many of the women with whom I spoke, Again and again, the term came up in conversations. Racheli, when giving tours of Nofharim, wants to show guests, above all t, Batia tells me that she is proud to show conforming to Nofharim conforms to the usual and expected standards in any modern religious Israeli quiet refutation of the danger, and thus problematics, inherent within their settlement their unremarkable routines side by side with those of any other Israeli town, the wom en thus obscure the significance of the otherwise disputed line across which they have set not illegally built settlement on a nearby hilltop, where the Israeli army
210 has recently conducted house demolitions. By invoking this comparison, and pitting their community as not of Nofharim versus a place that is hindered by fear and distressing incidents. Migron is features that women deem ideal. The bus driver hints at this in his explanation, asserting t where each person cares and looks out for the other. Indeed, almost every single woman with whom I spoke mentioned the structurally organized communal practices where no one in distr ess or in need is ever left alone. There seems to be trust for one another, as well as remarkable generosity; kids can run around in the streets without constant supervision; women can depend on each other without feelings of guilt or debt. The genuine sys tem of reciprocity is such that women do not worry about asking for help when they need it because they know that before long, they will have the opportunity to give right back and assist someone else. Influenced by Jewish beliefs and laws about conduct wi thin society, this cooperative aspect of the community has tremendous value, and reflects the ideal moral behaviors with which people should life. Along with the commu nal structure comes a ready made social circle as well, broad enough to encompass an array of ages and personality types, making up multiple more intimate inner coteries. And as Shira delineated, there are a host of activities too, tailored to hectic sched ules. Consequently, despite their heavy responsibilities, many
211 women in Nofharim enjoy vibrant social lives and habitual recreational events. I sketch the following event as one example: Sunday evening. Today was Rosh Hodesh, the beginning of the new Jew ish month. Traditionally, this mini holiday is considered a special day for women, based on biblical and spiritual t for women, schedule for 8:45PM, after women have put their children to bed. I go with Shoshana, and the small, recently renovated community hall across from the synagogue is packed with rows and rows of seated women. We have to pull out extra chairs fro m the stack in the corner in order to sit too. A broad spectrum of women have come out. There are a handful of teenage girls sitting on a table beside one wall, several women in their 20s and 30s, and many middle age women in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s ( probably because their children are older and can thus be more easily left alone). I take note of the fact that, except for a few of the younger girls and women, elaborately tied scarves and petite, elegant hats all in a spectrum of colors, patterns, and fabric textures. Some of the women have wrapped up their long hair, and some cover just their heads. ght in an actress to perform her one woman play, an autobiographical narrative about a lifelong
212 struggle to see with both eyes, her positive attitude in the face of endless medical obstacles, and her persistent will to discern natural and spiritual light. The new month is Kislev, the month that contains the holiday of Chanukah. It is also winter and the days are short and cold. The theme of light, whether or not it was intentional, seems especially appropriate. The audience is silent throughout the piece, and everyone appears to be completely captivated. The actress, a religious woman, performs well, though her presentation is excessively dramatic and somewhat self conscious. Numerous times I think that she is reaching the peak of her story and about to con clude, yet she tells us of a further health problem and its complicated processes of cure and recovery. Towards the end, after she has related the happy story of her marriage, she describes in simple terms, the sudden eviction from her home in Gush Katif. detail, but continues on about the miraculous birth of more children and recent, successful surgery on her eyes. The land of Israel, in this context, is equated with the yet another moment of difficulty and pain, along a long string of analogous medical and emotional challenges. and happy denouement are inspiring. Looking around, I notice s everal women wipe away tears. After the play, I find out that the actress actually lived in Nofharim for each other afterwards in awe, admiration, and a hint of discomfort. The vulnerability of the performance the
213 seems to leave a somewhat awkward aura that blends with poignant affect. In mainst ream modern orthodoxy, it is considered inappropriate for women to perform in front of men. And, the fact that this is a Rosh Hodesh event is a second reason why the evening is exclusive to women. Beyond the inspirational material of the event, the women s eem to really enjoy the opportunity to shmooze and relax. For many of them, this is one of their main social milieus. For a while after the play is over, they linger and socialize. A table with cake and coffee at the back of the hall is mostly ignored. I r approach me, asking how I am doing and how my research is developing. At the entrance, there is a table of clothes sown by a Nofharim resident, on sale. Women try sweaters on in front o f each other, making entertaining comments, joking, and laughing. community is that you can go out for the evening, hang out with all your friends, and afterwards, immed iately return home. No bus ride or car drive is necessary. The longest any of these women has to travel is a five minute walk. Along with the communal and social aspects, multiple women commented on the advantages of their non urban setting. Proximity is advantageous children can walk themselves to school, and the grocery store, medical clinic, or synagogue is minutes away. The city, often symbolically represented by a reference to Tel Aviv, stands for noise, pollution, crime, stress, and anxiety. The fr esh air, sweeping views, and tranquility of these rocky, mostly uninhabited hills is much preferred. Political danger is not something to be feared, but rather the pressures and filth of metropolitan human
21 4 congestion. Again, according to the women, a relax ed environment that is attuned to Modern and Religious The separation of gender roles in Nofharim, like in most mainstream religious Jewish communities, is quite established. Women tend to stay home more with their many child ren, or take part time jobs, while their husbands earn the principle income. Women also do the majority of domestic work, though increasingly, husbands assist as well. Yet, as modern religious individuals, gender distinction does not encompass all aspects of time and space. In the religious arena, women are often still subordinated, pushed to curtained off sections on the edge; however, in the social realm, women are, to an increasingly degree, full participants. In addition, Nofharim, like many communitie s, reflects a heterogeneity of At one end, one finds those parents who insist, on the grounds of modesty, that their elementary school daughters perform their year end play in front of women only; at the other end, one finds women like Nurit who are frustrated with this separation of the genders, and repulsed by the multiple forms of spatial partitioning in the synagogue. I present the following two vignettes in ord er to represent both the difference between formal religious and informal social spheres, as well as the diversity among residences of Nofharim and the variety of happenings that can occur there in one typical day. It is also interesting to note that both vignettes, with minor exceptions, could easily have been written to describe moments in mainstream religious Jewish communities across the entire state of Israel, and even abroad. (The main deviation is reflected in the second vignette, where security fear s prevented a handful of members of a social circle
215 from joining their friends at a monthly event, this time taking place in Nofharim a settlement.) Saturday morning. I arrive at the main synagogue one hour after the services have begun. Decorating the nave paintings of men in talitot [prayer shawls, traditionally worn by males]. At the top of the landing, the final image is of a talit and an Israeli flag, depicted in wh ite and blue, wrapped together and enveloping the holy ark of the Biblical tabernacle a powerful symbolic merging of the religious and the political. In orthodox synagogues, women and men sit separately, and in many buildings, n a second level. Here in Nofharim, I feel especially high up, open area in the mi ddle, I cannot see much of the service. In addition to the elevation, white curtains are draped along the length of the iron railing, forming a second barrier between the genders. are made of blue cloth cushions on glossy wooden benches (like the seats for the men down below). Along the sides of the U are makeshift rows of white plastic chairs. Above, the stucco ceiling is a bit stained and dusty. The tall windows, reaching up to the
216 only a few empty spots reveal the spectacular, distant views of the Judean hills. socia l world. When I enter, it is about halfway through the Sabbath morning services. reading from the book of prophets. A few women in the back greet each other animat edly and whisper their latest news. Most of the women in synagogue this morning look old enough to have teenage children, or are even older women in their 60s and 70s. The reason why many of them choose to attend services is probably because they are not needed for childcare. A few unmarried women in their early twenties have also come. Interestingly, the majority of women, especially those who are middle aged, wear an attractive combination of black, white, gray, and red. I have observed this trend recent ly, but here the recurrence of color particularly stands out. Fashionable bulky skirts in blacks and grays, chic white blouses, loud red sweaters, square toed platform shoes (that have been in style in ch woman is dressed differently and in her own manner, some outfits more quiet and some more bold, but all with the same combination of shades and hues. After prayers, the women make their way down the narrow stairs, past the paintings, and out onto the l awn. It is autumn, and the late morning air is still cold, though the sun shines strongly and the sky is a clear blue. The women mingle with the brothers, and guests to walk home for hot Sabbath lunch.
217 Saturday night. Dozens of women in Nofharim are at the community hall, across the path from the for the youth group, Bnai Akivah. The air is filled with ebullience, wide smiles, excited chatter, and pride on the part of happy mothers. Two streets to the south, in one of the older houses in the settlement, there is a social gathering for middle aged adults. The hosts are a couple who live her e in Nofharim, but most of their friends have driven from their homes in Jerusalem. The group is comprised mainly of modern orthodox, Israeli academics and literary types, and they meet once each month at a different house (generally in the southern area o f Jerusalem, where most of them live). A handful of neighbors from Nofharim have also been invited to join. have enough crackers, milk, or paper bowls. After a quick phone call she sends me out to take needed items from her step daughter who lives with her own large family on the other side of the synagogue. The step daughter hands me three packages of crackers but she knows of another neighbor who does. As soon as I return, I am dispatched to this other neighbor, (The next day, I am sent to return surplus crackers and unuse d bowls to the respective contributors.) After a couple hours of preparations, all is ready. Ceramic and glass dishes, filled with salted nuts and dried fruits occupy the small coffee tables in every corner of the
218 large platters of artisan crackers, local soft cheeses, vegetables, olives, cakes, and cookies. There is a stand of bottled drinks on the table, and a water heater surrounded by a coterie of bowls containing teas, coffee, sugar, and sucralose. The speaker tonight is an acquaintance of the woman who has organized this religious court, specializing on issues of agunot marriage because their husban d will not give them a religious divorce]. This evening she will be speaking about the research she conducted for her recently completed PhD. She is rather plump, with a flimsy black beret perched over her thin, graying brown hair, and a thick American acc ent beneath her Hebrew words. Couples in their fifties and sixties arrive one after each other, most of them about forty y were scared to drive into the West Bank. The men are dressed business casual, and have knitted kippas [skullcaps] on their gray hair. The women are also dressed business casual, some in slacks and some in chic skirts and dresses, and the majority do not cover their short hair. They intermingle, sharing news and gossip, discussing family and current events. Eventually, the social buzz subdues, people take their seats on chairs and sofas around the room, and the guest speaker, seated in the middle, begins her presentation. For over an hour, she talks dynamically about recent changes in Jewish law, with regards to issues of religious divorce. She hands out source sheets with Rabbinic commentaries from the medieval period, all the way up to the present. From a critical
219 angle, she explains fundamental problems in the process of contemporary Jewish law making, and she calls for change. She tells how she herself has initiated important developments in the religious court, and how she influenced the final results of challenging and disturbing cases. Despite the late hour, her audience is completely attentive. Throughout the presentation, individuals interrupt and asked questions, and the speaker only encourages this dialogue. Eventually, the speaker concludes, and the audience applauds warmly. They head towards the food in the kitchen to eat and socialize, some to digest and discuss the around the speaker to ask her further questions Within half an hour, however, someone announces that the entrance gates to Nofharim are closing. This means that the guard on duty is leaving his post for the night, and that the only way to have the tall, heavy electronic gates open is to call in and re convenient. The majority of the guests pour out of the house, thanking the hosts and snatching a last cookie on their way out the door. The air outside is cold, but filled with the positive energy of an entert aining and enjoyable evening. Reasons for Choosing a Settlement Many of the women told me that they chose to live in Nofharim for practical reasons, first and foremost. Certainly, they believe in the importance of Jewish inhabitance in this area, however, they are not militantly invested in the settlement project. They are politically right wing and they value the land through a religious framework, but their actions and behaviors do not resemble those who unlawfully inhabit illegal outposts, or those who e mploy violent measures against Palestinians. For the most part, these women were attracted to Nofharim because of its proximity to
220 Jerusalem, the cheaper costs of land, the non urban tranquility, the clean air, the views, the warm and intimate social envir onment, the good schools, and the modern religious society. For them, these are all components of a normal, fulfilling life. Weiss (2011a), too, points to practical draws that motivated her immigrant informants to move to settlements. She argues that thro ugh the process of normalization, immigrants become implicated in the settler project, an enterprise that was not their goal: Normalization is put into relief with respect to West Bank settlement; long considered a collective undertaking for the political ly committed, it becomes a matter of rational choice for struggling or socially aspiring individuals, leveraging state policies correlated with market exigencies by guaranteeing ongoing acquiescence to them. Rather than settlement dynamics manifesting the rivaling powers of political agents, normalization spells a political course charted by global and local pressures that transcend individual deliberations. These, in turn, figure into politics indirectly through the pragmatism and calculation that normaliz ation encourages (113). Weiss traces the genealogy of capital value in the settlements: The West Bank became a popular residential frontier for a growing metropolitan workforce, offering private homes in reasonable commute from Jerusalem and Tel ettlements were advertised in the same way as outlying towns in Israel proper; individuals relocated to them in pursuit of upward mobility, much like suburbanites anywhere (114 115). These new towns emphasized normalcy as well as possibilities for capital development and enterprise. Weiss thus calls for further examination of the Middle East conflict in terms of neoliberal politics and the concealing processes of normalization (122). the power inherent within this perspective. The settlers perceive their lives to be normal, but what messages are dictating this configuration of perception? To a large degree, ationship towards the West Bank. Political interests push a narrative of peaceful family life,
221 construction, and development, affordable to the Israeli middle class. From my experience, this hegemonic discourse is so powerful that it can obscure the magnit ude of the steel and barbed wires security fences and the heavy military protection necessary to sustain a relatively safe Jewish inhabitance. My conversations with women in Nofharim, where none save one mentioned the structures of security that lie beneat h their windows, emphasize this point. Once inside the patrolled borders of the community, it is all too easy to fall into a rhetoric of normalcy. Fear Almost every single woman stated that she was not normally afraid of living in Nofharim. To the contrary many women cited the anxieties of urban spaces as being much more intimidating, and that in this light, Nofharim is a haven. Indeed, people go about their everyday business without worry, and daily life carries on. Nevertheless, I wonder if a deeper fear conscious awareness, concealed by hegemonic discourses that normalize this type of lifestyle. Scholars have written about the normalization of a strong military presence across Israeli public sp ace 3 is a parallel process happening here too? Though they obviously succeed in blocking it out of their active awareness, the women also know, deep down, that there are dangers beyond the fence, threats from which they can never be fully protected. Once they pause and reflect, references to murders and terror attacks begin to emerge. Similarly, the women are cognizant of the hostile opposition, across large segments of the Israeli public, to their inhabitance in the West Bank region. Several 3
222 women recoun ted, with frustration and even anger, how these attitudes undermine the entire Israeli state. They questioned how anyone who believes in the importance of the Jewish nation could deny support to this most sacred portion of the land. They are wary of those who hold such opinions. I include the following episode in order to illustrate the subtle anxieties that slip out from under the confident routines of the everyday. Sunday morning. The sun is shining strongly already at 8 am. I venture into the cold, la te November air to capture the first hours of the first day of the working week. I hang my camera around my neck, dangling down, partially concealing its bulky shape with my blue arried religious women. But, without a young child holding my hand, or a brisk walk and briefcase indicating that I am racing off to work, I stand out on these awakening streets. d cars carefully heading in the direction of the main gate. I watch little girls, many with bright pink coats and small knapsacks, some walking in pairs. Young boys also pass in the direction of the elementary school, a good deal of them walking or riding their mini size bicycles. Parents this morning, mainly fathers accompany younger children to one of the multiple nursery schools, many clasping one child with one hand and pushing a stroller with the other. There are also a few men running to the tramp ing stop at the entrance of the settlement to catch a lift to work, women and men getting into their vehicles and driving off, men walking home from synagogue with their talit [prayer
223 shawl] bag tucked under one arm, and ladies chatting with each other in front of the municipal offices. I am usually especially discreet with my photo taking and this morning I am taking extra precautions. However, despite my efforts, I apparently attract worrisome attention. Only ten minutes into my stroll along these street s, a man in his thirties pulls up in his connections, and that I am doing a small project on the community. He is relieved, but tells me that some women are concerned that I took a photograph of the nursery school. I explain that I did not take any photographs of the children, but only the side of the entrance with an endearing image of all the y this information with the troubled women, and pray that this will resolve any anxieties on the issue. What surprises me is the level of community surveillance, how the slightest incident that is out of the ordinary draws such a degree of immediate and alarming concern. The camera, though somewhat concealed, was nevertheless noticed by contested area, with a constant threat of danger, an unknown individual doing strange others. I took the photograph of the nursery school entrance approximately one minute before the man pulled up beside me and inquired about my activities. Clearly, vigilance and alertness is a communal responsibility that is taken seriously.
224 Such measures of caution indicate the presence of underlying anxieties and unease. Yet, efforts seem to be exerted to override the fears, to mainta in the flow of everyday routines. I think that in the face of most kinds of pressure, people try to create normalcy; and in this case, the state simply adds and stirs by driving in further ideologies of normalization. Mothers who are the primary caregiver s of large families overlooking potential indicators of anxiety and stress, all in order to get on with the never ending and unpredictable tasks of childcare. The degree of phys ical security is simply paid no attention. Thus, life within the boundaries of the settlement fence is perceived as normal and usual. The numerous positive aspects are emphasized, and indeed, they are abundant. The seductive, almost opaque discourse of no rmalization conceals both the settlement life, offering economic, social, educational, and religious possibilities that are not necessarily available in other parts of Israel. But how can we productively criticize these discourses, and the individuals who reproduce them? Indeed, normalization discourses operate all around, swallowing us into their convincing rhetorics, and like viruses, reproducing through our own bo purchase clothes off the wrack at the GAP, without considering the fact that they may have been manufactured by the hands of a Chinese minor, working for pathetic wages. It has become normal to buy pears in Februa ry, when they had to be flown, using unnecessary quantities of fuel, all the way from South Africa. And, as I write this, the
225 U.S. is at war. On the news we often hear about thirty more victims in Baghdad, or twenty five people killed in Kabul. This too ha s become normal. Discourses of normalization thus mask deeper, often painful or challenging issues, pushed to the fringes of our psychic awareness. In the West Bank, numerous such messages circulate, and as their full shapes come into view, the contours o f the conflict become all that much more confusing and complicated. [The People of Israel in the Land of Israel] necessarily the main inspiration, but a ll of them believe in its fundamental significance. At one end, there are those for whom it is the principle motivation. At the other end, for those women who stress the practical draws and benefits, the spiritual meaning of the topography is certainly a b onus. Either way, it is a critical theme to explore in the context of a study of a Jewish settlement. a religious connection to this land which, I would like to argue, is stro nger than political interests. They believe, like modern religious Jews across Israel, that this territory is sanctified (separated out) as the land of the Jewish people, as it is dictated by God countless times throughout the bible 4 The two thousand year exile was a dark, difficult 4 In Genesis alone, there are countless cases of th e promise of God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as further references with regards to Joseph. Genesis 28: 10 15 presents a particularly illustrative hamakom [the place; t ranslated as a spatial area, as well as a reference to the name of God] and spent the night there Abraham your (fore)father and the God of Isaac. [th e land; the country; the ground] on which you everywhere that you go, and I will return you to [the ground, the soil] [this specific o Three different terms are used to indicate space in this passage, and I would like to suggest that they are each used, with increasingly specificity, to make the message unambiguously clear. Hamakom first
226 pause, however the time has come for the reunification of a population and a geography that belong to one another. Metaphors of health and naturalness express this relationship. An older woman in Nofharim, for example, told me: This is our natural place, for us. When each one is in their own place, they can grow and develop and This framework of perception sees the Jews as the indigenous people of Israel. Furthermore, for several of the women, the land of Israel is imagined as a refuge. country of birth or origin, the land of Israel has become the only space wherein they feel that they are home. Again, metaphors of nature and natur alness express their claim to live on this narrow topography, which includes the West Bank at its core. Opposition to these rights therefore deeply threatens broad senses of familial and cultural safety. Many of the women emphasize that the West Bank regi on is not more important than other areas in Israel; rather, living in a settlement can be spiritually fulfilling because this section of the sanctified territory is not being sufficiently engaged by Jewish inhabitance. Tel Aviv, they explain, in contrast, is being well looked after. At the suggests a general sense of location, as we ll as the presence of the Divine; then indicates a more delineated portion of expansive geography; finally signifies the particulars of the ground, or even soil, itself, even perhaps insinuating a sense of vertical depth. Analogously, th e place is first encountered (perhaps implying an arrival, from a distance); the second reference involves the immediate physicality of lying; the final phrase explicitly indicates that what is being discussed is this specific ground. More recent examples are represented across the writings of Rabbi Abraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook (1865 1935). His ideas, influenced by a variety of Jewish mystical texts and other commentaries, are fundamental to the ideologies of contemporary religious Zionists. The following passage is one example merely a means toward the goal of the general coalescing of the nation, nor of strengthening its material existence, nor even its spiritual. Eretz Yisrael is an independent unit, bound with a living attachment with 1996:3). I first saw this quote painted by teenagers in Nofhari m on a wall inside their youth movement activity building.
227 same time, often at a different point in our conversations, the women remind me that the West Bank particularly the northern section in which Nofharim is centered is the specific location of many of the most momentou s biblical narratives. Living on these same hills invokes a powerful sense of meaning and connection, a daily performance of cultural heritage. The entire land of Israel is sacred, but this part has heightened value. The territory of the West Bank is also cited by multiple women to be strategically existence, women disquietly assert, Arabs will simply take over the entire area and immediately begin their march to wards Tel Aviv. Their presence, they believe, is undeniably be read as support for the sovereign state, nevertheless, it is the land (both the West Bank area, as well as Tel Aviv as the symbolic center of secular, liberal Israel) that the women underscore as the object which must be held. What I would like to argue is that the spiritual intimacy of personal inhabitance on this land is regarded with greater significance th an broader political projects. In other words, the emphasis is on a vertical relationship between people and the ground beneath them, and not a horizontal jurisdiction of bounded, sovereign territory. In 5 I wou ld agree that settler perceptions of the land move beyond modern conceptions of nation, state, and sovereign borders. With an indigenous approach, they stress a natural continuum between their ancestral past and the present, on this very same topographic d omain. 5 Unsettling Gaza: Secular Liberalism, Radical Religion, and the Israeli Settlement Project (2011). Her main arguments on this issue are also discussed later in this sec tion.
228 This narrative, however, is not explored in the abundant literature that compares claim to this particular land their sense of indigeneity is simply not c onsidered 6 Spiritual Space, more than Political State Sunday afternoon. I visited the Nofharim winery, a ten minute drive from the settlement. The original vineyard and winery are located in Nofharim proper, on the southern slope, however, a fancy, moder runs through the northern part of the West Bank. In its new, attractive location, the winery also pairs as a tourist center for the region, and apparently attracts dozens of peo ple each week. When I arrived, a large group of religious female teachers were having a fancy, catered lunch. As I left, a modern orthodox family from the U.S.A. had just entered. My tour guide mentioned that a significant number of Evangelical Christians also come for tours. I visited the winery because several of the women I spoke with in Nofharim mentioned it as a lovely place, with an engaging presentation of the religious Jewish connections to this land. I also visited for the sake of my supervisor, a wine maven. 6 This is not to deny that presenting the bible, a more than two thousand year old text, as legal evidence for land claims evinces a controversial issue. Recently, in fact, the Catholic Church weighed in on the topic, declaring in its Synod on the Mi ddle East that scripture cannot be used for territorial claim ( http://m.thetablet.co.uk/article/15465 ). At the same time, however, recent developments in Canadian and Australian courts have allowed in digenous peoples to present song, dance, or visual art as alternative, yet acceptable forms of evidence, indicating cultural knowledge of claimed territory, and therefore the right to ownership over specific geographic areas (Fenwick 2001; Gray 2000; Shea Murphy 2000). Where is the line between these new precedents in secular legal courts, and the international claim of religious Jews to the territorial area of biblical Israel?
229 authenticity and escape from contemporary times and spaces. The stone walls, wooden furnishings, and iron ornamentation create an atmosphere of nostalgia for an cient history and simpler circumstances. Naturally, the entire building is redolent with the thick scent of wine casks. The tour for small groups takes place in an elegant room where the coarseness of a huge, old fashioned wooden table meets the formality of plush green chairs and heavy gray drapes. A plack beside the entrance indicates the generous support of the ministry of tourism. My guide first recounted the basic history of the winery, and immediately mentioned the many prizes that the wines have sinc e won. As she spoke about the manufacture of the wine, she pressed a button and the drapes on one side of the room opened, revealing a huge cellar with enormous wine making apparatuses. A few moments later, she pushed another button and the drapes on the s ide of the room folded back, disclosing another voluminous storage vault and hundreds of barrels of wine. For me, the performance was a bit kitchy and over the top. After these rather dramatic introductions, there are two seven minute films, the first abou t the area and the second about the manufacture of wine. The films are projected using sophisticated technology, on the glass windows through which the visitors see the huge storage room, and on the back wall of the storage room as well. Both films can be seen in English or Hebrew. I watched the first film in Hebrew, but later requested to see it again in English. All my quotes are directly from the English version of the film.
230 The first film recounts a historical narrative of the geographic area. Using ve rses from the bible and a map, the film shows how the biblical tribe of Benjamin lived in this here e biblical forefathers, here in this area was the tabernacle, here was the spiritual and economic center of ancient Israel, and here the descendants of Benjamin farmed the land and made wine. The narrative pauses, the film explains, with the sudden destruc tion of the Temple. Two thousand years of exile ensue. However, as the film immediately tells us, Jews began to return and resettle to the land already in the late 1800s. More and more settlements were established, on land that had been waiting to be devel oped. In 1948, ps, growth is at a fast encompassing all Jewish settlements in the northern part of the West Bank] has more than 150 000 residents. The film concludes with clips of indiv iduals voicing their connections with and dreams for the land. The film clearly sets out to demonstrate and validate to viewers the Jewish claim to this geographic space. Biblical verses and references are used as solid, undisputable historical evidence. destruction, as though the region was cold, empty, and waiting until the Jewish return in the 1800s. The Jewish development of the area at the turn of the century is portrayed with sentimentality, a reunification of people and land after a very long separation.
231 The story is simple and linear, ending optimistically with the faces and voices of the ever growing next ge neration. There is no mention of conflict, tension, or danger. The map at the end of the film, showing the steady increase of Jewish settlements across the territory, does not indicate any of the many Arab villages that are located here too. After the firs t screening, the guide adds an anecdote about an ancient Jewish coin that was discovered in the location of one of the vineyards. Today, the image of that message of the f ilm, the symbol of the coin represents historical Jewish inhabitance in this land, the main claim for Jewish inhabitance today. on the peaks of t he Benjamin region mountains, 900 meters above sea level, east of the city of Ramallah, overlooking the Wadi Kelt basin, the Jericho biblical references. In this context, Arab places and names are cited and recognized. It also should be mentioned that while the film tells a very narrow and specific narrative, the winery itself caters to a particularly Jewish, and sometimes Christian au dience. Muslim individuals, living in villages in the surrounding area, do not and cannot come here. According to their religion, wine is forbidden. After the film about the geographic area, and then the film about the production of wine, visitors are offered wine tastings. It costs approximately ten dollars to just taste the wines. Visitors can also pay more for accompanying cheese platters, or even a full
232 meal. I was personally impressed with the five wines that I tasted. The flavors were full, compl ex and with lingering aromas, somehow a perfect gastronomic reflection of the rugged rocky hills, rich soil, cold winds, and strong hot sun of the surrounding terrain. I will discuss the absence of Arab presence further on. However, a second surprising th eme in the film at the winery is the lack of mention of the political state. The biblical land is depicted at length and with passion, but where is the modern Israeli nation? Other than a single fleeting mention during the film, its presence seems to be ab sent mindedly delegated to the easily overlooked ministry certificate on the way down the stairs. Once inside the presentation room, the bible and its teachings reign. Before I exaggerate, I will postulate that there is surely an Israeli flag on the top of the winery tourist center. Unfortunately, I did not notice when I was there. The authority of the Israeli state is certainly present I am not saying that it is not but I am trying to suggest that it is subordinated to the weighty significance of the b iblical narrative. Likewise, the women with whom I spoke in Nofharim talked about the state of Israel, but only occasionally, and their references were not infrequently critical. More often than not, frustration and even anger emerged in their voices, brou ght on by the memory of the disengagement in Gaza, the house demolishins in Migron, or even the discriminatory treatment towards West Bank Arabs. What the women expressed over and over was their desire to just be on this land this ground that God promise d to their forefathers, the homeland for which they have prayed for centuries, the qualities and features of which they have studied, uttered, and imagined for generations. Metaphoric or not, I also noticed many uncared for Israeli flags in Nofharim, in le ss than proud
233 condition (Fig. 3 7), whereas bibles were abundant on multiple bookshelves in each home (Fig. 3 8). Indigeneity, Autochthony, and Natural Belonging 7 I woul d like to suggest that modern religious Jews in Israel consider themselves the indigenous people of this geographic territory. According to their beliefs, it is here that they originate, and it is in this place alone that they can naturally live, properly celebrating the holiday of Sukkot and building a sukka in any other part of the world seems inappropriate and out of place. It is only in Israel that the seasons, the we ather, the topography, the spiritual sense of space and history, and the religious prescriptions line up together. Or, as another long goof [body] and neshama [soul] am yisrael and eretz yisrael. They go together. When separated In contemporary indigenous studies parlance, indigeneity connotes intimate knowledge of land as well as a dialogic relationship between humans and a living, dynamic ground. For example, John Bradley, an Australian anthropologist and activist, dichotomies of subject/object, human/non human, nature/culture sacred/profane, intentional/non intentional, social/non understand such non 7 New Oxford American Dictionary (2005)
234 even at times deconstruct some of the basic and taken for granted ass umptions that underpin Western knowledge systems where landscapes can be measured as external and ritual interaction hearing, painting, singing to, and moving through t he land and environment demonstrates their knowledge of the space, and hence their relationship with it, and their sense of emotional belonging to it. In the Australian aboriginal case, land is simultaneously social, physical, and metaphysical, and ident ification with place is fundamental to understanding personal identity, ancestry, and life itself (see Rose 1992: 106 122). Though the Jewish relationship to land is different from that of aboriginal Australians, there are many parallels. For modern religi ous Jewish Israelis, the ground of Biblical Israel is alive and active. Through cultural and historical knowledge, as well as religious ritual and utterances, Jews express their love and passion for this geographic territory. Indeed, for centuries, Jewish people cited biblical verses, in addition to later texts and prayers, re inscribing into memory and passing down through the generations an intimate knowledge of this territorial space. Psalms, repeated day after day, conjure descriptive images of flora an d fauna, stones and hills, and meteorology of a living landscape. For modern religious Jewish Israelis today, the land which they feel that they can live more sacred live s, closer to their understanding of the Divine Will. As much as they long for and belong to this land, the land longs for and belongs to them. 8 8 For two millennia, a passage from Deut eronomy 11 has been uttered and reiterated each morning and night: if you follow the biblical commandments, the rains will fall, harvests will be plentiful, and you and
235 In this sense, I believe that it can be productive to be more attentive to Jewish indigenous claims to the Isra eli landscape, especially geography which overlaps with the West Bank. By discussing land as a neutrally valanced object to be owned, bought, or exchanged, we overlook the complexity of highly emotional and passionate desires of the settlers (as well as th e parallel spiritual experiences of Palestinian Arabs). Acknowledging more sophisticated, metaphysical conceptions of time and space show the limitations of commonly re articulated verbal and conceptual terms and categories, primary applied in the West. 9 O ther ways, narratives, hierarchal structures, and value systems simply do not fit. In other words, how does secular analysis, based on an inherently ideal division of church and state, express the concerns of West Bank settlers whose fundamental beliefs ar e predicated on a view of land as sacred and geographic inhabitance as divinely prescribed? Understanding and embracing more spiritual epistemologies and attitudes, therefore, may push discussion of the conflict into new, and potentially constructive direc tions, past stale and dichotomous arguments, and towards new, multi dimensional imaginations of human land relations. emerged, especially amongst European scholars 10 In my experien ce, invoking your children will live long, healthy lives upon the ground that God has promised to yo ur ancestors, like the days of the heaven on the earth. Metaphors and themes of health and nature, each in their proper place and time, abound. 9 The Cartographic Eye: How E xplorers Saw Australia anthropologist Colin Scott (1996). 10 Though I have no conclusive evidence, especially in Western Europe because of recent influxes of immigrants into these countries which do indeed, unlike North America, boast cultural majorities (as suggested by Geschiere, with reg ards to the Netherlands). Autochthonous claims, connected to deep senses of national identity, bump up against
236 indigeneity involves an in performative senses of belonging and home. Autochthony, though a word with a similar meaning, echoes to a greater extent with the vibrations of political anal ysis, nationalism, and legal claims to land. While indigenous are more often discriminated peoples with whom scholars sympathize and whom they sensitively describe, autochthones are critically assessed for their aggressive attempts to claim local rights to land. In two articles published last year, European anthropologists (Gausset et al. 2011; Zenker 2011) outline parallel distinctions between these terms: indigeneity is increasingly used zed and demanding, based on historical dispossession, special rights; autochthony, on the other hand, identifies those who exploit historical claims in order to exclude and create boundaries. Ultimately, however, the authors of the first article call for a shift from a debate over such terms, to an active focus on the political projects themselves. Peter Geschiere, another European anthropologist, argues for the profitability of ormer strength is apparently its self evident, naturalizing appearance: bei ng rooted in the soil how can such a powerful sense of belonging shift or even vanish so quickly? epeating application of this politically charged term, from Cameroon to the Netherlands, and liberal values of equality and inclusion, and such debates are highly relevant in contemporary Western Europe.
237 many places in between and beyond (6). Tracking it back to ancient Greece, Geschiere shows the impossibility of reconciling autochthony and the inherent movements of history, and, similarly, determining the authentically or falsity of autochthonous origins. What ends up happening, he shows, is an obsession with purification, a never ending suspicious project to unmask traitors, and a continuous drawing of ever small er circles defining those who have true claims. In Africa, colonial forces put a heavy emphasis on maintaining the local people in their local areas, while, at the same time, showing preference for migrants, for their energy and entrepreneurial skills (14) Today, also on a transnational scale which to many is a basic factor of globalization has (17). In Africa, democratization of the 1990s unexpectedly brought exclusion and efforts to distinguish those who do and do not belong (17); simultaneously, however, international development projects became distrustful of the state and began to see it as a barrier. Decentralization came onto the stage, yet it too concentrated on questions of belonging and exclusion (18). This pliable pattern, Geschiere shows, is reiterated across the contemporary globe, in different shapes and forms, and its unfinished, un final shape is what makes its discourse so uncertain (34). More than indigeneity, and according to Geschiere, analysis of autochthonous claims calls attention to issues of naturalness and truth. Returning to Australia, Rob Garbutt, a scholar of cultural s claims of autochthony. He shows how the emphasis on being a naturalized local, and
238 location, and raises multiple questions about how to proceed, but autochthony, he argues, can help us parse out the imagined geographies (such as that of Australian settler democracy) that require critical scrutiny (11). An ethics of location, he therefore suggests, can commence with a disclosure of concealing and exclusionary tendencies occurring in the name of Well known anthropologists, Jean and John Comaroff, also employ the concept of autochthony in order to read into a dramatic moment in recent South African news. Anxiety over the invasion of a foreign plant, they show, was indicative of deeper moral panic over the immigration of strangers. The flora was simply a metonym. Discourses of environmental belonging were used to propel calls f or border control, to exclude, and to As discussed above, an investigation of indigenous claims can help us understand deeper desires of Jewish settlers what exactly they wa nt, and why. Furthermore, an examination of their demands and yearnings may potentially uncover fundamental sources of longing that are different from, and masked by assumptions and limiting terms. Perhaps their desire to live on this land cannot be contai ned within the epistemological and idiomatic boundaries of current sovereign and political language. Perhaps what they actually long for can indeed prevail with peaceful, multicultural coexistence.
239 An exploration of autochthonous claims involves an analyti cal step out, from a wider distance. Looking at naturalizing discourses uncovers a more critical side, showing how Jewish historical claims intellectually, emotionally, and pragmatically exclude a second local population. But what is the nature of this exc lusion? How much is born subconsciously out of fear and ignorance? Indigenous claims seem to reflect a more inclusive, spiritual relationship with the land that intersects only loosely with nationalist efforts; by bringing indigeneity into the picture, the refore, might we be able to shift the conversation? Could such a turn, from political to spiritual desires, lead to a change in perceptions, and hence relations and behaviors? Truth claims in the West Bank currently mimic a fruitless game of pingpong becau se ultimately, as Geschiere states, autochthony, history, and authenticity can never be genuinely reconciled. But if longing, what new landscapes become possible? Mo dels Beyond Sovereign Control Dalsheim argues that for some people who live in the settlements, there is a ideas may not be counted since they do not fall into the c ategories of either secular question modern democratic ideals of citizenship (121), rethinking conceptions of territorial boundaries (125) and the premise of human owner ship of land (127). She describes a well allow Jews to live together with Palestinians. While Feige introduces Gush Emunim as
240 the opposite through a more sophisticated examination of spiritual discourse and moral values. Like Dalsheim, I also think that, to varying degrees, settlers privilege a spiritual appreciation of sacred, ancestral ground, over modern ideas of nationalism borders, and sovereign space. The women in my study are not like the rabbi who Dalsheim cites, but they certainly mentioned the biblical significance of this land more than they talked about the national state. They do believe deeply in the idea of the s tate of Israel, but they are losing patience with the government, especially its military operations that em from neighboring Arabs, dreaming of a future when such sealed borders can disappear. (It is ironic, perhaps, that in an era where boundaries are increasingly sites of movement and even transgression, Nofharim is an example of a place where the borders h ave only become more impenetrable.) A handful of women also suggested (admittedly idealistically) that if a If they would give me the options: leaving and destroying this place, or living here with a Palestinian passport I would for sure live here! Jews lived here before the state, with a Turkish passport, a British mitzvah [commandment from God] to l ive here. Of course I would prefer The ground is still holy, even if democratically governed by another people.
241 For many North American indigenous people, the borders between Canada and the U.S.A. have no significance; rather, they perform deep connections to sanctified ancestral land, regardless of modern geographic lines. I would like to draw a parallel to residents of Jewish settlements, for whom it is the ancient si gnificance of the topography that is meaningful, and green or black lines of the modern era are sometimes deliberately obscured. Unlike many indigenous peoples, those in the settlements do desire an ethnic state, but, I think, sovereignty is second (and pe rhaps even just a means) to the active intimacy of personal, spiritual inhabitance. So what does this mean in terms of imagined futures? While polarized discourses draw out the conflict in ever simpler terms, the situation is actually a whole lot more com plicated. Could a recognition of the complexity of spiritual frameworks lead to the envisioning of new relationships between humans and space? Could post sovereign, borderless models of land based social/ethnic groupings exist on a yet unconceivable horizo n, in the case of Middle East? Or, are these just idealistic and unrealistic dreams? Hearing Settlement Narratives impractical if not impossible, but more importantly, it is a form of violence that narratives, amidst all the political and condemnatory discourse? I do not mean to diffuse criticism for the tremendously problematic treatment of Arab s in the West Bank, but I do think it urgent that all sides be heard in order to even imagine pathways to solutions. Lorenzo Veracini (2006), an Australian scholar who focuses on the historiography of settler societies, compares Israel to the colonial mode ls in South Africa and Australia, arguing that Israel is not at all unique. State action in Israel may certainly resemble
242 colonial processes in other parts of the globe, but what Veracini neglects to compare ter on the historiography of Israeli statehood does not even mention the religious and spiritual rationales that led the Jewish people to this particular geographic area. The Europeans who colonized South Africa and Australia were driven by territorial exp ansion and new opportunities (land, industry, etc.); they had no particular connection or roots in these new places. Jewish settlers, in sharp contrast, claim deep spiritual, religious, and historical roots to the land on which they are settling. In their view, they are the natives who are indigenous to the location. Their forefathers walked here, across that hill, and through that valley. They are just returning to their natural space, spelled out in the Bible, and for them as a population, there is nowher e else that could be called home. 11 According to their view, the Arabs are people who came later, through the centuries, but do not have such a history and heritage on these tracts of rocky ground. Attention to these desires and senses of affective belongin g complicate the common, black and white depictions of land grabbing settlers. However, by actively listening to such emotional experiences, constructive analysis can potentially emerge, and more sophisticated concepts of pathways forward can hopefully dev elop. (Not) Seeing the Other Whether it was during a seated conversation, or on a stroll down the road, I see their Arab neighbors. They are there in the vague, abstract sense that only i gnorance can allow. On a landscape painted with the brush of the bible and its commentaries, Arabs are 11 Amira Hass in fact identifies Israel as a refugee state. But with this classification, she asks, how do you talk about such a state that then creates circumstances of oppression towards others?
243 perceived through distracted, even diverted eyes. As demonstrated in the film at the wish narrative. Normalization discourses, emphasizing what is within the borders of the community and obscuring what lies beyond, further push conceptual awareness of Arabs to the ss a conflicting variance of sympathy for individuals, together with anger and mistrust for a sweepingly broad social group who support acts of violence. Those with whom I spoke in Nofharim were simply not aware of the suffering and hardship of Arabs caug ht in the geographic claustrophobia of the Israeli occupied West Bank. Though a Palestinian Arab family may live a mere one hundred meters from a is no knowledge of wh o they may be, their ways of life, their desires, and their fears. Michal encapsulated this situation in her reflections about growing up in Nofharim. For It was less that they said bad t hings Between Sympathy and Anger In my own research, I did not come across any significant hatred towards the Arabs, nor violent emotions that could permit corporeal brutality. Instead, there was a recurrent pattern of oscillation initial expressions of sympathy for Arab individuals, foll owed by feelings of anger for unpredictable terror (sometimes paired with references to Arab desires to wipe the Jews off the Middle Eastern map, and an ideal of Arab emigration), and then back again to a wish for neighborly relations and peaceful sharing
244 of the land. This confusing mixture of attitudes reflects a tension: On a personal level, women in particular do consider their theoretically far off (and physically close by) neighbors with a degree of compassion; and yet, the Arab people from whom deadl y violence emerges, is seen with suspicion and outrage. Overlaying it all is also a longing for safety and peace. Shira, for example, expresses this empathy in the scene she describes, when she hands her baby for a moment to an Arab woman at the grocery st ore. There is a sweetness and trust in her depiction of casually passing over her most precious unknown Arabs who cause terror. Shlomit articulates a wider spectrum of tho ughts on this subject. First she expresses wistful affection for the years when she could shop in Ramallah. A few minutes later she exclaims, waiting to drive the end of our conversation Shlomit speaks about the Jewish Arab treatment center she dreams of building. hould move to other dialogue, stand side by side with the stories of a social worker from Nofharim about her excellent Arab co dence as long as they were neighbors and friends. Also in the Galilee it is like tha
245 Blindness and Ignorance The film at the winery, recounted in the previous section, illustrates quite plainly how Arab residence on this landscape is simply disregarded. Arab characters do not emerge, as enemies or allies. Their narrative is just not th ere at all. One woman who I met with, when gazing out from her balcony each morning and night, sees only Jerusalem in the far distance. Her eyes simply pass over the urban sprawl of Ramallah, Day to day in Nofharim, I never heard anyone volunteer a reference to an Arab resident in Ramallah, to their worldview, or to their experiences. After raising the issue in conversations I sometimes prodded the question about the lack of Palestinian rights and citizenship in the West Bank. The usual response was a sad shrug. Some women, when I nudged, commented on the never ending construction in Ramallah, and how the city (the borders of which used to be quite in the distance) has become so big and prosperous that it has swallowed the former, sparsely populated Arab town beside Nofharim. Looking out from the road at the top of hill in Nofharim, one sees large villas, high rises, stores, happens to be situated directly beside one of the wealthiest Arab centers in the West Bank, but this fact does not den y the political distresses of all Arab inhabitants, nor the Other women acknowledged the unfortunate situation, but suggested (somewhat apologetically) that they are outside the problem, that they have no power to change anything. Some even affirmed hope that Arabs in the West Bank would soon obtain
246 Israeli rights and citizenship. Nevertheless, if they pray for potential change, they see it as the sole responsibility of the government. Directly beneath these shrugs, and even the wishful dreams of coexistence, lies of knowledge, but oftentimes also a choice in the matter. Furthermore, wholesale ignorance is not just on the level of individuals, but expands across the perceptive field of settlers in general, and perhaps even many Israelis. and commented suspiciously that fact that it is repeated five times a day). I do not blame preoccupied mothers, like Racheli, for not discovering the meaning of these broadcasted words, or learning the significance of such noisy ritua ls, but it seems odd that they live in a place where such things are not taught. From the perspective of an outsider, it seems absurd to imagine any kind of coexistence with such a lack of education. Without knowing the other, and without encountering him or her, one cannot even attempt to understand their ways, wants, and desires. Worse, without knowing the other, one cannot truly communicate or compromise in order to cease violence and create a semblance of social order. Hence the complex mixed bag of se ntiments expressed by the women: They are caught between genuine human sympathies for abstract individuals, and the fear and rage that prevail with the absence of knowledge for the terror that emerges from the social unknown.
247 Ironies of a Border Zone Shir Ramallah to hold while I get something. We shop together! We sit and eat pizza together! We trus need to study together we have different languages, different culture, but we do live here in The large grocery store, Rami Levi (Fig. 3 9), as well as many of the roads (Fig. 3 10), represent border zones between Jewish and Arab communities. And yet, apart nce? Without actually learning about the other, listening to the other, and talking to the other, the answer is definitely negative. Ultimately, a network of issues complicate the situation. Discourses of political economic normalization cause Jewish women to focus on the positive aspects of their settlement, and thus overlook the presence of physical security measures as well as what stands on the other side of the fence. The biblical lens through which they look out over the landscape, and their religious and historical sense of natural belonging on this geography further push Arab existence to the intellectual margins. From both sides, anger stands in the way of approaching the Arab or Jewish other in the West Bank. It seems that both are paralyzed by the sight of all the violence (political, physical, or emotional) the other one has wrought, unable to look beyond it. Anger impedes the ability to see, to encounter, to learn, to understand, and to truly sympathize. From the
248 Jewish perspective, Arab inhabita nts are therefore easily disregarded, and the entire Figure 4 1. Modern house interior: the dinning room area in one of the homes at the top of the hill. Figure 4 2. Another house interior: t he dinning room area in one of the older homes at the top of the hill.
249 Figure 4 3. A father walking two young children up from the caravans on the eastern slope, to the nursery schools at the top of the hill. Figure 4 4. A boy riding his bike to the elementary school.
250 Figure 4 5. The front entrance to one of the nursery schools (and the photograph that got me into trouble one Sunday morning). Figure 4 6. A boy returning home from school one afternoon.
251 A B C D E Figure 4 7. Series of f lags. A) E) Finding flags in Nofharim is not always easy, and most do not seem to be well taken cared for.
252 Figure 4 8. Bookshelves with numerous versions of the bible, the Talmud, and commentaries, in addition to more modern religious texts. Figure 4 9. Rami Levi, the large grocery store, situated here between a Jewish settlement on the upper left and an Arab town on the right.
253 Figure 4 10. Israeli and Palestinian license plates, back to back in traffic, along a road in the West Bank.
254 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the 1 A line up of modes of perception runs through this thesis. Ways of se eing sit atop dense networks of emotion, desire, fear, and anxiety, and thus, as their surfaces are probed, deeper contours emerge. In this investigation of perception in the West Bank, the social and political landscape of this internationally recognized conflict becomes an increasingly complicated thicket. I first attempt to interrogate assumptions and essentializing terms surrounding the perception of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. I juxtapose popular imaginations as well as academic descriptions, wi th a small set of individual female voices, depicting those perspectives that are especially under represented in popular and scholarly imaginations. By encountering and actively listening to the voices of women from an established settlement, we can focus in on a second frame of perception how these women perceive their own lives. What comes into view is a practice of normalization both the intentional creation of relatively normal life, as well as a discourse that works to block brings into relief a prof ound spiritual and religious relationship with this territory, a third 1 Definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary.
255 perceptive structure. Many settlers, I propose, see themselves as the indigenous people of this slice of the Middle Eastern geography. They believe that they originate from this topogra phy, belong to it, and are its natural human inhabitants. When they look out onto the sacred landscape, they see it through a lens dominated by biblical text and historically populated by divine promise. Arab inhabitants, who do not fit into this narrative are therefore overlooked. The fourth form of perception, following from the third, is the way the women look upon their Arab neighbors. By overlooking them and distancing themselves from the Arabs, by not encountering them nor knowing them at all, the wo men reproduce a situation of distinct ignorance. Emotionally, genuine human sympathy mix freely with anger and fear, encouraging further intellectual and physical distance from this unknown other. My study concentrates on the voices of settlement women. Wo uld I hear a generally different scope of responses if I spoke with men? Is it possible that women stress the practical aspects of life in such a location, while men emphasize the political struggle? Are mothers more interested in a safe, nurturing, and pr oductive environment for their children, while fathers are more concerned in control of the land? Are some women more sympathetic than men to Arab others? There are a scattering of moments in my limited study which could possibly point to answers to these questions. I will only venture to suggest that, perhaps due to the themes and approaches taught and reproduced through often separate social interaction, women in this milieu do express overall more practical and compassionate attitudes. If this is true, i t is even more reason to hear the voices of women in the context of political conflict. Though they represent half of those who populate the issue, their input seems to be droned out by a discourse
256 of zealous and militant language mostly uttered by men. A much wider and broader form of this research also begs an ethnography of women from the other side of the barbed wire fence I keep mentioning. After encountering women from Nofharim, it would be ideal to hear the voices of women from Ramallah as well. Emm the responsibility we have deep within our human selves to encounter the other (1999: 103). For Levinas, we are ethically obligated to approach this encounter, and it is through it that we realize our potential for goodness and invoke the experience of the infinite (1999: 106; 1969: 51). Ryszard Kapuscinski, who was very much influenced by Levinas, contextualizes the urgency and courage of this philosophical school of ethical res ). as representative of a false sense of encounter and relationship. The widespread usage has proved to be one of the greates t mistakes of modern culture, because the essence of a village depends on the fact that its inhabitants know each other well, commune with each other and share a common fate. Meanwhile nothing of the kind can be said of society on our planet, which is more like the anonymous crowd at a major airport, a crowd of people rushing along in haste, mutually indifferent and ignorant (75). Intervals of proximity and technical communication are not sufficient to build true connections. So what is a real encounter? L evinas focuses on the minutiae and intimacy of the individual relationship between the I and the other, and his philosophies are therefore
257 particularly productive in an analysis of voices in an ethnographic context. However, I have not come across an expos ition of the activity of the I, or the self the activity Rather, Levinas assumes that when encountering the other, when standing before his But what about the activity always perceive the other with clarity? Do we not often see him or her through a fog of pre existing assumptions, associations, and s implified formulae? Intellectual blindness and ignorance are about the self choosing, consciously or unconsciously, to not see the other, to perceive him or her through a distinct lack of knowledge, to contain him or her within the confines of maximally un complicated pictures. I am interested here in the In the case of Nofharim, normalization of everyday life within the parameters of a set community entails a conceptual disregard for whatever i s happening outside. Secondly, narratives of belonging privilege those who are perceived as indigenous, to the exclusion of those who do not fit into the narrative. Anger and fear, proliferating from ignorance, further reproduce aggressively maintained dis tance, and therefore an ever increasing lack of awareness about the other. On a broader scale, international media and even scholarship imagine the West Bank settlers in the most simplistic terms, within binary models. They are minimized as homogenous, vi olent, land grabbing, and religiously and politically zealous, standing aggressively and hatefully against Palestinian Arabs.
258 According to Levinas, true encounter takes the form of face to face engagement, which inherently results in communication, learni ng about the other, and feeling responsibility to him or her. This is all ideal. However, one must first choose to step forward and open their eyes to the other, to actively perceive him or her through sight, sound and intellectual engagement. True encount er must involve an engagement with complexity, difference, heterogeneity, and even perhaps new epistemological models. Only then is it possible to overlay previous abstract conceptions with the education of personal experience, to dialogue, and finally, to feel the weight of ethical responsibility. Sharpening perception of others, and opening to encounter them, thus seems like a most basic, yet especially crucial step in the contentious context of the West Bank region.
259 APPENDIX: GLOSSARY A LIYAH Moveme nt to Israel; term implies a direction of travel upwards. A M Y ISRAEL The people (or nation) of Israel. B AR MITZVAH The coming of age ritual for Jewish boys, customarily at the age of thirteen. B AT MITZVAH The coming of age celebration for Jewish girls, cus tomarily at the age of twelve. In liberal communities, the ceremony also involves ritual performance. E RETZ Y ISRAEL The land of Israel. G EMARA The later commentary on Jewish law that forms a major part of the Talmud. H ALAKHAH Jewish law. K IBBUTZ A collecti ve community in Israel, often agriculturally based, influenced by Socialist and Zionist ideologies; pl., kibbutzim. M IKVAH A small constructed body of water used for Jewish ritual immersion. M ITZVAH The Jewish commandments; good deeds; pl., Mitzvot. S EPHAR DIM Jews of Spanish and North African descent; adj., Sephardi S HIUR Class or lecture; pl., Shiurim. S HIVA The week of mourning following the death of an immediate relative; commonly referred to in the verb form, to sit shiva. S HTAHIM refers today to the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the former Jewish settlements in Gaza. S UKKOT Often translated as the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles; one of the three biblical pilgri mage holidays. In the northern hemisphere, this holiday occurs in the autumn. T ALMUD The written compendium of rabbinic discussions and commentary concerning Jewish law. T ANAKH The term in Hebrew for the Jewish biblical canon. T ORAH The five books of Mose s.
260 T EIMANIM Jews of Yemenite descent; adj., Teimani. Y EHUDAH V E HOMRON T ranslated as Judea and Samaria; the biblical names of the territory that roughly corresponds to the area known today as the West Bank. Y ESH A area occupied by the Israeli military in 1967. Y ESHIVA A Jewish educational institution for in depth study of traditional religious texts. Until the past few decades, a place of study for men only; pl., yeshivot. Y ISHUV Jewish settlements in Palestine before the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948; pl., yishuvim.
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267 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Hannah Mayne is a PhD student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Her focus is on narrative and feminist ethnography, the influence of feminism on religious ritual practic e, convergences of spiritual meaning and questions of power, contemporary Judaism, and Israel/Palestine. With a background in the study of performance and video art, she is also interested in form and visual representation in the anthropological discipline Hannah is proudly Canadian.