The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He has just prblished a book about the Vatican and Israel titled "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books.
I was just in Israel for a week and travelled all over: , Ashkelon, Hevron, Samaria, Jerusalem, Haifa, the Carmel...
I hadn't been there for three years and was pleased to see that the is in a great state: you see large and young families, , foreign investors, overbooked hotels, traffic jams, religious devotion, new buildings everywhere.
A country that began with 600.000 people and is now more than 7 million strong.
I went to see the Har Nof synagogue where four rabbis were massacred by terrorists last week. It was full of people even of the night. It means the Jews are winning.
Tel Aviv is like Manhattan, a kind of secluded peninsula which sucks the entire Israeli nation in as a black hole. It seems everybody wants to live there. And this is not good. It creates the conscience and the reality of a ghetto.
In Ashkelon, which was bombed day and night by Hamas last summer, I saw new houses at every corner. Like nothing bad could happen to them in the next war. This seemingly absurd feeling is everywhere in Israel.
A main problem is Yad Vashem: I don't understand why the state brings all the foreign visitors there. Is it to feed the sense of guilt? Is it to compensate for the Arabs false portrayal of the "Nakba"?
Then I went to see Judea and Samaria with two great friends of mine, Hillel and Tamar. It was not on the official itinerary of my tour. I understood that it is the terra incognita for the Israeli mainstream. And that without these regions, Israel would not exist today.
What happened between 1948 and 1973, when there weren't any Jews between the Jezreel Valley and Beersheba, just proves that. It was only after that Jews realized that settling the land meant protection.
It is all there, the Jewish fate, cradle, meaning and future: the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem road, Joseph's Tomb in Shechem (Nablus), Hevron's Cave of the Patriarchs . To not to mention the biblical mountains around Shechem.
I wanted to see the borders of the "settlements", so I visited the families living in Tel Rumeida's Hevron and those living in Elon Moreh near Nablus but also everything in the middle, including Itamar, a wonderful religious agricultural (organic) utopia marked by a horrible night of killings and martyrdom.
It is impossible, even for those who want to destroy Israel, to deny that the Jewish people would be obliterated without these barren highlands, the mountains overlooking Ashdod, Tel Aviv, Hadera, Petah Tikva. Even the blind, from these terraces, can see the danger over the Dan area.
From a hilltop community near Kedumim, I saw the Azrieli Towers of Tel Aviv. Israel would be destroyed if a "Palestinian State" would take control of these region. To not to mention how the Hevron Jews protect the entire State of Israel from the Hamas and the Salafi terrorists based in the south.
Only heroes can live in those conditions.
I didn't see any "occupation": the Palestinian Arabs use all the roads that serve the "settlements", they can even enter them. I saw very few soldiers to protect the Jews in Judea and Samaria. Their life is not in the army's hands. You have instead the feeling of an immense wilderness, with much empty space, where Jews and Arabs race to control and settle. The winner will decide the fate of the entire area.
The Israelis from the coast, the south and the north don't set foot there. I know people who haven't been in Judea and Samaria for two decades and avoid even Kfar Saba close to Qalqilya. They are paralyzed by the idea of driving in Samaria.
But they also don't know that without this irrational miracle, which includes everything that has been settled and built after the 1967's line, their comfortable and politically correct life along the coast would vanish in a minute.
This is what I saw last week in Israel. A growing and strong besieged country. But one that is ungrateful towards its heroes.