After spending almost 15 years in the US where we lived the American dream -- two daughters, a dog, a good job, and a house in the suburbs, we went back to Tel Aviv . For several years, we lived in a tiny apartment at the old north.
It was a perfect location, but still we longed to move away from the noise and the pollution, and were hoping to recreate our old life at the American suburbs.
It was the 1990s, a time when many of our friends moved away from the cities to places that promised good quality of life together with a garden. Our “solution” was a beautiful community called Oranit, only 28 minutes, by car, from Tel Aviv. We loved the location in the beautiful hills of Samaria, near Rosh Ha’ayin rand Kfar Kasem.
Several kilometers to the east we saw a border control station, so we assumed that Oranit was safely tucked inside what is called “the Green Line” (the pre-1967 borders of Israel).
Soon we found a suitable house in the western part of Oranit. The owners, a very nice family with two daughters, just like ours, were going to be our next-door neighbors. We made an offer on that house, and met at the lawyer's office to sign the papers. Then to our dismay we discovered that we had just committed ourselves to buying a house in the occupied territories. It transpired that although part of Oranit was inside the Green Line, it was still a settlement.
Our blindness could be partly excused because these were the pre-internet days. Besides, we had been away from Israel for many years, and didn't know which questions to ask. So we were unaware of the fact that the location of the border control station did not indicate that this was indeed a border. Furthermore, after being assured by the seller, and other members of the community, that our new home was indeed “on the Israeli side of the Green Line,” it never occurred to us to investigate the matter further before buying the house..
We lived in Oranit for seven years, and although I loved my house and the community, I felt uneasy and was always apologetic about choosing to live in a settlement.
We had bought the house in 1998, yet we only moved to Oranit in the summer of 2000, days before the Second Intifada. The Intifada and the political situation in Israel made matters much worse. For years, I have been volunteering in schools in the US and in Israel, and, upon moving to Oranit, I offered to do the same at the school in the neighboring Arab town of Kefar Kasem.
But, even though I was always welcome in Kfar Kasem as a customer, my offer to volunteer was declined.
In a similar fashion, my application to participate in a Peace Initiative in Givat Haviva was rejected because I was a settler. When I spoke to the Israeli and Palestinian coordinators and explained that it was important to include in the peace efforts Israelis and Palestinians from all segments of the population, they politely agreed, but still did not accept me to the project.
It's a shame, even among the settlers, there are people who, not only say that they want peace, but would like to be involved. Many of my friends in Oranit told me that for peace they would willingly move westward.
For me, Givat Haviva is a symbol of the intolerance of the left, and until this day, it pains me to remember the humiliation I felt there when I was treated as the enemy of peace. Leftist sentiments come in many different shades and degrees. The peace camp is small, and could not afford to act like an exclusive club which leaves certain people out.