Tel Aviv settlers

When the residents of the Gaza settlement of Netzer Hazani had no viable housing options just days after August's disengagement, the community's teenagers decided that they would become settlers - in Tel Aviv. They convinced their parents to set up camp in the park across the street from the Arlozorov bus station to protest their treatment by the Disengagement Authority - and as a wake-up call for the people of Tel Aviv, whom they perceived as apathetic or ignorant of their plight. For about two weeks the park was transformed into a small tent village, where Netzer Hazani families ate and slept. "It's in the center [of the country] where people worry about themselves - it's not Jerusalem," said Nirit Tanami, 22, one of the evacuees. Sabine Zarbib, a mother of two, said that the teenagers' parents initially discouraged the temporary Tel Aviv settlement for fear that the youths would face callous and uncaring responses. "They replied that Jerusalem is already with us. We need to get to people who are asleep, who don't know who we are. We want to touch people who aren't like us - the leftists and those who don't care." Zarbib and the youths were pleasantly surprised. "We were amazed at the good hearts of people. Even though Tel Avivians live mostly for themselves, there were many people - not only religious people - who, while they disagreed with us, said that they understand us and would help us." For Zarbib and some members of her community, the image of Tel Aviv as a generally leftist, anti-settler or just plain apathetic nerve center was shattered to some extent. Tanami, too, derived satisfaction for having an effect on a city generally considered to be hostile to settlers of any kind. "Leftists who came and saw and to whom we spoke- it affected them too. They accepted us very nicely."