Yuval, our Israeli guide, categorizes settlers as falling into two broad categories: ultra-orthodox ideological Zionists and “settlers of convenience.” The former are determined to resettle all parts of greater Israel, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which they see as Judea and Samaria. Their political clout over the decades has led to strong government support for new settlements (such as those within the expanded municipal boundaries of Jerusalem) and for the take-over of Palestinian homes in long-established neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
Settlers”of convenience” on the other hand are primarily attracted to new suburbs or towns constructed on Palestinian land less because of their ideology than because of financial and family needs. The Israeli government subsidizes their housing, transportation, and education costs, making settlements in the West Bank very attractive to Israelis of modest means as well as to large contingents of poor immigrants from Russia and other countries. Yuval ended the tour with a plea that we not “hate” the settlers but instead understand and help dismantle the system of policies that makes it easy for them to ignore the impact that their choice of residence has on the Palestinian population.