While additional security forces arrived Monday in Hebron following three days of violent clashes with settlers there, at least some people in Tel Aviv were preoccupied with existential questions of an entirely different order: "Should I try the almond croissant or the butter croissant?" wondered one young man enjoying an unexpectedly sunny Monday morning at a sidewalk caf .
"It's like another country here," said playwright Ido Borstein, sitting at a nearby table. "Hard as I try, I never remember where all those West Bank settlements are in relation to one another. I guess it's because I see it as a foreign place, where we aren't supposed to be and which we aren't supposed to rule.
"The settlers definitely have to be taken out of there," he added. "When I see pictures of settlers' children throwing stones at Palestinian homes, I can't help thinking that if those were Palestinian children, they'd be in the hospital now, having been shot in retaliation by the Israeli army."
Other Tel Aviv residents were similarly adamant about the need to evacuate Jewish settlers from the heart of Hebron.
"This city is so sheltered from what's happening in the rest of the country," said American expat Marisa Katz, walking her dog on King George Street. "But the sooner we can have a Gaza-type pullout from Hebron, the better off this country will be.
"The Jewish residents of Hebron are extremists who are endangering not only Palestinians, but also the lives of the soldiers who are protecting them," Katz added. "In my opinion, they do not even belong to the state of Israel."
"I don't see what people are so surprised about," said the owner of a nearby bookstore who did not want his name published. "People here in Tel Aviv may not care about what's going on, but as far as I'm concerned, Rabin should have gotten the settlers out of Hebron after the Baruch Goldstein massacre. The extremists there are like a seven-headed monster, and now it is rearing its head."
Dina Perach, a long-time resident of the Shabazi neighborhood who said she was planning to vote for Kadima, said she was shaken by the images she had seen on TV.
"I don't know what all those settlers are doing there in the middle of the Palestinians' lives," she said. "Isn't it enough that they've taken over Palestinian property and won't let the Palestinians make a living? The settlers' behavior there is a disgusting form of vandalism. I don't know if anyone here in Tel Aviv cares about it, but it's time to get those people out of there."
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