"Everybody lives in their own bubble and thinks they have the right answers."
Location: Arena Beach, Herzliya Pituah
The encounter: I met Hadas at the beach of Herzliya Pituah. She and her friend Oshrat sat chatting together, a baby asleep in a bassinet beside them. Hadas and Oshrat described their approach to life as "Sababa," a word of Arabic origin that, in Hebrew slang, means: “chill, cool, laid back.” Both women came from Ofra, a settlement near Ramallah. After Hadas had described feeling judged by left-wing Israelis, she asked me: “Well, what do you think about the fact that I’m from a settlement?” I hesitated, because I do think that the settlements are an obstacle to peace and purposely disrupt the lives of Palestinians. Well,” I admitted, “I’m actually one of those left wingers who opposes the settlements. But I’m doing this project to get to know people I disagree with...”
“Sababa,” was Hadas’ response.
What are you doing here right now?
I’m hanging out with my friends and family. We came to this beach because my husband served in the navy here. We know the area.
What is your occupation?
I work as a kindergarten teacher.
Can you tell me a bit about your family?
My son is four and my daughter is two. They’re over there in the water, playing with my husband.
I grew up in an orthodox family in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the Muslim Quarter. Eight years ago, my little brother was killed in a terrorist attack. He was fifteen and studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. A terrorist entered the school and killed eight students.
Where is your family from?
My grandparents are all from the island of Djerba in Tunisia. I don’t remember when they immigrated, but I know but my parents were born in Israel. A juicy detail: my parents are first cousins!
How do you describe your religious or national identity?
For my nationality, I’d say I’m Jewish. Regarding religion: I’m observant, but laid-back... you know: sababa [laughs]. I do everything sababa: I keep a kosher kitchen sababa – but if I sometimes mix up the milk and the meat knife I’ll still be sababa; and I cover my hair sababa, but when I go into the water, I’ll take off my scarf... sababa. I grew up in a religious family, but I’m less observant than my parents. You know... sababa!
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
I wish people would be more united in our society. I think our political differences have caused a rift. People seem so judgmental when they learn I live in a settlement. In the news, they often describe us as a bunch of crazies. People think we’re there to cause trouble, to spoil things for everyone. But that’s simply not true. We’re there because we love this land! It’s our land and we love it! The leftists see us as people who want to destroy and spite, while it’s actually the opposite! People in the settlements are full of idealism! I’d actually love to meet with left-wing people and learn to understand their views. I’m sure they don’t mean ill either. I think everybody lives in their own bubble and thinks they have the right answers.
I also wish we’d have peace. The way I envision it is that we can move around freely in our land, that there will be no more terrorist attacks, and that I no longer constantly have to follow the news to find out what new disasters have happened. I don’t know how to achieve this. I’m not a politician. I’m just a small person. I don’t have any magical solutions. But I think we need to be strong and stop trying to be nice. The truth is that I grew up amongst Arabs. I remember how, as a little girl, I’d walk around in the Old City and the Arab children would curse me. I think they were educated to hate us. Kids don’t get those ideas by themselves!
I don’t see every Arab as my enemy, but I know that in general, as nations, our interests are opposed. There is nothing to do about it; it’s just a fact that, as a nation, they want to annihilate us. But I don’t understand enough about politics to offer a solution.