Archive for the 'Places' Category

Life is Greener on the other side of the Green Line

As all of you know, this blog does not focus on geo-political matters.

We do not avoid politics, though it is clearly not the focus of the discussion.

We deal only with the facts that pertain to life in Ariel, and the personal perspectives that are experienced through life here.

Keeping that in mind, I turn your attention to an interesting demographic study which was recently publicized by the Ariel University Center. I have quoted an excerpt from the Jerusalem Post which touches on some of the statistics presented. The purpose of quoting the article is to provide some depth to the otherwise dismissive approach to life beyond the green line often presented in the media. Enjoy:

The settler population in the West Bank is growing three times as fast as the population in the rest of the country and has doubled over the past 12 years, according to an extensive demographic study published Monday by the Ariel University Center in Samaria (the College of Judea and Samaria).

Settlement residents tend to be healthier, have a higher income and are more likely to be employed than other Israelis, and their children are more likely to do well on the matriculation exams than their counterparts who live within the Green Line, according to the 240-page study.

The report is filled with statistical tables to support its conclusions, many of them based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

On the demographic front, the study states that in the last 12 years the settler population has grown by 107 percent, from 130,000 people in 1995 to 270,000 people in 2007, compared with 29% growth in the rest of the country.

In the last three years, from 2005 to 2007, the growth has been three times as high as elsewhere, 5% a year compared to 1.7%.

Most of the population increase is the result of new babies born to residents. In 2007, of the 14,500 new residents of Judea and Samaria, 9,000 were newborns.

Of the remaining 5,500 new residents, 800 are new immigrants and 4,700 are Israelis who moved from within the Green Line.

The settler birth rate is higher than within the Green Line, with 35 children born to every 1,000 people as opposed to 20.

Overall the settler population is younger than elsewhere. The average age is 20 compared to 28 outside of Judea and Samaria. Residents who are 65 and over make up only 2.9% of the population compared with 10% elsewhere.

Most of the settlers are native Israelis, 82.6%, compared with 69.5% in the rest of the country.

In 2006, 3.9% of new immigrants went to live in Judea and Samaria, of whom 38.8% were from the United States, 25.8% were from the former Soviet Union while 19.7% came from France or England.

According to 2006 data, the settlement with the highest number of immigrants was Ariel, where 42.2% of the population are immigrants who came to Israel after 1990. In Maaleh Ephraim 24.7% of the residents are immigrants, in Kiryat Arba, 17.9%, in Efrat, 15.5% and in Maaleh Adumim, 15.1%.

Haredim, who have been populating fast-growing West Bank cities like Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit, make up 30.7% of the settler population, compared with 7.5 % of the population within the Green Line.

Settlers are more likely to work. Some 62% of the population participates in the work force compared with 56% elsewhere. Similarly, unemployment is lower – 6.5% in Judea and Samaria compared with 7.3% in the rest of the country.

Some 71.2% of settler teens who take the matriculation exams earn a matriculation certificate, compared to 65.8% in the rest of the country.

Settlers make more money, NIS 13,566 on average per family in 2006, compared with NIS 12,343 in the rest of the country.

Per capita income, however, is 13% less than elsewhere because settler families are larger.

Settlers were more likely to describe themselves as healthy, 91% compared with 73% within the Green Line, and to state that they were satisfied with their lives – 92.3% compared to 83% in the rest of the country.

On the negative side, there are proportionately 22% more criminal files in Judea and Samaria than in Israel proper.


 I’d like to thank Jerry and Sylvia Dortz for sending this article to the blog.


Holocaust and Heroism Memorial House

In order to appreciate the aliyah phenomenon, we need reference points. Ariel, rich in humanity and history, provides a number of points-of-reference through which we can further our understanding and perspective. Jerry and Sylvia Dortz describe one such place in Ariel…   

In 1933, Adolph Hitler rose to power in Germany and established a racist regime in which Jews were deemed to be “untermenschen” (sub-humans), not part of the human race. 

In 1939 Hitler began implementing his “final solution” to annihilate the Jewish people.  His forces concentrated the Jews in ghettos and established labor, concentration, and extermination camps to which the Jews were sent.  Documents uncovered after the war show that Hitler’s aim was to exterminate every Jew in the world.  During the six years of the war 6,000,000 Jews including 1,500,000 children were murdered by the Nazis; one-third of the Jewish population of the world. 

In Ariel, at 44 Derech HaNachshonim, Irena and Yaakov (Kuba) Wodzeslawske, both Holocaust survivors, founded the Holocaust and Heroism Memorial House in 2003.  “My wife and I are aware of the responsibilities of our work because as long as time passes there will be less people who are witnesses to what happened.  We will never forget the memories of the faces of the people who were walking to their death who called to the ones who would survive to revenge their blood.  We know that as survivors we will forever bear witness to what was done to our people.  We realize that we were left alive in order to tell what took place.”   This is a unique memorial site in Ariel, located in their private home.  Memorial House covers 4 of the 6 floors of the Wodzeslawske’s home, and functions as a commemorative shrine and a testimony to the horrors of the past. 

There are several galleries in the house:

Bronze sculptures by Shmuel Vilenberg, a survivor of Treblinka, are arranged in the Sculpture Gallery.  These sculptures of the figures encountered while in the camp express his memories and nightmares. 

The Photo Gallery contains rare photographs that track the chronological events of the Holocaust era, from the invasion of Poland, to deportation, life and death in the ghettos, exile to the extermination camps in cattle cars, the selection process, and the mass extermination that took place.

The Personal Belongings Gallery contains rare items, including a prisoner’s jacket from Auschwitz, a food bowl from Treblinka, a yellow Jude star from Germany, a white ribbon with a yellow star of David which Polish Jews wore as an armband, and metal buttons worn by the Jewish ghetto policemen on their caps, a page from a Torah that was desecrated and subsequently purchased by Jews; an old Sidur Mahzor from the 19th century that was found scattered in the rubbish in Poland; rare stamps depicting Hitler’s image and many other items.

The Letters and Postcards Gallery is a rare and unique collection of over 350 postcards and letters that were mailed from the work camps and ghettos by Jews and are accompanied by translations in Hebrew. 

The Lecture Hall seats 100 and is outfitted with audio-visual equipment and a library.  After a tour of the Memorial House, organized groups gather here to listen to the testimonies of the survivor couple.

The Holocaust was the deliberate and systematic attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish people.  Modern attempts to diminish or deny this tragedy, unique in its scale, desecrate the memory of its millions of victims.   Only by remembering, documenting and commemorating the Holocaust can we insure that nothing like it will ever happen again.