Visiting Israeli settlers in what my GPS calls “unreachable areas”

November 21, 2008
(Editor’s note: Doug Hamilton, one of our most experienced correspondents and lively writers, recently took up a new post in Jerusalem. Here’s the back story to his latest feature “A Biblical view of peace high in the Holy Land.”)

(Photo:the West Bank Jewish settlement of Psagot, 17 November 2008/Eliana Aponte)

When I began my assignment to Israel & the Palestinian Territories two months ago, I was determined to get out and about and see as much as possible for myself. I wanted to find out up close what life was like for the people who live here — from the Palestinians lining up obediently to get through intimidating Israeli checkpoints, to the nightlife crowd a world away in chic Tel Aviv, to the Orthodox Jews in 16th century attire in their Jerusalem districts where you dare not drive on the Sabbath, to the Palestinian olive groves and to the settlers on the occupied land of the West Bank.

I bought a GPS navigator to help me get around and the first thing I discovered was that my desired West Bank and Gaza destinations were “in an unreachable area”, according to the device. The occupied territories show up as dark grey background on the GPS. But its warnings can be overridden and  it will then guide you  pretty accurately to the “unreachable destinations” you seek.

As the little green arrow that designates your car moves along corridors through the dark grey background, isolated splodges of beige show up on the map. These are Israeli settlements, mostly on the hilltops. You look up from the highway and see new roads going up the slopes leading to new houses with red-tiled roofs. They are protected by steel gates and coils of razor wire and electric alarm fences, or set behind Israel’s formidable security barrier of concrete and watchtowers. The further out you go from Jerusalem, the more there is a frontier feeling to these strangely suburban-looking little communities, surrounded by rocky terraced hillsides that have barely changed down the centuries.

A settler group recently organised a visit for foreign media to correct what they view as our misperceptions about their movement. The people I met on this little tour — which provided the material for my feature — betrayed not a flicker of self-doubt. They had a few sharp answers ready for any challenge to their fundamental premise: God gave this land to the Jews and nothing over the 3,500 years since the Old Testament — the book they live by — has changed or can change that fact. The settlers we met were all friendly and polite. I have also witnessed young settler activists in less genteel circumstances, calling for the killing of young Palestinians who throw rocks at police guarding security-barrier constructions and demanding the displacement of Palestinian villagers in the way of their project to make the occupation of what they call Judea and Samaria a permanent fact.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

[…] FaithWorld » Blog Archive » Visiting Israeli settlers in what my … Thomson Reuters is the world’s largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, … […]

Posted by US Election On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » FaithWorld » Blog Archive » Visiting Israeli settlers in what my … | Report as abusive

Once the campaign against the Jewish settlers, waged by the Palestinians, world media and Western Left has reached its successful conclusion – it will be transferred to Israel itself.
Its very right existence will be called into question or portrayed as an obstacle to world peace and Western well being and prosperity.
Oh? That is already happening?
Well the next step is…

Posted by graeme anderson | Report as abusive

Israel has lasted for 60 years. But it seems that now its is about to suffer collapse. Iran has promised to wipe The Jewish State from the map. Hezbollah in Lebanon have already managed to defeat the invinsible army IDF. Hamas has routed Fatah and taken over Gaza. They also have vowed never to recognise Israel. Its seems that Israel is being surrounded by enemies and its allies are doing nothing about it. US and EU are just sitting by are watching the end of Israel. Unless Israel looks after its own intersts, no one is coming to save its nation. Israel should talk to Arabs and establish good relations with them. Its the only way it can live. War will result in the death of the Israeli dream.

Posted by Thomas | Report as abusive

Israel has lost all touch with reality. The occupation is an ongoing cancer for Israel. The daily crimes against humanity committed, by both official Israeli forces and the paramilitary settlers are a disgrace to all moral and legal standards. Unless Israel ends the occupation and withdraws from occupied Palestine, including removing all settlements, there will be no peace in the Middle East and the U.S. and Israel will be drawn into a deeper and deeper quagmire.

Posted by Larry Saltzman | Report as abusive

If I forget you Hebron

Myopic and coward Politicians, who castrate themselves by expelling circumcised Jews from Abraham, and who not dare the vision of rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem on its authentic Site, will soon be swept out of History by the irrepressible Destiny of true Israel.

Incidentally, those amnesic and hollow Politicians, who hypocritically dare to use the concept and vocabulary of “Fascism” to qualify the conveniently-called “Settlers !!!” in Hebron, forget too quickly that it was those exactly same Virtues, which allowed, through numerous “Heroic Jewish Settlers’ sacrifices”, the glorious Renaissance of lost Israel, of which they are, now, of course, only eager to profit.

Natan December 2008
Natan is the Author of the sole authentic History of the Jews (2.500 pages), since the colossal Work of Flavius Josephus.

Posted by Natan | Report as abusive