Mayor: ‘Settlements Will Bring Security’

For Raphaella Segal, Israeli policy could not be any simpler: Giving away land and making concessions to Arabs will not deter terrorism.

"All retreats and concessions have the opposite effect on the situation. It's now worse," noted Segal, assistant mayor of the 31-year-old Jewish settlement of Kedumim in the West Bank.

Speaking to the Greater Philadelphia District of the Zionist Organization of America, Segal expressed her opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's releasing of Palestinian prisoners aligned with the Fatah Party, believing that it will hinder security for West Bank settlements like hers.

"Concessions for nothing, I'm very afraid, will bring more terror and deteriorate our situation," Segal said during her July 22 talk at Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia.

Located 50 minutes due north of Jerusalem, Kedumim boasts a population of 5,000 people in 12 neighborhoods, according to Segal. Before joining the group of people who settled the land during Chanukah of 1975, Segal had lived comfortably with her husband and three children in Tel Aviv, where she worked as an optometrist. To many of her friends and family, joining a group that planned to live next to Arab villages in the West Bank — at times with no electricity or running water — sounded crazy.

"[But] we felt the excitement of coming back to biblical lands," she exclaimed. "If we don't live there, it doesn't belong to us."

That holds true today, she said, arguing that the only way to bring real security to the West Bank is for Jews to settle there; this will force members of the Israel Defense Force to patrol and protect the area, making it more secure, she added.

Segal did, however, note that Kedumim has its own private security system, which is, in fact, run in conjunction with the Israeli army.

During her presentation, she showed the 35-member audience photos and short videos of Kedumim's original settlers sleeping in tents and refusing to leave until the Israeli government agreed to make it a municipality.

She followed these with pictures of today's Kedumim, showing modern schools and considerable industry, plus wide, paved roads and houses resting on hilltops.

Although many in Kedumim are Orthodox Jews with traditional values, both the positions of mayor and assistant mayor are filled by women — something that Segal shrugged off as "natural."

"The fact that you are religious doesn't contradict being a leader," she said. "Women are very strong. Usually, they have strength and beliefs, and they don't give up very quickly."

'Fight for Every Place'

She also tried to dispel the notion that all settlers are militant and pushy.

"The stigma is that people living in settlements are aggressive — all day fighting with Arabs," she stated, noting that the community is far more concerned with and focused on running its school for boys with attention-deficit disorder, for example, or helping find housing for Ethiopian immigrants.

On the political spectrum, Segal railed against Olmert's plan of removing communities from the West Bank to allow for a provisional state for the Palestinians, even though she said that the plan would not have uprooted Kedumim.

"For us, if one community is wiped out, it is as if we are not there," she explained. "That is our approach in general — that we have to fight for every place because we believe in the wholeness of Israel."



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