Monday, 23 May 2011

Chapter 59 Little boxes

Settlements loom large as an exacerbating factor here. They're everywhere. Creeping insidiously on the hilltops.

They all look the same. Red roofs atop of beige houses. Easy to set up, easy to transport. Settlements are notorious for appearing overnight.

Every time I see one the refrain to the theme song from Weeds plays through my head:

"Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same"

There are certain benefits to living in a settlement; tax breaks, free education, subsidized mortgages and other similar things.

The settlements are guarded by walls and checkpoints. They are connected to Israel and other settlements by special roads only accessible to Israeli license plated cars.

It makes for an exceedingly difficult environment. There is violence in both directions between settlers and Palestinians and the situation is fraught.

It is a problem. No doubt. I just want to give a little nod to the humanity of people just trying to make do.

Our various oh-no-we're-lost hiking bloopers have resulted in a number of conversations with locals to the area who tend to think we're settlers.

Without fail we've been greeted with a hearty 'shalom'. Once they realize I'm Arab and my colleagues are Western the language changes but the friendly sentiment remains.

In our last hike we were offered by rides by passing Palestinians who thought we were lost settlers.

Our 10 year old guide in Sebastiya spoke of playing with a child from a neighboring settlement whose parents were touring the Roman ruins.

It is a problem. No doubt about it. I just wanted to give a little nod to the humanity of people just trying to make do


  1. its cool that it exists.. and a shame that it is smothered in hatred

    by the way i disagree with you about how you describe the establishment of these places for the followsing reasons:

    (a) as you can see in your photos - some of the settlements as you call them have been there for decades - their tall trees were once planted as saplings and their homesare beige from the dust not by design.. theyre built normally in white..

    (b) many of these towns - like in the gush etzion region - were jewish before 1948 - built on land that was duly acquired for good money and teh jews were chased out.. this was also the case for exmaple with har homa in jerusalem and other areas..

    (c) the roads separation issue should not be painted as a racist ploy.. the division is security driven.. and for better reasons than you might imagine..

    (d) i still like you fishing for humanity.. i think its healthy to remember the significance of this at the end of the day..

  2. Hey Lirun - thanks the comment.

    Settlements are in direct violation of UN Resolution 446 and their continued expansion is not just an obstacle to peace but a very real and aggressive way of occupying more and more land.

    And a very painful process for Palestinians.

    The beauty of it all is - I don't need to fish for humanity, I see it here every day.

    It's a wonderful thing.

  3. hey

    i can understand yuor sentiment towards them - i still find it offensive.. i cant see why jews living on bought land (and i know thats not always the case) is worse than arabs living on stolen land within the green line which happens all the time.. shamelessly.. but thats an argument that lacks boundaries..

    i know you dont have to fish for humanity.. you have an eye for it and so you are atuned.. many people in this region have developed a blindness..

    i agree that its a wonderful thing.. puns included

    and again (on both sides)

  4. The new settlements wouldn't fall under the same category as the very old and established ones. Those tend to be taken quite forcefully.

    Yes... both sides.