The Occupied West Bank: Divided by Faith, United by Fear - Gujkep - News Blog Website

The Occupied West Bank: Divided by Faith, United by Fear


Mr. Feiglin drives there along a bumpy road, past yawning canyons dotted with scrub brush and white stones. The Dead Sea shimmers in the distance. Beyond stand the red rock mountains of Jordan.

The landscape feels ancient, but the road itself is freshly bulldozed. “At any other time,” Mr. Feiglin says, “the settlers who made this wouldn’t be able to get away with it.”

The hilltop is guarded by four young men with matted hair, filthy jeans and the sidelocks of the ultra-Orthodox.

Their gear: a few radios, an ammo box, pistol clips, a prayer book, long knives and hunks of half-eaten challah. A belt-fed machine gun sits on sandbags, trained on the craggy hills.

“We should just shoot them in the head,” says Meir Kinarty, one of the young men, speaking of Palestinian protesters. “Only a bullet in their brains will make them learn.”

A reservist soldier, Andrew Silberman, who grew up in suburban Chicago, is also stationed on the hilltop. “This is totally illegal,” he says of the outpost, but he also says it’s his duty to help protect the area.

Like those of many others, Mr. Silberman’s feelings are complicated. He seems turned off by the bloodthirsty bravado of the young men strutting around with their knives. He says he understands how all the violence coursing through the West Bank, which has been rocked by major uprisings before, can radicalize people on both sides.

“But I don’t agree that hate should be the response,” he says.

When his shift ends, Mr. Silberman takes the belt-fed machine gun with him, uneasy about leaving it with the young men.

Abu Adam, from the rooftop of the home he built with his tour guide earnings, can see, with a squint, this same hilltop.

He laughs when asked what’s the way forward.

“It’s not clear,” he says. “But we have to keep looking.”


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