Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Amazing Illegal Outpost Adventure: Ariel and Barkan

Yom shlishi, 5 Av 5772.

If you haven't read Part One of this tour, and feel the need, please click here.

After we left Kedumim, we started driving toward Ariel.  Ariel, a city of more than 17,000 residents, has been in the news a lot lately, due to a boycott of its Center for the Performing Arts by actors who -- I'm sorry to say -- didn't do their homework before jumping like lemmings off the "Israel has to be in the wrong" cliff, and because of the university there that has been trying to get status as an official university of Israel.  Fierce opposition to the request has been launched by parties on the Left who assume that we Jews have no right to live in the West Bank.  And so it goes... 


Ariel, the capitol of the Shomron, is a lovely little city that has been in existence since 1978.  I think it's important to remember, as we listen to the skewed "news" stories about the Middle East, that not all of the so-called illegal settlements are tiny groups of caravans.  (Even that shouldn't be an issue, according to a correct reading of international law; but we'll get to that later.)  The MSM (mainstream media) like to present these communities as if they are temporary, hastily-thrown-together encroachments on territory that rightfully belongs to Arabs.  Rather, the West Bank -- which is more honestly called Yehuda and Shomron -- is filled with Arab cities and villages, and Jewish cities and villages.  With lots of open spaces in between.


And for those who still persist in believing news accounts that seem to indicate that settlers are willfully putting up these "villages" without Israeli government support, remind them that even Israelis cannot cause electricity, plumbing and sewage to sprout out of the ground without a little help from their friends.


Ariel's university has, according to YNet, 13,000 students, including 5% Arab students and a large number of Ethiopian Jewish students.  I am sure they are all grateful that that their degrees will be obtained by an official university -- as this status was finally obtained a few days after our tour. (We didn't have anything to do with the final outcome, other than being really happy for Ariel and all concerned.)

We're talking serious infrastructure here.


We had lunch in the sweet little park pictured above.  The park, like most of the parks we have seen in Shomron and Yehuda, reminds us that children are the most important commodity of the settlement enterprise.

As the Dearly Beloved says, the best part of any tour is the people we meet.  We were blessed to meet several lovely couples, among them the Franks, with whom we shared lunch and conversation.   They are new olim, 85 and 81 years old, who live in French Hill in Jerusalem.  "I just told him it was time to make aliyah," said Lore Frank.  "So I came," finished Shimon Frank.  Lore (pronounced "Lori") was very proud to let us know that Shimon had been here before.  "He fought with the navy in the War of Independence in 1948," she told us.  They inspired us in so many ways, and we hope to keep in touch.


A pillbox guard post -- sometimes called a "fillbux" or a "pillibox" by Israelis -- is a constant reminder that the IDF must keep its eyes and ears on the areas surrounding these yishuvim at all times.

The view of the area surrounding Eynavis

Hard to imagine why people think there isn't room for all kinds of settlement...


After lunch, we packed up for the trip to Barkan, a very small yishuv, where the sweet and funny owner of the Eynavis boutique and chocolate workshop, Sharon Kahane, taught us how to make chocolate -- and insisted disarmingly that we teach her to speak English.

The process is quite detailed.  When she was finished, we understood why handmade chocolate isn't cheap!



Eve Harow, our tour guide, explained to us how the international boycott of products from Yehuda and Shomron is affecting both Israelis and Palestinians -- and, in fact, Palestinians more than Israelis.  While Eynavis is an exception, many companies have moved their businesses to Tel Aviv and other areas within the Green Line, to avoid the boycott.  So while the Jewish businessman might be temporarily inconvenienced, his business can continue to thrive.  However, if he hired Palestinian laborers, they are simply out of a job.  I wonder if the organizations that work so hard to punish Israel for being Jewish to help the downtrodden actually think this through?

Stay tuned for the third and final part of our adventure: a visit to Psagot for wine, and to much-maligned Migron.  The plot thickens...
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