Next to my parents' house was a huge empty lot. You may ask: with an empty lot, the ideal of every little boy's imagination, right next door – did we play there? Heck no! Besides being overrun with weeds too tall to find a baseball hit out of an infield that didn't exist either – there was another serious, ominous reason to stay away. That empty lot was the scene of the first time I was duped into believing there's more evil in the world than there really is, some of it lurking right nearby!

How so?

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At the other end of the lot, far from our house, there was a mysterious house. It was a low sitting longish building with unusually colored walls that I couldn't quite make out from so far. You ask: where was your little boy's inquisitiveness? Why didn't I go out to take a closer look?



The answer is: an un-named brother of mine told me a scary fairy tale. He took me aside once, when I was about four years old, and revealed a deep secret. Pointing at the far-off house he said: "D'ya see that house?"

"Uh- huh. Whadaboudit?" I answered, readying myself to absorb a momentous truth.

"Y'gotta stay away from't" he warned me.

"Huh???"

"There's a big-time gangster who got his crew to break'em outta prison and they're hol'ing up there, so don't get close!" my brother told me with all seriousness.

I looked up at him with doe eyes and asked: "Do the cops know??"

He just lifted a finger to his lips: "Shhh! Don't say anything about it to anyone… they might find out you squealed and they'll come for you!"

I duly stayed away from the building and obediently kept my mouth shut. Walking to school I would sneak a peak in the direction, checking to see if I could spy one of the gangsters (whom I figured would be wearing a pin-striped suit and carrying a violin case) or the police (minus cases and suits) finally making their raid to arrest the evil men, as I was sure they would eventually do. In the end it paid off, because one day I did indeed see a truck pull up close to the house. Despite my better judgment and my brother's dire warnings, I drew close enough to see what was up. I figured that either I'd see the gangsters leaving (although from my television experience, gangsters only travelled in limos) or the police bringing law and order. What I saw, to my total surprise, was a guy in farmer's overalls bringing out boxes of flowers to put in the truck, which had a smiling lady holding flowers painted on its canvas side. You see – the "house" was actually a greenhouse growing flowers! An old farmer who's family originally owned and farmed all the land in the area, sold most of the land but kept that greenhouse, so he could continue at least a bit of growing blessed things from the ground!

So before you judge, thinking you know what goes on there in that far-away house or far-away land – go closer, go over and talk with the residents, sit down over coffee and listen and you may hear an interesting story.

You see: the house and the people in it, whom from far off seem to be violent, lawless people that hate everyone outside their immediate family – in reality they're peaceful law-abiding people, full of love for all humanity. Their forefathers used to own all the land in the area – until it was stolen from them by European conquerors. They've come back to live in the house they bought, in the village the state built, in the land that had always belonged to their people. They mean no harm to anyone, Jew or Arab, and harbor no hate for any person, Jewish or not. They're happy with their cousins – Arabs – who live nearby as neighbors. They just wish to live and grow blessings for all those in the area, the country and the world.

Oh – these people, who are they? They're called "settlers", in Judea and Samaria, but really they're just regular people, Israelites they were once called – nowadays they're called Jews – and they've come back to their ancient and modern homeland. 

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