by Timothy Appleby
Eve Harow, a long-time Los Angeles expatriate and her doctor husband, who live in Efrat with their seven children and 7,500 other settlers, don't expect to be leaving soon.  "Where are we going to go?"  Ms. Harow asked.  "To Tel Aviv, where that bus was bombed two days ago?  Moscow?  Virginia?  We're not going anywhere.

Since the 1993 Oslo accords, the settlement population in the West Bank and Gaza has roughly doubled to more than 200,000, while the total in east Jerusalem has gone from 140,000 to 170,000.

In Efrat, suicide bombers, including a laborer who had done extensive work on Ms. Harow's home, have struck the community twice this year, injuring six people.  Many of her neighbors have been shot at while making the short commute to Jerusalem.

Clustered on strategic hilltops, Efrat resembles a California suburb, with red-tiled roofs, thick green lawns, small shopping centers, and new schools.

"The settlements and their political supporters have over the past decade proved themselves to be dynamic, strong, and with more compelling ideas politically than their opponents," said Geoffrey Aronson, director of the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace.

"One reason I'm here is the community; another is ideological," said Boaz Samuels, 35, a former Torontonian who works as a high-tech consultant in Efrat, where secular and religious Jews live.  "But basically I believe we should be here because we've been here for millennia and this is home."

Ms. Harow elaborated.  "This is not about stealing a Palestine that was once here because the people here were nomads," she said.  "If we weren't here it wasn't because we didn't want to be; it was because we'd been killed and ethnically cleansed.  So we don't consider ourselves settlers but rather resettlers."

She said Palestinians, whose population is projected to triple over the next 50 years, should move to other Arab states.  "Israel took in all the Jews that were refugees, so now the Arab states need to take in the Arabs that have been made refugees.  It's a very simple answer, but nobody wants to hear because it makes too much sense."
Toronto Globe and Mail, October 29, 2002
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