Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (26 November 2017, 8 Kislev, 5778)
By "settlements" is assumedly meant Israeli places of living in Judah and Samaria. In general the views and natural surroundings are very enchanting. Each place is different and has its own uniqueness. The air is clean. There is no, or very little, pollution. Crime rates are usually very low compared with the rest of Israel. People try to get along and help each other gladly. They all tend to be a little more patriotic than elsewhere. The settlers are nearly all Jewish i.e. there are no real minority areas such as one finds in Tel Aviv, or Elat. Local industries and places of employment exist but many also work elsewhere and commute every day. Life in general is not much different from that in the rest of Israel.
To properly understand life in the settlements account has to be taken of the dominant social elements within them.
First of all more than half (sic) of the so-called settlers are Hareidi! That is right! Ultra-Orthodox Jews make for a majority of the settlers. They mostly live in cities such as Beitar Ilit, Kiryat Sefer (Modeyin), Immanuel, Ramat Shlomoh, etc. These cities are well run and frequently win prizes for aesthetics, planning, service consideration, civic management, etc. Bus lines are good and frequent. Everything is done to make life liveable. The orientation is towards large families. Prices of most things are lower. Those in the know come from outside to do their shopping here. Nearly every street has at least one synagogue and also buildings of some educational institute or other. The building-structures are often architecturally impressive. Streets are wide and there are numerous parks, playgrounds, and green spots. There is no secular schooling. The Torah education that is provided is usually the best available. The atmosphere is calm. Social status is mostly determined by what you know rather than what you earn.
Unemployment is slighter higher than the national average but not as high as some claim. Good and bad points are the same as those of Hareidim everywhere. Hareidim are not accepted into the Government Service which is the largest employer in Israel. The Bureaucracy is the worst in the Western World. It relegates Israel among the third world entities. The two points are connected: Not accepting Hareidim on the one hand and ruining the country on the other go together.
Secular settlers are to be found in the city of Ariel, in a few small communities, and as minorities in places that otherwise would be regarded as National Religious, e.g. the city of Kiryat Araba. In effect they are often very similar to the National Religious only less observant.
National Religious comprise about 35 to 40 % of the settlers. These are the ones you see in the Media with the knitted yarmulkes, fanatical gleam in the eye, and the slogans about Love for their Fellow Jew. They actually exist. Their settlements are well-run. Many of the houses are very nice, nearly all of them are above average. So too, for their inhabitants. Money is important socially and economically though not everyone gets by. They are tolerant. Religious observance varies from one place to another. A large proportion of the youth are less religious than their parents were. They try hard in everything they do. Sometimes however they try to do too many things all at once. In some places a certain tension exists. The communities are in effect virtual outlying suburbs of the main population centers. No place in Israel is really that far away from another. The National Religious should be running the country but feel they never really will do so.
The Hareidim could be running the country but do not want to and suffer accordingly.
The Secular get all the benefits but wish they could be more like the others.
The settlements help ensure the survival and continued existence of the State of Israel: The settlements exist for geo-political reasons such as water resources, strategic depth, housing needs, available land for building, demographic exigencies, cultural heritage, religious heritage, national morale, etc.
" Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations" (Joel 3: 2).