Thursday, September 08, 2011

Rachel shops for a home in Judea

Rachel Shabi, a British-Israeli and daughter of Iraqi Jews, disclosed to the Guardian how easy it is for ordinary secular Israelis to become settlers in a "national priority zone". And her undercover revelations about shopping for a new house in one of the 200 developments for Israelis in occupied territory were shortlisted for the prestigious Orwell Prize for political writing. As her friends quip: not too shabby! Here are some excerpts:

The incentives still offered to Israelis to live on Palestinian land are so considerable that, leaving politics aside, it would be silly not to take advantage of them...Almon offers enticingly priced, spacious family homes with a garden and a view. The surrounding neighbourhood, also known as Anatot, sits on a ridge overlooking the Judean hills, near Jerusalem, a blaze of cultivated greenery in the parched landscape. Residents have a relaxed air, and newcomers who have recently relocated from Jerusalem wish they'd made the move years ago...It's a short drive east of Jerusalem, and I've had to cross an Israeli checkpoint, but it's specifically for settler use – a nod, the "right" appearance and Israeli number plates get me waved through...
The separation barrier that cuts into the West Bank for around 80% of its path. The barrier route runs, in some places, up to 12 miles deep into the West Bank, but settlements on the Israeli side of it are, broadly speaking, "consensus settlements" – ones that Israelis assume will be conceded to the Jewish state in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

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