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Blunt on the BBC

By Batya Medad
12/22/2008, 12:00 AM
Aleem Maqbool quoted some of my uncompromising answers to his questions in his BBC diary chronicling his trek from Nazereth to Bethlehem. Actually, I'm rather pleased with his choice of my words.

"If people think my views are extreme, then fine, I'm an extremist," said Batya Medad. "I have no problem with that." Batya lives in the Jewish settlement of Shilo, in the middle of the "West Bank" (though Batya does not use that term, instead calling it by the Biblical regions it covers, Judea and Samaria).

Every country around the world, except for Israel, considers settlements like Batya's illegal, built on occupied Palestinian land. When I put that to her, she responded angrily. "We (Jews) are the only ones with history here, we were here first and we should be here now. It's totally immoral to say we can't be," she says.

Batya instantly felt at home when she moved from New York to Shilo. "I don't care what the world thinks. They didn't care when the Nazis started against the Jews and when Jews were murdered. So why should I care?"

Batya and her husband, Yisrael, were both born and raised in New York, but moved in 1970. She says she never had a feeling of belonging when she was in the United States, but that when she moved here, she instantly felt at home. Israeli and Palestinian politicians, supported by the international community, are meant to be working towards an end to the Israeli occupation here and the creation of an independent Palestinian state. However, Batya says she thinks that the peace process will go nowhere, and that her future in Shilo is not under threat at all.

I just disagree with his description of my responding "angrily." I think that the picture gives a more benign image. But, all and all, I don't think that anger is misplaced as a response to statements like his.

  • The big mistake in our hasbara, information campaign, "rebranding," is being too nice.
  • Why should we be willing to compromise and give gifts to those who want us dead?
  • Why should we be deprived of basic human rights?
  • Why should we agree that our HolyLand be empty of Jews?

And Aleem Maqbool surprisingly missed a major bit of our story. We didn't move directly from New York to Shiloh. It's a funny thing for him to get wrong, considering that we told him that we had lived in London for two year in the middle 1970's. And he must have known that we and his photographer discovered that we had lived in the same Bayit, V'Gan, Jerusalem building in the early 1970's.

All in all, I consider it a successful interview. I got my message across, and he published it in his diary. He included neither me nor my husband in the accompanying video. Whoever did the editing decided that the public cared more for his donkeys, which, like the old Pony Express, had been changed a few times, than they cared about hearing from Jews living in Shiloh.