Settlements will be uprooted, said Amir Cheshin, a secular, sixth-generation Jerusalemite who moved to Maale Adumim 24 years ago. Lets be honest. There will be a price for peace. But Mr. Cheshin said Israel should not withdraw unilaterally, as it did in Gaza. You cannot make peace without talking. Any pullout should be done within the framework of peace with our neighbors.
Mr. Chesin, a 61-year-old retired army officer, said he would never physically resist a pullout order, as some Israeli settlers have threatened. But he would want adequate compensation.
Others in Maale Adumim draw different lessons from the Gaza withdrawal.
Had the Gaza settlers not created so many little mini-utopia settlements, and instead built a settlement bloc [like Maale Adumim], they might still be here today, said Shelly Levine, a 20-year resident and local real estate manager. Im not concerned at all, she said. You cant move this number of people.
Mrs. Levine was driving past the neighborhood, called Zero-Seven, she helped develop, a mix of high-rises and apartment complexes. I dont think any Israeli really thinks of Maale Adumim as a settlement, she said.
Of course, whether or not they were just looking for a good deal, the residents of Maale Adumim are nonetheless part of a larger religious, political and cultural puzzle that has yet to be solved. But meanwhile, life goes on.
Rabbi Meyer works on his book. Mrs. Levine plans her next deal. And Ayela Hevroni, a 38-year-old mother of three, watches her toddler run around a Maale Adumim playground, the likes of which cannot be found in Jerusalem. We came for the children, she said, declining to venture whether her children would be able to live here through adulthood. For the children, this is Gan Eden, she said the Garden of Eden.
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Kevin Unger is a freelance
photographer based in Jerusalem.
Tags: Jerusalem Gaza Strip/West Bank Occupied Territories