Food, Manners and Unrequited Love: What Every Visitor to Israel Needs to Know
SETTLEMENTS, REFUGEE CAMPS AND CHECK POINTS
Jewish "settlers" live on "disputed" territory in varying levels of comfort. We drove through Ariel, which looks no different than a typical Western suburb; it even has its own university.
Since there are virtually no houses in Tel Aviv, just apartments, some Israelis live in "settlements" like Ariel and commute elsewhere to work. The cost of living in a "settlement" like Ariel is (according to our guide) about 75% less.
To get in and out of Ariel, we drove through one of those dreaded "checkpoints." This consisted of an armed guy in a booth, waving us through. Wooo, scary!
In contrast, I have never crossed the U.S./Canadian border without being hassled by officious, ignorant, tyrannical border guards.
Other settlers insist on roughing it, like the couple we met near Hebron. The Federmans are raising their ten children in conditions reminiscent of the Appalachians before the Tennessee Valley Authority.
They figure it is pointless to build a more substantial house than the one they live in, because the Israeli government has destroyed their previous homes. They have also been charged with "child neglect" and other tricks the state uses to harass "troublemakers" -- tricks not limited to Israel, of course.
If you think "Palestinian" "refugees" live in tents or shacks, think again.
They often don't finish building the top floor because as long as the house is "unfinished," they don't have to pay taxes on it. Otherwise, some of their houses probably look bigger and nicer than yours -- and you're paying for theirs through foreign aid.
Our guide joked that some "Palestinians" are 140 years old. That is, UNRAW doles out money to individual "Palestinians," which would naturally be cut off when that person dies. Just as naturally, their families don't file death certificates, so the money keeps coming.