Renegade Jewish Settlers Part 1/5

Uploaded by vice on Jul 2, 2012


SIMON OSTROVSKY: We just arrived in Tel Aviv.
We're here on the beach.
It's really nice.
It's deceptively nice, because 20 miles that way is the West
Bank, which Israel has been occupying since 1967.
And the reason we're interested in the West Bank is
because the other thing that Israel has been doing there is
building settlements.
So we're going to head over there and find
out what that's like.

Israel conquered the West Bank in East Jerusalem in 1967,
after three Arab nations battled the newly minted
Jewish state in the Six Days War.
Israel was only 20 years old at the time, and its victory
was hailed as a David versus Goliath triumph.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then,
and what was supposed to have been a temporary occupation of
the Palestinian territories has turned into four and a
half decades of misery for the Arab
residents in the West Bank.
Aside from the fact that the West Bank is crisscrossed with
barbed wire, walls and military checkpoints, over
300,000 Israelis have taken it upon themselves to settle what
was supposed to be the future Palestinian state.
According to international law, the settlements are
totally illegal.
They represent a colonization of the lands that are slated
for hand over to the Palestinians under an
agreement that both Israel and the
Palestinians signed in 1993.
As a result, the peace process has ground to a halt.
And the much lauded two state solution is looking less
likely than ever before.

I wanted to find out who the settlers were and what
motivated them to pick up sticks and move across the
green line to become the most notorious squatters the world
has ever known.
But first, I decided to get some counter-terrorism
training in a West Bank gun range with a member of
Israel's special forces, just in case.
We're in a firing range in a settlement in the West Bank,
and these guys behind me are civilians training to do
border security.
And they've got some pretty mean looking guns.
STEVEN GAR: Is this a safe gun?
No such thing as a safe gun.
Guns are made for killing.

You're standing at the entrance to the synagogue.
Inside, there's a terror attack happening.
OK, I want you to imagine.
You're standing in ready position, pointing your weapon
inside the synagogue trying to take care of the terrorists.
Remember how we defined counter-terrorism as combat in
a civilian area.
We don't want to hurt civilians.
We have to protect them, correct?
This is not an Xbox.
It's not games.
We don't push a reset button and then you get a new life.
There's real bullets outside.
There's a real possibility that I'll
never see my kids again.
Simon's scared of me.
I was starting to think this guy's job was just to scare
the crap out of anyone who showed up for the training.

Turns out, I wasn't the only one who thought it would be a
good idea to get some training.
A Canadian woman we nicknamed Sarah Connor had brought her
whole family along for the fear fest.
It doesn't hurt to know how to use an AK, though, right?
And for what it's worth, her daughter turned out to be a
pretty good marksman.

Well, I hit it twice.
I didn't do as good as the 10-year-old girl.
STEVEN GAR: Not bad.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: Do you think it's important for everybody
who moves to Israel to have this kind of
counter-terrorism training?
STEVEN GAR: Look, counter-terrorism training, I
don't think it's important for everyone, unless you're a
You have to have an awareness of terrorism.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: So why do so many people carry around guns?
STEVEN GAR: I don't know.
I don't know.
Maybe to feel safer.
I think people think, you know, I've got a gun at home
and I wake up and there's a terrorist, I could take care
of my family.
Maybe that's what's going through their minds.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: I discovered that it was easy for a settler
to get a gun license in the West Bank.
All they had to do was qualify at a shooting
range like this one.
But Palestinians living in the same area are never packing,
because Israel doesn't allow it.
It turned out our trainer Steve was himself a settler
who'd moved into the West Bank from South Africa.
When we arrived at his settlement, I was surprised to
see it looked more like an American suburb than an
outpost in a hostile territory.
The community that you live in was built in the particular
place that it was built because of the historic
significance of the place.
Most of the little areas here, they've actually found signs
of ancient Jewish settlement there.
We feel that it's like reviving the
past kind of thing.
So you're saying--
your settlement is right on the right here.
And some fields that are used by
Palestinians are on the left.
Are there any confrontations between the people working in
these fields and people from your settlement?
STEVEN GAR: Not often.
Occasionally I've been called in to what we call a hadira,
that's an infiltration.
I've caught, on a few occasions, Arabs that have
infiltrated the settlement.
They've come to steal.
In my mind, also, I think it's quite a clever way for them to
gather information, see how quickly we react, by taking
all this information in.
So we've got to be really alert.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: Do you ever worry about your kids, that
they could get hurt?

STEVEN GAR: I think every parent
worries about their kids.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: But do you ever question your decision to
bring them out here, in such close proximity to people who
aren't very happy with your presence?
I'll tell you, that's not something I think about.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: It turns out, the Israeli state has given
his settlement, and many others like
it, its full backing.
But like most settlements, it hadn't started out this way.
It was once an encampment that was considered
illegal, even by Israel.
But over the years, the settlers have learned that if
they squat a site in the West Bank long enough, Israel will
give them its approval, its
infrastructure, and its security.
You don't feel that coming here would provoke your Arab
neighbors, though, into violence?
STEVEN GAR: I don't see why it should.
Look, again, what I'm saying is that I don't think that
it's right taking other people's land.
I don't think it's right for me to--
these guys are working hard.
They've been working these fields now for maybe two
You should just now, that's maximum.
When we talk about Palestinian people, we're maximum talking
about maybe one and a half to two generations.
The Jewish people have been here for 5,000 years.
This dates back another 3,000 years ago that this
was active and used.
We're not just a fabrication that this is, oh,
we want this place.
Understand that though we're here for whatever reasons, we
were exiled out of Israel, but we were given the opportunity
to come back.
SIMON OSTROVSKY: Now this was an incredible fabrication on
Steve's part.
The notion that the Palestinians had only lived on
this land for two generations was totally false.
But the idea that Jews had a historic claim to the West
Bank's territories that trumped any Palestinian claims
was one I'd hear over and over in the next few days, and
turned out to be a major part of the settler ideology that
ran directly counter to the two state solution plan.
Steve was an interesting guy.
Our shooting instructor is also a settler, and somehow he
made being a commando in the West Bank seem almost normal.
But the settlement he's from is really established, and we
want to find places that are newer, where people are
literally on an encampment at the top of a hill and starting
a brand new settlement.

But they're on the wrong side of the green line for doing
archaeological digs.
SOLDIER: This land?
It's for the Jewish people from all over the world, OK?
MALE SPEAKER: Are you recording me?
SIMON OSTROVSKY: I don't know.
I don't know.