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Anya Antopolski: A Settler’s Report from the West Bank

12 September 2011 2 Comments

Anya Antopolski with one of her sons

Interview by Peace X  Peace Founder Patricia Smith

“…why I want to meet with my neighbors — well, first, because it is interesting. And I think it’s crazy to live in this country and know nothing of all the people living there. And, for me it’s part of feeling at home here, and not as a guest.”

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Anya Antopolski is a Russian Israeli settler on the West Bank, the land she calls Judea and Samaria and which, to her, has been the “greater Israel” for over two thousand years.  She works to unite the religious Jews such as herself with the secular Jews in her settlement of Nokdim — and she strives to make connections with the Bedouin people nearby.

Anya is featured in our book Sixty Years, Sixty Voices: Israeli and Palestinian Women. Hers is among our first video clips in the Catalyst series, in which you can see Anya not only has clear ideas about a one-state solution for the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, but that she makes a great apple pie.   I invite you to visit Anya and the other women featured in Catalyst and to send the clips out to your social networks to help educate the world on the diversity of Palestinian and Israeli women and their cooperative spirit and solutions towards peace.

In this interview, Anya gives us an update.

Anya, are there any major changes in your life since the filming for Catalyst?

No, except that my oldest son is in the army — and I would say that over the past year, or a little more, Nokdim [Anya’s settlement] has grown probably 30% in population. But only a few new houses were built because the settlement freeze is still practically in force.

The Palestinian villages nearby are growing fast, and their economic progress is obvious from seeing new cars, new shops in the village, and so on.

You told us that you wanted to meet with Bedouins or Palestinians.  Have you?

Yes, I organized a trip to a Bedouin village not far away.  I took a group of 25 people and it turned out to be very interesting.  A man named Muhammad talked about his life, and we got acquainted with his two wives and all his family. I am planning to repeat the trip later this year, as Muhammad invited us to visit again.

A woman in the Bedouin village Anya visited with other settlers

We also got acquainted with a young Arab man from an Arab village not far from Nokdim. He visited us in our house and invited us to visit him. So my family came to his house,  but our openly Jewish appearance with our kippot (yarmulkas or skullcaps) brought some inconvenience to him from his neighbors.

As to why I want to meet with my neighbors — well, first, because it is interesting. And I think it’s crazy to live in this country and know nothing of all the people living there. And, for me it’s part of feeling at home here, and not as a guest.

Like I said when we filmed, I still think this path is best — one state for two nations. Really, it’s the only path possible.  Any other solution means some ethnic cleansing of the land — either of Arabs or Jews — and it would leave one or both peoples frustrated for generations.

Has the tension with the Palestinians increased or decreased in the past year?

It probably didn’t change much. It seems that much of the tension originates from the mass media, the religious leaders, and others.

What do most people in Nokdim feel about the Israeli government now?

We don’t believe any Israel government will really abandon us and the settlements, but the government permits us to grow only after strong pressure and doesn’t willingly help us with money. This can make us angry but not much more.

Want to find out more about Anya and see all the Catalyst videos? Click here.

The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.

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2 Comments to “Anya Antopolski: A Settler’s Report from the West Bank”
  1. Nina says:

    This women is completely ignorant. You cannot take what she says as ‘inside’ knowledge, because the settlers live completely isolated from reality in the West Bank. To depict this women as a nice person who just wants to live with her neighboors and thinks Palestinian economy is doing well (60% unemployment, complete dependency on internatinal aid, no opprotunities for young people etc. is economic progress?!!) It should be said what the real situation is when posting such an interview…! The Palestinians ARE in THIS moment ethnically cleased. And they are cleansed to make space for Israelis who want to live in “judea and smaria”…

  2. Caroline says:

    Thank you, Nina for your response. Our goal with the Catalyst series is to represent women’s perspectives from all around Israel and Palestine. You can check out the multitude of perspectives at: http://www.peacexpeace.org/media/catalyst-videos-from-israel-and-the-west-bank/ . I hope they keep inspiring comments and strong responses.

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