Op-Ed: The "Hilltop Youth": Israel's Heroes
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly...
With their long hair flying in the wind, their yarmulkes askew, their fringes peeking out from under faded t-shirts, the maligned "hilltop youth" are the Jews of the Jewish State, the Jews of the "settlers".
Is education deficient? Blame the hilltop youth. Is crime rampant? Blame the hilltop youth.
They are Israel's most outstanding individuals, instilled with ideals that their government ministers can only envy. They are Israel's last heroes.
But their homes and their children have been brutally dispersed by hundreds of soldiers.
The latest destruction took place in Maaleh Rehavam. The unconscionable uprooting of the Jewish residents - this time stopped by court order - in order to attain “peace” with the Arabs has been one of the most terrible chapters in Israel's short history. And the energized Obama-Livni duo will try to erase all of their homes.
Many of the hilltop youth have lived through the murder of friends and relatives by terrorists. Most have adopted a very religious life style. No drugs or TV. No playing around. They're not hanging out at discos. Many have no steaming water. No electricity. They have held on to Judea and Samaria's barren hills for years.
No Arabs were displaced by them.
While the established "settlements" have been fortified with barbed-wire fences and the "settlers" have been compelled to travel in bulletproof vehicles and guarded convoys, for safety's sake, the hilltop youth are just like in the days of the War of Independence. No fences for them. They see the protective gear that has gripped the "settlements" as a sign of weakness.
During the Second Intifada, in Judea and Samaria, most of the newcomers were these religious youth and most of those departing were secular. The hilltop youth came while others left.
Their enemies today are the Jihad of the Arab beheaders, the incitement of the Western leftists but also Israel's self hatred.
If they would not be up there on Israel's peaks and hills, who would be? A friend told me: "They bear the war for the Land on their shoulders".
They are Jews who will fight for what Jews over the centuries have always fought: Israel's God, ideals, people and land - who will brave rocks, Molotov cocktails and even a Palestinian Arab terrorist army to be the bridge over which a Jewish tradition of courage, commitment and creativity passes to the generations to come.
They know that the whole hatred of "settlements" is not new. It started in the Thirties. Croatia, Belfast, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, the transformation of Konigsberg into Kaliningrad and the conquest of Mexican Texas...But only Western Eretz Israel is expected to be turned into a tabula rasa for the Arabs.
That's why the hilltop youth is fighting a noble and just war over land, state land.
The hilltop youth is the only obstacle to the betrayal of solemn promises made to the people of Israel, the betrayal of the Jewish inhabitants of Judea, Samaria and the hitherto greatest threat to Israel's security. The hilltop youth are a living shelter against the fatal blunder of delivering territory - an irreversible concession - in return for promises, papers and committees. In return for war.
The hilltop youth are an obstacle to the army retreat to the "security zones" and the flooding of the area, with the billions of Washington and Saudi Arabia, of millions of Arabs from the nearby countries. They oppose creating the sights of desolation for the Jews in the areas versus the soaring development among the Arabs.
Without the hilltop youth, Israel would be robbed of the fruits of victory of 1967.
On the hilltops, young mothers stroll with their toddlers a few dozen feet from their front doorsteps and set out coffee in the house-trailer synagogue each evening for the Israeli soldiers who patrol the community. Husbands take turns patrolling at night with M16s or Uzis slung over their shoulders, pistols on their hips. They live a stone’s throw from the Arabs, but on state land. For them traveling past Arabs areas has become a Russian roulette: Will they be shot at or not?
It is a new generation imbued with the pioneering ethos that was once the ideal of the secular kibbutz, a mystical nationalism combined with an ascetic spirit and an oriental sense of fatalism; it rejects the consumerism of the big cities on the coast, and lives by ideology, faith, and zeal. In many outposts, the young couples construct a giant Star of David so the Jews in nearby settlements and the Palestinian Arabs can see it.
The hilltop youth live lives of dignified joy. These Jews oppose the balkanization of the land into terrorist enclaves. They know who they are. They know what being a Jew means. They know what they are doing, why they are doing it and that it’s right.
How many youngsters like these can Europe count? How many Jews like these can you find in New York? They have much to offer the world.