Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We're living here for you

Emily Amrousi

Do you know that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed 193 members of the U.N. and dedicated half his speech to me? International concern over the settlements, which altogether constitute an area slightly larger than Central Park, is mind-boggling. Every newborn settlement here gets an automatic 15-minute spotlight, which is actually alarming, not flattering. It's not easy to be a settler. Especially if you read Israeli newspapers. Last week, Asher Palmer and his son Yonatan were murdered near Kiryat Arba. It took the media here three days to treat their deaths as a terrorist attack, despite clear-cut evidence at the scene of the crime. Last month, a special police unit entered homes through windows, at 3 a.m., to remove the residents and destroy their homes. This didn't happen in the Bedouin village of el-Arakib, but in the Jewish village of Migron. That's why the media didn't point out that these were actual homes, in which children were thrown out of their beds into the cold, dark night, without prior warning.

In addition to Arab terror, we are subjected to persecution from within as well. We endure a corrupt justice system, selective enforcement, housing and construction discrimination that doesn't occur in other sectors, life under military rule, faulty infrastructure, blocked roads, lack of public services, censorship, harassment at locations designated as secure areas, and character assassinations in the media, theater, literature, satire, social protests, and everywhere else.

When an enemy leader speaks at the U.N. about “Palestinians who cannot reach hospitals and settlers who set their dogs upon them,” the commentators chime in immediately and point out that Palestinians are treated well in our hospitals, which is true, of course. But one doesn't need Abbas to be shocked by false descriptions -- it's enough to listen to the news in Hebrew. Which leads us to the question: Why do we do this to ourselves?

Today is the day of judgment. Today the world was born, and every human being will be judged. It's between you and the Judge. There is to be no passing of notes to your attorney, and no witnesses. The evidence was gathered during 24-hour surveillance, which is hard to escape from.

Some say that one should not ask for personal favors on this day. A direct spotlight focused on yourself is not a good idea when your soul is trembling on the witness stand, and the trick to obtain exoneration is to ask forgiveness for others. Jewish New Year prayers are not about the private, but the public. Instead of private confessions, we say, “Rule over the entire world, with your honor.” We beseech God to “keep us alive,” and Rebbetzin Yemima Mizrachi explains: Let me live for all those around me, keep me here so that I can help someone in need. We will merit another year only if we ask to be allowed to help others.

So why do we still camp out in the mountains? Good question. There are advantages to settlements, but I still haven't found a single personal benefit that can compete with the fear, distance, isolation and cost.

I have the audacity to say out loud that people living in the West Bank are not living there for themselves, but for the good of all. And when we all have no more strength to continue, they still carry on.

Perhaps that is what will save us in the end from destruction. “Keep us alive,” for another year, for many years to come, not for ourselves.

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