So let us assume that the residents of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood did not know they were living on stolen land. The contractor did not tell them and they did not check, as they claim. And let us assume they did not ask themselves how it was possible that their apartments were so cheap. And let us even assume that international law does not apply to them and that the government supported their settling there.
Let us assume that these are families who fell victim to con men, like the people who bought apartments from the Heftzibah construction company that went bankrupt. Let us assume we can believe all of this, even though it is not very easy.
Now the settlers are demanding compassion for, and solidarity with, those settlers who have to evacuate their homes. They send them to speak to the media, with their children, about the disaster that has suddenly befallen them, and they reveal their amputated stumps, like beggars in the streets do. They include people who were already evacuated once from Gush Katif and now are being made to leave their homes again, a tragedy that is repeating itself - refugees twice over. They are demanding compassion from Israelis, but they do not deserve it.
First, in contrast to the victims of other swindling contractors - whom no one thought to compensate or to offer alternate housing - in this case the government is coming to their aid with all its resources, to dismantle homes, relocate, rebuild and house them close to the original buildings. And all of this for free. The state is about to spend tens of millions of shekels simply to save them from the "trauma" of having their homes destroyed and to make the move easier to a new home that will soon be built. This is neither a disaster nor a trauma. And no one is thinking of indicting the contractors who were responsible for the swindle as they did with Boaz Yonah, the former owner of Heftzibah.
Secondly, the settlers knew they were putting their money and fate into a risky business by going to settle at what is known as "an illegal outpost." Yes, Ulpana is an illegal outpost, just like all the other outposts. Moreover, every settler who goes to live beyond the separation fence is supposed to know that he risks being evacuated. In effect, every settler beyond the Green Line should feel that way - that is the price of cheap housing and the blatant violation of international law.
The settlers did not ask Israeli society whether they should go to settle there, and therefore they must not now come to it demanding sympathy. And above all, there is no reason to identify with the pain of the settlers because they - both as individuals and as an organized group - never identified with any pain or distress of others in Israeli society other than that of themselves.
The settlers are one of the most egocentric groups in Israel; they worry only about themselves and their own narrow interests, and to hell with everyone else. They have devoted their lives and their struggle to establishing and perpetuating the occupation, and to this alone. Some of them are greedy for real estate, some of them are messianic, and they have hardly raised their voices about any other issue.
They did not pay attention to last summer's social protest, except for one well-publicized visit to Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard. For the most part, they were opposed to the movement for fear that it would divert some of the budgets that are channeled to them. No settlers can be seen coming to help and to identify with the residents of the tent city in Holon's Jesse Cohen neighborhood, or in any of the other poverty-stricken areas.
Volunteers from among the settlers are few and far between in the various nonprofit groups that assist the homeless, the wretched and the miserable, at the soup kitchens or at the overnight shelters. What does this have to do with them? There is no salvation army in Judea and Samaria.
When there was a strike at the Pri Galil factory in the north, the Meretz (Party ) Youth set up a tent there out of solidarity, but the Hilltop Youth were nowhere in sight. What does this have to do with them? The wretched migrants from Africa have surely never come across a settler who came to help them. The soup kitchen operation in south Tel Aviv's Levinsky Park is for "left-wingers" only. Of course, there is nothing to be said about organizations that help the Palestinians. They are traitors.
You will not find settlers in any place connected with human compassion or social assistance, volunteering to help others and coming to the aid of the weak. They are too busy with the struggle for the Land of Israel. It is surprising how this energetic group avoids taking part in any issue that does not relate to it. It is surprising how this organized and well-established group does not give of itself and of its resources to those who are not part of its ranks. Even combat service in the Israel Defense Forces, where the settlers are playing an ever increasing role, is aimed at furthering their own interests.
It is most surprising that the settlers are considered to have "values" - and not merely in their own eyes. And they have a nerve now to ask for compassion and solidarity from those with whom they never identified nor felt anything for. They are not worthy of this.