...At the end of the day, one thing is very clear: Hamas terrorists abducted three teenagers. That is the bottom line. If those three had not been abducted in that area, the terrorists would have abducted someone else, somewhere else. After all, we have been here before.
16 June '14..
Our children hitchhike -- and no, we are not "settlers" from Judea and Samaria, just "settlers" from Jerusalem. Two of our children go to schools in the beloved, historical area of our homeland, near South Hebron Hills and Gush Etzion, an area that a foolish soldier in the IDF Spokesperson's Unit referred to on Sunday as "abroad."
As parents, we too felt our stomachs turn on Friday. We too spent Shabbat dinner talking about the perils of hitchhiking. But it is clear to us who the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are in this story, who the abductors are and who the victims are. The public discourse, however, has focused on the most irrelevant question of all: Why were they hitchhiking in the first place? From there, the road to various innuendos suggesting the three teens were to blame from what happened was a short one.
Hitchhiking, my friends, is part of life across Judea and Samaria -- just as the fear of buses exploding in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem became part of all our lives a decade ago, and remains so today. Terrorists seek to disrupt society's way of life. They have no red lines and unlike some of us, they do not recognize the Green Line. We did not stop taking buses back then, and we did not refrain from sitting in cafés, where terror was also prevalent -- nor should we have done so.
The pioneers who first settled in Israel, those who drained the swamps in Hadera and the Hula Valley, and who often died of malaria, lived there with their children. No one castigated them for being "crazy people who made their children live in occupied territories," as one reporter noted online.
Our children, the apples of our eyes, are part of our social fabric. We have to watch over them and explain to them how to be vigilant, but the last thing we need to do is run, or cease living.
Public transportation is available across Judea and Samaria, but more often than not it is rather inadequate. As a regular public transportation user I can attest to this personally. Bus lines are few and very far between, the buses themselves falter, and some lines frequent communities and yeshivas only twice a day. Many of the area's residents, especially teenagers, do not have cars and naturally, the bus is never there when you need it the most, when you need it to get to work, school, or home.
Hitchhiking serves as the only viable alternative in such cases. You cannot live with it, and you cannot do without it -- unless you want to just call the whole thing off. Those who would be happy to see settlers do just that fail to understand that terror will find them in the "settlements," as the Arabs call them, of Haifa, Acre, Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
Once this affair comes to what one can only hope will be a happy ending, the issue of hitchhiking and its various alternatives could be explored. In the meantime, one should exercise discretion, be vigilant and hitchhike only within the boundaries of the communities, preferably with someone familiar.
At the end of the day, one thing is very clear: Hamas terrorists abducted three teenagers. That is the bottom line. If those three had not been abducted in that area, the terrorists would have abducted someone else, somewhere else. After all, we have been here before.