US interested in what makes American-born settlers tick

WikiLeaks releases 2005 cables from US embassy in TA to Washington focusing on mindset of 2 American women living beyond the Green Line.

By
August 30, 2011 01:27
4 minute read.
Israeli flag over settlements (illustrative).

Israeli flag flutters over settlement of Ofra 311 R. (photo credit: Laszlo Balogh / Reuters)

In the beginning of 2005, with the internal Israeli debate over withdrawal from the Gaza Strip at a fever pitch, the US embassy in Tel Aviv sent two cables to Washington focusing on the mindset of two unnamed American women living beyond the Green Line.

The women went to the embassy for routine consular matters and were willing to “discuss the broader subject of life in a West Bank settlement.”

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The new batch of hundreds of diplomatic cables sent out from the US embassy in Tel Aviv published on the WikiLeaks website last week includes one from January 20, 2005, with the subject title: “Snapshot of a West Bank Amcit [American citizen] Settler,” and another a couple weeks later, on February 10, entitled, “Another West Bank Amcit Settler’s account.”

The first relates to a US consular officer’s conversation with a 36-year-old American citizen who went to report the birth of her “American citizen child” at the embassy. The woman, unnamed, immigrated to Israel at the age of 20, married an Israeli Technion graduate who works in Tel Aviv, and lives in Neve Tsuf.

“As a resident of the West Bank she is technically within the consular district of the US Consulate in Jerusalem,” the cable read. “However she said that she did not wish to travel through east Jerusalem streets ‘surrounded by Arabs’ to get to the Consulate. She would go there only if accompanied by her husband, who is usually armed.

“When asked why, if she fears east Jerusalem, she is willing to live in a settlement in the heart of the West Bank, she said that she thinks of Neve Tsuf as a suburb of Tel Aviv. She feels secure at home and is comforted by the presence of Israeli soldiers in her settlement and on the roads. She does not feel that she is in any more danger in Neve Tsuf than she would be in Tel Aviv.”



The cable said the woman “considers herself religious and cited ideological reasons, not financial incentives, for moving to Neve Tsuf. She believes that the God-given land of Israel includes the West Bank.

However, she also cites practical reasons for wanting to live in a settlement. She says that, whereas within Israel she would live in an apartment, in Neve Tsuf she has a house.”

The cable then quoted a Nefesh B’Nefesh study saying that 4 percent of American immigrants to Israel in 2004 settled over the Green Line. In 2004, the cable said 1,700 Americans immigrated to Israel, roughly the same number as in 2003.

According to the cable, signed by then-US ambassador Dan Kurtzer, the woman “opposes the disengagement plan and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

She said there are ‘21 Arab nations, and they don’t need another one.’ In a tone more sheepish than strident, she said the conflict in Israel and the territories is part of the biblical struggle between the Jews and the ‘sons of Ishmael.’ However, she said she is not an ‘Arab hater.’ She stated that an Arab built her house.”

In the second cable, also signed by Krutzer, the US consular officer spoke with an American citizen living in Elkana who had come to the embassy to renew the US passports for her children.

This woman, neither whose name nor age was provided, is a mother of five who moved to Elkana with her Israeli-born husband two months before the discussion at the embassy.

Like the first interviewee, this woman cited “pragmatic reasons” for the move, saying her family could afford a large house with a yard in Elkana, whereas in Jerusalem, they could only afford a small apartment.

The cable said the woman spoke highly of the communal atmosphere in the settlement, as well as the “quality of people.”

“The observation that settlement residents are ‘nice’ is a recurring one,” the cable read in a parenthetical comment.

“One American citizen resident of the West Bank settlement Karnei Shomron compared these communities to small towns in the American mid-west.”

The woman, who “professed not to be certain that Elkana is indeed east of the Green Line at all,” told the consular official that it was important to her that the community was inside the separation fence.

“She denied having personal ideological reasons for moving to Elkana,” the cable read. “Her husband, on the other hand, was primarily motivated by ideology.

Her husband and children faithfully attend anti-disengagement protests and rallies.

She said the Elkana schools provide the children with free busing to these events.”


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